Ukrainian national selection for Eurovision 2016

For weeks Eurovision fans have been discussing whether Jamala’s Eurovision 2016 entry “1944” is political or merely unpacks history. The mid-tempo song, which has emerged as a fan favourite, recounts Stalin’s deportation of Crimean Tatars from their native Crimea. Jamala addresses this troubled slice of history in a direct and poignant way, opening with these nihilistic lines: “When strangers are coming, they come to your house; they kill you all inside [and say] ‘We’re not guilty, not guilty’.” Now, following Jamala’s narrow victory in Ukraine’s national selection, the international media is taking note. From Billboard to Der Spiegel, journalists are working themselves into a frenzy over geopolitical tensions in the region. The BBC was rather blunt with its headline: “Eurovision: Ukraine’s entry aimed at Russia”.

Indeed, the message behind “1944” is not subtle. In 1944 more than 230,000 Crimean Tatars were forcibly exiled from their native Crimea by the Soviet leadership and hundreds of thousands of people died, leading many to define the event as a genocide. Jamala’s grandparents were among them. It’s this link that led her to sing the chorus of “1944” in the Crimean Tatar language, nodding to her family and their tragedy. She inverts the text of a traditional Crimean song “Ey, güzel Kirim,” saying, “couldn’t spend my youth there, because you took away my peace.”

In 2015 the Ukrainian Parliament recognised the events of 1944 as genocide, but Russia still does not (although they recently admitted some fault for the events). Given the current struggle between the two countries over Crimea, there is reason to see an anti-Moscow political dimension. Such political posturing is, of course, banned by Eurovision. In 2009, Georgia’s thinly veiled attack on Russia — “We Don’t Wanna Put In” — was rejected for this very reason. Last year’s Armenian entry had political undertones, but was allowed to participate after a name switch from “Don’t Deny” (the Armenian Genocide) to “Face the Shadow”. There’s plenty of room to debate just where “1944” sits within the rules.

We react to Jamala’s “1944”

Despite the ongoing conflict over Crimea, many Russians do not find the song anti-Russian at all. Rather they see the song as speaking to a collective history of oppression and forced migration faced by many people under Stalin and the U.S.S.R. Among them is Russian wiwiblogger Misha, who discusses this fact in the video above.

In so many ways we’re already seeing shades of Eurovision 2014, which came on the heels of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. It was a hot button issue, particularly in light of ambiguous lyrics in the Russia song: “Living on the edge, closer to the Crime, cross the line a step at a time.” wiwiblogger William wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about the lyrics, which ultimately landed wiwibloggs on Russian TV, where we had to defend our suggestion that the lyrics were a tad loaded.  Fast forward to 29:30 for that. Mariya Yaremchuk, Ukraine’s singer, also made it clear she was doing battle for her country, frequently referencing the struggles of her homeland.

Eurovision 2014 revisited?

In any event, what do you think? Could “1944” succeed at Eurovision, or is the song too politically charged? Or maybe it could succeed because it is somewhat political? Let us know in the comments and on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Follow all of our Ukraine Eurovision news here

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ellen averson
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ellen averson

Next year the Netherlands will have a song called mh17 and why Ukrain shot it down and why they keep blaming Russia, they can’t refuse it as it is not a politcal song but a personal story

Charles Dominic
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Charles Dominic

With this result, the European Union keeps aligning itself with the ultraright-winged side of politics, as well as the Ukrainian government, which is obviously behind this move. The song aligns the singer and everyone behind her with the manipulated history claimed and yelled by Ukrainian Nationalists factions, the same that were collaborationists with the Nazis and helped in slaughter of ukrainians and pogroms against ukrainian jews. She (and everyone in the European Union politics) seems to forget that the Red Army is the one (and the onlye one) that expelled the Nazi invaders, who killed more than 6.25 millions of… Read more »

robert
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robert

Dont forget that Ukrainians helped the Nazis during the war.

Palina L
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Palina L

Unfortunately, people often don’t take into account that Russians are not the same thing as Soviets (Ukrainians, Belarusians etc. were Soviets, too) and Stalinist USSR was very different from the Soviet periods after. Stalinist oppression is recognized and condemned. But speaking about Stalin’s crimes in the context of today’s Russia is like associating the present German generation with fascism.

Stefy
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Stefy

Yes, yes, what the Russians did in Crimea was harsh as hell.No one denies it.But when it comes to a song contest that in theory is supposed to be about art, bringing people closer, such a song about such crimes is not appropriate.It’s not even a well written song…Not to mention it gives off all the anger, resentments that some ukrainians still have for Russia.You want to make a political song?Sing about peace, sing about trying to get along, and please, stop trying to cause further fights.The year ’44 is gone.Learn from the past then leave it to rest.This song… Read more »

Reo
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Reo

Apparently, Russia is having an issue by realising they have done something wrong.

It is exposure of art and there is no explicit sign of political message.

oxyk
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oxyk

here’s latest remark by Jamala on song “political” context (in Ukrainian) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylLpjiGb2YI it can be roughly translated as “We talked to EBU officials regarding song lyrics and they have no complains about it. Russian officials claimed that they asked EBU to check the song, however EBU knows nothing about it, because they have not got any official request to do so. I might change some lyrics in song to make it better, tho it will be not because of the request but to suit my own vision and goals”. ok, that’s it. Russian already claimed that EBU “WILL” disqualify Jamala… Read more »

oxyk
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oxyk

Russian in their media already started to accuse this sing in being politic and “an attempt to humiliate Russia”, also they urged EBU to check song for political context and demand us to withdraw it. At the same time many of local Russian town sites (roughly 100+) published the same post that Jamala will participate with “political” Crimean Tatar song. Such interest from small local Russian sites can be explained by… campaign. I’m not sure what Russians are up to, do they try to warn audience or to promote Jamala on our behalf, or maybe it’s a preparation for a… Read more »

Anton
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Anton

” EBU does not allow this provocation from Ukraine.
How many people kills Tatars in Nazi troups in Ukraine part of Soviet Union from 1941 to 1945 during the WW 2. ”

Please spare this racist attack against the Crimean Tatars. By the way, Jamala’s great-grandfathers and uncles all fighted in the Soviet army and yet her family had been deported. You like to forget of thousands of Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, French and many others who collaborated with the Axis Powers. This slur is getting really ugly.

Anton
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Anton

I’m completely shocked by this negative reaction from Russia. Numerous Russians and Ukrainians suffered a lot as well back then and yet many still try to justify crimes of the Soviet regime. Stories that personal and global at the same time should not be forgotten but shared. Such acknowledgement is very important for a small people of Crimean Tatars. This is the way Jamala wants to represent her country and her people, and the country voted in her support. I believe it’s up to Ukrainians to decide.

David Who
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David Who

I read in The Guardian that the EBU will make an announcement about this “sometime after March 14th,” when all the candidate songs have been declared.

MGR
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MGR

Ukrainian selections were very bad with only bad entries.

@EugeneESCUK
Guest

Charles :- I agree with “amazed and surprised”. No doubt people in Russia will be sitting around a table and have either discussed it and already dismissed complaining about it or they are still discussing it. The EBU will probably do nothing UNTIL a complaint is lodged by Russia.

Charles
Guest
Charles

If Russia dares to complaint, I’d be amazed and surprised … At the end of the day Russia and Ukraine will still award each other regardless and all these buzz and controversy will be nothing else but a Mexican soap opera used to distract us and waste our time … They may hate each other but like brothers and sisters they don’t know how to pretend the other does not exist (the “mother land” is still their mother). Armenia and Azerbaijan are the only ones who know how to do that in clear perfection. Greece and Cyprus are the other… Read more »

@EugeneESCUK
Guest

Well I guess it’s all guesswork at the moment, if Russia officially complains to the EBU those 7 men will have to make a decision and make recommendations to the EBU.

Julian
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Julian

The song won’t go unnoticed that is for sure. And it will probably be the trademark of this year contest unless something else, very drastic, happens.

John Egan
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John Egan

It is more historical than political. Doubtless some will draw inferences that this is a comment on Crimea today–but there’s nothing obvious in the song that can be pointed to as overtly political. Will the song’s message resonate with others from the ex-Soviet bloc–including in the Russian Federation? Quite probably. But this wouldn’t be getting this much attention, nor would Jamala have won the televotes in both the semi-final and national final so handily, if she didn’t perform it so well. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but she’s note perfect and sings with conviction. Top 3 in… Read more »

Miguél Ferrer
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Miguél Ferrer

Loin D’ici has a few political undertones as well! Why not for Jamala’s 1944? Oh, anyway, love ’em both! ????????????

Colin
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Colin

France 2015 (Noubliez Paz)
Armenia 2015 (Face The Shadow)
Hungary 2015 (Wars For Nothing)
Ukraine 2010 (Sweet People)
Israel 2009 (There Must Be Another Way)
Georgia 2008 (Peace Will Come)

All these songs with similar lyrics and subcontext got greenlit, so why not 1944?

These songs sing about meaningful things and have something to say to whomever is listening. If more people understood, there would be less hate in this world.

MTD
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MTD

1. Change the title.
2. Change “they kill you all” to something that hasn’t “kill” in itself.
3. Change “you think you are gods, ha, but everyone dies” to something not so die-able.

End of discussion.

MTD
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MTD

It’s so fu*kin’ annoying how you defend your little “favorite” song (Ukraine). Maybe you are the ones that booed Russia in the past two years. Pathetic. This is a political song. Period. And if it wants to be apolitical, it must be changed lyrics-wise. It’s not much, but some subtle changes can occur. And Jamala already stated that they may change some of the lyrics in an interview. And someone mentioned “the favorite to win the ESC now, can’t be DSQ”. Well, it isn’t a favorite to win, in the first place, and secondly, why not to be DSQ if… Read more »

Alex
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Alex

Also agreed about the point of France’s song going through. Nobody protested that song, and it was about virtually the same sort of topic.

Anis
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Anis

Of course it’s political, mass deportation of Crimean Tatars was a crime in humanity along with the annexation of Crimea by Russia. I do believe she did say it’s not an attack on Russians today, who had no role in the deportations and Russians themselves suffered under Stalin. Some 50,000 Crimean Tatars has fled Crimea since Russia took over and many feel persecuted. Politics is not a new issue in Eurovision, and i would prefer no politics but to be honest you can’t really get away from it. It’s in our nature. Israel has many many times bring politics into… Read more »

Alex
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Alex

Agreed with mawnck. Come on, they let “Face the Shadow” go through – how could they not let this one go through?

Briekimchi
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Briekimchi

So what they are saying is there is a chance that we may not get to listen to this at Eurovision but last year, we had to sit through three toe-curlingly bad minutes of “Face the Shadow”?
Come on!

Andrei
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Andrei

If the Russians would be clean, no one would feel attacked by this song. Unfortunately, history is repeating. 1994 can be any year, in any country, not only in Ukraine. Jamala says a really sad truth.

Jacques
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Jacques

Oh, some people are on ‘politic songs’ again. Well, what is a politic song like is ‘We Don’t Want to Put In’ – it’s message is obvious, and contrering to an elected leader of a state. But neither ‘Face the Shadow’ (Armenia 2015), ‘Hay’ (Israel 1983)c ‘Apricot Stone’ (Armenia 2010) or Jamala’s ‘1944’ can’t be ‘politic’. What’s told in these songs are on the crimes against the humanity – neither Ottoman Empire, Nazi Germany or Soviet Union aren’t existing anymore but that doesn’t mean we should completely forget neither can’t close our eyes to what’s happened seventy years ago. I… Read more »

Amor A.
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Amor A.

1944 is a historical song. I don’t believe Jamala wrote it to stir up Anti-Russian feelings. May of 1944 is when the Crimean Tatars were exiled from their land. Eurovision is in May of this year, she will be singing it close to the anniversary. I find nothing wrong with singing about historical events. Jamala keep the song.

oxyk
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oxyk

why title have to be changed? I can understand if it will be named like “Moskalyaku na gilyaku” (hung Russian on the tree – in the worst translation), then Russian can cry about it. All nations had hard times, wars, war crimes, maybe there’s not much countries with such bloody history as Russia, but still… why they can’t take it like an adult? why even mentioning a year of history event makes them crazy? such a lame nation. they kill and torture others and then don’t have guts to admit they did it. why it should be our issue? Russians… Read more »

Nikos
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Nikos

It is obviously this metaphorical meaning that led Ukrainians to vote for Jamala to narrowly hand her the win. No complaints from me as I respect Jamala for singing about an important and forgotten historical event. (Personally I preferred Hardkiss).

So this is not an obvious political controversy like Georgia 2009, but the metaphoric parallel is pretty obvious. I don’t know what I would do as the EBU in this situation. DQ is a bit harsh, but maybe just modify the lyrics a little bit.

beccaboo1212
Guest

I have an idea – Jamala should change the song’s title to “Ya?l???ma toyalmad?m” (which is basically part of the chorus). If so, everything should work out fine! 😉

Andre
Guest
Andre

I don’t like “1994”. Eurovison isn’t political song contest.
To my mind eurovion win Edyta Górniak. She improve her song. It’s magic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgQkhqckDKk

ct_greece
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ct_greece

@ Eugene

It’s not bad in a non-offending, adult-oriented-radio kind of way. A little too smooth and polished perhaps, with an atmosphere quite similar to last year’s polish entry. And as Ireland, Israel and Sweden have all found out, returning Eurovision acts from the ’90s are always a terrible idea 🙂

Szymi
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Szymi

terrible song

Anfrers
Guest

It’s not political, it’s history and in my opinion banning it would be incredibly harsh.

@EugeneESCUK
Guest

Off topic :- Edyta Gorniak – “Grateful” / official audio – Wow!!

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

Ben
Guest
Ben

I can’t believe some people are saying this song is just about something that happened years ago. It’s CLEARLY an attack on the Russia of today as well.

Milla
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Milla

Maybe they’ll have to send the runner-up instead if she’ll get disqualified..

Mar
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Mar

Is the song politically charged? Yes, the parallels between Crimea in 1944 and Crimea in 2014 are too significant to just be considered a coincidence. Even if you don’t know the background story, just by listening to the lyrics about strangers coming to your house and killing everyone, if you know the basics about the Ukraine-Russia conflict, you’ll know something is up. Before we talk about disqualification, we should wait for Russia to file a complaint to the EBU if they feel offended by the song. This might not be the case, as Russia also recognizes the events of 1944… Read more »

@EugeneESCUK
Guest

Andrew :- I think the title “Our Souls” might also be vetoed as maybe being considered insulting. (Just repeat that title 8 times very quickly) maybe something else eh? Maybe “Humanity Cries” fits the song’s lamentable mood or even “We could build of future”. Well I’m not going to get into the politics………………..they are not going to disqualify one of the favourites who is a returning country to the contest. The title may have to change though. You know what they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity. So how do you get your song noticed all over… Read more »

Rashad
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Rashad

Well, the song is definetely political. But it would be doublestandards banning this song, while the Armenian entry was perfectly accepted.
I like the song, the lyrics could be much better though. I was expecting something clever.
BTW, I understand the whole Crimean Tataric part, cause this language is almost the same with Azeri. So it’s kinda nice to hear that.
Wish them good luck.

Never forget
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Never forget

EBU does not allow this provocation from Ukraine.
How many people kills Tatars in Nazi troups in Ukraine part of Soviet Union from 1941 to 1945 during the WW 2.

cheesecake
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cheesecake

In my opinion the song is rather about history than politics, which is absolutely okay to sing about, just like Armenia did last year. It would be unfair not to let artists sing about tragic, historical FACTS that shouldn’t be forgotten. Especially when there’s no direct reference/hint to Russia or Stalin.
I also disagree with the people claiming that Ukraine sent this to provoke Russia, I believe they were just very touched by it.

Hugh
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Hugh

“Our Souls” sounds more political than “1944”, at least pronounced in my Australian accent… Everything is political, and pretending this song doesn’t have a nod to the current context is a bit silly. But it isn’t overt, and that’s the line the EBU draws. ‘N’oubliez pas’ was more overt, ‘Don’t Deny/Face the Shadow’ was more overt, and the selection of PKN was as political as the selection of Jamala. The difference is that Jamala is a quality act with a quality song, and so yeah, she’s singing about the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people in 1944, but she is… Read more »

ct_greece
Guest
ct_greece

There is nothing in the actual lyrics, no political finger-pointing or recrimination, to disqualify this masterpiece. In many ways it is very similar to Greece’s entry from 1976, “Panaya mou”, which clearly alluded to the invasion of Cyprus from the point of view of the victims, in a very powerful and poignant way. The lyrics did not mention Cyprus or Turkey at all, however turkish tv was so livid about it they interrupted the broadcast for the duration of the song. The only thing that may give the organisers pause is the title which does refer to an actual historical… Read more »

Darren
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Darren

@Sal I never said the story was far fetched, I do believe that the events of 1944 did happen, I study history for a living and I can tell you that it did happen, however, I also studied politics and I can tell you that you should never just accept something at face value, you should always be critical, such as the coincidence that this song has been put forward now, of all times, the fact that its sung in Crimean Tatar, when the issue of Crimea is a sensitive one in Ukraine right now, that is sure to pull… Read more »

Melissa J
Guest
Melissa J

Everything at Eurovision has some political charge. If Armenia can sing about their genocide, if Israel can sing about their issues, I don’t see a problem with this, especially in the context of bringing light to historical events as they personally effect the singer. As a bonus, I think it’s great to have the Crimean Tartar language in the contest. This is song is potent, it’s different, it’s a bit political, but it’s not offensive.

Österrike
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Österrike

Ukraine apparently sees only one role for itself and that is to stir controversy between Russia and the rest of Europe on every single possible level.

wannafly
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wannafly

Songs can be different: dance songs rapping songs, meaningless songs, dramatic…etc. But this song is a MEMORY of Jamala’s grand-mother and of course it’s the HISTORY that touches everyone’s heartstrings………………….. So what’s the problems if the heroine of this song lived in 1944 ?

mawnck
Guest
mawnck

You can’t disqualify a song because of metaphor.

Well, you CAN, but I don’t think you should. The song’s ACTUAL topic is history, not current events. Let it stay in.

If it causes Russia to withdraw, then they should try not to let the door hit them in the butt on their way out.