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May, 14

Who are Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra in Eurovision? Act tipped to win in Italy as they compete in semi finals

Ukraine's Kaslush Orchestra are being tipped to win this year's Eurovision Song Contest, with bookies having them as favourites to triumph for months now ahead of Saturday's final.

The eastern European country have faired rather well at Eurovision over the past two decades with Ruslana earning them victory in 2004 with her song Wild Dances, before Jamala won 12 years later in 2016 with her poignant war anthem 1944, after getting the lion share of the tele vote. Jamala has appeared at a number of events across the continent after the Russian invasion of her home country, including the ITV's Concert for Ukraine.

The wealth of support for Ukraine worldwide, as well as the fact they finished in the top 5 last year with fantastically crazy entry Shum by GoA has led to Eurovision experts and bookies putting Ukraine at the top of the betting with them odds on favourites to win in in Italy the Eurovision odds.

Unlike the UK's Sam Ryder, host nation Italy and 'big 5' countries France, Germany and Spain, Ukraine had to make it through the Euerovision semi finals to get into Saturday's grand final. They made it through Eurovision semi final 1 on Tuesday night, alongside other well tipped entries like Norway's Subwoolfer, Greece's Die Together by Amanda Tenfjord and Netherlands entry De Diepte by S10. Ukraine have perfect track record of qualifying for the final, making it through 15 times out of a possible 15.

The Ukraine will be represented at Eurovision this year by Kalush Orchestra with their song Stefania. They are a folk rap group made up of members folk-rap Ukrainian group consisting of Oleg Psyuk (founder and vocalist), Ihor Didenchuk (multi-instrumentalist), Kilimmen (DJ) and Johnny Dyvnyi (backing vocals).

Originally just called Kalush, after Oleg's hometown, the band was formed in 2019 and were signed to major American record Def Jam. They now have two new members for its orchestral revamp, Vitalii Duzhyk (beatboxing bagpipes player) Tymoffi Muzychuk (instrumentalist).

The UK are now second favourites behind Ukraine, and, summarising how the betting was looking going into semi final one, Betfair's Sam Rosbottom said: "With Eurovision 2022 kicking off this week, the United Kingdom, who have Sam Ryder representing them with his 'Space Man' hit, are second-favourites at 15/2 to win the competition, having been 12/1 on the weekend.

"The UK faces tough competition, though, from Ukraine, who are odds-on favourites at 4/6 to claim top spot in Turin, while Italy are 9/1. The UK scored ‘nul points’ at last year’s Eurovision, but a repeat of that seems very unlikely at 100/1.”

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