The folk-rap group are runaway favorites within the betting markets and their presence on the match has captured the creativeness of followers from each competing nation.
"As we speak, our country and our culture is under threat. But we want to show that we are alive, Ukrainian culture is alive, it is unique, diverse, and beautiful," Oleg Psyuk, the band's entrance man, informed CNN.
"This is our way to be useful to our country," he stated.
At first sight, the six-piece group appear to fit in comfortably with dozens of their extra eccentric Eurovision brethren.
Most members put on elaborate nationwide costume, with rapper Psyuk additionally sporting a pink bucket hat. One member is so submerged by patterned embroidery that solely his mouth is seen, whereas the group's double bassist comes dressed as a ball of yarn.
But getting Kalush Orchestra to the Eurovision stage took some doing, and their journey is deeply interwoven with the warfare at dwelling.
The band initially completed second in Ukraine's nationwide choice competitors, however they had been elevated after it emerged the winner had beforehand traveled to Russian-annexed Crimea. They had been unveiled because the nation's entry on February 22, two days earlier than Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
"All members of the group are somehow involved in the defense of the country," Psyuk informed CNN through e-mail.
One member, Vlad Kurochka, joined the territorial protection and is preventing on the entrance line, that means a late substitute was wanted for the competition. Psyuk, in the meantime, volunteers to search out internally displaced Ukrainians shelter and organizes the transportation of meals and medicines.
The backdrop of battle difficult preparations for Eurovision. The group had been compelled to rehearse just about till they had been lastly capable of meet in Lviv after weeks of warfare.
And their music has taken on new that means. "Stefania," sung in Ukrainian, is a tribute to Psyuk's mom, who nonetheless lives within the western metropolis of Kalush from which the band takes its title. "On some days there are rockets flying over people's houses and it is like a lottery -- no one knows where it will hit," Psyuk informed CNN.
Organizers banned Russia from the competition in February, 24 hours after an preliminary, broadly criticized resolution to permit it to participate. The European Broadcasting Union concluded that the nation's presence "would bring the competition into disrepute."
Belarus, which aided Moscow's invasion, had already been suspended as a result of suppression of media freedom within the nation.
Kalush, in the meantime, sailed by means of Tuesday's semifinal and elicited wild cheers from the group after they got here onstage. Eurovision is notoriously tough to foretell, given its level system depends each on jury verdicts and public voting from dozens of nations, however Kalush appear a secure guess to take this yr's crown.
A Ukrainian victory would imply the nation had the correct to host subsequent yr's contest -- however it's removed from sure that such an occasion can be doable in Ukraine subsequent May.
Psyuk, although, is optimistic. "We believe in our song ... it has become a song about the motherland," he stated.
"If it turns out that we will win, Eurovision 2023 will be held in Ukraine. In a new, integral Ukraine ... a rebuilt, prosperous, happy country."
Kalush Orchestra are becoming a member of a sometimes ragtag group of nationwide rivals at this yr's contest, and whereas they're the clear favorites to triumph, various different artists have managed to get Europe speaking within the build-up.
Subwoolfer, Norway's enigmatic electro duo, have additionally attracted buzz with their entry "Give That Wolf a Banana."
The pair declare they had been fashioned on the moon 4.5 billion years in the past and by no means take away their yellow canine masks. They most carefully resemble a TikTok-ified Daft Punk, had the legendary French pair employed David Lynch as their inventive director and hit the youngsters' events circuit.
Less "out there" are entries from Sweden, Poland and Greece -- all three have introduced ballads to the desk which can be certain to curiosity the nationwide juries.
And listed below are some phrases this seasoned Eurovision reporter by no means thought he'd kind: The United Kingdom may win this yr.
That's proper -- the nation that has, prior to now decade, despatched what stays of Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck to compete with Europe's up-and-comers has reluctantly accepted that modernity is not only a passing fad, turning to a TikTookay sensation in a play for Europe's under-65 demographic.
Sam Ryder's "Space Man" is an unusually robust British entry that takes inspiration from Elton John and Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, and a few bookmakers give solely Ukraine higher odds to win.
But the monitor depends closely on the outstanding vocal acrobatics that helped Ryder go viral throughout the early days of the pandemic -- so he cannot afford an off-night if he is to interrupt the UK's 25-year Eurovision curse.
The greatest (and worst) of the remaining
Italy is hoping to placed on a present on Saturday evening, to mark the primary post-Covid Eurovision in entrance of a full viewers. The 2020 version was canceled, and final yr's occurred with crowd restrictions.
That competitors marked the discharge of two years' price of suppressed weirdness, and the tone of this contest is considerably extra conventional by comparability. But that is nonetheless Eurovision, and it's nonetheless bizarre -- so informal viewers tuning in completely to shake their heads and tut will not be let down.
Already eradicated are Latvia, whose environmentally acutely aware anthem "Eat Your Salad" started with the road "I don't eat meat, I eat veggies and p*ssy." Organizers unsurprisingly requested them to skip over the feline allusions, and in doing so wiped away the music's solely attention-grabbing function.
Serbia's Konstrakta begins her entry, "In Corpore Sano," with the query maintaining us all up at evening: "What could be the secret of Meghan Markle's healthy hair?" Then she type of simply ... retains going with that theme. "What could it be?" Konstrakta sings in her native tongue. "I think it's all about the deep hydration."
Last yr, the landlocked micronation of San Marino inexplicably included Flo Rida of their music, after which compelled the bemused rapper to sit down and watch because the folks of Europe successively shrugged at his waning star energy, dumping the nation to a fourth-from-bottom end.
This yr, Achille Lauro -- a person who takes his stage title from a famously hijacked cruise ship -- picks up the mantle for the smallest nation within the competitors. With a tattooed, androgynous aesthetic and lyrics that liken his coronary heart to a intercourse toy, Lauro might be the dangerous boy of Eurovision 2022. (Though he is nonetheless obtained a strategy to go to beat final yr's winners, who had been in the end cleared of taking cocaine on air following a viral video that sparked an investigation by organizers.)
Other lengthy photographs price your time embrace Stefan, Estonia's reply to Johnny Cash. He's performed up the Western theme in his music video, and although his Eastwoodian credentials prolong about so far as having the ability to put on a poncho and stare somberly into the center distance, his throaty vocals and catchy refrain might hassle the frontrunners.
And then there are party-crashers Australia. Initially invited in 2015 to mark the present's sixtieth anniversary, Australia proceed to rock up annually, boxed wine in hand, awkwardly laughing alongside at Europe's inside jokes and hoping to clinch a victory for the hardcore followers who get up within the early hours to observe the present again dwelling.
To be honest to Australia, they provide it their all -- and this yr's competitor Sheldon Riley's aptly named monitor "Not the Same" is anticipated to show in a decent end.
And the recognition of Eurovision within the southern hemisphere is testomony to its rising power, even in its seventh decade.
Eurovision, for all its oddities, maintains a particular place within the cultural calendar. But successful can be uniquely vital for Kalush Orchestra, and it is arduous to think about a extra standard victor within the match's historical past.
"For us, the victory would mean appreciation of Ukrainian music, its uniqueness and beauty," Psyuk informed CNN. "The victory would also lift the spirit of Ukrainian people, who (have) not had any break (for) joy for more than two months."
Eurovision airs at 9 p.m. native time (3 p.m. ET) on Saturday, and it is out there on Peacock for US viewers.
CNN's Xiaofei Xu contributed reporting.