Vilnius, 11 February 2022

With several countries selecting their entries tomorrow, we at ESCUnited don’t want you to deny our 2cents before the happening. Incoming are reviews on the eight finalists of Lithuania’s selection “Pabandom iš naujo!”

On today’s panel, we find:

  • Boris Meersman (BE), which of his quirky faves will he curse with a high score today?
  • James Maude (CA), always eager to further hone his pop culture references under a glass of Trader Joe’s zinfandel.
  • Roy Postema (NL), the hot guy with disappointingly heterosexual opinions.
  • Sean Tarbuck (UK), the other hot guy with disappointingly heterosexual opinions.
  • Tyler Griffiths (AK), forever operating under a “let’s rate this as charitably as JESC” mindset.
  • William Carter (TX),  ready to painstakingly explain what the smart and dumb decisions are in a selection he can’t influence.

Before we reveal what our takes on these eight hopefulls are, it’s time for the usual Disclaimer.

The opinions stated in this article are those of the person quoted and do not reflect the views of ESCUnited as a whole. 

 

And now, let us jump right in with the first finalist:

Boris – 7

“Augste is the lone survivor of PiN’s first heat, a live show that will go down as one of the worst in the NF 2022 season (along with heat 2 of MGP). Fortunately, she was the only decent act from that semi anyway <3 “Before you’re 6 ft under” is a good take of the “take your life into your own hands” message trope that has been populating these NFs ever since the pandemic (for an example of a misguided attempt, see: Kraujelyte, J.). The chosen medium for this uplifting anthem? Dated 90s country rock with a forced rapping bridge performed by a fourty year old lady in a majorette costume. In conclusion, <3″

James – 5

“I thought you Europeans used metric? Or does “before you’re 1.8 metres under” not sound as cool? I will say this is one of the better country rock acts to have come out of the Baltic region this year, but that’s not saying too much. But then it’s deep-sixed by a naff rap verse at the bridge. I am not averse to blending rap and country in principle, but this is just clumsy. And adding fringe to your costume doesn’t automatically make you country. Just ask Colonel Gaddafi.”

Roy – 7 

“Auguste sells herself really well with this song! The song is perhaps a bit dated, or is it a throwback? That is the perception that most people will have to decide for themselves. I personally quite like this song. The rock-influence in this song is really nice and the overall picture just simply fits. The song might not be strong enough to do well at Eurovision however, so I don’t think Lithuania should send this.”

Sean – 6.5

“This Alanis Morissette-y feeling entry took me by surprise in the semi-finals, with Augustė’s brash, bold delivery of the song elevating the track. It’s not exactly a classic of the genre by any means, but “Before You’re 6ft Under” is an intriguing song, with an intriguing title and certainly enough attitude to carry it through an enjoyable three minutes.”

Tyler – 7.5

“A suitable option if Lithuania wants to go country, Augustė brings an energetic performance even if the song itself doesn’t quite hit all cylinders for me. I think Augustė is a competent singer and brings a lot to the performance, but the staging needs work. It doesn’t feel like there’s enough going on stage to me and the song doesn’t fill it if that makes sense.”

William – 7.5

“Now this is just a good effing time. Augustė has a great rock voice. She’s a natural on-stage mover, with attitude to spare. I don’t even mind the white girl rapping bridge that much, which is saying a lot from me. OK, lyrically, this is a little … trite, bordering on afterschool special PSA. But she’s rocking out so hard, and the live backing vocals make a HUGE difference to the overall soundscape. So, yeah, I’m a fan. Hope Augustė comes back for future PiNs.  She’s really got something”

 

Total Score: 40.5/60
Highest: 7.5 (Tyler, William)
Lowest: 5 (James)
Average: 6.8


Boris – 4

“Just your regular morose break-up ballad.”

James – 3

Neil Gebrasy Tyson has fallen hard since he tried shooting for the stars last year with his sad lad take on Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Why did he bother knowing he was there as a sacrificial lamb for The Roop, and then show up this year when it’s anyone’s game with a dud of a relationship tiff ballad? Why should I care Gebrasy’s partner is mad at him because he left his underwear on the radiator, or whatever they’re mad at him for? And that they made up with a hug? This is too whiny. P.S. Are he and Estonia’s Ott sharing the same Volvo finance manager coat?”

Roy – 6 

“I think this song makes sense as an evolution from last year’s song. I do think this effort works a little bit less good. The main lyrics of the song and the chorus are really pleasant and his voice is very soothing. I am very worried that if this were to win, how it would do at Eurovision. I fear that it might be lost in the shuffle a bit too much. Overall a pleasant listen that doesn’t necessarily move the world.”

Sean – 7.5

“I was enamoured with Gebrasy’s entry last year and while this doesn’t quite hit the highs of “Where’d You Wanna Go” for me, this almost ethereal ballad is a pleasant listen and showcases more facets of Gebrasy’s voice as the talented singer continues to emerge onto the Lithuanian scene. With elegant staging and a charming performance, this is another success for Gebrasy – whether it will have enough to win is another story.”

Tyler – 6.5

“”Into Your Arms” is a catchy song to me (as annoying as that is!) so that’s probably a big plus for me. I don’t like this song as much as last year’s entry, but I think Gebrasy needs to develop more before trying for Eurovision again with a Beautiful Mess remake. Which is fine, but could be better!”

William – 3.5

“I was excited for Gebrasy’s return, so ‘Into Your Arms’ is … a bummer.  His song last year was similarly low-key, but it was much more melodically propulsive. This is just a little anonymous. Maybe more than at any other national final, personality plays a big factor at PiN, and this song doesn’t have one. Next time, and I hope there is a next time, I want Gebrasy to come with a song that doesn’t feel and sound so much like it was written for Eurovision. He shoulda held on to ‘Resolution’ for a few more months.”

 

Total Score: 30.5/60
Highest: 7.5 (Sean)
Lowest: 3 (James)
Average: 5.1


Boris – 9

“I am always cautious when artists decide to sing at Eurovision as therapy for their own grief. “Our choice” by Ari Olafsson was a particularly grueling experience to be put through. After facing a divorce and a crisis of faith since the delightfully naïve “When we’re old“, Ieva  managed to tie her awful experiences together in a simple, elegant loss ballad whose composition successfully emulates what getting in and out of a depression feels like. Is she addressing her ex-husband? God? Her own anxiety? All of them? It doesn’t matter, because whatever let her down in the past has hardened her to face the future and inspired her to be better, to be there for those for whom she matters.  I just want to hug her, and wish her the happiest life imaginable.”

James – 4 

“Oh no, the “When We’re Old” girl is alone and someone left her with a piano. After two dirgy verses and two despondent choruses, this song at least morphs into a self-empowerment ballad. The “I’ll Be There” is actually a reference to Ieva being there for herself when in the first two verses and choruses no-one was there for her. I get what she’s trying to do, but I don’t know if we can trust PiN or the EBU to effectively handle subject matter such as suicide and depression during a show such as Eurovision. Can you do this song there, put the Suicide Watch hotline numbers up, and then transition to a bit in the Green Room where Mika is trading double entendres with the Swedish backup dancers?”

Roy – 4.5

“My biggest issue with this song is that these lyrics are sooo insanely up front and in your face. Ieva’s voice is lovely, but the orchestration of this song could have been a bit better. Right now the focus is too much on her voice and the lyrics that aren’t really that good for me.”

Sean – 6

“Ieva’s unique vocal might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I certainly enjoy her tones and really enjoyed her 2018 entry. Again, this isn’t quite up to the same mark and a piano ballad might be a bit too traditional for someone of Ieva’s talents. There are nice moments and she certainly knows how to work a stage and sell a song, but it just leaves me a little colder than I was hoping for.”

Tyler – 7.5

“”I’ll Be There” works much better for me when she isn’t behind a piano, thank goodness they got rid of that staging. We know Ieva can carry a performance like in 2018, so even if the performance is more bare bones, it can still be effective overall. I also quite frankly just like the song, even if it feels unoriginal at times. Sue me!”

William – 5.5

“Ieva has a really beautiful, delicate voice, but we knew that already. In terms of pure stage presence, she has it. She’s alone up there, and she fills the entire stage. The song, though? It’s nice. It’s sweet. It actually has a pretty great hook. But it’s also maybe a little … ordinary? I’m happy I got to hear Ieva perform it, but this song is missing a little extra oomph. Solid entry, but it’s not THE ONE. ”

 

Total Score: 36.5
Highest: 9 (Boris)
Lowest: 4 (James)
Average: 6.1
Favourite entry of Boris


Boris – 2

“By merely glancing at the song title, one might mistake this for a mindfullness-for-dummies coaching session. You know, something inspiring. Instead, you’re ‘treated’ to a pseudo-philosophical and sullen dirge wherein Juste asks us how she can get her life back on track. Don’t get me wrong, the notion of a sour-faced ugly-hat-wearing lady caterwauling “My Life! My Life! I want to get it back!” in a deadpan drone can be funny in some contexts, here it is as misguided as it is morose. Last year’s Epic Last Placer Thomukas1 also had an anti-pandemic anthem but he at least tried to inspire his audience into feeling better by reminding them that they can simply wish for life to be better – a hilariously stilted approach, true, but that in part was what made Thomukas1 capital ‘I’ Iconic in my eyes, whereas Juste I will happily forget about the moment her PiN journey ends.”

James – 7 

“Why is she singing through gritted teeth, looking at the audience like she’s just about to headbutt them? Anyway, I do appreciate she is dabbling in some ‘90s goth to bring something different to PiN. The dancers seem to be from a more upbeat song and dancing to that one instead of this, but A for effort. There’s elements of a really strong entry here if they added some guitars, down-tuned the bass, and change the title to something less passive (e.g. “I am getting my life back”).”

Roy – 4 

“I don’t fully get why this has done so insanely well in the competition yet. I find the chorus to be too repetitive and it doesn’t really make the song a better piece overall. I like her charisma and how she performs the song though. Unfortunately the song just doesn’t really go anywhere and doesn’t really work for me.”

Sean – 8

“This is certainly an intriguing composition. Justė’s crystal clear portrayal of this rasping electronic number and a really effective staging make this one of the highlights of this final. The hook is catchy and memorable (important for Eurovision!) and the lyrical content is different enough to stand out in the pack. This is up my alley, and I look forward to seeing more from Justė if in this vein!”

Tyler – 5.5

“I like Justė’s outfit (it’s edgy and unique!), but that’s about it! The vocals feel forced to me, to almost Alanis Morissette esque, but not natural. The song itself feels like nothing to me and doesn’t speak to me at all. I want to know how to get my three minutes back!”

William – 4.5

“This song is ALMOST there for me. I dig the moody industrial vibe and the clockwork choreography, and the song’s sound is evocative. Unfortunately, she’s running into a bit of an English pronunciation problem that makes the chorus muddy and a little incoherent. And for a song that seems intended to melodically escalate, it becomes fairly repetitive and doesn’t reach a big enough climax. Ultimately, I’m glad this song is here, but I don’t see this as a good option for Lithuania this year.”

 

Total Score: 31/60
Highest: 8 (Sean)
Lowest: 2 (Boris)
Average: 5.2


Boris – 7

WHERE HAVE I HEARD THIS BEFORE?? I know *for a fact* that I’ve heard these exact same riffs and instrumentations before and I can’t remember where? Some computer game? Stellaris perhaps? Mass Effect? Portal? Eh, no matter, this time there’s no Jury Juice (– William Lee Adams) around for Lolita to lipsynch to so xhe is forced to resort to spoken word vocals on xheir royalty-free scifi gaming track. And yes, the costume, the censorship, the catchphrases, the cackling, even the staged online shade towards Monika Liu. Everything about this spandex disaster is funny and memorable. As a song and a novelty act though, “Not your mother” is sadly not quite as outrageous or as refreshing as “Get frighten” was.

James – 5

““Category is Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. This is all a bit too art school try hard, and some drag that can be charitably labelled “craftsy.” It just all falls a bit flat, with Lolita’s performance very dry and dripping with contempt, looking at the audience like she’s a Yorkshire housewife about to yell at you to “wipe thee bloody feet!” This is all further maddening as Lithuania has rejected for two years running a much more talented drag queen who can actually sing and doesn’t need to play up so hard to be a weirdo. Lolita Zero is a placebo to Alen Chicco’s Cure.”

Roy – 7.5

“This beat is mouth-watering good. I really appreciate that Lolita takes a more serious route this time. The trance-y beat is amazing to listen to and I love it a lot. The biggest issue is that I am not sure if the bigger audience will get it or like it. I don’t care though, this went straight to my playlist!”

Sean – 10

“Outstanding from start to finish. Lolita Zero is certainly not everyone’s type of act but this avant-garde dark electro piece is a triumph in how to stage an entry and really captivate an audience. The bleeps and stops when blanking out the studio version’s swear words really accentuate this live for me for some reason and Lolita’s intense, engaging performance is a mastercraft. The drop after the bridge is jaw-droppingly good, the whole song is embarrassingly catchy and there is a mystery quality running throughout this. Fantastic, excellent, wonderful!”

Tyler – 8

“Not Your Mother” works very well for me as a studio song, but not quite as well for the performance. I think given Lolita Zero’s previous entry that this should have been bigger and better, but I disagree! I think the performance is artsy and a mood that captures the electro music very well. It’s more simple, maybe, but it might not need to be given how strong the song is. Vocals may be a different story though.”

William – 7

“I mean … what to even say? This is fully deranged, in the best way. Should Lithuania send this? I have no idea. It could place Top 10 at Eurovision. It could finish dead last in its semi. This is a high risk, high reward kinda entry, but I dig its sound and its bacchanalian-disco-orgy-in-Hell presentation. So, yeah, if Lithuania is feeling especially freaky this year, I wouldn’t be mad to see this in Turin. Imagine all the interviews. ”

 

Total Score: 45/60
Highest: 10 (Sean)
Lowest: 5 (James)
Average: 7.5
Favourite entry of Sean


Boris – 8

“As is my trajectory with all good Eurovision ballads, “Sentimentai” kinda flew me by during the second heat without much fanfare. Then at the urging of my friends I relistened and with every consequetive listen have liked it more and more. Monika herself claims “Sentimentai” is callback to 70s Soviet Pop and I absolutely see it – “Sentimentai” feels as refreshing and timeless as it is familiar and accessible. It’s great to have an artist SO clearly inspired by ‘Voilánot copy the source material but instead emulate the idea behind it, by representing her country’s musical heritage like La Pravi did for the French chanson last year. Visually, “Sentimentai” is captivating even with basic staging and I’m curious to see what will happen once Monika gets a hall pass and a sizeable budget for her Turin Act.”

James – 7 

“Smooth Euro-jazz pop served by a quirky Lithuanian chanteuse. Personally, I thinking “momentai” would be a better title as its usage is more memorable in the song, and if there is an ironic usage of “sentimentai,” such as Monika lives in the moment and does not dwell on the fleeting moments of love and passion, its usage beyond that will be largely lost to the non-Lithuanian. I have often babbled on about which entry could work or not work on a Eurovision stage, but this one is a grab bag. I like it and it could grow on me, but whether Europe at large has enough supporters to get it into the Grand Final is a question without a sure answer.”

Roy – 8.5

“Finally!! Lithuania has a song in their native language that could propel them to the final of Eurovision! This is classy, this is a wonderful throwback and Monika delivers it really well. With a proper staging team behind this and some proper coaching, I think this song has it in it to do surprisingly well. Think a bit about Portugal last year. Yeah, I am fully backing them to go for the first fully Lithuanian entry of the 21st century!”

Sean – 7

“Sounding more in common with the sound of the day 100 years ago than the modern day, this is a quirky entry from Monika Liu. It’s apparently the favourite, which surprised me when first listening. But perhaps it’s the quirkiness of the whole thing that has captured people’s attention? Monika really sells herself well here, and the song’s blend of swinging 20s-style music with modern production and electronic elements is novel to say the least. I can’t say it’s my favourite here but Lithuania wouldn’t be going too far wrong if this won.”

Tyler – 9.5

“Monika Liu brought a vision to PiN, and it’s so great to see it pay off with how much she’s been slaying the jury and the televote. “Sentimentai” is the pop Soviet funk ballad I didn’t realize I needed, and it captures my imagination every single time. I also want to hear Lithuanian back on the stage again, and it helps that this may very well be the best shot Lithuania has at qualifying of other countries enjoy the message. A lovely entry.”

William – 8.5

“I guess I would describe this performance as a slinky, ‘70s disco throwback on the moon? And I mean that as a compliment. Vocally, Monika is nailing it, and there’s an effortless cool to the whole thing. She even makes the bowl cut look good. Of every performance at PiN this year, Monika’s has the right combination of polish and eccentricity to follow in The Roop’s footsteps. Sending ‘Sentimentai’ would cement Lithuania as the crowd-pleasing odd balls of Eurovision, and I can think of no greater legacy for The Roop to have left behind. ”

 

 

Total Score: 48.5/60
Highest: 9.5 (Tyler)
Lowest: 7 (James, Sean)
Average: 8.1
Favourite entry of Roy, Tyler and William. 


Boris – 5

“Merely seeing “Queens of Roses – Washing Machine” pop up on my news feed was enough to immediately get me on board. “Fisherman” and “Runaway” were great, so there was no reason to doubt this wouldn’t be amazing either. The track released and it was the exact sort of glorious trashpop filler that I had hoped for. “YES! EXCELLENT! WASHING MACHINE LET’S GOOOOOOO” The semi comes along and Queens of Roses are even better than I thought they would be, casting down their boytoys in brilliant flashes of cheap female empowerment. “YASS, NOTHING IS GOING TO PREVENT ME FROM STANNING” I thought. How mistaken I was.

In comes one of the most horrifying and unnecessary DJ remixes since Robin Schultz butchered “Alane” like a Jack the Ripper murder victim and just like that, “Washing Machine” plunged from being one of the best songs in PiN to one of the worst. What do I even do here, ratings-wise? The original is a f’cking 9, this new version is a 1, what’s the middle ground here? Five? Ugh. 😒 Oh well, at least this crappy remix (btw why do the radio stations insist that these dance remixes of 80s/90s classics are the best thing since sliced wonderbread? STOP MUTILATING MY CHILDHOOD YOU CHINLESS CRETINS) will save Gebrasy from the embarrassment of finishing last in the final, I guess.”

James – 1 

“I think it’s about time I host my “Usage of Home Appliance Metaphors and Similes at Eurovision” seminar in Turin. It’s really not that hard. Washing machines and female singers should be a gimme – especially for two seasoned Eurovision mercenaries like Down and Taylor – but no, we get this dog’s breakfast of a song. The lyrics make no sense. “You always like to press at destruction”? Does Whirlpool have a “Destroy” function I missed? Is it between Rinse and Spin? “All the crap you fire at me?” Do Europeans also use their washing machines as toilets? What’s going on? Men in clubs like destroying potential hook-ups, too? And do Europeans often shout “Shut up! Stop talking!” at washing machines? When I first heard drunk guy and washing machine in lyrics, I thought they were trying to be like the female version of the Latvian salad guys, and that analogy makes more sense than what they went with! All this over a basic, dated track, with three performers whose dance routine can be summarized as “bored flight attendants.”

Roy – 6

 “The potential is here. The beat is fun and the girls have charisma. The lyrics feel a bit forced and squeezed into the melody. The drop is insanely cool and unique, but I think the comparison to a washing machine is a tad silly. It didn’t really need that. Overall the song feels a bit empty too, but I dig the drop a lot.”

Sean – 5

“Lithuania’s answer to a Sugababes question nobody really asked, this is possibly the poor child of this final. Their vocals blend well together and they have tremendous stage presence, but the song is nothing new to the music scene and the lyrics are, well… despite the empowerment message they are… different, let’s say. The track itself is very formulaic and takes very little risk, which can’t be said for a lot of other Lithuanian hopefuls here. Not really my thing it has to be said.”

Tyler – 4.5

“Okay, I don’t know who told Queens of Roses to do this remix and then nix the backup dancers, but to that person, how dare you. The semifinal performance is demonstrably weaker and takes away a lot of the charm “Washing Machine” had. The only thing this semifinal performance did was make it a sure last place NQ if it wins PiN.””

William – 6

“It must be said … their three-part harmony is really quite strong. That’s what I want to hear out of my girl groups. (Subtweet.) The song itself? It’s OK. It’s catchy, but thin, and it’s not at all unexpected. It’s missing some of the quintessentially Lithuanian oddness we’ve come to know and love. Still, this is cute. It’s not quite strong enough to compete on the Eurovision stage, but this is definitely the kind of song that would come, like, 5th place at OGAE at the end of the year. And that ain’t nothing. ”

Total Score: 27.5/60
Highest: 6 (Roy, William)
Lowest: 1 (James)
Average: 4.6


 

Boris – 6.5

“Ruta continues down the same Avant Garde paradigm as Giudi and Blanca Paloma before her: “Call me from the cold” has the potential to be an all-time great Eurovision entry – it has soothing instrumentation, it has poignant vocals, it has stunning visuals, it goes… absolutely nowhere. WHOOPS. You’re lulled into thinking something will happen and then nothing whatsoever. Such a pity.”

James – 10

“It takes a deft hand to successfully pull off relatively minimalistic synthpop and combine it with simple lyrics to tell a compelling, emotionally-charged story, but Ruta does it here. The vocals and the instrumentation “warm” up from start to end as she pulls in someone who asks for her love out of the cold. It is a remarkable progression from despair to hope, done gradually over the course of three minutes. The low budget staging almost undoes the effect, but Ruta herself is such a mesmerizing presence you don’t notice anything else.”

Roy – 7

“Another great entry from Ruta! I really enjoy this one, but I feel like she has an even better entry in her. She showcases her soothing vocals very well with this song! However I would prefer her trying again another time with an entry that absolutely wow’s us! Right now, her entry is enjoyable and I love that it is in the selection, but I fear this would not be enough for a qualification at Eurovision.”

Sean – 10

“This is just utterly, utterly breathtaking. Ruta is back with another real slice of quality with the best staging of this year’s competition, hands down. From the first minute I’m reeled in by the almost ethereal, otherworldly feel of the track and the tasteful staging. When the second verse kicks in and the throbbing electronic beats kick in, I’m sold! “Call Me from the Cold” is expertly produced, expertly performed, stands out from the crowd and is just overall a really captivating piece. Please don’t underestimate Ruta again, Lithuania!”

Tyler – 9

“Eerie, moody, magical, Rūta’s performance is haunting and I love it. It’s artistic without being pretentious, and captures my attention immediately and doesn’t let go. When Rūta’s vocals are perfect, she’s a fantastic performer and definitely one to watch out for! “Call Me from the Cold” is a lovely song for her resume, and I look forward to her winning PiN next year”

William – 6.5

“The star of this song is the vocal. There’s a vulnerability and character in her delivery that really sells the fantasy. The staging is … well, they at least have an idea of what they’re going for and could fine tune it. I think this song works better as a vibe than as an overall composition, but there’s some undeniable magic in its DNA that could be cultivated. I wouldn’t necessarily send this to Eurovision, but Rūta Loop is a pro and a one-woman operation. She’ll give you vocals AND run her own stage mechanics. ”

Total Score: 49/60
Highest: 10 (James, Sean)
Lowest: 6.5 (Boris, William)
Average: 8.2
Favourite entry of James

 

The Verdict

Eight songs reviewed by our team, what do we make of this? Well, we came up with the following ranking:

  1. Ruta Loop – “Call me from the cold” (82%)
  2. Monika Liu – “Sentimentai” (81%)
  3. Lolita Zero – “Not your mother” (75%)
  4. Auguste  Vedrickaite – “Before you’re 6 ft under” (68%)
  5. Ieva Zasimauskaite – “I’ll be there” (61%)
  6. Juste Kraujelyte – “How to get my life back” (52%)
  7. Gebrasy – “Into your arms” (51%)
  8. Queens of Roses – “Washing machine” (46%)

If it were up to our editors and opinion makers, Ruta Loop narrowly edges out Monika Liu as our favourite. It’s safe to state that if either ladies were to win PiN next Saturday we would be very satisfied with the outcome. Check in tomorrow at 20:00 CET to see whether this will come to fruition.

Do #YOU agree or disagree with our takes? Which act do #YOU think should win Pabandom iš naujo? Let us know in the comments, on social media or on our forum HERE. Alternatively, join the discussion on our Discord HERE

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Boris Meersman
Load More In 2022

Leave a Reply

Check Also

The Big Five finish their second rehearsals in Turin!

Turin, 06 May 2022 Buongiorno everyone! For the final time, several countries have taken t…