Wiwibloggs continues our series looking at the countries competing in Eurovision and why we love them. Today we hop over to Vilnius and look at Lithuania‘s rich history at Eurovision.
Lithuania debuted in 1994 but is the only Baltic nation yet to win Eurovision. But it’s not for lack of trying. While their entries can feel a little hit and miss at times, they are capable of delivering good quality acts that impress Europe. Let’s take a look at the 10 reasons why we love Lithuania at the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. They learned from their really awkward debut experience
It was the mid-1990s, Europe was changing and Lithuania was one of many Eastern countries to join the Eurovision family. Only things didn’t go so well with their debut. Ovidijus Vyšniauskas‘s song “Lopšinė mylimai” placed last in the grand final. With nil points. Ouch! Lithuania quietly withdrew from the contest and didn’t return until 1999. But they had learned from this experience and slowly but surely upped their game.
2. Lithuania once had more French than France
The French language has featured in the song contest every year since it began in 1956. But in 2011, Amaury Vassili was singing for France in Corsican, while francophone Belgium and Switzerland had opted for English songs. Would there be no French in Düsseldorf! Quelle horreur! But Lithuania came to the rescue with a few French phrases in Evelina Sašenko‘s song “C’est ma vie” — C’est ma vie / Je dis oui. Très bien!
3. Ieva Zasimauskaitė made us *cries in Lithuanian*
“When We’re Old” was a nice ballad, but Ieva Zasimauskaitė‘s national final performances hadn’t quite shown the full emotional impact of the song. In Lisbon, the staging highlighted Ieva’s sweetness and her intimate vocals were a treat for ASMR fans. But things got even more emotional when Ieva’s real-life husband joined her at the end of the song for an embrace. *cries in Lithuanian* It deepened the impact of the lyrics and delivered a quiet moment amid the chaos of the grand final.
4. They are the winners! of Eurovision!
By 2006, while Baltic neighbours Latvia and Estonia had each chalked up a win, Lithuania hadn’t and they were getting antsy. Enter LT United, a supergroup of six established singers who rocked up to the Athens arena and declared “WE ARE THE WINNERS! OF EUROVISION!”. The song was infuriatingly catchy and saw Lithuania sail into a sixth-place finish — their best result to date. The shout-along key lyric was even quoted by Mr Lordi at Finland’s winner’s press conference.
5. They served Samogitian realness
Seventeen out of Lithuania’s 19 entries have primarily been in English, one in Lithuanian and one in Samogitian. In 1999, Aistė Smilgevičiūtė performed her song “Strazdas” (The song thrush) in Samogitian, a Lithuanian dialect. The national language rule had been dropped, so Lithuania was free to perform in any language, but they chose to honour a local language.
6. They covered all bases with a triple smooch in Vienna
In 2015, Monika Linkytė & Vaidas Baumila brought the super cute love song “This Time” to Vienna. The lyrics had a dramatic moment where the duo sang “One kiss!” and did just that. But they weren’t about to go it alone. The song’s backing singers joined in and delivered a couple of joyous same-sex smooches.
7. They were relegated the year their neighbours hosted
The relegation years were an awkward time for Eurovision. Each year, the lowest-placing acts from previous years weren’t allowed to participate. In 2003, that meant Lithuania was out. It was also the year that Eurovision was hosted in Riga, just a short ride away for Lithuanian fans. They could still go to Eurovision 2003 — they just didn’t have the opportunity to cheer for their own country. Relegation ended the following year.
8. Yeah yeah! Yeah yeah! Yeah yeah!
9. Vilija’s well deserved Barbara Dex Award victory
There was a lot going on with Vilija‘s 2014 costume for “Attention”. But the one feature that surely guaranteed her the Barbara Dex win was a detail in her tutu. It included two giant bedazzled holes, which were there so Vilija’s dancer could sit underneath her and punch his fists up through them. Y tho?
10. Donny Montell’s gravity-defying comeback
Never attempt a Eurovision comeback, they say. You’ll never do better than your first result. In 2012, Donny Montell had competed with “Love Is Blind” and had placed 14th in the grand final. Four years later, he came back older, wiser and — oh, ok, — hotter. He performed “I’ve Been Waiting for This Night”, an explosion of Scandipop goodness, complete with an impressive somersault. He placed ninth in the grand final and gave Lithuania its second-best ever result.
Bonus: Vilija’s flyaway weave
Isn’t one of the show sponsors a haircare brand?
What are your favourite Lithuanian moments at Eurovision? Let us know in the comments section below!