Jurij Veklenko will represent Lithuania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 with his uplifting pop anthem “Run with the Lions”.

He won the ticket to Tel Aviv by being crowned the winner of Lithania’s national final “Eurovizijos” dainų konkurso nacionalinė atranka. After winning his heat and semi-final and proving to be popular with both the jury and televoters, Jurijus went on to win the grand final — and with it a chance at Eurovision glory.

While Jurij gets ready to roar in Tel Aviv, we have put together 10 facts you need to know about the Lithuanian star. Let’s do this!

1. He has to tell you something that’s been on his mind

Like Imri Ziv and Lea Sirk, Jurij got his start at Eurovision as a backing singer. In 2013, he featured as part of Andrius Pojavis’ chorus, providing the backing vocals for “Something”. The song finished 22nd, but more importantly Jurij helped give us this iconic moment:

Andrius: Because of my shoes I’m wearing today. One is called love…
Jurij and friends: Lo-ove.
Andrius: …the other is pain.

2. He’s got talent

In 2010, Jurijus featured on Lietuvos talentai — the Lithuanian edition of the popular Got Talent franchise. Jurij auditioned with James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”. Despite the dubious background graphics, his performance impressed the judges enough to put him through to the grand final, where he finished ninth.

3. He knows the importance of hard work

In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers, the author writes about the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practise for someone to perfect a talent. Jurij has taken inspiration from this. In 2017, he explained, “I follow the 10,000-hour rule, which says that if you spend enough time on your passion, you will become better and better. You have to understand that at first nobody writes good songs, great words. The great painters were not born talented, they became talented by painting.” Or as the great RuPaul said…

4. He’s also got the voice

In 2013, Jurij competed on Lietuvos balsas (The Voice of Lithuania). Week after week, Jurijus impressed the coaches with his smooth moves. He was eventually eliminated in the live shows, but not before he performed “Blurred Lines” and delivered the line “You the hottest bitch in this place” with much gusto.

5. He used to be part of a boy band

Like Sergey Lazarev, Eric Saade and Conchita/WURST, Jurij has also done time in a boyband. Following his period on The Voice, Jurijus became part of the boy band Rollikai (The Rollics). The trio had a classic 1950s doo-wop vocal style with a modern edge. They released a few singles and competed in the Lithuanian national final in 2015.

6. He was part of the iconic three-way “one kiss” in 2015

There had been kisses before at Eurovision, including same-sex pecks, but in 2015 Lithuania served up three of the best. During Monika Linkytė & Vaidas Baumila’s uplifting number “This Time”, Monika and Vaidas, their two female backing singers and two male backing singers delivered three smooches. Jurij was part of the fun, teaming up with the other male backing singer to create an unforgettable Eurovision moment.

7. Jurij speaks good London, yes

While doing a recent Instagram Q&A with fans, Jurij confirmed that he speaks English. “Yes, I speak London. Good, good London, I speak, yes”. This will be a useful skill in the press centre, yes.

8. This was his fourth attempt at representing Lithuania at Eurovision

Jurijus made his Lithuanian national final debut in 2012, when he performed “Tu ne viena” (You are not alone) in Eurovizija atranka Lietuvoje. There he narrowly missed out on qualifying for the semi-final. Jurij returned in 2014, but was knocked out in the second week of the X Fact0r-style eliminations. He then returned in 2015 as part of boy band Rollikai. They were also eliminated in the second week.

9. He helped Lolita Zero lip sync for her life

In 2017, Lithuania’s national final was set alight by the outrageous drag performer Lolita Zero. Wearing a gold catsuit and cape and a pair of giant horns, Lolita lip synced to her disco song “Get Frighten”. But wait — isn’t lip syncing at Eurovision prohibited? It turns out it was a lip sync of a live vocal, provided by Jurij. He was right there on stage next to Ms Zero, ensuring that all the rules were followed… technically.

10. When he’s not singing, he works in IT

When Jurij isn’t on stage, he can be found working at an IT company, in what he describes as his dream job. In Jurij’s official bio, he reckons that “IT and music make up for a perfect combination, where monotony is being replaced by music and vice versa.” We’ll know who to call if the wifi goes down in Tel Aviv.

Bonus! He sings Queen ballads, while shirtless, to his empty fridge

We’ve all done this, right?

Now that Jurij has finally got his chance to go to Eurovision as a leader performer, we can’t wait to see how he’ll do in Tel Aviv.

How do you think Jurij Veklenko will do at Eurovision 2019? Let us know in the comments section below!

Read more Eurovision 2019 artist facts here.

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Stian F
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Stian F

Such a handsome man and what a wonderful song 🙂 lucky is the woman / person to end up with him indeed 🙂

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Raoul
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Raoul

What can i say, that other male backing singer in “This Time” is a lucky fellow…

Jake
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Jake

He’s getting better with age. This is the year of the pretty boys at ESC. I can’t imagine them all getting to the final.

Susane
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Susane

I think his song is nice and these high notes he hits are really impressive, with good staging i totally see Jurijus qualify 🙂

Btw, I know his father is Ukrainian but dont they change last name in Lithuanian way like first name? Just curious…

John
Guest
John

It depends on the ending of the surname. “Lithuanianizing” is simply adding -is/-as/-us to the original (sur)name. But there are exceptions, such as (sur)names ending in -a or -o so there’s no need to make any changes

Solo
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Solo

Fusedmarc= Veklenko.

Briekimchi
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Briekimchi

This is actually the most interesting of the 10 facts series so far….

M_K
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M_K

Yeah, Robyn seems to have a natural talent for making list content interesting. Always a pleasure.

INAMOO
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INAMOO

He speaks Londonese?

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

from get frighten to…….this imagine dragons mashup catering to straight locals. interesting facts tho

Mirko
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Mirko

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96CTIqLKnQ4
Mahmood live from Rai Radio 2 right now!

Una
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Una

How interesting. So “tu” is Lithuanian for “you” just like in French and Italian Spanish and Romanian.

Rom
Guest

Back when I studied linguistics, we learned that Lithuanian is probably the closest ancestor to Proto-Indo-European, a family language tree that is supposedly the originator of a lot of the European languages and some caucus languages too. So for Lithuanian to share a language cognate with French, Italian, etc, it makes sense.

Una
Guest
Una

Wow, that’s amazing. Thinking that Lithuanian is not spoken by a large number of people and that countries like France or Italy are so far away. Languages are absolutely fascinating.

John
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John

Italians learn Lithuanian relatively easily and vice versa which is quite strange when you first think about but

eurovision6
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eurovision6

Off topic but does anyone know when the running order for the semifinals is coming?

esc stan
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esc stan

They usually always get released mid april

Tamta Music Entertainment
Guest

Nice post. I speak good, good London! How can he go from the iconic “get frightening” to this year’s damp squib though.

Jak
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Jak

Hey Robyn!
on Srbuk- Walking Out’s lyrics article’s comment section i wrote a comment which i want you to form a view on. Can you?

Rom
Guest

I like this song so much, I just hope he gets to do well but being in the bloodbath semifinal, he has gotta do something truly iconic to go through.

BadWoolfGirl
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BadWoolfGirl

I heard he may be revamping his song. But it’s going to be tough for Lithuania to qualify in semi-final 2 because I don’t think it’s got enough to make the push through. At best it is borderline, 9-10th place, if the diaspora voting goes through, but it’s not one of my qualifiers so I am not expecting anything. I will be surprised if it does go through, but I am not betting on it.

P!nk Forever
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P!nk Forever

It‘s a great song but he‘s going to struggle with these high ass notes. He is most likely going to pull an Isaiah ca. 2017. A series of caterwauling is inevitable and Jurijus will be one of those acts. Bless him because he needs strong backing vocalists to even have a slight chance in the run.

Denmark
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Denmark

dude did you even hear his live?

Rom
Guest

He has got strong vocals so he will be fine, unless its just a bad day as everyone is privy to them at one point or another.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

lithuania has ALL the diaspora countries (norway, ireland, the uk n sweden + latvia) voting in sf2 so unless the juries sabotage him horribly he can be a borderline qualifier

Nicky91
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Nicky91

i like listening to run with the lions a lot, good anthemic fun bop 🙂