Ukraine’s Go_A makes it to Eurovision grand final with archaic pagan tune to awaken spring

Go_A at Eurovision 2021 semi final. Screenshot: Youtube/ Eurovision Song Contest 

Culture, Ukraine

On 18 May, the Ukrainian electro-folk band Go_A made it to the finals of the Eurovision song contest.

In Rotterdam, the city hosting Eurovision 2021, Go_A presented a Ukrainian-language song called “Shum” (“Noise”), which was praised by Eurovision fans for standing out among other performances. Apparently, it impressed Eurovision bookies, because Ukraine’s odds jumped to fourth place after the qualification.

What makes the song “Shum” so different?

For the first time in the history of Ukrainian participation in the contest, the band chose a song entirely in Ukrainian. Technically, it could be the second song in Ukrainian to be presented in Eurovision with the first being Go_A‘s “Solovey.” which brought the band the victory in the national selection in 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurovision 2020 has never happened.

Go_A‘s act in Eurovision 2021 semi-final:

“Our stage is basically an allegorical raft that we use to travel from past to the future. Our staging is like going from our Ancient Ukrainian roots to modern cyberpunk. It has a lot to do with Ukrainian mythology and Ukrainian culture,” Taras Shevchenko, band’s founder, composer and co-writer, told Escxtra earlier.

Go_A‘s “Shum” is a fast-pacing electronic song with pronounced folk groove and vocal, accompanied by a catchy tune performed in the sopilka – a Ukrainian folk recorder flute.

The song “Shum” is based on traditional namesake vesnianka, an ancient Ukrainian spring song. Vesniankas were part of pre-Christian spring rituals associated with the beginning of spring and the approach of spring fieldwork. In the last 150 years, ethnographers recorded multiple versions of lyrics of the original vesnianka “Shum.” It was not only a spring song but also a folk dance.

The lyrics of Go_A‘s “Shum” contain various typical folk agricultural and animistic motifs and are basically a call on the spring to come (the full translation is available on Wiwibloggs)

Oh Spring song, Spring song
Where have you spent your Winter?
In the garden, sitting on a maple tree
You’ve been spinning a shirt.

Come Spring, come
Don’t wait around
We’ll go outside
to love each other.

The catchphrase of the chorus translates to

Sowing, sowing, sowing, sowing hemp plants,
Sowing, sowing, sowing, sowing green ones.

Go_A band at the opening ceremony of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 on the Turquoise Carpet wearing raincoats from the project Fashion VS Fakes for raising awareness against fakes and for teaches critical thinking.

The band Go_A was founded in 2011 by Taras Shevchenko, the namesake of a prominent Ukrainian poet of the 19th century. From the very beginning, the musicians have been trying to combine modern techno with ethnic motifs in their songs, which is clearly heard in their first single Kolyada (2012), and subsequent songs such as Vesnianka (2015) and Rano-Ranenko (2019).

The official video of Go_A‘s “Solovey” (2020):

Answering Ukrinform‘s question what the selection of a song in Ukrainian for their Eurovision act means to her, Kateryna Pavlenko, the lead singer of Go_A, said,

“This is a very important event for us, personally for each of us, because we all care about Ukraine. And we want the Ukrainian language to be heard not only within our country but also abroad because it is beautiful! We have a great culture, we have great music, great folklore, and we want to convey that to other people.”

The Grand Final of the contest is going to take place on 22 May 2021.

Since its first participation in the Eurovision contest in 2003, Ukraine has always made it to the finals. Two times, Ukraine won Eurovision – with Ruslana’s “Wild Dances” in 2004 and Jamala’s “1944” in 2016.

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