23 January 2018
Friday, 28 March 2014 18:34

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Latvia

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #2, we catch up with Latvia (LTV) who will be represented by Aarzemnieki and the song Cake to Bake written by Guntis Veilands.

The Aarzemnieki (or Foreigners) phenomenon began as an unexpected shock for one German’s special interest and creative approach to the Euro introduction in Latvia. In the summer of 2013, Joran Steinhauer, whilst in his home in Bohume, Germany wrote a farewell song to the Lat currency, aptly naming the song Paldies Latiņam! (Thank You, Lat) Later, the video became a Youtube sensation with more than 100,000 views in one week. The popularity and enthusiasm surrounding the song was so large that Joran decided to pack his bags and make his way to Latvia with one thing in mind; “let’s see what happens next!” Joran’s connection with Latvia, however, began well before the birth of this smash song, when he took part in an exchange programme in the city of Talsi in 2005. Later he volunteered at a children’s centre and in the German church of Riga.

Remembering his first impressions, Joran recalls that it’s because of the group Brainstorm, who were third in the 2000 Eurovision final, that he was drawn to Latvia. After hearing their song he bought their CDs and it was at that moment that he became a true Eurovision and Brainstorm fan. This isn’t the first time Joran has stepped on the Eurovision stage, having performed in the national Latvian selection in 2008 with his former group Axlina performing the song More Than 27. The story behind the Aarzemnieki group’s name is quite precise due to Joran’s status in Latvia. The word’s complicated pronunciation reflects each foreigner’s struggle to integrate into the local society. In the fall of 2013, the group grew from a solo act with three new members- violinist and vocalist Katrina Dimanta, drummer Raitis Vilumovs and Guntis Veilands, pianist, and the author of the song Cake To Bake.

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Latvia first entered the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2000 when the group Brainstorm surprised critics and fans alike when finishing in third place with the song My Star, a catchy pop number with the right slot in the running order. It seems that flirting with the top positions was set to bring the competition home considering that in 2002, Marie N and her entry I Wanna did the impossible of being close to last with the bookies before triumphing in a hard close-knit battle with Malta whose 7th Wonder by Ira Losco remains the closest the Mediterranean Nation have ever been to victory. In recent years, the country has failed to get out of the semi-final, finished dead-last on more than one occasion, including in 2003 with the group PeR and their song Here We Go.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 44%

Martin Isherwood: Sort of catchy chorus, but not in a good way.  This guy is apparently responsible for melting the polar ice caps and a whole host of other global events, however today he's going to bake a cake.  Barking mad! Finger picking, folky, starts off a bit Ralph McTell 'streets of London' but shifts to a more frantic acoustic The Kinks 'follower of fashion' feel, both of which are a surprise in Eurovision. Quite a lot of fuss over a cake!

Deo Grech: Okay, here is an entry which is ruined by the title. It will be so funny to hear what will the commentators have to say about this entry.  And if that is not enough this entry will be kissed by the curse of being performed second in the show....and to make things worse right after the potential winner of 2014. Sorry Latvia....I am afraid you'll have to miss the finals, this year round.

Stano Simor: Latvia "Beatles" is back? Pesnicka has a good groove. Chorus was used a hundred times in various forms. Maybe it Aarzemnieki bet, in which case it is right on target.

Matt Mercieca: I would love it as a song! if the lyrics were saying something that was not baking a cake! ( i kind of like it) , its funny , its catchy, ok I’m losing it, I think its a little sweet, it should be in a kids movie! it does put a smile on my face, but being a little bit more serious it is kind of ridiculous ( I spoke to a unicorn the other night), but I can’t hate it and have to admit I’m quite excited to watch this live. I’ve got a cake to bake dududududu.

Source: eurovision.tv

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Published in Opinions

escflashmalta.com has engaged a number of professional individuals from the music industries to listen to the competing entries in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and pass forth their analysis as well as an individual and collective grading. All of the information is obtained from the official website of the international spectacle and indeed, pertaining to the running order as decided by the producers, Lithuania will be performing in slot number ten (10) from the sixteen (16) entries which will be competing during the first semi-final. LRT, the broadcaster resposible for the participation of Lithuania in the Eurovision Song Contest will be represented by the song Something which has been written by Andrius Pojavis who will also be taking to the stage as the main vocalist.

Andrius Pojavis (29) is the artist that will represent Lithuania in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. Born in Jurbarkas, Lithuania, in 1983 he started singing at the age of five and never stopped since! His first band at school was called “No Hero”. After moving to Vilnius he played with some other bands. With one of them, The Hetero, won EuroRock 2006. He started his career as a songwriter in Ireland were he lived for one year. Astuoni (Eight) is the title of his debut album. As the title suggests, the album has eight tracks and is a good representation of the artist style. Astuoni was recorded in Massive Arts, Milan, in 2012. Now Andrius divides his time between Italy and Lithuania. His first single Traukiniai (Trains) arrived in a good position in the Lithuanian Top 20. His next plans include to do a tour around Lithuania while he keeps on writing new songs for the next album.

1994, always a memorable year for the simple reason that Ireland had managed to come out on top for the third consecutive time following the success of Why Me? sung by Linda Martin in 1992 and Niamk Kavanagh with the song In Your Eyes in 1993. Nevertheless, the issue here is Lithuania and it was during that year that they took part for the very first time with the track Lopšinė mylimai sung impeccably by Ovidijus Vyšniauskas. It seems that the language barrier was one of the main elements behind the disappointing result. Lithuania had never competed in such an international spectacle when it comes to music and the song did not pick up points from the juries. It is worth noting that Poland, another debuting nation finished in second place with To Nie Ja by Edyta Gorniak. Lithuania withdrew for four consecutive years, returning in 1999. 

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The representative then was Aiste and the track entitled Strazdas managed thirteen (13) points to finish in twentieth place. Nevertheless, going forward in time, the introduction of the semi-finals has somewhat been of great help to the baltic nation noting that on their third outing in the pre-qualification stage, We Are the Winners by LT United finished in fifth place before reaching sixth place in the final, that being the best resulf for Lithuania thus far. In the meantime, in three of the past four years, the country has successful qualified to the final of the prestigious music event and thus has high spirits. Last year, the country was represented by Donny Montell and his track Love is Blind. Many were skeptical about the track but it managed third place in the semi-final and fourteenth place in the final, being the third best result of the country behind 2006 and 2001 respectively.

Lithuania are somewhat renowned in several fan circles with regards to their selection procedure for the Eurovision Song Contest noting that Eurovizijos takes place in a number of heats, and semi-finals respectively before finally coming to the actual final. The genres which competed in the final were extremely varied and it seemed that one of the main artists to keep in mind was Lina Adomaitis who had already represented Lithuania before but nevertheless, despite finishing first in the early stages, he finished last in the actual final. Ultimately, Andrius Pojavis with the track Something was selected by the jury to represent the nation, just ahead of Girmantė Vaitkutė whose song Time to Shine was a beautiful ballad, very similar to C'Est Ma Vie sung by Evelina Sasenko two years earlier.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 27%

Magnus Kaxe: "Something" could've had something. Andrius is a happy chap with a decent voice. The composition is ok but some parts are just boring and anonymous. It doesn't reach the necessary heights to make it stand out in this year's contest.

Lina Eriksson: An attempt to do a modern popsong gone wrong. Andrius please work on that english pronunciation as well as on hitting those notes. NO.

Matt Mercieca (Muxu): Not my kind of song, his voice and diction bugs me. and I don't like the song, its a very weak pop/rock song. I think the music in the background isn't terrible, his voice just irritates me, and the melody line is so poor.

Source: eurovision.tv

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Published in Opinions
Thursday, 20 December 2012 19:53

Lithuania: National Final - LIVE

LRT, the national broadcaster in Lithuania has been pretty successful at the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years noting that they have managed to make it through to the final on two successive occasions, first in 2011 thanks to Evelina Sasenko and her entry C'Est Ma Vie which finished in nineteenth place and then in 2012 with Donny Montell whose track Love Is Blind fared better in fourteenth place. This time round, they decided to keep the format in a similar manner to how it has been recently due to the achievements and it seems that the result might pay off again considering that fans of the international competition have been quite positive about the quality of songs in the final stages despite one or two that you have been there instead of others which is always the case.

The final which is set to start at 20:15 CET will be aired live through the official website of the broadcaster as well as the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest which has once more got the transmission rights having already aired the selection of Belarus earlier this month and will also be responsible for showcasing the Festivali I Kenges Final on Saturday of which a live report will also be taking place on escflashmalta.com There are eight entries competing this evening having qualified at the hands of a panel of judges as well as tele-voting with each having 50% stake in the result. Amongst the participants, there are a number coming from music reality shows such as X Factor and The Voice whilst former representative; Lina Adomaitis also tries his luck for another year as a soloist. 

Pop Ladies start off the show with an electric rendition of the famous 'We Are The Winners' that represented Lithuania in 2006 and finished in sixth place, the best ever result for the country. The male host Andrus welcomes the audience and does the introductory  speech before tonight's show kicks off. The singers are introduced to the stage and it seems that Monika who was meant to sing Baby Boy won't be performing tonight so that leaves the Lithuanian grand final with seven songs. The jury is introduced and it seems that the night is stuck around the number seven as the panel of judges is made up of seven members. Off we go with the show...

Božolė – Happy And Free (Andrius Borisevičius, Audrius Balsevičius)

A pop number with some soft electronic touches to start off the show. It a good opening show but can't really get the groups movements, they all seem like having fits on stage and all the strutting around the stage is a bit outdated. The song is a happy one but I don't think it is good enough to even stand a chance at being chosen tonight. It's one of that entries that will be lost at the Eurovision Song Contest. It reminded me a little bit of the song Lithuania sent back in 2002.

Ieva Zasimauskaitė & Gabrielius Vagelis – I Fall In Love (Raigardas Tautkus, Raimondas J.Nabus)

The next number is by a duo singing your typical love song but they have an interesting twist. The song starts off with just a mime on stage and the main singers join in later on. There are three backing vocalists on stage too and the act seems too sweet not to like it. The song has your typical key change but although the contemporary number is actually good, the vocals hit rock bottom after the key change. I was enjoying it before that happened. What a pity! In general I think this song has potential though! 

Gerai Gerai & Miss Sheep – War In The Warderobe (Vilius Tamošaitis)

A dance pop number is next. The visuals are great tonight and I love the hologram effect of the singer wearing different outfits behind her. She is joined on stage by a drummer who later becomes a trumpeter. Four dancers join the number as the show progresses. It has a hint of being a joke entry but it does not really fall into that genre. Overall, I think it an interesting number but I doubt it has any Eurovision potential in general. Again, I think it is one of those entries that will get lost on the Eurovision stage. 

Linas Adomaitis – I W 2night (Linas Adomaitis, Bjorn Hansen)

Bizarre! Some won't get this entry but the modern hip-hop with the cheesy pop chorus works perfectly. It's original and although I can't really get the title but it is a happy sing along. He is no stranger to Eurovision and he returned to the contest with an even better entry than his 2004 attempt. Their vocals during the semi-finals were more compact but overall I guess it was the best song so far. The presentation is hip and cool, and if it makes it through to the Eurovision stage I expect to see a car on stage. 

Dar – Jump! (Arvydas Martinėnas, Gorgi)

The Lithuanian Alcazar take on the stage after the commercial with their pop dance number with some techno influence. They have some weird movements on stage and in general the vocals are not up to scratch tonight. The song is too generic and it has no climax and it follows along the same vein it starts in. Nothing more to say... after the last entry this seems to be just another song in another random selection unfortunately and that says a lot I guess. 

Girmantė Vaitkutė – Time To Shine (Vytautas Bikus, Girmantė Vaitkutė)

Your typical Eurovision ballad and I wouldn't be surprised if this triumphs tonight. The song is good and it has a nice climax to it. The singer has a strong voice and if she can work a bit on her diction it would be just great. The melody is nice and it builds well into the chorus and the bridge later on although I would have loved if it was a bit slower towards the beginning before it picks up. Still, I think it will be difficult to beat this one tonight especially after Lithuania reached the final with a similar song back in 2011. 

Andrius Pojavis – Something (Andrius Pojavis)

A different presentation to his semi-final performance. He is wearing a top hat and he has three other performers on stage doing some acrobatic movements. This dance song with some rock touches goes nowhere though and although it is a good song in general I don't think it will leave any impact at the Eurovision Song Contest. The show with the song was the most important thing in this and I do not think that, that is the aim of this show. Apart from that the melody seems to remind me of the 2009 Swiss entry.

 The Show (Part 2)

The second part of the show has just started and with their best entry at the Eurovision Song Contest, We Are the Winners, tele-voting is officially announced with a recap of each entry being shown live on television. The entertainment is being provided by the group Sarka who are closer to murdering the hit pop song Stop in certain areas. Another recap with War in the Warderobe leading the charge during the interval. It will be quite interesting to see which entry ultimately gets the best result. Another female group performance currently taking place as the final results are being tallied. LRT have to be commended on their presentation t his evening noting that they have indeed come a long way in the past couple of years. The finalists are all being welcomed on stage at the moment.

Super-Final

  • Andrius Pojavis – Something
  • Gerai Gerai & Miss Sheep – War In The Warderobe
  • Girmantė Vaitkutė – Time To Shine

The semi-finals of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest are just a week away and our reviewers have come full circle today to speak about the final entry in the running order and that is none other than Lithuania but their journey has not been easy noting that there have been songs which have been given positive remarks and praise with others failing to impress ultimately and therefore falling below the usual standard. Nevertheless, everything might change as from today onwards when rehearsals commence but the experts saw the songs through the official preview videos and thus, there will be differences. The final entry is being brought about by Donny Montell and bears the name Love Is Blind composed by Brandon Stone and penned by the same Brandon Stone alongside Jodie Rose.

For Donatas Montvydas, or Donny Montell (24), creating, singing and dancing is his passion in life, a way to discharge emotionally. "If there is at least one person in the world (including me), for whom my creative work gives pleasure, then I’d like to be a part of the music.” Donatas Montvydas was born on October 22, 1987, in Vilnius. The musical path of Donny Montell began in the song contest Dainų dainelė where he became the laureate. 

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Later he studied at Balys Dvarionas music school. “That was the time when I understood that music was going to be a part of my whole life” states the young singer. Donny is a successful participant of various TV-shows: his voice mesmerized both the audience and jury at Duets Of The Stars and he won the Lithuanian version of the Dancing With the Stars. He competed at prestigious festivals as well, like Slavianskij Bazar and New Wave. He's also taken part in the national selections for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 and 2011.

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Meanwhile Donatas also found time to participate in the TABAMI project, where he performed songs of Michael Jackson.“It was one of my dreams that came true – to sing Michael Jackson’s songs on the big stage”. Donatas began 2012 successfully as well. He participated in the national selections for the Eurovision Song Contest, where he became the favourite of both professionals and TV-viewers, and received the right to participate in the the biggest musical event in Europe with the song Love Is Blind.

The Critics Voice Their Opinion

Magnus Kaxe

  • A Lithuanian version of Zorro gets on stage wearing ribbon over his eyes and singing “Love is blind”. The first half of the song is a ballad; second half is a B-side of single from the 80’s by Rick Astley. This is the most terrible song of the evening. Love might be blind and I wish I was deaf. At least during this song. I cannot give this one more than one (1) point.

Marion Welter

  • The final song does feature a good looking lovely sunny boy with the most beautiful looking eyes I have ever seen btut the song is nothing special actually as it is somewhat dedicated to all the girls he loved before. Nevertheless, three (3) points for the effort.

Tobias Larsson

  • A ballad that turns into a disco stomper that turns into a complete mess of a breakdown before finding its way back to the disco. Most confusing, as the whole song tries to hard to be something that it is not. And the over-excited performance does nothing to help either. Four (4) points from my end.

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Entry Background

Performer: Donny Montell

Composer: Brandon Stone

Author: Brandon Stone & Jodie Rose

Song: Love Is Blind

Language: English

Broadcaster: LRT

History of the Nation

This year marks the thirteenth participation for the Lithuanian nation in the Eurovision Song Contest and they have had somewhat of a disappointing history throughout the years unfortunately. Their first entry way back in 1994 proved to be a negative trial as the country did not even score one point and ended at the bottom of the board with Lopšinė mylimai but nevertheless, their comeback in 1999 was much more successful scoring thirteen more points with Strazdas but then in 2001, they managed their best placing to date with You've Got Style finishing in thirteenth place. Ultimately as the years would go on their best result would come in 2006 with the happy go lucky song We Are the Winners which would achieve sixth place after qualifying from the semi-final. Last year, they did surprise people when their ballad C'Est Ma Vie finished in fifth place within the semi-finals and therefore making it to the finals where a mid-table position was also achieved adding to the positive results of the country.

Source: Eurovision.tv for the Biographical Information and all respective media

 

Published in Opinions

Proud-to-be-Malta’s representative in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Kurt Calleja, has lately been touring around Europe promoting his song. On the 25th April was infact his very last day of this tour which took him around most part of Eastern Europe. His last stop was Amsterdam, in Netherlands, where he took part in the event called “Eurovision in Concert” last Sunday, 21st April, where not less than 24 countries promoted their entry. Before returning to Malta on the 26th April, Kurt made a stop in Milan where he will be appearing on a show aired on RAI Due.

During his promotional tour, Kurt met with other Eurovision contenders including Sabina Babayeva who will be representing the host country Azerbaijan, Can Bonomo representing Turkey, Sofi Marinova of Bulgaria, Ivi Adamou of Cyprus, Soluna Samay of Denmark, Donny Montell of Lithuania and Anggun who will be representing France. Kurt Calleja made various appearances in TV shows and performances in nightclubs and also in some National Selections, including Lithuania’s National Selection. Kurt described this promotional tour as “a great adventure” and he surely made a good name for our country, thanks also to his bubbly and super out-going character.

Now, the emphasis of Kurt’s work will surely be on those important 3 minutes on the stage on the 24th May, that is, the second semifinal. Maybe odds will treat us bad once again, but everyone is more than sure that Kurt and his team will do not only their very best, but their utmost to assure a great performance on that night … and hopefully ‘that would be the night’. In an interview done by escflashmalta.com, Kurt said that the performance will be as simple as possible, nearing very much the performance which led him to the victory last February.

Source: Facebook, escflashmalta

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