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.
he speaks London what a legend your fav would never pic.twitter.com/Y1W0RiDF4n
— Lydia ???? (@vinciedane) March 17, 2019
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 Factor-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!