The final and highest placed of the Baltic countries in my countdown is Lithuania, and has been my highest placed Baltic country in my last three countdowns, all within the top 10. They are, at least in terms of Eurovision wins, the least successful of the Baltics, yet they have arguably the best qualification record of the three. Monika Linkytė was part of that success, having qualified for the final in 2015 as part of a duo. She’s back this year, the highest placed in my countdown of the four returning artists. Can she make a return to the grand final?
Monika had several attempts to get to Eurovision via the national selection show, before finally succeeding in 2015 with “This Time” which she sung with Vaidas Baumila, and finished 18th in the grand final. This is her first attempt to return to the contest and she won as a solo artist this time with her song “Stay”. In the final, she was tied for first place, but was given the win as she had the higher score with the juries. “Stay” is in some ways a fairly traditional pop ballad, but the chorus and backing vocals are done via 4 on-stage gospel choir singers. Also the chorus prominently features a Lithuanian phrase “Čiūto tūto” which comes from Lithuanian folk music.
This might be the most surprising entry in my top 10 for some, but I think this entry is very underrated. It’s such a cosy, feelgood song and Monika combines some stunning vocals with what is a warm and inviting performance. The live backing singers that are an integral part of the stage performance (rather than being off to the side) really make a difference to this – and Monika interacts with them really well. The use of that Lithuanian phrase really works well too – it gives the entry something extra and obviously is catchy and memorable. It’s one of the songs this year that can give me those “chills” feelings unprompted – always a marker of a good song (for me anyway!)
It’s fair to say this hasn’t set fan polls alight and is roughly two thirds down the list of the Eurovision scoreboard app (just about in the grand final placings) but I think that does this a disservice. Placed in the second semi-final, there is generally high confidence that this will qualify – the Lithuanian diaspora is arguably the most reliable of all, and there are multiple countries in this semi that tend to vote that way. Once in the final, I do hope juries would appreciate this a bit, and it can appeal to a televote a bit wider than the diaspora. The live backing vocals (rather than prerecorded) with that very visible participation in the performance would I hope set this apart from some of the other entries and get some appreciation. I feel she deserves to finish higher than her 18th place in 2015….
Lithuania in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1994
Appearances (excluding this year): 22
Best result: 6th in 2006
Last year’s result: 14th