All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

It’s one day to go until Junior Eurovision 2023, and we are counting down the 16 nations who are participating in Nice, France on Sunday, November 26, 2023.

Every day we will do an overview of a participating nation in alphabetical order, recapping how they got to Junior Eurovision, a brief history of the nation’s participation, a brief biography of the artist, and finally, our “expert” panel of editors give the entries a score out of 10 and a brief review.

Next up is Ukraine, a country with a record of excellence and innovation in both formats of the contest.

Ukraine’s history at Junior Eurovision:

Ukraine debuted at Junior Eurovision 2006 with Nazar Slyusarchuk’s “Хлопчик рок ‘н’ ролл” (“Boy rock ‘n roll”). It had a goofy charm despite being a bit of a mess of disco with an electric organ in a song title with “rock ‘n roll” in it?

Victoria Petryk came in 2nd in 2007 with “Матроси” (“Sailors”), an appropriate song as she was from the port city of Odessa, Ukraine. Her performance had backing dancers doing a routine to mimic day-to-day ship chores. An odd choice. As was the rap part at the bridge, and then the tempo shifting last third. It’s a memorable entry, not least because it leaves you as much out of breath as Victoria did performing this crazy song.

After a last place in 2010 (Yulia Gurska’s bizarre ballet dancers on a funk song with a piano solo entry “Мій літак” (“My Plane”)) and a couple other middling results, Victoria’s younger sister Anastasiya did one better and won Junior Eurovision 2012 with “Небо” (“Sky”), which dabbled with dubstep after the second verse. A surprise in a bombastic ballad such as this and the low notes she can hit.

Sofia Tarasova came in 2nd in 2013 with “We are one,” but since then it’s been middle of the pack for Ukraine. Darina Krasnovetska bucked that trend in 2018, though, coming in 4th with “Say Love.”

Despite a lot of pre-contest critical praise, Sophia Ivanko came in 15th at Junior Eurovision 2019 with “The Spirit of Music.” It is Ukraine’s lowest placing, though their 14th place in 2010 is technically worse as it was last place that year.

Oleksandr Balabanov improved by coming in 7th in 2020 with “Vidkryvai (Open Up).” Olena Usenko’s “Vazhil” came in 6th in 2021, and Zlata Dziunka came in 9th in 2022 with “Nezlamna (Unbreakable).”

Before Junior Eurovision 2023:

Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne held a national final, and per usual, it had some variation on the finals held before.

Again, Ukraine held an online vote for who could be one of three jurors for the national selection. Out of ten possible choices of Ukrainian musicians and producers and other luminaries, Ukrainian online voters picked Ihor Kondratyuk, Jerry Heil and Alyona Alyona.

143 submissions were sent in, and 10 were chosen before being whittled down to five.

The final took place on October 1, 2023 in Kiev, with five performances for the jury and online voters to consider.

Polina Babiy’s “Universe” won the jury, but came in third with the online vote to end up in 2nd overall. Anastasia Bielibova came in 2nd with the online vote, but due to coming in last with the jury, ended up in 3rd. The group 3’beauties came in 4th and Denis Hryshchuk was last in 5th.

Anastasia Dymyd’s “Kvitka” won the public vote and came in 2nd overall with the juries, giving her the edge to win the national selection and be Ukraine’s JESC representative.

The Artist:

Anastasia Dymyd hails from Hoshiv, and despite her young age has already won several children’s contests. This included winning “Best Folk Performance” at the 2023 Black Sea Games.

Weirdly, the EBU’s page for Anastasia chooses to focus on her fear of animals, though she does like walking outdoors and regularly hikes Hoverla mountain.

The Song:

“Kvitka” translates to “Flower,” and the lyrics are firmly in the Ukraine at Eurovision tradition of using natural imagery as a metaphor. In this case, how flowers spread love and cheer.

“Kvitka” was written by Svitlana Tarabarova, who wrote three of the five songs in the national selection and was, before the contest, named as the music producer for the national selection. She is a well-known singer and songwriter in her own right, releasing several albums and winning awards such as the National Music Award’s Song of the Year in 2014.

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Ukraine’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2023.

Providing their thoughts for Junior Eurovision this season: Alexandros (Greece), Yehonatan Cohen (Israel), Boris Meersman (Belgium), James Maude (Los Angeles, California), and William Carter (Dallas, Texas).

The Verdict:

Alexandros – 6 – The musical composition from Ukraine exudes an endearing charm, embodying a small yet vibrant bop. The artist’s stage presence stands out as a notable asset, adding a favorable dimension to the overall performance. In contrast to other entries, the chorus is identified as somewhat repetitive; nevertheless, its undeniable catchiness mitigates this aspect. The Ukrainian entry, in essence, reflects a commendable effort within the broader musical landscape, showcasing a noteworthy attempt at balancing simplicity and appeal.”

Boris – 9 – What is there to say? It is KVITKA. Junior should always feel like a music contest for children, by children, and “Kvitka” fits that bill to a tee. Catchy, child-like, innocent, yet amusing and very, very funny. This is peak JESC. The bridge especially is wild. More songs should combine sudden language shifts with a key drop so aggressive it brings out the performer’s inner Cthulu. Anastasia Dymyd is a STAR in the making and it would not surprise me if she came out of nowhere to snag a top three spot.”

James – 8.5 – “This is an unusual entry in the sense that it’s childlike play and innocence punctuated by the horrors of the real world – the best example of this is towards the end when Anastasia drops a spoken word bit and then launches back into the care-free abandon of being a child. It’s also another example of Ukraine finely balancing the folk and the modern.”

William – 8.5 – “I can’t even be mad that this song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of my life. It’s just so good. Leave it to Ukraine to blend ethnic folk elements with an almost island chant sound(?) Anastasia looks very young, but she is holding center stage like a pro. I could do without the clunky English interludes, but I have zero other complaints. I’m happy to have it playing on repeat in my brain for the rest of eternity.”

Yehonatan – 5 – I’m still trying to figure out what I am watching every time. It feels serious yet childish, and the connection between the two really throws me off. Yet, Anastasia is giving her all in the national final performance, and you can’t take your eyes off the screen for the entire performance.”

Total: 37 points (Average = 7.400)

“Kvitka” comes in a respectable average of 7.4, and we wonder if despite a few detractors, there is enough love out there to propel Ukraine into a Top 5 finish?

Fifteen countries in, here are our current rankings in editor scores:

1.) France – 42.5 points (Average = 8.500)

2.) Spain – 42 points (Average = 8.400)

3.) Armenia – 38.0 points (Average = 7.600)

4.) Ireland – 37.5 points (Average = 7.500)

5.) UKRAINE – 37 points (Average = 7.400)

6.) Georgia – 35.0 (Average = 7.000)

7.) North Macedonia – 34.5 points (Average = 6.900)

8.) Albania – 33.5 points (Average = 6.700)

9.) Estonia – 32.5 points (Average = 6.500)

10.) The Netherlands – 31.0 points (Average = 6.200)

11.) Germany – 30.5 points (Average = 6.100)

12.) Poland – 27.5 points (Average = 5.500)

13.) Portugal – 27.0 points (Average = 5.400)

14.) Malta – 26.5 points (Average = 5.300)

15.) Italy – 23 points (Average = 4.600)

What do #YOU think of Ukraine’s entry? Do #YOU think this is a potential JESC winner? Let us know in the comments below, on our social media, or in our forum.


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