Entertainment

Ukraine wins Eurovision 2022 in an emotional, compassionate finale

“Everyone wants peace. And music is peace.” The words of Eurovision 2022 presenter Laura Pausini summed up one of the most emotional song contests in recent memory, with hip-hop collective Kalush Orchestra taking first place after a dramatic finale.

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest was one of the most fascinating, exciting and unpredictable in years. While there was nitpicking behind the scenes about the organization of the 2022 host country, Italy, the show itself was as spectacular as ever – perhaps even more thanks to dynamic hosts Pausini, Alessandro Cattelan and Lebanese-born British pop star Mika. Pausini, one of Italy’s most popular and prolific pop artists, performed a spectacular medley of her greatest hits along with a rendition of the Italian classic “Volare” by Domenico Modugno.

It was also the UK’s best performance in years. It was only the third time this century that a British candidate made the top 10 in the Eurovision final. That contestant was Sam Ryder, the lovable, bearded singer-songwriter originally known for his viral Tik-Tok renditions. But it was the 32-year-old’s background of performing in rock and metal bands that benefited his stirring rendition of the pop ballad “Space Man.” Resplendent in a silver spacesuit and surrounded by a glowing metal cage, Ryder nodded to British heritage acts like Elton John and David Bowie. His voice – with a dizzying falsetto that reaches heavenly heights – soared despite what was undoubtedly great pressure from a nation last dead in 2021.

There was also a lot of competition for Ryder. Ukraine rocked the scene with their eclectic hip-hop troupe Kalush Orchestra, while Italy got hearts pumping with Mahmood and Blanco’s poignant ballad “Brividi,” and Spain kicked things off with Chanel’s sizzling pop song “Slomo.” There were varied offers from Norway (“Give That Wolf a Banana”) and Moldova (“Trenulețul”). And there was the downright quirky in the form of Serbian artist Konstrakta singing “In Corpore Sano” (“A Healthy Body”). It was a performance piece of art, complete with a sink, hand gestures, and ominous cloaked figures handing towels to the singer.

Kalush Orchestra dispelled any assumptions that they would drive through the competition based on sympathy votes alone. The Ukrainian group’s performance was sharp and energetic, honoring their heritage while incorporating modern rap elements. Shortly after Moldova’s lively performance, sending a conga line dancing through the press room here in Turin, it was time for Ryder to shine. The response to his song was far more enthusiastic than that of poor James Newman’s somber work Embers from last year. It helped that Ryder was so endearing throughout his campaign and rehearsals in Turin, making sure to remember the names of every journalist who interviewed him. “[I’m doing this for] the love of singing and songwriting and being a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest in general,” he said The Independent just a week before the final. “The scoreboard has to be an afterthought and the focus should just be on the song and enjoying the whole experience!”

(AP)

Last year’s champion Maneskin came to inject some fire into an already lively competition. Damiano David put on a brave face at what appeared to be a bad ankle injury (he’d come to the show with a crutch), then cracked a joke about the band’s infamous “Coke” scandal last year, in which he briefly broke up leaning down to pick up broken glass was misconstrued by viewers. Any advice for this year’s 25 candidates, he was asked? “Don’t get too close to the table.” Mika followed up with a glitzy mash-up of some of his biggest hits, including “Happy Ending” and “Love Today.”

Of course, these appearances were distractions, as members of the public in Europe and Australia voted for their favorite candidates alongside each country’s jury. What followed was something we hadn’t seen in years. Douze points for Great Britain, from Ukraine, then Germany, then Belgium, then France. And the points just kept coming. As each participating country read out the scores from its panel of judges, Britain topped the rankings for the first time in ages. But as fans know, the public vote can change everything.

Ukraine awards UK and Sam Ryder 12 points at Eurovision 2022

The United Kingdom comes second, helped by Ukraine with those douze points. But Kalush Orchestra had a comfortable finish with a whopping total score of 631 points. “You melted our hearts, friends [at] Eurovision,” tweeted the embattled country’s government account. “And it means the world to us at this time. We send all your love and support to our brave freedom defenders in Azovstal and along the frontline. Congratulations, KALUSH Orchestra.” And really, who deserves it more?

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/eurovision/ukraine-eurovision-uk-sam-ryder-b2079265.html Ukraine wins Eurovision 2022 in an emotional, compassionate finale

JOE HERNANDEZ

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