NF Review: Ukraine picks Mariya Yaremchuk!

Well hello there everyone, it’s fair to say that I’m in a pretty good mood today, as we’ve just finished our first national final of the 2014 season, and it couldn’t have gone any better as far as I’m concerned! In a sentence: Ukraine has chosen Maria Yaremchuk and her song “Tick-Tock” to represent them in Copenhagen next May. But what do we think of it? And what was the show like? Read on to find out!

DAVAI MARIYA!
DAVAI MARIYA!

In an interesting and classically Eastern-European daytime national final, Ukraine, without a doubt my favourite Eurovision nation, have only gone and done it again. They’ve picked an epic entry with a fierce female powerhouse vocal and an unbelievably catchy and original chorus. If you read our preview of the Ukrainian national final, then you’ll remember that I was a fan of this one from the start, but did doubt its chances of actually taking the title – I’m so happy I was wrong!

Today, we plan to bring you a review of both the selected song for Copenhagen, and the national final show itself, before we strive to work out the following: how will “Tick-Tock” do at Eurovision?

The song:

So: performing seventeenth out of twenty, “Tick-Tock” came at a time in the show where it had to prove itself quickly, or it would simply be bypassed by the viewers. And boy, did it do that. The first twenty seconds are full of intrigue and drama, with Mariya showcasing her vocal dexterity in a traditional style against a backdrop of almost Ruslana-esque dark strings and eerie twangy harps. And then, as soon as the beat comes in, you think “oh.. maybe this isn’t quite as good as I thought it was going to be”. And, to be honest, the verses are comparatively weak. There are too many notes left on their own where the backing track cuts out for my liking. However, the interest is maintained by the backing chorus of “oooh-ooh-oooohs”, lasting just long enough for the smooth transition into the chorus. And once that chorus grabs hold of you, it doesn’t let go: all of a sudden, this is one of the most fab songs you’ve heard, like, ever. I am officially hooked.

It was confidently performed, with largely impressive vocals. And, as I mentioned in our previous NF article, the songs selected at this point are 99% certain to be regenerated sometime between now and March, so for all “Tick-Tock” is admittedly rough around the edges in its current form, I am confident that once it reaches Copenhagen, it will be just as slick and professional as previous Ukrainian entries have consistently been.

Within this morning’s field of twenty, there was a large proportion of ballads and rock numbers, some of which were very strong, but when looked at as a whole, did unfortunately blend into one another. The more up-tempo numbers were generally hampered by a severe case of “been there, done that” unoriginality, which basically eliminated all of Mariya’s competition. This one, whilst being a little dated and unfinished, most certainly stood out from the crowd and commanded the attention of the voting audience, and good on her for making such a courageous (neAngely reference unintentional) song selection, as it has really paid off!

Ukraine, once again, I am proud of you guys. You could have gone for something bland and forgettable (Evgeniy Litvinkovych) or something contrived and Swedish (neAngely), but instead, you stayed true to yourselves yet again. Another year where Ukraine brings nothing but quality to the ESC stage, in my personal opinion. Well done!

The show:

As for the selection show itself, it was a very interesting experience. The inclusion of the interpreter on the livestream was a welcome addition, making the show a lot easier to follow, and providing a number of unintentionally hilarious moments where the Ukrainian to English translation came out sounding more than a little incongruous. It was also nice to see good old Timur Miroshnichenko again, following on from his successful appearance at Junior Eurovision a few weeks back.

If you were following our twitter feed at any point during the live broadcast, Rory was offering his observations on the live performances and more – noting Lissa Wassabi’s resemblance to Bridget Jones and the awkward fact that Viktoria Petryk’s dress looked like a chewed up version of her sister Anastasiya’s JESC-winning outfit from 2012. Pretty much sums up our aesthetic appreciation of the show really!

The amount of “special guests” featured during the interval was a particular highlight for me. Alongside the eternally brilliant Zlata Ognevich, who performed an absolutely beautiful song entitled “Pristrast'”, we were treated to an enigmatic show from Masha Sobko *notes decent artist and plans to google later*, a reappearance from Mika Newton looking about as enthusiastic as Emmelie de Forest was at JESC, and a surprising performance from one of Ukraine’s most maligned exports, the infamous Kamaliya. If you don’t know her backstory, it will take too long to explain, but watch an episode of “Meet the Russians” and you will get the gist. Safe to say, she was meant to be lip-syncing and for some reason, she sang over the top of her own vocals, resulting in a painfully off-key series of squeaks and moans. Perhaps that’s what she intended, I have no idea.

If I were to criticise anything about NTU’s production of the show, it would be the awkwardly lazy camera angles which, at certain points, left room for accusations of vote-rigging. For example, as the aforementioned Kamaliya was being introduced, the presenters were shown with the jury in the background, announcing that the televotes had been finalised. What a convenient time for one of the jury members to get up and walk away behind the screen, ey? I am by no means suggesting that today’s vote was rigged, but shots like that do leave it open to accusation, and the producer should have tidied that one up.

At Eurovision:

Finally: what do we think to the chances of this song at Eurovision? Of course, I must again reiterate that it’s December, and proper predictions at this stage are nigh on impossible. However, the calibre of the entry – assuming all the expected improvements are made – surely suggests this one will sail into the final at the very least. I don’t see it challenging for a victory, much as I love it, as I believe a fair few countries will come up with songs stronger than this one in the next few months, however, I can’t see it doing worse than Gaitana’s 15th place from 2012. Of course, surprises can and do happen at ESC – who would have ever predicted that Malta would finish 8th and Germany 21st in Malmö!? – however, assuming such a shock result doesn’t befall “Tick-Tock” I think we can tenuously estimate this one’s placement as 10-15 on the Saturday night – thoughts?

Your Views:

What do you think of the 2014 Ukrainian entry?
What do you think of the 2014 Ukrainian entry?

Seth Wezendonk from the Netherlands: The Eurovision Song Contest 2014 has already started with a great song in my opinion 

Rinor Nuhiu from Albania: Love it! Early to say, but with a revamped version, this can song reach the top for Ukraine..again! 😀

Katja Marie Lund from Slovenia: Ugh! The song’s a repetitive mess, taken straight from mid-00s contests and she looks like one of those fame hungry bitches who’d walk through dead bodies to be in a spotlight. Guess Ukraine just said “fuck it” this year…

I’ve been bombarded with – literally – thousands of conflicting opinions on the Ukrainian song on my facebook news feed, and these are just a few. Whilst there are plenty of people who love it just as much as I do, there are an equally strong number of fans who absolutely detest it – and I’m not entirely surprised. It is that kind of song really, pretty divisive, pretty “marmite”. Hopefully, as I keep saying, the Ukrainian delegation will work on getting this song as polished as it can be by May, and, assuming that does happen, I will be a very happy fanboy. Ukraine have made a fantastic start to the NF season, let’s hope things continue in this vein with Albania selecting next week!

 

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