Ukraine was among the 10 countries that made it through the first Eurovision semi-final after its act received a standing ovation.
Switzerland, Armenia, Iceland, Lithuania, Portugal, Norway, Greece, Moldova, the Netherlands and Ukraine all made it through to the grand final, which is set to take place in Turin, Italy, on Saturday (14 May).
But it was Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra that was the biggest talking point of the night. The group performed their song “Stefania” to rapturous applause, with the crowd waving Ukrainian flags to show their support for the country as Russia’s barbaric war rages on.
There was also significant discussion on social media when it emerged that Ukraine’s local commentator Timur Miroshnychenko was broadcasting from a bomb shelter in Kyiv.
— William Lee Adams (@willyleeadams) May 10, 2022
The reaction to the end to Kalush Orchestra (Ukraine’s entry at Eurovision) is incredibly touching. pic.twitter.com/ESGIWjrzgU
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) May 10, 2022
The reaction on social media was swift, with many rushing to Twitter to heap praise on Ukraine for making it through the semi-final even in the face of war.
— threshold, il napolitano fugoso (@heythreshold) May 10, 2022
I’m sort of taking a break from Twitter but I will come back to say that Ukraine will absolutely win this year’s #EUROVISION
— Anastasiia Lapatina (@lapatina_) May 10, 2022
A reminder to all Europeans that you are ethically obligated to support Ukraine in Eurovision.
— A. Bartaway (@Bartaway) May 10, 2022
— MB (@bowx_) May 10, 2022
There was also disappointment and surprise on social media as the results were announced and fans realised that some of their favourites had failed to make it through to the grand final.
Latvia’s Citi Zeni failed to win a spot in the final with their song “Eat Your Salad“, despite the fact that it received an enormous response on social media.
Others were shocked that Albania and Austria failed to make the cut – both have been firm fan favourites for months, but neither was able to shore up enough jury and public votes to nab a place in the grand final.
Ukraine is expected to win the Eurovision Song Contest
Ukraine is currently expected to win the Eurovision Song Contest, according to various betting websites, with many fans believing their victory would serve as a powerful act of solidarity as Putin continues his war.
Speaking to NME ahead of the first semi-final, Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk explained that the lyrics of their folk-rap song are actually about his mother – however, he said the Ukrainian people have taken the song to their hearts since Russia invaded.
Kalush Orchestra’s song “Stefania” includes the lyric: “The field is blooming, but her hair is getting grey / Mother, sing me the lullaby, I want to hear your dear word.”
Psiuk explained that people have since come to see “mother” as a reference to Ukraine itself.
“That’s why the song has become so close to the Ukrainian people, and it is in the Ukrainian hearts.”
Other countries expected to perform well at Saturday’s grand final include Italy, the UK, Sweden, Spain, Greece and Poland.
While both Sweden and Poland have significant fanbases, both acts will have to qualify at Thursday’s semi-final (12 May), which will decide the line-up for Saturday’s grand final.
However, nothing is a done deal at Eurovision – and there could be some major upsets along the way.