We know a lot about Eurovision and we want to share this knowledge with you! Therefore we’d like to bring you a blast from the past. Today: Go_A, who were supposed to represent Ukraine in the 2020 contest but did so a year later. We keep an eye on the, lesser known, 2020 entry.
Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest
Ukraine is one of the most succesful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest so far. With three victories since it’s debut in 2003, three more top-3 positions and not a single failure to qualify, this country holds a special record. Already in 2004, it was Ruslana who managed to get the first place in the contest. In 2016, Jamala brought the victory home again. It was in 2022 when Kalush Orchestra broke all the Eurovision records existing. And who does not remember Verka Serduchka, Ani Lorak, Svetlana Loboda and the group we are talking about today, Go_A?
The Ukrainian national final is called Vidbir. There had been a lot of controversy about Vidbir in 2019: the winner, Maruv, had performed on Crimea after it had been occupied by Russia in 2014. Also, Maruv had planned several performances in Russia. In the end, for this reason Ukraine withdrew. A new rule in the 2020 is that only artists who had not performed in Russia after 2014 were allowed. Also, artists who had traveled to Crimea after that year without permission from the Ukrainian authorities, were not accepted.
16 songs entered two semifinals. Six songs were allowed to the final, where televoters and a jury chose the winner. The jury members were Andriy Danilko (Verka Serduchka!), Tina Karol and producer Vitaliy Drozdov. These were the songs, entering the final:
- “99“, sung by Krutь, 9 pts, 3rd
- “Vegan“, sung by Jerry Heil, 2 pts, 6th
- “Solovey“, sung by Go_A, 12 pts, 1st
- “Horizon“, sung by David Axelrod, 5 pts, 5th
- “Call for love“, sung by Khayat, 9 pts, 2nd
- “Bonfire“, sung by Tvorchi, 5 pts, 4th
Go_A is a Ukrainian folktronica band formed in 2012.
The band’s name fuses the English term “Go” with the Greek letter “Alpha”, representing the start of all things. Thus, their name signifies a “return to origins.” The ensemble features Kateryna Pavlenko on vocals from Nizhyn, Taras Shevchenko [uk] handling keyboards and percussion from Kyiv, Ihor Didenchuk [uk] of Lutsk (who is also part of the rap group Kalush), and Ivan Hryhoriak from Bukovyna. Their songs are performed solely in Ukrainian.
Formed from a serendipitous 2012 meeting between Taras Shevchenko, a skilled keyboardist (unrelated to the renowned poet), and folk singer Kateryna Pavlenko, Go_A has swiftly become an emblem of contemporary Ukrainian music. Their initial offering, “Koliada” (Коляда), was soon overshadowed by the nationwide success of “Vesnianka” (Веснянка). This track ruled Ukraine’s 10Dance chart for six weeks and earned them the “Discovery of the Year” title by Kiss FM radio.
Their debut album, “Idy na zvuk” (Follow the Tune), launched in 2016, fortified their reputation, incorporating the hit “Vesnjanka”. A special Christmas collaboration with Katya Chilly, “Shchedryi vechir”, marked the end of the year.
Eurovision 2020 beckoned next. Chosen to represent Ukraine with “Solovey”, the pandemic’s shadow caused a cancellation. Undeterred, Go_A returned in 2021 with “Shum”, clinching fifth place overall, but a noteworthy second in public votes. Adding to their laurels, band member Ihor Didenchuk, with rap group Kalush, triumphed in Eurovision the next year.
In 2023, post their European tour, Go_A graced Eurovision again, performing “Shum” alongside Ukrainian musical legends during the flag parade. They further joined Duncan Laurence’s emotive “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. From traditional roots to global acclaim, Go_A epitomizes the spirit of modern Ukraine, harmonizing history with today.
“Solovey” is the song by the Ukrainian band Go_A. Selected as Ukraine’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020, the track became synonymous with Go_A’s unique fusion of electronic music with traditional Ukrainian sound. The title “Solovey” translates to “Nightingale” in English, and lyrically, the song tells the tale of a young woman’s complex feelings towards a man, using the metaphor of the nightingale’s song to express deep emotions.
Musically, “Solovey” incorporates the band’s signature blend of powerful vocal techniques, inspired by Ukrainian folklore, with contemporary beats and rhythms. Kateryna Pavlenko’s voice, with its distinctive timbre, rings out clear and strong, capturing the listener’s attention from the outset.
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, EBU, host organizers NOS/NPO/AVROTROS and the city of Rotterdam had to decide to a cancellation of the contest. That also meant that Go_A could not represent Ukraine in the 2020 contest. On the evening of the Grand Final, 16 May 2020, a show from a studio in Hilversum, Netherlands, was broadcast: Europe Shine A Light. Go_A was part of this show. Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC however supported Go_A to be the 2021 representants in the contest. Their song “Shum” reached a 5th place in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Go_A at a home session during the pandemic.