No, this is not The Phantom of the Opera. But this very need for clarification is a setback that Tvorchi’s Heart of Steel can’t afford.
Ukraine’s 2023 Eurovision contribution has an alarming, driving intro akin – albeit in a different key – to one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most famous compositions. Comparisons aside, this is dark synth-pop breathing into short-lived life. Short-lived because it’s 23 seconds shy of being three minutes long so it doesn’t have time to establish itself. It doesn’t even have a bridge. If the intro was different and more independently distinctive, Tvorchi’s effort would have a steadier leg to stand on.
However, Heart of Steel’s darkness is matched by the echoing, mysterious vocals of frontman Jeffery Kenny. With that, the track offers some consistency. There is a beautiful and genuine rhythm to it too which shouldn’t be ignored.
The contest’s 2016 winner, Jamala, said “we are creating new music for Ukraine” during the broadcast of Vidbir. She’s absolutely right. This is not what many would consider as a typical Ukrainian Eurovision track, especially with the country’s recent run of entries.
There’s barely a scent, a whisper, a trace of a Ukrainian fingerprint in its DNA and that’s disappointing. No disrespect to Heart of Steel as a piece of music, but Ukrainian identity in its music is part of what makes the country so magical at the contest and it’s a shame that it’s missing.