Go_A’s song selection saga seemed to end as soon as UA:PBC confirmed that a five-person jury had chosen “SHUM” for Eurovision 2021.
Can “SHUM” go to Eurovision 2021?
However, the tale doesn’t appear to be over just yet. On 4 February, Kyiv-based magazine Focus wrote that Go_A themselves said that “SHUM” couldn’t be their Eurovision entry. The publication writes:
“However, as the musicians explained themselves, “SHUM’ can’t represent Ukraine in Rotterdam, because the work is folklore, and not original. Though it is the title song of their new album SHUM.”
Shortly after the announcement of the results of the internal selection, Ukrainian Eurovision YouTuber Vanya Rassel stated that “SHUM” (and also “Tserkovka”) in fact contained lines from existing Ukrainian folk songs. And, in the case of “SHUM”, it’s more than just a few lines.
Although the official Eurovision Song Contest rules do not state anything explicitly about the use of already existing lyrics, the rules of the internal selection of the Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC say that songs are not allowed to take lyrics from already existing material.
Traditional folk songs generally do not contain copyright as the authors are generally unknown or died centuries ago. Nevertheless, Vanya points to the fact that the rules of the internal selection state that all parts of the song, both text and music, have to be original. Point 3.1. of the internal selection rules reads:
“[E]ach of the Songs is original (created without the use of other works), (…) not available to the public, for example (but not limited to) on online video platforms, social networks or semi-open / public databases data, and / or not performed publicly, in whole or in part (including lyrics separately from music or vice versa), for example (but not limited to) during concerts (…).”
Eurovision.tv writes that “an updated version of the song that meets the requirements of the competition will be presented in early March, so stay tuned!”. Could this mean that they are already looking into the lyrics?
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How do Go_A’s “SHUM” lyrics resemble Ukrainian folk songs?
After some research, it becomes clear that bar a few words, most of the lyrics of “SHUM” have been taken from a Ukrainian folk song that has many different names and versions throughout the country. Most academics and folklorists have either titled the song “A v nashoho shuma” (А в нашого шума) to its starting lyrics or just simply “Shum” (Шум).
We will dissect Go_A’s “SHUM” and compare to them to known versions of the song that we could find to see how far “SHUM” resembles existing folk songs.
“A v nashoho shuma” (version known in Rozumivka)
There is a known version of the song from the Ukrainian village of Rozumivka called “A v nashoho shuma” that has the lyrics:
“А в нашого Шума зеленая шуба,
Дівки гуляли, шубу порвали,
Сію-вію, сію-вію конопелечки,
Сію-вію, сію-вію невеличенькі”
Go_A’s “SHUM” starts with strikingly similar lyrics:
“А в нашого Шума зеленая шуба
Дівки гуляли, шубу порвали
Сію-вію, сію-вію конопелечки
Сію-вію, сію-вію зеленесеньки”
You don’t have to be a Ukrainian-speaker to see that the only difference between the two versions is the last word, which has been replaced with “зеленесеньки”.
“Гей нумо-нумо заплетемо Шума” (version known in Central Ukraine)
The next two lines in the song, “Гей нумо-нумо заплетемо Шума/ Шума заплетемо, гуляти підемо”, can also be found in folklore and have been noted down by several academics to be part of existing folk songs that in some cases also contain the lines such as “А в нашого Шума зеленая шуба”.
In 2013, Inna Tereshenko, a teacher of choreography and artistic culture at the Pavlo Tychyna Uman State Pedagogical University, wrote an academic article titled “Народна весняна гра «Шум»: часопросторовий вимір”.
In this article, Tereshenko discussed the different versions of songs with regards to a Spring ritual in Ukraine. Here, she quotes a version of the song as known by three elderly women in the village of Vishponil that contains the following lyrics:
“Ой, нумо, нумо, заплітати Шума
Шума заплетемо, гуляти підемо”
Meanwhile, Go_A’s lyrics go:
“Гей нумо-нумо заплетемо Шума
Шума заплетемо, гуляти підемо”
“Гей заплетися, Шуме, заплетися” (version documented in Kyiv)
The song then mostly consists of the set of the six previous lines we have now discussed repeated in different orders. The only two other lines that remain in the song are: “Гей заплетися, Шуме, заплетися/ Зеленим барвінком та й застелися”.
Although there seems to be no version of the song that has these exact lyrics, a document held by the City Library of Kyiv shows a version of the folk song that contains these lines:
“Розплетися, шуме, Розплетися,
Хрещатий барвiнку, Розстелися.”
While Go_A’s lines go:
“Гей заплетися, Шуме,заплетися
Зеленим барвінком та й застелися”
Although these lines seem quite different from the original to a non-speaker of the Ukrainian language, they have the same meaning. The lines by Go_A are a more standard Ukrainian version of the lines. The only real difference between the lines is the exchange for the word “Хрещатий” for “Зеленим”.
Will “SHUM” be disqualified?
In the past, songwriters had to change their song lyrics as they contained references to brands and already existing songs.
On the popular lyrics site pisni.org.ua, the lyrics of the song are noted to be written by “народнi” (narodni) and Kateryna Pavlenko, Go_A’s frontwoman. “Narodni” tells here that the song lyrics were taken from Ukrainian folklore.
To Focus, Kateryna Pavlenko stated that the group had many songs prepared for an album:
“We will unequivocally sing in Ukrainian. We have received proposals from production companies, but their most important condition was: to sing in English. And we principally wanted to sing in our native language. Therefore, we didn’t sign a contract with any of these record companies. And we have already finished a few songs for the album “SHUM”. There, there will a whole conceptual story.”
What do you think about this? Should “SHUM” be allowed to go to Eurovision? Let us known in the comments below!