Lithuania has been my winning song in both 2020 and 2021, and while this doesn’t get the hattrick, “Sentimentai” secures another top 5 result for the Baltic nation. Monika Liu will be looking to charm both juries and the viewers of Europe with what is a very different genre of song to what The Roop brought. Can she replicate their success and reach the grand final?
The Lithuanian national final, “Pabandom iš naujo!”, has quietly developed into one of the best of the national finals in terms of depth of quality and range of genres and artists. Monika was the favourite going into the grand final show following heats and semi-finals and that status was confirmed with a win with both jury and public vote. She’s been on the Lithuanian music scene for some time, as well as having appeared in TV series such as the The Masked Singer as a jury member. With “Sentimentai” she’s scored her first number one single in Lithuania.
This is potentially a bit of a polarising song – I know many people don’t really get it or are not fond of the genre, while there are many others who, like me, are big fans of both this song and the artist. It’s quite unlike any entry this year – it has a real retro and cabaret feel to it, but not done as a parody or feeling dated, the underlying progression and tempo feel modern. Notably, it is all in Lithuanian, and the first time since their debut in 1994 that they have sent a song in their native language.
While this is a classy, jazzy pop number that wouldn’t be out of place in some intimate dark cabaret bar, what really brings this to life and makes it stand out is Monika herself. Her vocal is never less than extremely competent and with that solid base, she has so much confidence and character in directly engaging with an audience, be it in person or via the camera. Her sheer enjoyment of what she’s doing really comes across.
I’ll be keeping all my fingers crossed that her character and connection come across to the audience watching the semi-final on Tuesday night. She’s in one of the positions that has the worst qualifying records (third song in running order) and deprived of some countries that always vote big for Lithuania in their televote (largely diaspora driven) – UK, Ireland, plus neighbours Poland and Estonia.
Monika has been living her best life through the pre-party circuit so it would be such a shame if she didn’t get the opportunity to show all that enthusiasm and sass in the grand final. A shame too if the first Lithuanian language entry in almost 30 years didn’t make it. Semi-final one is looking a tough one though – there are several almost certain qualifiers leaving artists like Monika battling for those remaining spaces – so I shall be praying to the Eurovision gods…
Lithuania in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1994
Appearances (excluding this year): 21
Best result: 6th in 2006
Last year’s result: 8th