Hello OGAE Rest of the World members,
Firstly in the spirit of full disclosure, I am brand new to this and trust you will forgive me as I stumble through my first couple of reviews.
I was overjoyed when it was agreed for me to cover Lithuania’s multi-round competition. Little did I realize that this the Baltic country (that has never won a Eurovision before), Lithuania with a population of just over 3 million people would be about to embark on a marathon 51 performances over 10 week national selection competition! You should have seen the jubilation on my face. So sit back, hold on (make yourself a cuppa tea) as you are about to be taken on a journey that is all good things ‘Eurovizijios Atranka 2017’ (aka “Eurovizijos” dainu konkurso nacionaline atranka) as Lithuania votes for their 2017 Eurovision contestant.
This review will provide you with a quick recap of Lithuania’s past participation in Eurovision, an overview of the 2017 voting system (arguably the most complicated out of the 43 entrants for this years’ Eurovision in Kiev) and the review of the first show which aired on Saturday night on Lithuanian Public Broadcaster “LRT” on 7th January 2017. A complete list of the 51 contestants can be found at the end of this post.
A quick recap of Lithuania’s past (sometimes controversial) involvement in the Eurovision Song Contest
Lithuania has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 17 times since its debut in 1994, where Ovidijus Vyšniauskas finished last, receiving zero points.
Eurovision 1994 Lithuania - Ovidijus Vyšniauskas
Lithuania withdrew from the contest and didn’t return until 1999. In 2016, LT United's sixth place with the song "We Are the Winners" is Lithuania's best result ever. In 2009, Lithuania threatened to boycott the contest “if Russia continues to showcase power and ignores international law”. The statement was made in reaction to the Russia's actions in the 2008 South Ossetia war. Culture Minister Jonas Jucas stated that it was too early to discuss the boycott since “spontaneous decisions might aggravate the efforts of diplomats” and thus make the situation worse. Lithuania qualified from the semifinals in 2009 and at the end of the voting in the final had received 23 points, placing them 23rd.
In 2010, Lithuania announced that due to a lack of funds, Lithuania would formally withdraw from the 2010 Contest. However the funds of 300,000 litas (€90,000) private company TEO LT came to the rescue with the necessary funding and Lithuania participated in Bærum.
In 2016, Lithuania reached the top ten for a second time when Donny Montell finished ninth with "I've Been Waiting for This Night".
What’s changed in 2017, heats and voting system
Most of you who have followed Lithuania over the many years would know that the LTR (Lithuanian Public Broadcaster) received negative feedback of the arduous, long and drawn out format to select the winner to represent their country. This year we are delighted to report that the selection process is pretty much the same – except the singers will only be required to sing their song four times during the season instead of six times (we can thank Donny Montell for his feedback that contributed to the format change, in 2016 he had to sing the same song six times – now the winner will only have sing their song four times in 2017). Audrius Girzadas — Lithuania’s head of delegation for Eurovision is proud of the fact each competitor will have their moment in the sun: “This year there will be no off screen selection performances. All of the participants will perform during the first rounds.
This year’s list of participants is shown below in this post, this includes two big returnees: Eurovision 2014 act Vilija Mataciunaite and Eurovision 2009 singer Sasha Song.
The 2017 voting process remains largely unchanged from last year’s competition. The overall votes consists of 50% televoting, combined with the other 50% from juries. A total of fifty one singers are competing in “Eurovizijos Atranka” with between 12 and 13 singers competing in each of the four heats of the show. From each of the four heats around half of the singers will qualify for the latter stages of the selection process. From the fifth show onwards an international jury will be introduced to show and will be voting alongside the domestic jury.
Lithuania will be the fourth country to choose their entry on March 11, joining Sweden, Norway and Iceland. It’s going to be a huge night for Eurovision fans.
Eurovizijos 2017 – Heat 1 – Top 12
On January 7th 2017, a total of 12 acts perform their entries live to both the public and jury for the very first time, in a bid to earn their votes and qualify to the next stage of the selection in the coming weeks.
Following each performance in tonight’s show, the specialist Lithuanian jury consisting of opera singer Sigutė Stonytė, music reviewer Ramūnas Zilnys, musicologist Darius Užkuraitis and singer Neda Malūnavičiūtė offered their thoughts and critique to each act, whilst the public voted for their favourite act throughout the show.
Paula was a clear favourite amongst the public vote this evening, receiving over 300 more votes than the second-placed act Edgaras Lubys, however the jury disagreed with the public by giving Lubys the highest amount of points, giving Paula only 5 points.
We say goodbye to Augustė Vedrickaitė, Tadas Rimgaila & Samanta Tina, Rūta Andruškevičiūtė, Audrius Petrauskas, Justin3 and Dagna.
Lithuania at Eurovision 2017: Full list of participants
Milda Martinkėnaitė & Saulenė Chlevickaitė
Queens Of Roses
Tadas Rimgaila & Tina