Ukraine has become one of the first countries to select which musical act will represent it in next year’s Eurovision contest, but even that joyous moment is marked by the impact of ongoing war with Russia. After a nearly four-hour showdown during which a handful of finalists performed songs for consideration, electronic music duo TVORCHI was chosen as the Eastern nation’s official competitors — all of which took place from a bomb shelter in Kyiv.
The selection showcase, known as Vidbir, was livestreamed online from an underground metro station, which has been used as a bomb shelter since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, according to BBC and Eurovision. It was converted into a performance space for the show, which aired Saturday (Dec. 17).
“We did everything possible to hold this Vidbir in full swing, and once again unite Ukrainians around this important choice for the biggest music stage in Europe,” Ukraine’s head of delegation at Eurovision Oksana Skybinska told BBC. “The decision to go underground was the first one taken. It made us feel sure that the show itself could go on uninterrupted because no matter if we have air raid alerts the work could continue.”
TVORCHI’s Andrii Hutsuliak and Jimoh Augustus Kehinde performed their song “Heart of Steel” for their Vidbir entry, backed by dancers wearing gold gas masks and a visual effects screen divided into four quadrants. “Don’t care what you say, don’t care how you feel,” sang Kehinde, dressed in a gold jumpsuit. “Get out of my way ’cause I got a heart of steel.”
Near the end of the show, the pair stood alongside their fellow competitors onstage and listened as host Timur Miroshnychenko announced that they would be the ones to move on to the international Eurovision song contest, where they’ll battle against acts from 36 other countries.
Now that the duo is officially headed to Eurovision — scheduled to take place in May 2023 in Liverpool — TVORCHI has some big shoes to fill. At last year’s contest, Ukrainian’s Kalush Orchestra was victorious, winning for its hip-hop song “Stefania.”
Watch TVORCHI’s winning performance of “Heart of Steel” below: