Yesterday the Wiwi Jury – our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — went to Ukraine and sat down at a cafe. Over bublik rolls and coffee, we discussed Jamala‘s song “1944”. Were we moved by her history lesson? Read on to find out!
Jamala – “1944”
Angus: Jamala puts her own spin on Ukraine’s female vocalist format, offering “1944” as a raw historical epic that drips in emotion, pain and suffering. The emotive message will likely for the most part be lost on the wider audience, but her vocal will be undeniable. That said, “1944” only becomes really captivating at the 1:30 mark and before that the song strays into uninteresting territory.
Bogdan: One of the strongest entries this year, and definitely the most serious, Ukraine’s “1944” blends a heart-wrenching message with a sweeping melody and a show-stopping performance. Jamala’s dramatic inhales punctuate the powerful song, and her voice conjures the desperation of the countless Tatar children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents who suffered unspeakable tragedies because of tyranny and racism. “1944” is, unfortunately, very relevant in 2016, and I personally hope it will win the Eurovision Song Contest.
Robyn: While the lyrics of “1944” are very strong and emotional, musically I find the song to be really underwhelming. Despite the passion and theatrics, I always find my attention wandering from the performance. I appreciate the importance of this part of Ukraine history (I’m sure Jamala will be great at Stockholm), but I just can’t find a connection with “1944” as a song.
Chris: Whereas Genealogy’s war-torn story maybe got lost in the ether, there’s no way that the message of “1944” will suffer the same fate. The pain that Jamala conveys throughout the song really strikes a chord. It’s not a song that you’d listen to again and again – but when I first watched this, I was completely sold. That first impression will be all important on the night in Stockholm too. Don’t write off Kyiv 2017 just yet.
Deban: Recounting a dark period of Crimean history calls for a sombre outing. Jamala captures this in an understated, but somewhat jarring way. “1944” may have rocked the political stratosphere, but truthfully, this is borderline boring when you’re oblivious to the back-story. However, I applaud Jamala for speaking up. Her voice needs to be heard!
Steinunn: I absolutely adore this song — what a comeback for Ukraine. Ukraine probably holds the record for the most out-of-this-world prop usage in Eurovision, but this year they’ve decided to leave the hamster-wheel back in Kyiv and bring this gem to the big stage instead. Some people claim that Eurovision is nothing but meaningless glitter and gadgets, but Ukraine proves that this can be a platform for serious music as well. The song is such a statement and Jamala’s performance is impeccable. I can feel the painful message of the song through her voice and I love how she’s managed to mix traditional and alternative styles together. I just want to listen to it over and over again. Welcome back, Ukraine.
Denise: I understand that this song has an important message and that it’s the reason why the verses are in English. For me, the Crimean Tatar parts are the best so I would prefer the whole song in that language. I especially like the second part of the song where Jamala shows us what a great singer she is.
Diego: Eurovision and politics do not mix well most of the times — that’s a fact. The key to make the message go across the fans is to simply believe in what you’re singing, and Jamala feels every drop of pain she sings in “1944”. Her delivery makes me shiver throughout the three minutes, with a refined R&B and pop/folk style. One thing is for sure: Jamala means what she sings, and the souls she sings for are present during her performance.
Padraig: “1944” has taken me on quite the journey. During the Ukrainian selection I hated it with a passion. But since then my feelings towards it have mellowed considerably. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m hearing it without the threat of Ruslanna yapping for four hours or maybe I’ve just come to my senses. Either way, the track has a new found resonance for me. Jamala delivers an utterly compelling performance, which is completely different from anything else on offer this year. I just hope that viewers don’t take as long to connect with the song as I did.
Patrick: I knew we will have a song again where people scream “Eurovision is not political”. Listen, this is historical and important for our world now. Jamala is a queen on stage, she shows emotion, she is pure and real and she has this fantastic voice that makes you feel all the pain and suffer of her song. I really missed Ukraine and I’m so happy with their comeback. On some point I can even see Ukraine winning because of originality and vocals. My votes belong to Ukraine!
William: This is dark, direct and at times nihilistic: “They kill you all and say, ‘We’re not guilty’…everyone dies.” In lesser hands this 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 Crimean Tartar 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.
Zakaria: Jamala and “1944” are unique from all points of view. While I still believe political and historical conflicts should stay away from the contest, I really feel something strong watching Jamala performing her song with so much emotion, conviction and passion. This is a real dark horse to me and it might surprise at the grand final.
In the Wiwi Jury we have 40 jurors but only have room for 12 reviews. The remaining 28 scores are below.
William C: 10/10
The highest and lowest scores are dropped prior to calculating the average score. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 2 and a high of 10.