Friday, May 14, 2010

ESC 2010 Reviews: Lithuania

From Latvia, we fly over to neighboring Lithuania, a country that always seems to fly underneath the ESC radar (although, considering how bad some of their songs have been in the past, maybe that's a good thing...)

They made their debut in 1994, and set an incredibly inauspicious precedent: Lithuania is the only country to debut in the Eurovision Song Contest and not win a single point.  (Other countries, such as Austria, Monaco, Turkey, Malta, and San Marino have all debuted in last place, but none of them hit "nul points" on their first shot out of the gate.)  The poor score of "Lopšinė mylimai (Sweetheart's Lullabye)" left such a sour taste in broadcaster LRT's mouth that they didn't enter the contest again for another 5 years.  In 1999, however, Lithuania sent Aistė Smilgevičiūtė to sing "Strazdas (The Song Thrush)", a neo-folk song performed in the Samogitian dialect of Lithuanian.  Although it only performed slightly better than the nation's failed debut only 5 years earlier, "Strazdas" is one of my personal favorites.

Lithuania has made it to the Top 10 of an ESC only once.  In 2006, after years of basically abysmal results, LRT sent LT United to sing "We Are The Winners".  This is another one of those cases where a random link to Youtube just won't do...

I really hate to admit this, but I loved this performance.  It was sort of like when you're at a wedding, and your uncles get completely drunk and start dancing on tables, singing soccer chants.  (That happens in your family, too...right?)  Anyway, "We Are The Winners" came in 6th place in Athens, much higher than any other Lithuanian song before or since.

Last year, we got to meet Sasha Son, a former local child star who had come into his own as an adult.  His song for Moscow "Pasiklydęs žmogus (Lonely Man)" was translated into English and Russian as "Love/Adjinakij geroj", and was one of my favorites from 2009.  It made it out of the Semifinal, but only scored 23rd place in the final, despite a great vocal performance.  (Although, just as a criticism, the English version of the song said the word "love" a total of fifty-four times in less than three minutes.  You're cute, Sasha, but it made you sound just a little bit desperate...)

This year, however, Lithuania has decided to return to the formula that gave them their only single-digit placement: a lighthearted, fun performance that will get people on their feet.  That's where InCulto comes in:

InCulto - Eastern European Funk (Lithuania - Litvanya)
Uploaded by eurovision_tv. - Explore more music videos.

(If you look closely, you can find the crazy dancing bald man from LT United making an appearance in InCulto's video...)

These guys have been touring throughout their home country and the rest of Eastern Europe since 2003, and even came in 2nd place to LT United during the 2006 ESC Preselection with their song "Welcome to Lithuania".  They'll be competing as the first song in the second semifinal, so that alone might be a strike against them, but they've got a high-energy song with a vibe unlike any other song in the competition this year.  Also, if they copy their National Final performance, they drop their pants halfway through!  For that reason alone, I'm hoping that InCulto does well.

Nothing quite like a bunch of pantsless Lithuanian men to brighten your day! :-D

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