TURIN, Italy – Against the backdrop of a war in Europe, the hugely popular Eurovision Song Contest reached its brightest climax on Saturday night when 25 bands performed in front of a live audience in the northern Italian city of Turin, while millions more watched the world television.
Their song, “Stefania,” was written as a tribute to Frontman’s mother, but has become a song for war-torn nations since the Russian invasion of February 24, as the lyrics take on new meaning. Kalush Orchestra Frontman Oleh Siuk writes, “I will always find my way home, even if all the roads are destroyed.”
The six-member, all-male band has been given special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture in music competitions. One of the key members stays to fight, and the others plan to return as soon as the competition is over.
The winner is chosen in equal parts by a panel of music experts from each competing country, and the audience votes, leaving the place in a bad mood. Britain’s Sam Ryder and Sweden’s Cornelia Jacobs have each been given a 10% shot, with Mahmoud and Blanco having a 6% chance of winning the Italian pair.
The winner takes home a glass microphone trophy and a potential career boost
Italy hosted the event after the Italian rock band Maneskin won in Rotterdam last year. This victory led the Rome-based band to international fame, launching for the Rolling Stones and appearing on Saturday Night Live and appearing on the covers of numerous magazines in their usual genderless dress code.
Twenty bands have been selected in two semifinals this week, and due to their financial support in the competition, permanent berths will compete with the Big Five in Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain.
Russia was excluded this year after the invasion of Ukraine, the organizers of a move said, to keep politics out of competition that promotes diversity and friendship among nations.