Ukraine faces difficult circumstances where survival is a daily struggle for countless people. But as we have seen time and time again, Russia’s war will not stop Ukrainians from raising their voice.
On Monday Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne announced that it had received a total of 384 song submissions for Vidbir 2023 — its national selection for Eurovision. The submissions come from a total of 299 participants. The longlist of acts will be published by the end of October.
The final will take place on 17 December in Kyiv’s Independence Square metro station. Metro stations are quite deep in Kyiv, and have served as bomb shelters throughout the war. Now they will welcome music as Vidbir brings Ukrainians together again.
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Ukraine receives 384 Eurovision song submissions for Vidbir 2023
While there were no doubts about Ukraine participating in Eurovision 2023, many raised questions about the process by which they would select their song and if Ukraine would hold their national selection, Vidbir. Eurovision Ukraine’s Instagram page, @suspilne.eurovision, has been constantly active and they announced in August that it was accepting applications. The application period closed two days ago.
Dmytro Shurov (better known as Pianoboy) is the music producer of this year’s Vidbir. Speaking to Suspilne, Dmytro said that despite ongoing Russian aggression and the general state of anxiety, the national selection will proceed as scheduled. He pointed how impressive it was to receive so many entries in light of the profound challenges Ukrainian artists face. Many are abroad or volunteering with the war effort and humanitarian relief. Many are, no doubt, facing the emotional low point of their lives.
As ever, Eurovision fans are looking forward for the next song from Ukraine. In recent years their entries have enjoyed huge success at home, and won over plenty of fans abroad. Ukraine’s past two acts, Go_A and Kalush Orchestra, mixed traditional music with a modern sound. The presence of some traditional instruments brought authenticity while the dynamic stage shows and songs made the audience dance or weep (as we saw in Turin). Considering this, Eurovision fans might wonder if Ukraine will follow a similar recipe this year.
One thing is certain: the song that will represent Ukraine will carry a strong message. Dmytro stated that some of the songs are still in their demo versions and some are just “the cry of the soul of people who do not even plan to be artists.” Some of the submitted songs speak about life in bomb shelters, emigration, grief caused by the loss of relatives, and people’s faith in Armed Forces.
He concludes by saying that the number of song submissions is a vivid example of people’s attitude towards constructiveness and hope.
A committee will now evaluate the songs to decide who will make it into Vidbir, and the selection of the perfect song will be tough. While Ukraine must focus on a song with a strong message, it must also avoid political topics so it doesn’t violate Eurovision rules. That means any messages will likely be delivered through metaphor, or on topics broad enough to be read through an ambiguous or multi-faceted lens. Producers will probably screen the participants more closely than in 2022, to avoid repeating a drama on the scale of Alina Pash, the initial winner of last year’s Vidbir.
In May 2022, Kalush Orchestra delivered an emotional and powerful moment on the Eurovision stage, bringing victory to Ukraine. Their win will be acclaimed and celebrated by the United Kingdom this year, as Ukraine is not able to host the show as Russia continues to wage war, attacking both civilian and military targets. The BBC has promised that this edition of Eurovision will celebrate Ukrainian music and culture. The host city, Liverpool, is the birthplace of John Lennon, the composer of one of the greatest peace anthems ever written, “Imagine”.
What kind of song would you like to hear representing Ukraine next year? What former Vidbir artists you would like to see again?