Earlier today the BBC announced a star-studded lineup of performers who will provide interval entertainment during the Semi Finals of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. One of the UK’s most successful female chart acts, Rita Ora, stole the headlines after it was revealed she would perform a medley of some of her biggest hits. But a poignant duet between two sensational Ukrainian and British vocalists has been overlooked.
Eurovision brings together families, friends and strangers. The contest is the ultimate people-binding event and it gives a platform for friendships and platonic relationships to blossom in unique ways.
One relationship, I doubt, nobody was expecting to be formed is that between Zaporizhzhia-born Alyosha and Liverpool-born Rebecca Ferguson. Alyosha represented Ukraine at Eurovision in 2010 with her environmentally aware track, Sweet People, and delivered the most supreme vocal displays in the contest that year. Her voice was stable and powerful in equal measures. Rebecca Ferguson was runner-up in the seventh series of UK singing competition The X Factor in 2010, criminally beaten by Matt Cardle. Ferguson’s voice is bluesy, soulful and effortlessly, emotionally expressive.
The collaboration between Alyosha and Ferguson, in a performance called Welcome To Our House, places an emphasis on the ladies’ places of birth and the connection Eurovision creates between the cities. The Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia is a key battle point in the war in Ukraine and was in the headlines in the latter half of 2022 due to a stand-off between Russian and Ukrainian forces and the United Nations at the city’s nuclear power plant. More recently, a civilian apartment block was hit by Russian shelling, killing and injuring tens of people.
Owing to the conflict, Eurovision seeks solace in Liverpool, one of the UK’s friendliest, most diverse and peaceful cities. It’s the ideal capital for the contest in 2023. Ferguson embodies the values of her city. The mother-of four puts her family first and publicly cherishes her loved ones way more than she values her work as a singer and performer. “I focus on my family, my kids and what I love,” she told the BBC’s Eurovisioncast podcast. With millions of Ukrainian families being separated over the last 12 months, Ferguson’s instinct to put family first will come to the fore and her performance together with Alyosha will be an amplified tearjerker for those who have been displaced.
The song the ladies will sing is Duran Duran’s Ordinary World. It was written by the band’s frontman, Simon Le Bon, as the second in a trilogy of songs dedicated to his late childhood best friend. Put simply, it’s a homage to loved ones who are no longer around. Could there be a more fitting song to be performed by a Liverpudlian and a Ukrainian at a contest being held in extenuating circumstances away from last year’s winning country?
Ordinary World does take on a double meaning. Le Bon’s other inspiration for the track was his fading fame and being able to live something close to a normal life again; a normal life which is something Ferguson admittedly treasures. Who better to sing it that Ferguson?
The composition of the ballad is warm and rousing, but the creative team behind Welcome To Our House have described the Eurovision performance as “haunting”. No doubt there will still be a sense of hope and courage during the rendition.
The significance of a duet between Ukrainian and British vocal powerhouses who have never even met cannot be overlooked. Their voices in harmony on a Eurovision stage inspired by a wide hug will form a connection for those who have been disconnected.
2 thoughts on “The significance of Alyosha and Rebecca Ferguson’s Eurovision duet”