Maria Yaremchuk - Tick TockHow did you spend your Saturday morning? I spent mine nursing a hangover by watching over two hours of the Ukrainian national final for Eurovision 2014 – unveiling the first song to be confirmed and made public for next year’s contest. The winner was Maria Yaremchuk with ‘Tick Tock’.

Now, Ukraine tend to be pretty good at this Eurovision lark, having run very close several times recently, and I had a suspicion that, ten years on from Ruslana’s victory, 2014 might just be their year. They feel like they’re very much due another win. However, the quality of songs at this morning’s final was surprisingly, and disappointingly poor. I wouldn’t really have picked out any of them as potential winners, although there was a fun bit of B-grade schlager from bewilderingly-named duo ‘NeAngely’, a pair of Ukrainian lovelies of indeterminate age and suspiciously plump lips growling mannishly through a Melodifestivalen reject (literally, it was penned by Alexander Bard and Henrik Wikström) called Courageous (I will stand courageous, ’cause your love’s contagious) that could have been quite the joy with a bit of spit and polish.

That aside, it was death by a thousand (well, fifteen) dramatic but unintelligible ballads, usually by singers whose propensity for digging out a superfluous whistle note was inversely related to their ability to keep their middle register anywhere near in tune.

The winning song was, mercifully, one of the few other uptempo numbers. My first impression is that it sounds very unfinished, and ‘Tick tock, ticky ticky tock tock tock’ is far from a lyrical miracle even by Eurovision standards. It didn’t help that Yaremchuk was seriously struggling with the vocals at times. Some of that may be down to the levels in the Ukrainian studio, and no doubt a ‘backing vocalist’ is being measured for her tree costume even as I type this, but it certainly doesn’t sound like a winner to my ears.

That being said, Ukraine have a perfect qualification record to date, so I can’t see this being a total bomb. (Although it does strongly remind me of Boom Boom by Emmy, which saw the previously invincible Armenia missing their first final in 2011). Also, last year’s Ukrainian entry ‘Gravity’ by Zlata Ognevich was heavily remixed between the national final and Eurovision, so I don’t expect this to be the final version of ‘Tick Tock’ that we hear. Still, unless some serious turd-polishing goes on, I’m expecting this to be one of Ukraine’s less distinguished performances come next May.

‘Tick Tock’ live at the Ukrainian National Final:

Studio version: