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What Eurovision means to Ukrainians at war
What Eurovision means to Ukrainians at war | GZERO World

What Eurovision means to Ukrainians at war

Where else will you find banana-inspired wolves, dubstep rapping astronauts, or earworms about vampires? It’s Eurovision, of course: the 70-year-old song contest that pits nations against each other in an annual spectacle of camp, kitsch, and catchy melodies.

But for Ukrainians – who have won the contest three times in the past 20 years – the contest is about something much more.

On GZERO Reports, we visit a secret Eurovision watch party outside of Kyiv, a drag party in New York City, and look at how Eurovision is more political than you – or those wolves, astronauts, and vampires – could imagine.

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Eurovision winners

Annie Gugliotta

The Graphic Truth: Eurovision – beating swords into microphones, sort of

Eurovision – you either love it or you hate it. And if you love to do either, then this is your moment. Saturday marks the Grand Final of the 2023 edition of the song contest, which pits the nations of “Europe” against each other in an annual battle of song, spectacle, and kitsch. The event began with just seven countries in the 1950s as a way to bolster Western European unity and channel the continent’s nationalistic urges into a more cheerful kind of competition.

In the decades since, it’s expanded to nearly 40 nations – including some that aren’t geographically in Europe – and while it reliably produces dreadful earworms, it’s also turned up some real stars: Olivia Newton-John, ABBA, and Céline Dion, for example, all came up through Eurovision.

It’s also produced plenty of political intrigue: Moscow and Kyiv, for example, have traded darts over each other’s acts since 2014 (Ukraine has won Eurovision twice since Putin first invaded Ukraine that year), and while this year’s contest should’ve (by tradition) gone off in Ukraine, home of last year’s winners, it’s being held in Liverpool, England, instead because of the Russian invasion. Russia, of course, has been banned.

Here’s a look at which countries have won the most Eurovision finals over the years. Of these, only the Netherlands and France were part of the first competition, and Ukraine is the only country to have won three times in the 21st century.

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine appear on stage after winning the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy.

REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Hard Numbers: Ukraine wins Eurovision, Somalia’s new prez, Venezuela woos investors, CDU victory

439: Ukraine won the popular Eurovision Song Contest in Italy thanks to a late surge of 439 fan votes from across the continent early Sunday. President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated the winner, vowing to hold next year's edition in the besieged city of Mariupol.

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