Ukraine’s Eurovision 2021 Entry

No Ukraine drama this year: Go_A were chosen to represent their home country at Eurovision this year after winning Vidbir last year, but being robbed by circumstance of their chance to go to Rotterdam.

Now to copy last year’s bio: Go_A formed in the early 2010s with the idea of combining traditional folk music with electronic music. They had their first hit when their song “Веснянка” was named Best Track in Ukraine and entered heavy rotation on KISS-FM. Singer Kateryna Pavlenko studied folklore when she attended university and she and bandmate Taras Shevchenko used a traditional song she found in her research as the foundation for “Solovey,” their Vidbir-winning song last year.

Their song this year, “ШУМ” (“Shum,” which means “noise” in English), is more of the same, only very much more so. Go_A are not softening any edges to make their song more palatable for general audiences. Although to be fair, I don’t think even they were expecting this to their song for Europe:

“ШУМ” is cacophonous, with shrill wind instrument and electronic riffs accenting Kateryna’s piercing vocal. It is stark and harsh, and it is also one of the more successful attempts to combine traditional music with electronic elements that I’ve ever heard. Most of the time, the traditional elements get watered down and polished to a new age sheen. Not the case here, thankfully.

I wonder how polarizing an entry it will be. Tulia represented Poland in 2019 with their white voice-meets-heavy metal “Fire of Love,” which I thought was a fun way to make their traditional vocal styling easier to take in. Then they didn’t make it out of their semi, so that shows what I know. Maybe Go_A’s more direct approach will pay bigger dividends.

Regardless, I am really excited by “ШУМ” and can’t wait to see what they do with it in May. I don’t know if the official video will offer any staging hints, though I do dig the coronavirus at Chernobyl vibe.