The below editorial features the opinions and views of the quoted reviewer and do not necessarily represent the views of #escYOUnited as a whole, Eurovision or the EBU.

October 27th was the day Suspilne announced that they had selected 36 songs that could potentially represent Ukraine next year. After that, 10 finalists were selected. Further to that, it was announced that the selection would be on December 17th  in the traditional ‘Vidbir’ format. The winner of the selection will be the next year representative of Ukraine in Liverpool.

December 1st was the day when Suspilne has published all songs that will compete in the selection. Having taken into consideration the popularity of ‘Vidbir’ among the Eurovision followers, a number of editors from our website decided to share our insights how we feel about this year songs for Vidbir.

Let’s see what Eurovision reviewers think about Ukrainian entries this year!

1. Moisei – «I’m Not Alone»

Laoi – Moisei’s I’m Not Alone is a very mixed bag. Unfortunately, the opening did not do much to catch my interest — the build takes a little too long to morph into something more engaging. Still, once you get past the opening half-minute, the song improves. The violin stands out as excellent, adding much-needed splashes of colour. I felt that the lyrical content becomes a little bit too repetitive — the song also ends rather suddenly, as if running out of ground to cover. All the same, this is a very decent and enjoyable listen. (6/10).

James – I am not a fan of his vocal style, which is that modern indie fella with a beard swallowing. The beat is not that well done, sounding like someone banging his head on a desk. The lyrics are repetitive, and for what is done with the fiddle it is a pointless addition. For artists who are doom and gloom at Vidbir (and let’s be honest, at Vidbir in 2022, Ukrainians have every right to paint that picture), there are much more dynamic and interesting songs on offer than this one. (4/10).

David – It’s one of those unexpected tempo change songs, as soon it starts, I was prepared to listen to something slow, but after the first 30 seconds, I was surely caught off guard. The sound did get more interesting and catchy from that point out. However, the bridge with the violin solo… there is something there, that sounds VERY familiar, someone must be a fan of Alicia Key’s older songs. Finding inspiration is always great, but originality wins points with me. Lyrics and vocals are neither out of this world, but very inoffensive overall song. (5/10).

Tyler – Not a fan of this song, unfortunately. I liked the violin solo in the middle, but the song felt too repetitive too quickly for me, and also felt like the song should have ended 40 seconds earlier. The lyrics are quite basic as well upon first blush, and just doesn’t feel engaging. The song goes from slow ballad at the start and takes off soon at the chorus, and I liked the changes in that at least! (4.5/10).

(6 + 4 + 5 + 4,5. Average = 4.88)

2. OY Sound System – «Ой, тужу»

Laoi – I really want to enjoy this track more than I do. The band’s sound is fascinating, and it’s always wonderful to see a variety of genres appear in national selections. The vocals here are very impressive, however I found it difficult to get fully behind the electronic elements without a clear melody to latch onto. To me, the song felt a little disjointed: as if it were two separate recordings spliced together. However, the haunting vocal, matched with the very dark bass, does succeed in artistically conveying a grim mood. (4/10).

James – I get the folktronica vibe they are going for here, but this is just meandering. This song is all vibe. There is a complete absence of hooks or structure. You kind of need those for a three minute song at an international song contest. It started off promisingly enough but never really delivered. (5/10).

David – If I have to describe this, I would call it… “traditional techno” maybe? I don’t know what I’m dealing with here, and I feel more lost than interested. The sound is captivating in itself, but the singer does absolutely nothing for me. It is a song contest, so vocals must be included… unfortunately in this case. I’m overall just confused. (2/10).

Tyler – For being called Oy Sound System, I wanted more sounds! I like this folktronica niche that Ukraine has lovingly filled, but I also wanted more levels to it. I was waiting for a big drop, that just didn’t come. The vocals are pretty cool, and I overall enjoyed this, just not enough oomph. I also got big CHAKRAS (Belarus 2020 NF participant) vibes at certain parts, however not even close to their eccentricity. (8/10).

(4 + 5 + 2 + 8. Average = 4.75)

3. DEMCHUK – «Alive»

Laoi – This song is perfectly at home on your radio on a long drive. It is a pleasant, very contemporary pop song — however, it never really goes anywhere exciting or unexpected. The melody is memorable and likeable, albeit at the cost of becoming a bit repetitive and one-note. While it’s a good track with a very nice vocal performance by Demchuk, it is unlikely to stand out significantly on the Eurovision stage. (5/10).

James – A sleepy acoustic love song a la Ed Sheeran. It’s sweet, but boring. A bit more specificity as to why his girl makes him feel alive would make this more interesting, but you get the sense he dedicates this to any girl with a pulse who will listen to him and not throw fair trade coffee at him at open mic night. Usually I don’t care if the song comes in 30 seconds short, but “Alive” just ends, like a janitor is sweeping the stage and asking him to relinquish his stool. For a song called “Alive,” a bombastic finish would really help sell the love. (5/10).

David – A very innocent song, which is very much just there. Feels like you can’t hate on it, but you can’t really love it either, it’s just there. It fails to leave a proper impact, to make me want to listen to this over and over again, sure it could be on the radios, but I doubt anyone would ask about the song. (4/10).

Tyler – I don’t prescribe to the idea that life is all about love or relationships, so while others may think this is cute, I just think it’s middling whoops! This song feels like there’s an entire section cut off just to meet the time limit, as the ending feels very abrupt at around 2:30. Which I guess is good for me since the song ended sooner, but it was still jarring! (4.5/10).

(5 + 5 + 4+4.5. Average = 4.63)

4. Jerry Heil – «WHEN GOD SHUT THE DOOR»

Laoi – Jerry Heil’s entry has broken away from the pack to become a clear Vidbir fan favourite, and it’s easy to see why. The song leaves an impact, constantly shaking itself up and refusing to go down any well-trodden paths. The combination of operatic voices alongside the drum and bass is hypnotic, creating a very powerful effect. Unfortunately, the rap element does not work for me at all — it isn’t bad by any means, and the lyrics are very poignant, but something about it musically feels a little disjointed from the rest of the track. The Ukrainian chanting, on the other hand, is wonderful — conveying both a powerful message and a compelling musical soundscape to boot. Heil’s track is a bit short (it comes in at 2 minutes and 27 seconds, a full half-minute below Eurovision’s limit) but it packs its runtime with moving and inventive elements. (7/10).

James – When Jerry Heil vocalizes, this song reminds me of the theme song to Season 2 of “White Lotus.” That may partly explain why this song has as rabid a fanbase as that HBO show. This has a bit of an art school vibe, which may hurt its accessibility with the normcore crowd. But it’s got a simple beat, a couple unique flourishes, and doesn’t overplay the obvious problem Ukraine has to deal with to the point of pandering. This has the potential to be another eccentric high placing entry for Ukraine. (8.5/10).

David – One of these songs just had to appear… of course we need to be reminded about the war once more. With fear of sounding like numb asshole, I must say, the lyrics ruin so much for this song! We have an interesting sound that is quite captivating, a nice beat, an overall nice instrumental. The music feels more inspirational, rather than depressing, which at least the English lyrics are, the mix ruins it for me! With that said, Slava Ukraini! (6/10).

Tyler – The lyrics are good in this! They strike an evocative picture to me and I totally get what Jerry Heil is going for. Love the verse in Ukrainian at the end, and while I enjoy the message, the instrumentation itself doesn’t feel cohesive to me. It’s a contrast that I’m not sure works, but I’m looking forward for the slice of popera on the stage. (7.5/10).

(7 + 8.5 + 6+7.5. Average = 7.25)

5. FIINKA – «Довбуш»

Laoi – From its opening moments, Dovbush grabs your attention and refuses to let it go. I’m really looking forward to seeing this take shape on stage — there’s a lot of potential here. As with 2Tone’s entry, I would like the production to be boosted to be slightly louder to add some more impact — but as is, this is still a very entertaining entry. (6/10).

James – What a cacophonous opening! I love it. Traditional Ukrainian instrumentation clashing with hip hop and containing rap and tempo changes and imagery about Ukrainian folklore (Dovbush is apparently a Robin Hood-esque bandit). This is a wild ride, and like other mashers of modern and folklore before her, I hope Fiinka brings some great visuals to Vidbir. (7.5/10).

David – How VERY Ukrainian, damn! It’s so in your face, that I don’t think I wish to get it, if that makes sense? To say with other words, I somehow feel “uninvited”, when it comes to this song. As if, I need to put an effort to feel this song, rather than the song tries to get me into it. It easily throws me off and my focus is lost, while the Ukrainian pride keeps rolling. As a non-Ukrainian, this just doesn’t go with me. (2/10).

Tyler – I’m so sad the contest won’t be in Ukraine next year, because the crowd when this plays as the host entry would be insane! I loved this, I wish the song was longer, that’s my main critique with this (as unfair as that might be!). Fiinka sounds great, and if she brings even more energy to the performance during Vidbir, I think this could do well! (9/10).

(6 + 7.5 + 2+9. Average = 6.13)

Current rankings:

  1. Jerry Heil – 7.25
  2. FIINKA – 6.13
  3. Moisei – 4.88
  4. OY Sound System – 4.75
  5. DEMCHUK – 4.63

In our view, it looks like Jerry Heil can be a good candidate to represent Ukraine next year in Liverpool. However, we are just half way through! Stay tuned for the second part of the songs review and find out our thoughts on the remaining candidates.

Do #YOU agree with our editors’ opinion of this year ‘Vidbir’? Share your thoughts below, in our forum, or in the comments below.

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