Review: “Vidbir 2023” (Ukraine)

Ukraine will select an artist and a song for Eurovision 2023 via “Vidbir 2023“.
10 artists will compete in the final that will be held on Saturday, the 17th of December 2022.

The public has voted for 3 musicians to be part of the jury panel in “Vidbir 2023”:

  • Taras Topolia – The lead singer of the Antitila band
  • Jamala – The winner of Eurovision 2016
  • Yulia Sanina – The lead singer of alternative rock band The Hardkiss (“Vidbir 2016″)

The results will be based on a combination of a national jury and a public vote.

You can listen to the full playlist here.
I will review the songs in running order:

#1. Moisei – I’m Not Alone

It’s an emotional pop folk ballad with light ethnic elements..
The song begins with keyboards playing and soft string elements.
The rate is slow, and the singer’s voice is clear with good pronunciation.
As we get closer to the chorus, faster guitar stringing takes us to his statement: “I’m not alone”.
You can hear backing, singing and additional musical instruments joining the chorus.
Moisei is moving to a louder singing with powerful folk elements.
After the chorus, we get an instrumental part composed of the violin’s playing.
He performs the second verse with a higher tone. It is a pretty short part that comes before additional chorus. The second chorus is richer vocal wisely, we can hear the violin earlier this time.
The instrumental part (composed of the violion playing) is accompanied by humming and back singing.
Towards the end of the song, the melody is simple, calm and kind of sad.
This song impressed me more the second and third time I’ve heard it.
Moisei has a mature interpretation, his singing is very clear and the violin adds a lot to the melody.
The chorus and the pre-chorus are stronger than the verses.
To sum up, it is a decent radio friendly song, but it still doesn’t fall in the area of generic songs.

#2. OY Sound System – Ой, тужу (Eng: Oh, I miss you)


It is an experimental alternative song with some ethnic elements.
The song begins with violin playing and a powerful outcry from the lead singer.
In this part, the word pronunciation is long and she also uses a kind of vibrato in her voice.
Little by little, more components are added to the mix, we can hear eastern string elements and high notes in the background.
The melody is wrapped in electronic production that is getting stronger as the song progresses.
The singing part is gone, and it is time for the instrumental part to take over. A mix of cyclic beats and electronic keyboards fill the melody.
She is returning to singing with a lot of effects that are probably meant to “defeat” the strong sound of the production.
Towards the end, we finally can her singing purely without the background sound.
The song sounds like it comes from the future, and it is the advantage and its disadvantage together.
I appreciate the originality of the song, but I think it is overloaded with effects and elements.
The lyrical part is quite tiny and modest, making it sound more like a “B-side” or soundtrack, not a full song.

#3. DEMCHUK – Alive

It’s a mityempo radio-friendly pop ballad.
The song has strong roots in western radio-friendly music.
The song starts with an acoustic guitar playing and a condierably warm voice singing.
The melody is quite basic and stays the same during the first verse and the bridge.
The chorus continues along the same line, but it is a little bit faster.
Demchuk sings the chorus with a slightly higher tone.
The second verse resembles the first verse, but with more string presence.
In the second chorus we can hear some backing vocals as well.
There’s nothing bad about the song, but at the same time it could have been one of the songs in the Maltese or Moldovan selection for Eurovision. This means, it lacks “Ukrainian music identity”.

#4. Jerry Heil – WHEN GOD SHUT THE DOOR


It is a midtempo ethnic folk song.
The song starts with a short intro, composed of piano playing and Jerry’s soft and gentle voice.
Later on, she moves to sing with white voice technique, accompanied by backing vocals.
Right after, she decorates the singing part with high notes humming that resembles opera a bit, the melody is based on folk instruments alongside repetitive beat.
The second verse is performed in a spoken word style. The melody is based on keyboards with soft electric production.
The second chorus is more powerful, the melody includes a king of ringing bells effect.
The bridge is sung in a choir style, with Jerry as the lead singer. This part is in the Ukrainian language. This is the peak point of the song, the production is rich, as it builds on several different elements: keyboards, electonic beat, digital production, percussion instruments and strings.
High note opera style comes back, and the backing vocalists pronounce one syllable each time in the background.
The song is memorable, catchy and impressive.
It combines modern music with ethnic folk elements.
Jerry brings a lot of diversity to the song: spoken word, folk elements, opera moments and more.
Something in the originallity reminds me of the great song by Alina Pash.
It is worth mentioning that the lyrics communicates directly with the current situation in Ukraine.
For me, this is a contender for the top 10 at Eurovision and even above. Well done!

#5. FIINKA – Довбуш (Eng: Dovbush)

It is a modern hip-hop song with traditional Ukrainian music influences.
The song begins with an instrumental flute playing alongside percussion instruments.
The first verse is performed in a hip-hop (almost rap) style. Fiinka pronounces the words almost in an apathetic way. We can still hear the flue and percussion elements in the background.
The rate of the song becomes faster after several seconds. The monotone beat is mixed with the traditional elements. The second chorus puts a greater spot on the singing. She sings this part even faster. We can even heat “superman” in the lyrics.
Thereafter, the beat takes over the traditional elements.
In the last part, she neglects the hip-hop singing to traditional singing with a salient folk character. The rate is much slower. The end of the song resembles the beginning which gives it a cylic structure.
The song is original, but there’s something unpleasant in her tone of voice.
In addition, the structure is a little bit messy.
It reminded me a little bit of Manizha‘s song (Russia Eurovision 2021)

#6. KRUTЬ – Колискова (Eng: Lullaby)

KRUTЬ brings an emotional and dreamy ballad.
The melody is based on her favorite instrument – bandura (multi-string instrument, whose source is in ancient Ukrainian music).
The song starts with a monotone stringing on the bandura , that later on develops into a wider range of sound. The background music gives us an atmosphere of the music box.
Marina’s voice is soft and calming and her singing is accurate.
The chorus is magical, and as the title suggests – this is a lullaby.
The second verse has another dimension, the melody is based on keyboards as well. The atmosphere now is mysterious.
Once again we got a great chorus. Towards the bridge, she moves to a recitation with “semi” dramatic background.
After the calming chorus, another occurrence of the chorus arrives and it is much louder and more powerful. At this time, it isn’t only the bandura, but additional instruments that join the melody.
The last part starts with vocal decorations that decay slowly into the opening part.
The lyrics of the song tell an important story. The spokesperson is a mother who tries to calm down her baby by singing him a lullaby.
She describes the invaders as wild animals, and promises that the father will fight them (metaphor for Ukrainian soldiers and citizens who fight the Russian forces).
While her son is sleeping, she draws his dreams and promises they will win.
Heritage, will and songs will help them to defeat the enemy.
While the young generation (kids and babies) are sleeping, the adults will take care and will try to end the war, so a better future will be guaranteed.
Musically, the song has beautiful moments. Bandura makes it unique in the line-up, and Marina’s soft voice hugs the listeners.
This is a song that will probably be appreciated more by the jury rather than the public.
With the right staging, it can shine.

#7. Tember Blanche – Я вдома (Eng: I’m Home)


The song starts with a the lead singer’s voice that sounds very young and even immature.
The melody is based on acoustic guitar playing.
The first part of the song is the chorus itself.
During the song, there are some backing vocals to support the lead singer.
The song stays quite flat until the part where violin playing is added.
For me, it sounds like the song is still an unfinish demo.
Towards the end, we can hear the electric guitar together with the violin. It is a shame that this part comes too late.
The main problem with this song is that it is forgetable.

#8. Angelina – Stronger

The composer of the song is Swedish Anderz Wrethov, who also wrote some of “Melodiesfetivalen” songs, like “Too Late For Love” (Sweden 2019) and “Voices” (Sweden 2021).
The song starts with piano playing together with modern production.
Angelina‘s voice is soft and pleasant. The genre of the song is radio-friendly mid-tempo ballad.
In the pre-chorus we can hear a different process of the melody, and her voice accelerated power. This part includes fading backing vocals. She sings in a more chilli way and high voice towards the chorus.
The chorus itself is powerful but very thin lyrics wisely. It mainly relies on her voice.
The second verse has a different beat in its basis. The production includes soft electric elements.
Pre-chorus is empowering and kind of “prepares” us for the chorus.
The closure of the song includes a repeat of the chorus several times.
Angelina is a good vocalist and the song is memorable.
However, something on the test looks to me quite basic, and in fact it sounds more like a song for Junior Eurovision Song Contest.

#9. 2TONE – Квітка (Eng: Flower)


This is a pop-rock midtempo song.
The song starts with a guitar stringing playing.
The lead singer has a sharp voice with a certain degree of hoarseness. The production of the first part is quite acoustic. A few seconds afterwards, we can hear the electric guitar as well.
The second verse is faster, and the singing is a little bit more intense. We can hear the 2 of them singing together, and their voices complete each other successfully.
In the chorus, the rock vibe takes over, including the huskiness that was held back before. The melody is still based on a combination of keyboards, guitars and electric guitars.
In the part that comes after, the singing becomes something between rap and spoken word, and we can hear both of them singing together.
Thereafter, the song returns to the regions of pop rock song with the wishful guitar solo.
This instrument part ends the song.
I love the majority of the song, but the spoken word-rap part isn’t essential in my humble opinion.
There’s something sincere in the song, a little bit dated, but in a good nostalgic way.

#10. TVORCHI – Heart Of Steel


It is an electronic synth pop song.
The song begins with an “electric” thunder sound. The singer opens the singing part with a thin melody that’s based on electric keyboards playing. Little by little, the “electric thunder” sounds return.
They sing together the part that comes before the chorus.
The chorus opens with an electric explosion. They keep on singing together with strong electronic production and fading backing vocals.
After the chorus, there is a short instrumental part.
The production is rich, and maybe too rich? Their voices combine well with the melody in the studio cut, but it can be a challenge in live performance.
My problem with TVORCHI is that they usually disappoint in live performance (see “Vidbir 2020“). With this kind of song, the live performance must be sharp and convincing.


My Personal Ranking

  1. Jerry Heil – WHEN GOD SHUT THE DOOR
  2. KRUTЬ – Колискова (Eng: Lullaby)
  3. Moisei – I’m Not Alone
  4. 2TONE – Квітка (Eng: Flower)
  5. Angelina – Stronger
  6. TVORCHI – Heart Of Steel
  7. OY Sound System – Ой, тужу (Eng: Oh, I miss you)
  8. DEMCHUK – Alive
  9. Tember Blanche – Я вдома (Eng: I’m Home)
  10. FIINKA – Довбуш (Eng: Dovbush)

Prediction

It is unclear to me who will win the selection.
However, I think that Jerry Heil has the highest chances as long as her live singing will be good enough.
KRUTЬ‘s song has high potential, but I’m afraid the public will go after the modern/electro songs instead.
2TONE and TVORCHI, and FIINKA can surprise dark horsers, if other “favorites” won’t give a strong live performance.

Which song is your favorite?
Are you satisfied with the quality of the songs in “Vidbir 2023“?
Would Ukraine have a chance to achieve their 3rd top 5 placing in a row?

Doron Lahav is 28 years old guy who lives in Israel. Doron watches Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and also shows interest in singing and writing.

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