Can anyone beat Ukraine’s entry, Kalush Orchestra, at today’s Eurovision Song Contest Final? Not a chance according to the bookmakers who have made the group and their song, Stefania, the shortest price favourite in Eurovision history.
Ukraine is 1/3 on, meaning you receive just £1.33 for every £1 invested on a win bet.
And that is bad news for the United Kingdom’s entry Sam Ryder, whose song Space Man, is universally considered to be Britain’s strongest entry in years, decades even.
TikTok star Sam is predicted to finish in the top three, possibly even runner-up, in Turin, which would be an amazing achievement considering Europe’s tradition antipathy towards UK entries and our recent dismal history at Eurovision.
Kalush Orchestra are likely to benefit from an outpouring of goodwill from European nations as their country defends itself from the onslaught of the Russian invasion. Their performance is a ray of light during the horrors they’ve endured and the band, all men, were allowed special permission to leave Ukraine and perform at Eurovision.
As well, Stefania, with its blend of Ukraine folk and rap, has all the ingredients required of a Eurovision winner.
Band leader Oleh Psiuk told BBC Sounds about the responsibility they felt representing Ukraine, especially as their country usually takes Eurovision so seriously (in fact, they won it back in 2016 with Jamala's 1944).
“Eurovision in Ukraine has always been an important event and representing your country during war and indeed so much attention is focused on your country, it puts a huge responsibility on you,” he said.
“We have this temporary permit to go to Italy, immediately after Eurovision we will be going back to Ukraine. We have to be useful to the country now.”
Kalush Orchestra are taking the opportunity to demonstrate the spirit of their country.
“We are yet another loudspeaker to tell about Ukraine, to showcase Ukraine’s creativity and our music is here to show who we are, singing in Ukrainian, that we have our authenticity and our own peculiarity.
“We really want to represent the country at its best.”
It will be incredibly hard for anyone to compete against that and if they do win, it would take a heart of stone to not congratulate them and join them in a round of “Slava Ukraini!”
The Eurovision Song Contest Final screens on BBC One at 8pm on Saturday, May 14.
Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
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