The first semi-final of Vidbir took place this evening. Eight acts battled it out for a place in the final and for the chance to represent Ukraine in Tel Aviv this May. Maruv, Brunettes Shoot Blondes and Yuko became one step closer as they became the first three acts to win a place in the final.
Eight unique acts took to the Vidbir stage in Kyiv this evening in the hope of representing Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. The contest took place in the Palace of Culture in Kyiv with Serhiy Pritula returning as host. The show saw the return of judges Jamala, Andriy Danylko and Yevhen Filatov who as always provided each candidate with critique.
The first semi-final saw different styles and performances for a Ukrainian national selection show with each of the eight acts bringing their own unique style to the competition. In a change to last year, there was no hour long break but instead a series of 15 minute commercial breaks throughout the show. The voting break also being limited to just 15 minutes. At the end of the voting break, the winner of last year’s Vidbir Melovin took to the stage to perform his latest single. At results time the judge’s votes were read out first followed by the televote. Yuko won the jury vote with The Hypnotunez coming in final place. On the televote the Hypnotunez again came in last place with Maruv coming in first place.
The Hypnotunez – Hey!
First up were the Hypnotunez. The five bearded men in suits took to the stage playing a range of instruments such as the Saxophone, the trumpet amongst others.. Hey! sounds like a mixture of Alcohol is free by Koza Mostra and Hey Mama by Sunstroke Project. The self confessed ‘dirty rats of jazz’ who participated in the X Factor in 2016 gave it their all. Yevhen Filatov complimented the band saying that the track would sound amazing with a large crowd in front of them. Jamala said she was concerned that the performance relied too much on instruments which can not be played on the Eurovision stage.
Letay – Myla Moya (My Dear)
Next up was Letay who performed as a ring master of a circus. The performance followed a circus theme with a young girl appearing to balance on globe suspended in the air and a boy dressed as a mime artist juggling on a unicycle. The interesting performance ended as Letay grabbed a hold of some balloons and in Mary Poppins’ fashioned flew into the air and disappeared from view. It was an interesting performance but somehow took the attention from the song. Andriy Danylko expressed this in his critique of the song.
Vera Kekelia – WOW!
Former Voice of the Country competitor Vera Kekelia was the third act to perform. Vera stood alone in the spotlight as the song began. Wearing a large white fur coat, she removed it to reveal a glittering gold dress. She was later joined by 4 backing singers dressed in black sequins from head to toe who were so far away from Kekelia that they didn’t seem to be part of the performance. They were so far away in fact, that they were on a completely different stage. Yehven Filatov felt commented that although he likes this style of music, it isn’t for the masses and is not really for Eurovision.
TseSho – Hate
Bringing another unique style to the contest, TseSho opened their performance dressed as puppets in orange dungarees with each member of the band playing their own individual brass and accordion instruments. As the beat kicked in the puppets danced in unison as they played their instruments but will a song with the lyrics ‘ I hate Eurovision’ go down well on a Eurovision selection show? Judge Andriy Danylko criticized the song because it didn’t have a melody that people could along too however Jamala liked the song and it’s meaning.
YUKO – Galyna Guliana (Galyna Walked)
Male female duo Yuko were next to take to the stage. The folktronica band started off slow and gained energy and momentum as the song went on. Dressed in long robes, the lead singer danced along with cartoon women on the backing screens. The song was purposely chose to not perform the song in English in order to keep the originality and authenticity of the lyrics of the song however, international viewers might find it difficult to understand the concept and meaning of the song as the performance alone doesn’t give this away.
MARUV – Siren Song
Maruv were not originally part of the vidbir line up but were chosen to replace Tayanna when she dramatically resigned from the contest a few weeks ago. Maruv brought brassy percussion, folk and electronica together with a striking visual display. Probably the most interesting performance of the night. Maruv was joined by 3 female dancers, for the second chorus Maruv walked to the judges table and gyrated provocatively in front of them before pretending to shoot Yevhen Filatov as she sang ‘Bang!’. Judge Jamala raised her concerns that the performance might be too provocative for Eurovision but fellow judge Andriy Danylko disagreed.
Brunettes Shoot Blondes – Houston
Brunettes Shoot Blondes have brought a slower song to the contest this year. The duo started their performance sat at the piano which turned out to several other instruments built in to it. Like a two man band, several of the instruments including a xylophone, kick drum and chimes were played at once. At the end of the performance host Serhiy Pritula gave it a go much to the delight of the studio audience. Andriy Danylko criticized the use of the piano commenting that it wouldn’t make a big impression at Eurovision. Jamala liked the piano but felt that something more is needed if they do to Eurovision.
BAHROMA – Nazavzhdy- Navsegda (Forever and Ever)
Bahroma closed the show with another slow song. The band performed in a vertical line against a white backdrop and flooring. The performance had mixed responses from the judges with Yevhen and Jamala liking the song but Andriy saying that he felt this wasn’t the song they should send to Eurovision.
The second semi-final which take place on Saturday 16th February where two more artists will win a place in the final with Czech contestant Lake Malawi performing in the interval. Ukraine’s representative for this year will be decided on Saturday 23rd February.
Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest
Ukraine are one of the most successful countries at the Eurovision Song Contest. Debuting in 2003, they have won the competition twice and earned a top 10 result a total of 9 times. They last won the contest in 2016 when Jamala and her song 1944 beat Dami Im and Sergey Lazarev on a combined vote. Last year the were represented by Melovin who brought a gothic style to the contest. Despite receiving a decent televote score he was slated by the juries and finished in a disappointing 17th place.