With Christmas over and the world in turmoil, let’s at least rejoice in the news that Lithuania’s Eurovizijos Atranka returns again for the 2019 season. For the next eight weeks, Saturday nights are a joy again as 49 contestants vie to represent Lithuania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
LRT studios was once again the venue for the opening round of the Eurovizijos Atranka. Twelve contestants were recorded performing their songs on December 20 last year, with the judges awarding their points then. The public were able to vote tonight, helping to send their favourites into the next round.
Ieva Zasimauskaité opened the show by miming to the dance mix of the Lithuanian version of When We’re Old. After receiving deserved applause and a quick interview, we got the first Labas Vakaras and so it began.
Tonight’s judges were perennial favourite Ramūnas Zilnys, who although he still looks older than his years, didn’t look a day older than last year. He was joined by the composer of When We’re Old, Vytautas Bikus and DJ John Nainys.
Each week the hosts will be Giedrius Masalskis and Gabrielė Martirosianaitė. Gabrielė hosted the 2016 competition very well so it is a particular pleasure to see her return this year. While Giedrius looked stylish in basic suit, Gabrielė wore a bright red corset like dress, which you often see on the streets of Vilnius. Lipstick was also worn to match.
Matas Ligeika – You Came Here to Fly
Matas had the honour of opening this year’s competition. He made the judges forget about the cold Lithuanian winter with his breezy summer sound. As a newcomer he was praised for his performance and the judges felt he had potential. Accompanied by his guitar, Matas and his two female and one male, backing singers pleased the judges enough.
Simona – This Day Begins with Love
Another act making their debut. The judges felt that the song was way to retro and belonged in the seventies. As a result it looks as if Simona will be doomed on her first attempt, as the song seemed inappropriate for Eurovision in the 21st century. Looking very summery in her black dress and leather jacket Simona packed a powerful vocal.
Filtered Tools – Survival
While an experienced band of over 15 years, only the female lead singer, Rasa Bubulytė appeared on the stage. The song is about the survival of the planet and the excess pollution, but the judges felt the heart breaking video was stronger than the song. Although they liked the message, the song did not pack much punch. Rasa sang very well though.
Rūta Statkevičiūtė – Paradox
This song was described as sensuous, but it is actually about all the terrorist attacks happening in the world. Rūta caught the judges attention with her striking red dress, but felt she needed to emote more, should she get to the next round. The lyrics maybe indicated that the red dress stood for all the blood shed. The sombre piano added to the drama, but the song is maybe too bleak for Eurovision. Very good message though.
Šarūnas Mačiūlis – Traukinys
Veteran act Šarūnas, although the judges were pleased to see him, were disappointed in the song Train. They wondered if this was a bit of a joke entry, although the audience seemed to love it. The song was a lively little number reminiscent of some of Jahn Teigen’s better known songs. The backing singers seemed to enjoy singing a long in the chorus.
Aldegunda – I Want Your Love
Yet again the song was described as sensual. There was some dancing taking place around a high chair. The judges felt though that the song had a nice enough chorus, but it had to be heard more than once. As Eurovision was a one time shot, it seemed unlikely to go to Tel Aviv. However it’s Spanish flavoured rhythm makes this entry particularly appealing.
Gabriela Ždanovičiūtė – Home Is in Your Heart
At only 16 years old, the judges felt that acts like Gabriela gave them a good feeling about the future of Lithuanian music. They felt that this performance was strong, before hitting with a sting that there was no way this was heading to Eurovision. With an absent Paula this year, Gabriela could capture the teenage vote with her powerful vocals.
Migloko – Rožės
Sung in Lithuanian, this was as off the wall as any Eurovision entry has been and of course the judges loved it. They had doubts that singing in the home language could be a disadvantage. The fact that it was a little different, and it depends on your definition of little, was its strong point and it’s likely this will be in the next heat. The singing was wonderful and the gimmick of wearing headphones while singing has returned. Maarya want them back.
Twosome – 1000
Getting in as many tricks as they can, this trio were back after last years novelty number Hello. This year the song was again sung in many languages, but the judges admitted that they missed that. Guaranteed to be an audience favourite, the judges marked it mid table. Il Volo will be sweating should this win the Lithuanian contest this year. Good fun though.
MaNNazz – Blind Bird
This husband and wife team also sang a song about the perils of the planet. The beat boxing of Jade Sienkievičius was praised. The song was described as dark, but very listenable and had great potential. However something was still missing from the song and a bit of work was needed to improve. Lead singer, Kielaitė Sienkievič had the hair fringe of the evening. One to watch.
Gebrasy – Acceptance
With his third successive appearance, Audrius Petrauskas now going by the name Gebrasy, was praised about his song about what happens when you first fall in love with a man. The singing was highly praised but Gebrasy was told that he lacked emotion in his face. With a stronger performance this one could do well. Globally appealing.
Glossarium – Anyone
This rock band closed the show. The judges felt that three minutes was probably not enough time for the song, especially with a long guitar solo. Whilst entertaining and good to add some diversity to the competition, the judges felt that this was unlikely to go to Eurovision.
Lithuania in the Eurovision Song Contest
This year will be the twentieth time that Lithuania has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest. Let’s face it though, despite one of the longest selection processes and so many National Final entries, Lithuania’s performance at Eurovision has been relatively poor.
When Ieva placed 12th last year in Lisbon, she achieved the third best placing for the country. Only Donny Montell in 2016 and LT United, ten years earlier have finished in the Top 10.
Better luck this year, perhaps – below is tonight’s winning song. Could this be a winner in Tel Aviv?