Ukraine (semi 2) - William Fedor

As usual, Ukraine held its national selection Vidbir, in three parts: two semi-finals and a grand final. This review will be focusing on the second semi-final. The three judges present were Andriy Danylko (aka Verka Serduchka), Yevhen Filatov and Jamala.

First up was Ivan Navi with “All For The Love”. The song had a 90’s boyband feel to it. The performance was fairly simple, Ivan singing on stage with four backup singers/dancers. Ivan was wearing black and the others in white. The melody was quite catchy, and they harmonised well together. The host, Serhiy Prytula, likened the song to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t stop the feeling”.

Next up were the Crimean twins known as Anna Maria with “My Road”. Their performance was quite dramatic with the lighting as you could only see one of them at a time at some moments during the song. They were wearing short dresses with see-through black coats on top. Quite a memorable performance.

Then Kazka performed their song “Apart”. Leading up to when Vidbir started, they were the public’s favourite to win. In their performance, the lead singer surrounded by the three back up singers, to the side were the two guys in the group playing various instruments. Unfortunately, her voice was not as strong as I was hoping for, and that took a lot away from the performance.

After that came Kira Mazur with “Dykhaty”. She was on stage with an accordionist, with four back up singers off to the side. She was wearing a gothic looking outfit. The backing LED’s were showing a white and red pattern with dead trees. This combination of things made the performance slightly eclectic, but still very interesting.

Then it was Laud’s turn, with his song “2 dni”. The staging was very simple, with him alone on stage with a grey suit and red lighting everywhere. The song was a bit on the slow side, yet still catchy. It did not seem like a winning song however, despite his popularity.

Next on stage was Khayat with “Ever”. He performed with a long red coat, and red and white lighting. His unique sounding song cannot easily be categorised into a genre. I was hoping for a more memorable performance, but this was a great first attempt. The host Serhiy cracked a joke about Khayat’s unique appearance being the reason why he was recently attacked on the metro, quite distasteful.

Following this, Braii performed their song “Maybe”. There wasn’t much that stood out in this performance for me. The indie-rock song felt quite dated. The band was all in black. The backing LEDs depicted red phones floating around. Not much happened in the three minutes.

Then came Freedom Jazz giving us “Cupidon”. I could immediately tell that this was going to be a fun performance. A great 20’s swing song, with six of them on stage, I loved the addition of the wind instruments too. Their costumes were black and white with various patterns. I’m glad that the lead singer didn’t go into labour on stage, as she obviously wasn’t far off! I loved their serenading of Andriy afterwards, as they sang their version of ”Dancing Lasha Tumbai”.

As an interval act, Lake Malawi from the Czech Republic performed their song ”Friend of a Friend”. I have to say, I like the song more after seeing their live performance. They did really well and Jamala seemed to enjoy jamming along to it as well! Andriy could also be seen enthusiastic flicking his pencil back and forth.

Then they got all of the contestants back on stage for the jury to give their votes. They went one by one from lowest to highest. Freedom Jazz won the jury vote, followed by Kazka and then Laud. Following a long break, they came back to announce the public votes. Freedom Jazz came first again, then Anna Maria and Khayat. The three acts with the highest points who went on to compete in the final were Freedom Jazz with 16 points, then Anna Maria and Kazka who tied with 12 points each.

At the very end, they had the acts not going to the final leave the stage, and the acts who succeeded in the first semi-final to join them on stage where they all drew numbers, which were their performance order in the final.