Review: Ukraine- Jamala ‘1944’

Ukraine Eurovision 2016 Jamala

Jamala will represent the Ukraine with politically sensitive and borderline controversial song ‘1944’. Read on to find out what we thought of it.After a year away from the contest, Ukraine return and they are breaking all kinds of boundaries. Firstly the song ‘1944’ is the first time that a song will be sung (in part) in the Crimean Tatar language.

In addition to this Jamala is also getting political, despite strict rules against this in Eurovision. The song depicts the exile and eviction of Tatar Ukrainians from their home by Russian forces in the Crimea in 1944. Okay, so the song was allowed to compete as it is seen as historical rather than political, but still there is no doubting the continuous tensions that exist between Russia and Ukraine following Russian military presence and annexation in Crimea.

The song is none the less an absolutely visceral and emotional experience. Jamala’s voice and the genuine pain she conveys (her Grandmother was forced from her home as part of these deportations) is very moving. Hearing the song performed live is enough to bring a tear to anyone’s eye, and even 2004 winner Ruslana wept with Jamala during the live selection show in February.

I imagine that the staging of the song will be stripped back- with just Jamala and a microphone, and to be honest that is all the song needs.¬†From the opening line of ‘The strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say were not guilty’ accompanied by the haunting flutes, you are hooked. The song piles on the emotions with the ghostly chorus, followed by an angry ‘Where is your heart? Humanity cries.’ and pained wails and screams reflective of the subject matter.

The song is a step away from Jamala’s typical light hearted pop persona, but it is effective nonetheless. This song continues to be one of my favourite songs this year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it riding high in the top 5. What do you think? Leave us a comment!

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