Belfast Telegraph

Eurovision winner Jamala says song is not political, but a tribute

By Laura Harding

The Ukrainian singer who pulled off a surprising victory at the Eurovision Song Contest said "if you sing about truth, it can really touch people" after she defeated musical and political rival Russia.

Jamala, who is a Tatar, had insisted her song about Stalin, Crimea and claims of ethnic cleansing did not break Eurovision's ban on political songs because it was a tribute to her great-grandmother.

Her triumph pushed Russia - favourite ahead of the final - into third place behind Australia.

The song 1944 opens with the English lyrics: "When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say 'We're not guilty'."

It could be regarded as an attack on Russia, but Jamala has insisted there is no political context. She said: "For me personally, music is about feelings. Politics doesn't have feelings."

The track was allowed because officials said the lyrics alluded to history rather than politics.

In a Press conference, she said: "I was sure that if you sing, if you talk about truth, it can really touch people and I was right."

She said she had listened to the soundtrack to Holocaust movie Schindler's List while preparing for the competition and added: "I would prefer all these terrible things never happened to my grandmother. I would prefer the song did not exist at all."

British hopefuls Joe and Jake came a disappointing 24th out of 26 in the contest with their pop song You're Not Alone, although their performance still won praise from fans.

Graham Norton, who guided UK viewers through the grand final on BBC One, led a toast to his predecessor Sir Terry Wogan.

He said: "I would urge you back in the UK at home to raise a cup, a mug, a glass, whatever you have in front of you, and give thanks for the man who was, and always will be, the voice of Eurovision, Sir Terry Wogan."

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