TURIN, Italy (AP) — Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, fresh off their Eurovision victory, released a new music video for their winning hit “Stefania” Sunday that features scenes of war-torn Ukraine and women in gear. combat, as part of the annual song contest. took on an increasingly political tone.
The video was released hours after the Kalush Orchestra gave Ukraine its third Eurovision victory, moving ahead of Great Britain in the grand final after the votes of some of the estimated 200 million viewers from 40 participating countries were counted.
The band members posed for photos and signed autographs outside their hotel in Turin on Sunday, en route to an interview with Italian broadcaster RAI. They are due to return to Ukraine on Monday after receiving special permission to leave the country to attend the competition.
Russia was banned from the Eurovision Song Contest this year after its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a move organizers said was aimed at keeping politics out of the contest that promotes diversity and friendship between nations.
However, politics entered the fray, with Kalush leader Oleh Psiuk ending his winning performance on Sunday night with a plea from the stage: “I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now!” he said he, referring to the besieged steel plant in the strategic port city.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the victory, saying he hoped that Ukraine would be able to host the contest next year, predicting that “the victorious chord in the battle against the enemy is not far off.”
“Stefania” was written by lead singer Psiuk as a tribute to his mother, but since the invasion of Russia it has become a hymn to the motherland, with lyrics that promise: “I will always find my way home, even if all roads fail.” they are destroyed. .”
The new music video features female soldiers pulling children out of bombed-out buildings, greeting children in shelters, and leaving them behind as they board trains. The video credits say that it was filmed in cities that have seen some of the worst destruction of the war, including Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka and Hostomel.
The video was clearly made before the band left Ukraine, as it features the band members and presumably the actors performing in the rubble.
“Dedicated to the brave Ukrainian people, to the mothers who protect their children, to all those who gave their lives for our freedom,” he said.
Kalush Orchestra includes folklore experts and blends traditional folk melodies and contemporary hip hop in a strong defense of Ukrainian culture that has taken on additional significance as Russia has tried to falsely claim that Ukraine’s culture is not unique.
At a news conference early Sunday after the contest, Psiuk, wearing his trademark pink bucket hat, said the victory was particularly significant given the war and the popular support that led Ukraine to victory.
“We are here to show that Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian music are alive and have their own very special signature,” said Psuik.
Winfield reported from Rome.