When we first met Mariya Yaremchuk at Ukraine’s Eurovision selection show, she was a sex kitten in leather with an orange spray tan and hair extensions. She sang a song with incestuous lyrics that left all of us thinking she may crash out of Eurovision.

Boy were we wrong. Mariya hired a stylist, cast off those locks and worked with Swedish songwriter Sandra Bjurman (the genius behind “Running Scared”, “When the Music Dies”, and “Drip Drop”) to re-shape her song “Tick Tock”. First it became a ballad. Then it morphed into the commercial pop song that we eventually saw in Copenhagen. Mariya grew from a girl to a woman, and from a newbie to a true ESC pop diva. She worked her hamster wheel like no other and left all of us shouting Ukrainia! en route to her sixth-place finish. Not bad given that she had to perform first in the final.

For coming the furthest of any competitor, our readers have awarded Mariya the 2014 Yohanna Award for Most Improved Performer.

The Yohanna Award for Most Improved Performer

1. Mariya Yaremhuk — Ukraine: 1,113 votes, 36.46%

2. The Common Linnets — the Netherlands: 611 votes, 20.01%

3. Sebalter — Switzerland: 414 votes, 13.56%

4. Valentina Monetta — San Marino: 383 votes, 12.55%

5. Conchita Wurst — Austria: 330 votes, 10.81%

6. The Tolmachevy Sisters — Russia: 202 votes, 6.62%

The road to Eurovision is long and bumpy, and it doesn’t always start out with a strong song—or the ability to sing said song. The Yohanna Award honors Iceland’s 2009 contestant Johanna Jonsdottir who illustrates the principle well. When she won the Icelandic national selection, we thought she was gonna flop at ESC. Then she put on that blue dress, hired some back-up singers, and wowed us all the way to second place in Moscow.

This award is just one of a dozen awards that make up the second annual Valentina Monetta Awards. Our 12 categories—from best dressed to most most wronged at ESC—identify the contestants who left the biggest impression on Eurovision fans, regardless of whether they won the contest or not.

Photo: Eurovision.tv (EBU)

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PP
PP
6 years ago

Fist we had performance from national final. Then they try to improve song and we had ballad (performance from Malta national final , from me worst version). Then we had song from video for Ukraine song, and after all we had song in Eurovison stage. For me best version song from Eurovision, than from their national final, than song from video and on last place version from Malta.

Calvin
Calvin
6 years ago

She totally deserved the Yohanna Award (and her high finish on the night)!

Thiefo
Thiefo
6 years ago

Very well deserved, I absolutely agree she was the most improved artist this year. Alongside Conchita she was my favourite to win, and I’m glad she managed to stay in the top 10. I don’t think she received pity from anyone, like a lot people thought, I do think her song was good and that’s what gave her 6th place. Also the hamster wheel wasn’t that unrelated to the song in my opinion, but those are MY views 😉

Charles
Charles
6 years ago

She may have improved herself perfomancewise, she may have proved to be a beautiful sexy woman … but is that what she was supposed to do in a song contest? … The song remains average and uninteresting … totally unworthy of its “pitty-given” 6th place … After last year’s “Gravity” it’s a shame how musically they went downhill … no hamster wheel or any pathetic stage tricks can save it from sounding tacky.

SpirK
SpirK
6 years ago

Well deserved! I also thought she was gonna flop at first. I thought her song was tragic. But they transformed it to a quality catchy song. Congrats! You deserved your place!

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Can I just say that when I first heard this before Christmas, I thought that ”Tick Tock” was slutty, trashy and I also thought to myself that ”Do you know what, Rihanna must be Mariya Yaremchuk’s favorite singer of all time because she is trying too hard to be like her.” But when the 2nd revamped version came out, I thought that it was much better and while she let out her Rihanna side, she didn’t mimick her too much like in the first version. Well done Ukraine. 😀

paco
6 years ago

A mi si me gusto,la rueda?…EUROVISION no solo es musica.Es un espectaculo visual y para TV.

Davve
Davve
6 years ago

I liked her performance. But I think that she could have done a much more cooler performance than what she did. the wheel made no sense and did not relate to the song……

anyway..she was good.