Kalush Orchestra are the reigning champions of the song contest, so this year’s event should have been held in .
Due to the ongoing war with the European Broadcasting Union decided that it would. UK entrant Sam Ryder placed second behind Kalush Orchestra, and so Liverpool has the honour of hosting.
President Volodymyr Zelensky recently gave his views on the decision. While he has ‘lots of respect’ for the UK and it is an ‘amazing country’, he wishes that a country that shares a border with Ukraine could have been chosen.
He explained: ‘From the very start my opinion has been that if we can’t host Eurovision then it should take place in one of the countries that share a border with us such as Slovakia, Poland or any other country our people can reach easily. Somewhere nearby.’
In the interview for public service broadcasters including the he added: ‘The main thing is that the contest is taking place. Let the people show their talent.’
Metro.co.uk spoke with Kalush Orchestra’s frontman Oleh Psiuk through a translator, who told us that he doesn’t entirely agree.
‘Of course, we would have liked to host Eurovision in our country, but being safe is the most important thing. And so for this reason, we think that the UK hosting Eurovision this year is good.’
Oleh along with his band is currently in the UK ahead of their performance at the Eurovision final, which he teases is going to be ‘very cool.’ He is also looking forward to catching up with Sam, who he’s been having lots of ‘friendly chats’ with over the past year.
The band also performed at and were speaking to Metro at London venue Brixton Jamm ahead of a gig.
So far, they are happy with what they’ve seen.
‘There is no doubt that we are very satisfied with everything and we can see what the UK is already doing on behalf of our country.
‘We just want to express our deepest gratitude to the UK for this. We can see that there are a lot of Ukrainian artists who are invited, and there’s a strong Ukrainian identity in the contest. Everything is about Ukraine.’
The 28-year-old musician emphasises just how important that is right now, as they try to remind the world about the ongoing war.
‘The message that we’re spreading is still the same as it was one year ago. We need help in our country, and we don’t want to be forgotten about. Don’t forget about us.
‘Our music celebrates the rich culture of Ukraine, and serves as the reminder.’
Of course, Oleh is feeling reflective one year after his band’s victory.
‘When we heard Ukraine announced as the winners it was an incredible moment,’ he recalled.
‘It was pure happiness. Of course, I remember we had a lot of worries because a lot of people follow Eurovision and they look forward to this music contest from all over the world. It was especially important for my fellow Ukrainians because of what was going on. We worried greatly, so it was amazing to have that moment.
‘When we came back to Ukraine we actually felt that all the people were inspired by our victory. We uplifted the spirit of our Ukraine and as you know nowadays, it is very important for our country to gain victory in all different aspects.’
The winning song Stefania was originally inspired by Oleh’s mum. Some of the lyrics roughly translate to: ‘Stefania mum mum Stefania. The field blooms, but she is turning grey. Sing me a lullaby mum. I want to hear your native word.
‘She rocked me, gave me rhythm and probably the power of will, did not take, but she gave.’
However, the song has now taken on a different meaning for many Ukraine citizens.
‘This song was written a long time before the outbreak of war. It was about my mum, but it has now become very meaningful for our country. A lot of people say this song is an official anti-war song. That is special.’
Of course, with his home country going through such a difficult time Oleh has not been able to enjoy the win in the same way as previous champions, and has instead focused on raising awareness.
‘It was a very tough year and we have travelled a lot. We’ve done around 200 concerts and raised 60 million for our country.’
The Eurovision Song Contest grand final is on Saturday May 13 on BBC One at 8pm.