Editorials & Opinion

🇺🇦 Beyond Eurovision: Tina Karol

Get in losers, we're stanning Tina Karol!

Over the summer, we are premiering a new series called ‘Beyond Eurovision’. Every week, we look at what happened to Eurovision stars since they took part in the contest. Next up in the series is Tina Karol, who represented Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 with the song “Show Me Your Love”, placing seventh.

Where it all began

Tina Karol (birth name Tetyana Liberman) was born in 1985 to a Ukrainian mother and Ukrainian Jewish father in Magadan Oblast, Russia. In interviews, she has spoken about being bullied at school due to her Jewish surname. The discrimination she faced in her childhood, alongside advice from producers, lead to her changing her stage name to ‘Tina Karol’, as to not be associated with being Jewish as she sought to build her career. In a 2006 interview, she claimed that she was glad she changed her name, because she felt like it had “hindered her in her life” up until that point.

This did not define her, however. From a young age she engaged in music, performing with the Kiev branch of the Jewish Agency, which eventually lead to her travelling to the US to perform. Having been awarded a music scholarship, she went on to participate in numerous youth, regional, international and Jewish singing contests, as well as musicals, TV work and theatre shows.

Her Eurovision Journey

Tina won the right to represent Ukraine in Athens, Greece by winning the 2006 edition of the Ukrainian national final. The entry, originally titled “I Am Your Queen”, marked the first of many iconic Ukrainian revamps.

The newly-titled and partially re-written “Show Me Your Love” wasn’t only a bop, but a consistent bop. In the semi-final (back then there was only one), she qualified in 7th with 146 points. Then, in the Grand Final, she placed 7th with 145 points. This was Ukraine’s first appearance in the top 10 since their win in 2003, and their second top 10 placing overall.

I might be biased considering that “Show Me Your Love” is one of my favourite entries, but I credit Tina with consolidating Ukraine’s bop era. Up until that point, “Wild Dances” had been the only Ukrainian entries to truly slap. I view Tina as a crucial stepping stone for Ukraine to realise their lane at their contest. The song is irreverent, high energy, insanely catchy and staged to perfection. Tina oozes charisma throughout.

A rising star

Although many artists, particularly in Eastern European countries, tend to participate at the contest with established careers prior, Tina’s career took off after the contest. In 2006, she released the parent album of ’Show Me Your Love’ that same year…which annoyingly for me is not on Spotify UK. However, a number of these tracks appear on the Nochenka (Sweet Night) EP. The following year, she released another extended play, Polyus Prityazheniya (Attraction Pole).

Like her entry, these projects feature a Ukrainian language folk pop sound. Though rather green in parts, the promise of her later artistry is certainly there. This is most evident by the delicate and etherial ballad “Nochenka” (Sweet Night), which is probably still my favourite song of hers.

“Vyske Oblakov” and “Pupsik” are some of my other personal highlights from this section of her career, the latter is particularly reminiscent of the jaunty Soviet village fete charm of “Show Me Your Love”. The video in particular is VERY ‘Soviet Britney’.

Rising from the ashes of personal tragedy

In 2010, she released another pop album, titled 9 zhyzney (9 Lives), which furthered Tina’s Ukrainian pop princess status and features a multitude of bops.

In 2013, her life was rocked by the death of her husband Eugeny from stomach cancer at the age of 32. This marked a turning point in her discography also, with her sound maturing and flourishing thereafter.

Pomnyu (Remember), released in 2014, was her first release since the loss of her husband. The luscious, cinematic production showcased her vocal capabilities even more than her earlier work. You can feel her heartbreak in every song, especially the closing track, and it makes it an incredibly special and intimate listening experience. 

The 10s marked a prolific run in Tina’s career. In 2015 she released Колядки (Carols), a haunting and cleverly-titled collection of festive covers. The following year she released her greatest hits Все хиты (All Hits).

Her artistic release continued with the release of her next album Інтонації (Intonations) in 2017, which once again showcases her artistic evolutions in what is a collection of well-produced and soulful pop songs. Every song just…exhudes luxury (see below):

Full circle – Vidbir 

Alongside a myriad of TV appearances, Tina is also the longest-serving judge on The Voice of Ukraine. She first appeared in season 3 in 2013 and then has been a permanent judge since season 5 back in 2015.

In 2020 she put her judging credentials to the test by joining the panel of Vidbir, the notoriously gruelling national final for Eurovision. Jamala obviously left big shoes to fill after the legendary 2019 edition, but Tina held her own brilliantly.

As we know, the format is switching lanes into a five-song selection for GO_A next year. However, I would still love to see Tina Karol back as a judge in some capacity. Hell, just invite her and Jamala to sit on a couch on stage glowing and being iconic together. UA:PBC, I hope you’re listening. Give the fans what they want.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this bonafide summer bop:

Do you also worship at the alter of Tina Karol? What’s your favourite poet-Eurovision Tina Karol song? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter@escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our reactions to the news in the upcoming months.

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Costa Christou

Ever since I saw Helena Paparizou's triumph at Eurovision in 2005 (at the tender age of 6), I have been crazy about Eurovision. From the regional native language bops and shrieky female-led balladry to the sophisticated avant garde pop songs and chart-friendly EDM, I love everything about this cultural phenomenon. I'm currently studying a Bachelor of Science in Politics & International Relations at the University of Exeter.
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