Aside from the occasional blip, Ukraine is one of the strongest Eurovision countries. And that’s because, for the most part, the acts it sends are already successful stars.
Unsurprisingly, nearly all of them have only gotten bigger in the years after their contest stints. We’ve already reviewed the latest from Mariya Yaremchuk, Gaitana, and Ani Lorak. But the nation’s other divas are churning out tunes too. Here’s a quick round-up — and yes, we know a few are a couple of months old, but better late than never!
Jamala “I Believe In U”
Unjustly overshadowed by a prankster when performed at Eurovision 2017, Jamala’s “I Believe In U” is a real gem. Harking back to the days of “It’s Me, Jamala”, the uplifting soul number is a world away from the doom and gloom of “1944”. There are traces of darkness, but the 2016 winner assures us that they’re only fleeting. The good days will come again, and, until they do, Jamala will remain by your side — “Just keep your head up to the sky, Don’t ever look back keep moving on and on”. The music video is just as inspirational. Filmed in Portugal, it follows a young boy as he sets about achieving his dreams of taking a boat out to sea. Juding from Jamala’s social media, we can expect the follow-up single later this week.
Zlata Ognevich “Tantsyuvaty”
Just as she’s a chameleon in her career choices — from pop star to politician and back again — Zlata Ognevich mixes it up in the recording studio too. At Eurovision 2013 she embodied Disney princess chic. Next she released a peace anthem set to club beats, while she tried her hand at Bollywood soon after. Now she’s flirting with R&B. “Tantsyuvaty” (Dance) possesses a distinctly urban feel and we even hear the “Gravity” singer engage in a little rapping. Although she sings “we will dance”, the track’s vibes lend themselves better to chilled-out relaxation rather than dance floor madness. The music video channels the single’s laid back pace, and we see Zlata blend the urban with the rural as she and her posse dance atop futuristic props deep in the woodlands.
At Eurovision 2010 she sang of an environmental disaster, and Alyosha’s latest single “Kalina” touches on ecological themes too. This time she sings of viburnum berries or possibly wildflowers, the exact translation is open to a certain degree of interpretation. But unlike her song for Oslo, “Kalina” is an absolute pop bop. And from the sounds of it, the “Sweet People” songstress has even thrown in some didgeridoo. Because why not? As for the video, Alyosha and her backing troupe don space-age attire while dancing in lush green pastures.
A music artist’s imperial phase is the period during which they are most successful commercially. Eight years after her Eurovision 2009 stint, Svetlana Loboda is slap-bang in the middle of hers. Both her previous singles — “K Chyortu Lyubov” and “Tvoi Glaza” — were massive in Russia and the surrounding CIS region. Unsurprisingly, “Sluchainaya” (Random) sticks to a similar template — the anti-crisis girl coolly sings over electonic beats which gradually build towards a whooping crescendo.
However, as always with Loboda, the song is a mere component in her latest single campaign. The music video is where all the fun happens. Here’s the plot — Loboda is pestered by the paparazzi, one of whom is particularly intrusive. A fight breaks out between him and her boyfriend, resulting in the latter throwing the former’s camera into a river. A blade is produced, the boyfriend is stabbed in the gut… or so it seems, the boyfriend has actually killed the photographer. In response, our traumatised diva starts a huge fire. The end.
Tina Karol “Ya ne perestanu”
As with so many of Ukraine’s Eurovision divas, 2006’s Tina Karol has largely abandoned her frothy pop roots. These days, when not acting as a judge on The Voice, the “Show Me Your Love” singer is much more likely to be found belting out an overwrought ballad than frolicking with Cossack dancers. In June she dropped the music video for “Ya ne perestanu” (I Won’t Stop). The powerful Russian-language tune exudes drama. It opens to a rock-style electric guitar riff, as Tina supplements her vocals with occasional emotional wails. The visuals are just as gripping. Half a dozen versions of the pop star bring the lyrics to life through dance while simultaneously battling burning furniture.
Ruslana “It’s Magical”
Of course Jamala wasn’t the only former champion to make an appearance at Eurovision in May. Ruslana — the 2004 winner — also popped by to debut her latest single “It’s Magical”. Apparently the song was 12 years in the making and you’d easily believe it. Complete with tribal-like chanting and profuse electric guitar, it resembles the love child of “Wild Dancers” and a reject from Albania’s Festivali i Këngës. Nonetheless, it’s toe-tapping fun. Although the official PR spiel on the track’s connection with Ukraine’s recent geo-political struggles is a bit of a stretch.
What do you think of all the releases from our favourite Ukrainian divas? Which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
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