Ukraine: ‘1944’ was performed in May 2015; song was eligible to compete

by Gil Laufer 6,404 views

More dramas rise following this year’s Eurovision Song Contest: it has been discovered that Jamala has performed her Eurovision entry 1944 back in a performance in May 2015, which is a breach of the contest rules. However, taking in mind previous approvals by the EBU, it is unlikely that the song will get any kind of sanctions.

The rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, section 1.2.1.a, state that:

The compositions (lyrics and music) must not have been commercially released before the Release Date (see the Event Schedule). In case the composition has been made available to the public, for example, but not limited to, on online video platforms, social networks or (semi-) publicly accessible databanks, the Participating Broadcaster must inform the ESC Executive Supervisor, who shall have authority to evaluate whether the composition is eligible for participation in the Event. In particular, the ESC Executive Supervisor shall assess whether such disclosure prior to the Release Date is likely to give to the composition an advantage in the Event vis-à-vis the other compositions. The ESC Executive Supervisor shall authorise or deny participation of a composition which may have been available to the public as described above, subject to the prior approval of the Reference Group.

The Release Date for this year’s contest is 1 September 2015. This rule was introduced in 2013. Previously, it was indicated that any part of the song must not be released prior to the Release Date. Let’s take a look at some of similar previous cases:

Belarus 2011: Born in Belorussia

Anastasia Vinnikova was selected internally to represent Belarus in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Born in Belorussia. After discovering that the song have been already performed in summer 2010, it was replaced with the new song I love Belarus.

The Netherlands 2013: Birds of 2011

Anouk was selected internally to represent The Netherlands in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Birds. It was discovered that she had played a part of the song during an interview on 3FM, a Dutch pop-rock radio station, in November 2011. According to the new 1.2.1.a rule, this presentation would not give any advantage to the Dutch entry, and Birds was eligible to participate in the contest, where it reached an honourable 9th final place.

Belarus 2013: Solayoh on MySpace

Also in 2013, Alyona Lanskaya won the Belarusian national selection with Rhythm of love. It was later decided to replace her entry and to send her to Malmö with Solayoh. On 26 February 2013, it was discovered that the songwriters Marc Paelinck and Martin King had the demo version of the song on their MySpace account. The EBU has also decided that this won’t give any advantage to the Belarusian entry, and Solayoh went on to reach the 16th place in the final of 2013.

Denmark 2016: Anja’s Never alone

Never Alone is a song written by Denmark’s recent Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest which entered the Danish national selection Dansk Melodi Grand Prix for Eurovision 2016. Since 2014, Emmelie has performed it at least 11 times before sending it to the national selection. Jan Lagermand Lundme, DR’s entertainment manager, has stated that the fact that a total of 2000 people have heard it before is not going to give this entry any advantage in the Danish selection. The EBU has also confirmed that there is no problem with Anja’s song in case it wins and goes to represent Denmark. It ended up in the second place

Ukraine 2016: Our crimea

On 18 May 2015, Jamala has performed her song Bizim Qirim (‘Our crimea’, later to be titled as 1944) in one of her gigs, included in a medley. The original video on YouTube, which is one year old and now stated as private, had around 120 views in total. The story and video rose today and these are getting now more and more attention. It is unknown if the Ukrainian broadcaster NTU had known about this before, but taking a look at the previous cases, it is unlikely that the song will face any kind of sanctions, although it has won the Eurovision Song Contest.

[UPD 19/5 12:45 CET]: The EBU has announced in a Facebook message, that as expected, and according to the rules, the performance of Jamala in May 2015 did not give her any advantage on any of the other participating songs. Hence, the song was eligible to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016.

In the case of Jamala’s “1944” the EBU’s attention has been drawn, after the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, to a public performance of an earlier version of the song in May 2015.
The video of a small concert had only been viewed by a few hundred people before it was discovered in the past few days.
The EBU, based on previous decisions in the Reference Group, therefore has concluded that the published video did not give Jamala’s song any unfair advantage in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest and the song was eligible to compete.

Jamala performing Bizim Qirim in May 2015 (starts at 4:00):

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