Hello there! It’s been a while, a long while, but I’m back! Last year’s previews were so much fun to do (and they got me a writing gig with Eurovoix!) that I decided to do them again. So all aboard everyone and let’s discover the 43 artists and songs that will compete in the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, one day at a time!
First up is one of the three Baltic states, all of whom are celebrating 100 years of independence this year. It is the land of basketball, tree cakes and winners (well, these ones anyway). It’s Lithuania!!!
Lithuania first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994 and will make their nineteenth appearance in the contest in this year. Their first entry was not successful at all, failing to score a single point. Lithuania withdrew the year after and did not return to the contest until 1999. Their best result came in 2006, when LT United came sixth with “We Are The Winners” (ironic). Their only other top ten result came in 2016, when Donny Montell finished ninth with “I’ve Been Waiting For This Night”. Last year, Fusedmarc finished 17th in the second semi-final with “Rain of Revolution”, leaving Lithuania out of the final for the first time since 2014.
The Lithuanian broadcaster, Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT), organised the mammoth national selection “Eurovizijos dainų konkurso nacionalinė atranka” to select their entry. 50 entries competed over 9 weeks. In the first four shows, half of the entries in each heat were eliminated. In weeks 5 and 6, eight songs qualified to the next round from each show. In weeks 7 and 8, four songs from each heat qualified for the semi-finals, where they joined two online wildcards. Three songs qualified from each semi-final to the grand final. In all rounds, the voting consisted of 50% jury vote and 50% public voting. Having won all rounds she was in, Ieva Zasimauskaitė was awarded the Lithuanian ticket to Lisbon in her home town of Kaunas.
Ieva Zasimauskaitė was born on July 2 1993 in Kaunas in central Lithuania. From a young age, Ieva has been attending singing lessons and completed the subject “Estradian Singing” at eight years old. She attended Aleksandras Kačanauskas Music School, where she sang in the Children’s band “Linksmasis do” and played the piano. She has participated in many competitions and was part of the Kaunas Choir for three years, performing in multiple concerts a month and even winning Chorų karai (Clash of the Choirs). In June 2015, she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management at the International School of Law and Business in Vilnius, during which she spent an Erasmus semester in Barcelona.
In 2012, she participated in Lietuvos balsas (The Voice of Lithuania), where she reached the superfinal. During her participation in the show, she performed with Dima Bilan, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008. She released her debut single “Pasiilgau” (I miss) shortly afterwards. Ieva previously attempted to represent Lithuania on four occasions – in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. She was also a backing vocalist for Lithunia’s debut entry in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007. Her song “When We’re Old” was written and composed by Vytautas Bikus. A Lithuanian version of the song “Kol myliu” (As long as I love) was also recorded and partially performed during the national final. If Ieva chooses to perform part of the song in Lithuanian, it will be the first Lithuanian entry since 2001 to feature lyrics in the language.
As we saw last year, the flashiest song isn’t always the best song. Ieva’s song has an intimate quality about it and it makes you feel very nostalgic and emotional. I hope she keeps the Lithuanian part as well because it finishes the song on a strong and sincere note. The first semi-final does have a lot of heavy hitters in it and many a good song will fail to get through. You always have to watch out for the quiet ones though and this song certainly has the potential to sneak past some louder songs.
What Could Have Been
In every selection, there are what ifs and we’ll be looking at them in this section. Ieva was my favourite in Lithuania but I have to give a shoutout to Monika Marija with “The Truth”. Monika was brought in last minute to sing this song, as the original interpreter withdrew due to dissatisfaction with the selection process. Monika impressed me by handling a song throw at her from nowhere and making it all the way to the final. If that’s what she can do with someone else’s song, imagine what will happen with her own song…
Is Ieva’s song a golden oldie or a relic of the past? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, LRT, YouTube)