Tuesday, December 7th, 2021


Kicking off Amnesty 2k21 with a bang via a Eurovision fan favourite…


Katie Gill: The Eurovision winner of my heart, “SHUM” is phenomenal. It’s got the bones of a traditional Ukrainian folk song (so much so that the first draft made Eurovision go “wait a moment, those bones are too similar)” but interpreted through a pulsing, driving, ever moving electronic beat. The instrumentation is perfectly sparse, showing off Kateryna Pavlenko’s precise vocal control in just the right way. And that woodwind break right before pushing to the final chorus, where things just build and build and build before crashing right through into an explosion of dance? Just brilliant.

Edward Okulicz: Ukraine rules Eurovision in the 21st century. I almost feel resentful and cheated when I don’t love their entry. I hated this one for a period too. But I knew it was televote bait because there’s something about it that, if you were the sort of person who liked it, no other song in the competition would do; it scratched an itch none of the other artists would even know you had. Nobody else battered your ears with woodwinds and threw in a dizzying tempo change and breakdown to confuse and delight. As I tried to explain to a friend why this was nailed on top 3 with the voters, I realised that I didn’t hate it and I was actually pretty enthusiastic about it. Behind a Eurovision spectacle, there’s often a well-crafted, creative song waiting to get out, and this is one of those times. 

Iain Mew: I hit play without remembering what this was; reacquaintance was immediate and joyful. Time hasn’t lessened how hard it hits or how much it sets new standards for Eurovision and beyond. If your banger doesn’t include a series of drops with all the subtlety of someone taking a hammer to a fire alarm, then what is the point?

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The last minute of this — when the flutes turn even more sinister, the tempo accelerates with abandon, and the chorus intensifies to a fever pitch — is the single most thrilling minute of music in 2021.

Dorian Sinclair: There’s a sort of game in some folk music traditions — I’m thinking here of Gaelic puirt a beul — where people try to outdo each other in how fast they can sing a piece while keeping the lyrics coherent. Music-as-play is something I think gets lost in a lot of recordings, where by necessity the focus tends to be more on polish. Go_A capture something of that energy with “SHUM,” though, accelerating through each verse until that final keening note. The vocal harmonies, as well, are impeccable; I’m reminded of the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir (if they had a lot more synth), but it’s a style of vocal writing present in a lot of central European choral traditions and it’s very fun to see it reinvented in this context.

Claire Biddles: Who cares about complex methods of building intrigue and excitement as a song unfolds when you can just make it go faster

Katherine St Asaph: BPM Gothic.

Scott Mildenhall: This nature isn’t going to heal itself — you must beckon it with intensity. Kateryna Pavlenko commands all around her in such a way that she could conceivably be whipping up this storm with her voice alone. Dynamics come and go — her acceleration giving way at turns only to return revived — but she is at the wheel, irresistibly summoning an elemental banger.

Michael Hong: Undeniably interesting in the way “SHUM” constantly twists, a cryptic flute into a dance-beat, a dance-beat into nothing but danger. But its best part is that final all-out rave, the part that you wish it would have gotten to faster, that it would have let linger for longer, that it wouldn’t have ended in some piercing yelp.

Ian Mathers: I genuinely don’t know shit about Eurovision, but if you played me this and told me it did really well with one, but not both, of the crowd and the judges I’d absolutely guess crowd pleaser. I have no idea what’s going on but “forest rave with flutes” is a fun idea they absolutely run with (at great speed, sometimes). If anything I do wish it was a bit longer, it sort of builds to what feels like the good bit and then ends rather than running through the good bit another time or two. But at least they make that sudden stop compelling. The only thing I can’t take seriously is her outfit in the video, because it looks like she’s strapped a non-functional metal version of my CPAP mask to her face.

Juana Giaimo: I remember when this song was on the suggestion spreadsheet (where we can suggest songs to cover). I thought: “Oh, we should probably review this but I don’t want to ever listen to it again.” My feelings haven’t changed.

Will Adams: Eurovision songs tend to have a steep half-life once the competition is over. What during the contest felt like the most iconic song — that simply has to win — shrinks to a merely decent pop banger by year’s end. When faced with the prospect of losing its luster, “SHUM” grabs your arm and says, “don’t even fucking think about it.” Go_A deploy the same irresistible combo that Onuka do of Ukrainian folk instruments and melodies with razor-sharp electro to create a gripping listening experience. In “SHUM”‘s case, that means gradually accelerating the electro pulse until the song is about to fly off the rails, all the while Kateryna Pavlenko howls over the whole thing with steel-eyed conviction. It holds up no matter what, and isn’t that the mark of a true winner?

Nortey Dowuona: The eagle just landed on Kateryna’s hand. Even the eagles are on their side. This gets an 11.

Reader average: [9.25] (4 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

7 Responses to “Go_A – SHUM”

  1. For those curious, we gave the ACTUAL Eurovision 2021 winner (“Zitti e Buoni” by Maneskin) a 7.22.

  2. Legitimately couldn’t think of what to say for this one, but it’s a definite [9] from me.

  3. I’m with Juana on this one.

  4. Wow, I did not expect to be the only low score.

  5. Which is a shame, because I don’t think we got an idea of what you don’t like about it?

  6. Speaking of Eurovision, Javiera Mena is in the running to be Spain’s next entrant! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFAUo1sXxdA

  7. You know my feelings about this tune. https://www.passionweiss.com/2021/07/21/raving-through-the-end-of-the-world-go_as-shum/