Lithuania’s national selection for Eurovision, Pabandom iš Naujo, has returned (perhaps surprisingly) for 2021. There have been three shows already – two heats and a semi-final with the final being held on Saturday 6 February. Five acts have made it through to join last year’s winners, The Roop, who were given a direct pass to the final.
Why do I say surprisingly? Well, The Roop not only triumphed at the national final last year, winning both the jury vote, and the public vote (getting the biggest ever number of public votes in a Lithuanian national selection), they also went on to become one of the favourites to win the 2020 contest prior to its cancellation. The Lithuanian broadcaster, however, did not select them automatically for 2021 and announced there would be a national selection again. I suspect this is due to the success of 2020’s selection which was of impressive quality and scale (though also due to The Roop’s popularity I should think).
Initially it was unclear if The Roop would be entering or given a place, but the band announced they had been writing songs over the summer and were entering again. The broadcaster granted them a direct place in the final rather than having to be considered for and progressing through the earlier stages. As you’ll see from my comments below, it does feel like this was all a bit unnecessary but from the broadcaster’s point of view, it’s brought viewers and interest/exposure.
The favourite: The Roop “Discoteque”
If all those who, like me, were big fans of “On Fire“, their 2020 entry, then the concern that The Roop could never follow up with something as good was swiftly put to rest on the release of their new entry on 22 January and a live performance of the song during the heat two programme. I put “On Fire” as my favourite 2020 entry, and while it is still very early in the season, they could well be my number one again – should they win of course. The live performance is embedded here but do take a look at “Discoteque” music video too. Without copying “On Fire”, they’ve created something that is equally (or more so) quirky, catchy, memorable and simply excellent.
The contender (for runner up): Gebrasy “Where’d You Wanna Go?”
The clear rival to The Roop this year (or favourite for the right to come second) is Gebrasy with his angsty, high vocal , low to mid tempo male solo ballad. It feels modern and is well performed and it’s easily the next best song in the final. He’s received top marks from both jury and public vote in the first round and in the semi-final so he is the one to beat for The Roop.
Potential (or likely) result
While it might feel like this could be a foregone conclusion, it is best never to assume when it comes to national selections. The Roop are pretty assured of winning the public vote by a huge margin (like last year) given their popularity and the reaction to the song on YouTube (2 million views of the music video in just over a week) and dominating the Spotify charts in Lithuania since release.
However, the quirks of Pabandom iš Naujo’s voting system could yet undo them – both public vote and jury vote are converted into points 12, 10, 8, etc. so even if The Roop got 50,000 votes from the public and second got 2,000 votes, they would end up with 12 and 10 points. The jury points are also converted into that 12, 10, 8 etc. scale so there is a risk that if Gebrasy got second with the public vote and the jury ranked him top, the jury would need to vote The Roop as second for them to win, even with a huge difference in raw public votes.
I am going to keep my fingers (and toes) crossed that the jury doesn’t mess this one up – Gebrasy is a fine singer with a fine song, but The Roop with “Discoteque” could well achieve what they might have achieved last year were it not for the cancellation – one of Lithuania’s very best results and a real contender to win the contest for the first time for Lithuania.
You can watch the show live on broadcaster LRT’s website from 7pm-9pm on Saturday 6 February.