In the buildup to the first semi final in Ukraine’s national selection for Eurovision 2016, Eurofans were rightly wetting themselves over the return of Eurovision veteran Anastasia Prikodhko, as well as progressive pop band The Hardkiss — one of the hottest acts in the country. But one name slipped under the radar until halfway through the first semi final: “1944” singer Jamala.

Her song “1944” is difficult to define. It has a spiritual quality, combining elements of traditional Urkainian music with pop, R&B and soul. The experimental, other-worldly performance set our comments section and social media profiles alight, with some fans declaring her the presumptive winner. It also restored faith in many that Ukraine has what it takes to win in Stockholm.

Jamala Before 2016

Jamala broke onto the music scene in 2009, when she won New Wave — perhaps the biggest and most talked about music festival in Eastern Europe. She’s the only Ukrainian to have ever done so. She followed this up with a number of songs, including the frenetic “It’s Me, Jamala“. Her first foray into the Eurovision scene came in 2011, when she entered Ukraine’s national final with the song “Smile“.

It’s fair to say that “Smile” is as musically different as possible to her current entry. It’s a testament to Jamala’s skills that she is able to perform both songs to such a high standard. “Smile” won over fans around Europe, qualifying to the final with ease. A fan favourite, she ultimately finished third behind Zlata Ognevich and eventual winner Mika Newton. Controversy followed and a re-run of the final was ordered with just the top three acts. Jamala pulled out, though, refusing to believe that any voting would be fair in this re-run.

Jamala continued to release albums in the years following “Smile”. She also turned her hand to acting. No return to Eurovision seemed to be on the cards. But following Ukraine’s 2015 Eurovision withdrawal and 2016 return, it seems it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Having cemented her place as a favourite, she can be proud of her instincts — musical and otherwise.

Are you feeling Jamala? Do you think “1944” is right for 2016? Let us know below!

Watch: Jamala performs “1944” at the Ukrainian Semi Final

Read more Ukraine Eurovision News

47 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Fikri, Ukraine does have male singers. Kazaky for example (they performed Strange moves with Hardkiss)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cm9jZPQ_Cw

Women have more powerful voices, maybe that’s why we see that most winners are females (don’t call me sexist, I’m referring to the way how nature have created human voices).

Valeri
Valeri
5 years ago

You all should see Jamala’s performance. It’s really something INCREDIBLE. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRE4H14z6oM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_gW8Hi9qS4

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
5 years ago

Possible winner alert.

Felix Prochain
Felix Prochain
5 years ago

@Michael well, we all know what happend to those Russians you’ve mentioned. No pity for the rats, no pity. Collaboration with the nazis was (and it is now) something unforgivable.
I’m not supporting Stalins methods. He should have ordered his executants to be careful and gentle with the kids, innocent women and elders. xoxo

Michael
Michael
5 years ago

@Felix Prochain You’re russian, right? Finally you can show your real face to the rest of the world. During the deportation a lot of kids and old people died and you support this! Collaboration with nazis was only an excuse. “It is estimated that the number of Russian collaborators with the Nazi German military was over one and a half million.”. I don’t deny that some Tatars were also collaborating but people that were deportated were unguilty

tania
tania
5 years ago

reproaches for her bad english are unfair as to me. there were esc winners with much much worse english. the chorus is in crimean tatar language. maybe that’s what confuses
from the second ukrainian semi-final alloise is really good. but i prefer jamala. hardkiss are usually good but “helpless” seems worse than their other songs.
in general this year ukraine’s national competition is more interesting than esc itself. imho )

Felix Prochain
Felix Prochain
5 years ago

Some facts. 1. Crimean Tatars in the past, just like their Turkish relatives in Ottoman Empire and Tatars – today known as Azeris of Persian empire were nothing less than the barbarians, thieves, thugs and cutthroats. All they used to do were raiding the Slavic (and other Christian settlements) looting, killing and stealing beautiful children, women and strong men, who were then sold into slavery in Constantinople. Disgusting. 2. Well, another disgusting fact. During the WW2 the Crimean Tatars were collaborating with the fascist, just like the Turks.., that’s why Stalin decided to relocate them. He was very kind to… Read more »

fikri
fikri
5 years ago

i’m starting to think that ukraine has no male singers…

Bogdan Honciuc
5 years ago

The Hardkiss blew my mind, but Jamala stole my heart.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@V you don’t know what’s the problem? really? then look up old arabic-tatar word “qassab” – it’s the name Ukrainians and neighbors gave to you, Russians many ages ago. It can be translated as murderer, butcher. We still call you that name, while you call us “khokhol” (as per old kossack’s haircut). You’re historically a nation of qassabs, you can’t see any problem in your crimes, right? no wonder. FYI, Russia annexed Crimea, many Crimean Tatars have been killed, jailed or still missing. Thousands of Crimean Tatars relocated in attempt to escape from you. Is it your Russian way to… Read more »

Blerg
Blerg
5 years ago

People might feel differently, but I genuinely think this is one of the best things Ukraine has put forward: and they’re my favourite Eurovision country! Jamala is a fantastic artist, and I really hope her time is coming.

Alex
Alex
5 years ago

Probably all that will happen to the song is that she’ll have to change the title.

Criticca
Criticca
5 years ago

I LOVED her entry, Smile. I’m so happy she’s participating again for ESC. Really hope Ukraine sends her this time! She’s so charming & talented. Very deserving of international exposure ~

D
D
5 years ago

Jamala’s my pick to win, but she isn’t new news or anything. Other Eurovision sites were freaking out about her when they announced the participants. You guys just did nothing. My only concern is that it might be too political, as it refers to the deportation of Crimean Tatars by the USSR in 1944 (Jamala herself is a Crimean Tatar), and if something as subtle as the title “don’t deny” is too political I can only imagine what they’d say about this song.

GeorgeM.
GeorgeM.
5 years ago

She is a good singer but I think that the song is too slow and if she is drawn in the first half it be lost among 25 songs.
No one will understand what the lyrics say and I think that even Russia will react in a very good way since it is Putin that in 2014 signed a decree to rehabilitate Crimea Tatars http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-crimea-tatars-idUSBREA3K0BH20140421

V
V
5 years ago

@Somebody, I hope my country will never send a political song. Germany is not the Third Reich and Russia is not the Soviet Union.

EUROFAN MEXICO
EUROFAN MEXICO
5 years ago

SHE IS GREAT BUT I PREFEER THE HARDKISS

Nitzan
Nitzan
5 years ago

Seriously?! Did I just hear a different song?

The one thing I would give her is that her voice is superb. But the song, the English pronunciation… sorry but NO.

Scream
Scream
5 years ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7Ef13jDHbo

Margaret Berger’s new video to song: Apologize

Andriy Samets
5 years ago

I do not know why all so love this song
Hardkiss much better made
I hope the final will be able to re able Hardkiss

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

reminds me the songs of Massive Attack

dutchie
dutchie
5 years ago

Jamala blows The Hardkiss straight out of the water, that much was clear from the first listen on Soundcloud. Her song is more evocative, more sincere, and her vocals are incredible. I just hope for her and Ukraine’s sake that she doesn’t rub too many friendly neighbors the wrong way with the song’s message.

#44
#44
5 years ago

Her voice is out of this world. She is amazing!
But the song could be better.

Somebody
Somebody
5 years ago

@V First of all, I am glad that debate happened. That’s discuss what you said: 1. Actually very big amount of people died during the WW2, and all the dead are tragedy. Compare who were more killed is totally wrong. More over, Crimean Tatar did not have the big population as russian had. 8000 people was very big amount for the small ethnic. Your comparation is not suitable. And if russian want send an anti German song, do it, but don’t cross the line that EBU set. 2.Putin signed a decree, and then? Is Crimean Tatar lived in there had… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
5 years ago

Also I want to recommend for everyone who wondering “Who is Jamala” to watch her live performance at “New Wave” song of Shirley Bassey “History repeating”. This is CRAZY.

ct_greece
ct_greece
5 years ago

I don’t mind a song that is inspired by real-life events if it is sincere and talks straight to the heart like “1944”. It reminds me of the greek entry from 1976, inspired by the invasion of Cyprus. It wasn’t appreciated at the time but it remains one of the contest’s all-time classics. And let’s not forget that Russia sends propaganda songs all the time, all sacharine and bathed in the warm light of peace, love and understanding… I am sure that she will have to change the title if she is chosen, like Armenia last year. I don’t think… Read more »

cheesecake
cheesecake
5 years ago

I can see why this is a favorite and it’s already growing on me after the second time I listened to this. Interesting and good song overall.

V
V
5 years ago

@Somebody, actually, 14.5 millions of Russians were killed during 1941-1945 but we don’t send anti-German songs. Compare that number to 8000 tatars deaths during the deportation. Quote from Wikipedia: “After the annexation of Crimea by Russia, on April 21, 2014 Vladimir Putin signed the decree No 268 “On the Measures for the Rehabilitation of Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German Peoples and the State Support of Their Revival and Development”, amended by Decree no. 458 of September 12, 2015. The decree addressed the status of the mentioned peoples which resided in Crimean ASSR and were deported from there.” So,… Read more »

allegra
allegra
5 years ago

I like her very much, very! I was shocked by her energy and vocal! despite the fact that the song is dramatic it is very rhythmical and even drive and maybe agressive some time. I really like it. But it is early say about winner. I think The hardkiss will surprise us in final. They are very strong too. To tell the truth in 2 semi final there are some interesting guys too. I like Alloise i think she is our Garbage)

I sure the Ukranian eurovision final will be very HOT! I cant wait! <3

Aleksi
Aleksi
5 years ago

I don’t like the song at all but i think it has potential to win eurovision. Go for it.

esc1234
esc1234
5 years ago

well its not the typical swedish slager so thats why some of u dont like it. For the rest of europe, This is top 3 material and jamala S L A Y S!

rbm
rbm
5 years ago

Imo, 1944 goes “nowhere”, and I don’t think Europe would like it as Ukraine seems to like, it could do well with the juries ofc, but I don’t see countries like United Kingdom, Netherlands or Spain voting for it tbh (I might be wrong). Altho she has a great voice, the song isn’t that bad, but I think The Hardkiss would be a better option for Ukraine. (plus, the song tend to be really political in some ways)

Somebody
Somebody
5 years ago

@V So you want Ukraine better shut up and send peacefully theme like Russia done, pretend nothing happened? The lyrics of 1944 itself isn’t mention anything about who was been killed, who was criminal. It’s a tragedy and fit in many situation in the history. Maybe you think the singer implied the USSR, and stirs controversy, but back to the lyrics and the Tiltle 1944, it hasn’t. All in all, the singer is intend people debate about the humanity with skillful lyrics. I don’t agree that people blind themself and refusing talk about the scars no matter in history or… Read more »

Jac
Jac
5 years ago

She kinda sounds like Rebecca Ferguson

krynot
krynot
5 years ago

and GO! Jamala

krynot
krynot
5 years ago

one friend say this song like don’t deny, but don’t deny’s message was false and turkish pepole not doing genocide but russian army make genocide to some turks .. example ..Kazakhs Azeris Kirghiz and Tatars also armenians examle Khojaly Massacre……

YoungsterJoey
YoungsterJoey
5 years ago

At first listen, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, couldn’t follow the flow of the song. By listen #4, I’ve warmed to it. If anything, I thought of Sade (style of “Solder of Love”)

Andrew
Andrew
5 years ago

I honestly think for many years that Jamala is the best ukrainian singer and for me stands at the same level as Adelle or Amy Winehouse. She is unique in so many ways. Yes, song is about sad events in the past but the lyrics is general and very modern in term of Syria war and many other conflicts around the world. I really want her to win nomination cause she is really good and authentic. The political fuse was even around “Lasha Tumbai” Serduchka song, so there is nothing new about political heat. But actually event that she is… Read more »

V
V
5 years ago

@EugeneESCUK, for example, in YouTube comments section of her performance Ukrainians already insult my country and our people. Also, TV commentators will mention what song is about.

Adam87
Adam87
5 years ago

It’s true, the song is great. The voice is tremendous. But does Eurovision really needs songs like this? It was made to stop such historical debates (though they are always great as for a historian) it was made for peace and gather people around subjects that can be equall for all ebu members just adding their traditionalities. I’m opposed to that song, heating already heated relations beetwen both countries.

Caroban
Caroban
5 years ago

Yamala has a great voice and sings well, but 1944 (politics aside) is difficult to listen and not easy to remember, I prefer The Hardkiss

Páll
Páll
5 years ago

THIS. IS. SUPERB.
FANTASTIC.
AMAZING.
GOOSEBUMPS ALL OVER.
ADDICTIVE.

Ukraine, please. PLEASE. <3 do it right

V
V
5 years ago

It’s like “Don’t Deny” but worse. Jamala is clearly sending a message to Russia even though this deportation thing happened in another country: USSR. I really hope that Ukrainians will send a non-political song like Overload or even Higher.

Mei international
Mei international
5 years ago

Urkanian…..

Hugh
Hugh
5 years ago

It’s amazing, she’s amazing. It has to win the NF, and while I’m not quite sure it’s a Eurovision winner, it’s the kind of song that the juries should adore and if she can perform as well as she did in the semi once she gets to Stockholm, and there’s a good but not overwhelming production, who knows? I think Jamala’s songs tend to be growers, on first listen they’re sometimes just a bit too weird. But after people listen, and relisten, and relisten, and catch little bits of new, intelligent songwriting and performance, it’s hard not to adore a… Read more »

Leaf
Leaf
5 years ago

I don’t even need to hear the rest of the songs to know this is a TOP 3 material.
10/10

Alvaricomg
Alvaricomg
5 years ago

From my point of view, this is a MASTERPIECE!