Ukrainian National Selection for Eurovision is in its peak. The final will take place on February 21, but meanwhile the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has been listening to and reviewing all the songs that qualified from the semi-finals. This time we are discussing Jamala with her song “1944”. She is transferring all her pain into the song and sharing it with us. Did we feel it? Read and find out!
JAMALA – “1944”
Mikhail: This song is astonishing. I absolutely adore ethnic folk elements in music and Jamala delivers it amazingly well. When you think that the song is becoming a bit repetitive, Jamala stirrs it up with her voice doing incredible vocalization and it is so close to my Siberian soul. Some may argue that the message is political, but as Russian, I can say that it is not. The song is about history, when we all were united, but we had all suffered a lot and still bear the consequences.
William: This is dark, direct and at times nihilistic: “They kill you all and say, ‘We’re not guilty’…everyone dies.” In lesser hands it would come off as melodrama. But Jamala delivers it with conviction and soul, resulting in a strangely intoxicating and other-worldly sound. “1944” defies convention, mixing traditional Ukrainian music with soul and R&B, and yet it somehow remains universal and accessible. At the end of the song she channels the pain of a thousand victims in one single cry. This is a gift that can’t be taught.
Deban: Anna Trincher touched on social issues, and SLAYED on stage. This doesn’t. “1944” is borderline boring when you’re oblivious to the backstory. Yes, I get it — there’s a powerful narrative at the core of this, however her music isn’t steering it.
Josh: If I had to pick three words to describe “1944”, it would be powerful, mesmerising and emotional. Jamala was born in current-day Kyrgyzstan to a Crimean Tatar family, and the song coveys such a powerful story about her ancestry and the wrongs that the Soviet regime created for the Crimean Tatars in 1944. I have no doubts that the Ukrainian public will get behind this, and I’ll happily join them. Stunning!
Robyn: I had to check that this was only three minutes long (it is) because it felt much longer. But I get the feeling that any perceived issues with dragging could be resolved with more dynamic staging. As it is, this combination of alternative R&B sounds with traditional folk styles creates a really bold and emotional song, and that’s even without knowing the history behind the lyrics. Perfect for a Ukraine comeback.
Luis: This is probably one of the most interesting compositions this year. “1944” is mature, avant-garde and emotional, and Jamala exudes confidence on stage. This is a huge step for Ukraine. Normally at the national final stage, their songs sound like unfinished demos, while this is could be perfectly released as a single tomorrow without any changes. It feels like heaven to imagine how good this could be in Stockholm.
Antranig: Jamala blew me away with her live performance — “1944” is incredible. The only criticism I have is that the last minute or so becomes a little repetitive — it’s not a huge problem but I wouldn’t mind seeing it revamped. Will this win Eurovision? I think not. Will it get into the top five? You’d have to be very brave to bet against her.
Zakaria: In my view, any controversial and/or historical issue should stay away from the contest. Having said that, I will only judge the song and not the topic. Jamala is an incredible vocalist and delivers the song with so much emotions and power. I think Ukraine just found the right one…
William C.: 8/10
The highest and lowest scores are removed before calculating the final score. We have dropped a low of 3.5 and a high of 10.