Andrius Pojavis to Malmö for Lithuania

Labas vakaras, Lietuva! All eyes were on Vilnius tonight, as Lithuania joined the ranks of the select number of countries to choose its entry for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest before the New Year. LRT are hoping it’s a case of third time lucky, with their choice for Malmö next May.

Lithuania has managed to qualify from their respective semi to the final for the past two consecutive years, and are determined to make it a third. Tonight’s line up consisted of both newcomers and more established names from the Lithuanian music scene. Broadcaster LRT has been hard at work, already holding no fewer than five qualifying heats, two semi finals and this, the grand final tonight.

A total of 39 acts have gradually been reduced down to the final eight we saw on stage tonight. DAR has tried before, and with taking the runner up spot last year, they surely had to be one of the names to watch. Linas Adomaitis took to the stage in Istanbul for Lithuania in 2004 and was undoubtedly one of the more established acts performing tonight, but would that be enough to secure him a place at the top of the heap? 

The songs:

1. BožolėHappy and Free (Andrius Borisevičius / Audrius Balsevičius)
First to take to the stage, Božolė started off with a twinkling background and simple white strobes beaming up from the stage floor. The sextet were dressed in coordinating colours, black and soft pink. Their number was well choreographed with plenty of punching in the air, making good use of the stage. The voices of the 3 male and female singers worked surprisingly well together, with Happy and Free being a fair opening act for the final and a decent, hummable tune even if a bit old school and unimaginative. The number came to a pretty abrupt and rather odd sounding finish however, but judging by the group’s reactions afterwards while hearing the opinion of some of the jury members, they should be very pleased with their efforts.

2. Ieva & Gabrielius I Fall In Love (Raigardas Tautkus / Raimondas J.Nabus)
This was certainly a novel opening. The singers were nowhere to be seen! Instead, a man dressed completely in black stood alone on stage with a blue background and silver beams for company,doing what looked like sign language. The couple entered towards the end of the first chorus, with Gabrielius dressed in white tux shirt, black bow tie and jeans, Ieva in a simple, navy dress. They were backed by three singers and gave a very competent performance of I Fall In Love. Their voices worked well together, but did seem quite strained towards the end of this pleasant enough, bouncy and catchy number. It should get its share of votes, but a little tip: ditch the sign language guy though, he was a complete distraction! Otherwise a charming performance, topped off by a cute little giggle from Ieva at the end. Reactions during the jury summaries were a mixed bag, so it’s hard to know where this one will go.

3. Gerai Gerai & Miss SheepWar In The Wardrobe (Vilius Tamošaitis)
A completely blacked out stage bar slivers of light made for a pretty dramatic opening. Lights then shone on the female singer, wearing a shocking pink baggy chiffon number not seen since the 80s. The other member of the duo was standing at the edge of the stage pretending to play a drum and sporting what looked like half a Jedward hairdo and huge shoulder pads in fake leopardskin print, certainly a sight for sore eyes and literally mirroring the title of the song; they certainly had had a war in the wardrobe! The backdrop was novel, featuring altering faces projected onto the wall behind the act. Four dancers in black brought life to the stage inn what was an otherwise pretty static performance.  Vocally, the number was pretty average, nothing challenging, but it’s strength lies in the subtle mix of electronica and 80’s retro sound and was well received by the audience. A very brave, innovative effort, which also seemed to be a hit with the judges. So far, these are the ones to beat.

4. Linas Adomaitis I W Tonight (Linas Adomaitis / Bjørn Hansen)
Another blue backdrop makes way for images of a cartoon car driving down the street. Linas was sitting atop the biggest go cart ever seen, together with three girls, sporing his by now trademark shades and a grey jacket with t-shirt underneath. A fun performance, where viewers could clearly see that he’s done this before. Two dancers on either side doing breakdancing amongst other things were an unneccessary distraction. A spirited delivery, clear elements of funk and altogether a lively number. Melody wise, the song is fairly memorable, but Linas tried to act too much the comedian, making it more like a novely act. May not be appreciated by the more mature viewers. Didn’t seem to prove as populr with the jury as previous acts on show tonight.

5. DARJump! (Arvydas Martinėnas / Gorgi)
Oranges and earthy symmetrical shapes and colours provided the background for the fifth entry of the night. The two males of the foursome were sporting black suits with glittering lapelles, a stark contrast against the two women dressed in figure hugging mauve outfits for the occasion. Heavy disco beats couldn’t distract from the fact that this was a weakly sung number, with the male/female vocals clashing at times. It was a catchy enough tune, if a bit dated, but is easy to dance to and to stick in the minds of the viewers. Slightly reminiscent of a poor man’s Alcazar. For such a lively song, the stage presentation however left a lot to be desired and did nothing for the overall impression. Jump! also seemed to go down well with the audience. 

6. Girmantė VaitkutėTime To Shine (Vytautas Bikų)
Time for the big ballad of the evening, andmany are bound to liken Girmantė to Chiara. A dark blue backdrop was the perfect contrast to Girmantė’s long, dark blue dress with sheer top. Backed by three singers at the back of the stage, this was a simple, elegant, anthemic ballad that showed off her voice and emotive number perfectly. She gave a fantastic performance, with plenty of soul and smouldering looks into the camera, which came across very well. The glitter confetti at the end was a nice touch – this got by far the biggest reception of the evening from the audience, but would that sway the jury? Judging by reactions, they seemed to be falling over one another to heap praise on the singer and it was justly deserved. This could well be seen on stage in Malmö.

7. Andrius Pojavis Something (Andrius Pojavis)
Last up was Andrius Pojavis, dressed in a tophat and tails for the evening. His smouldering, thumping opening suited the simple red and white patterns on the LED screens behind. Vocally, he was pretty flat and from what could be heard had pretty bad diction. Bubbles on stage were a cute touch to the presentation, The three dancers behind him, less so. The three dancers (2 men wearing bizarre white masks covering their faces, dressed completely in black on either side of a woman in white atop three podiums) were quite a bizarre spectacle indeed. One of the more "adult", rockier entries of the evening, but a little bland and presumably not having enough energy to engage the viewers. Although unable to speak Lithuanian, the comments from the jury seemed quite complimentary though.

The show:

The sextet called Pop Ladies opened the final from the LRT studios, singing Lithuania’s most succesful entry to date, We Are The Winners, performing to what looked like a packed venue in some pretty outlandish garb. The stage was pretty impressive, with huge LED screens forming a backdrop and plenty of strobe lighting. Host Andrius Rožickas literally slid onto the stage to kick off proceedings, dressed in a dapper blue velvet suit. First surprise of the evening was that Monika Linkytė was nowhere to be seen when the finalists were introduced, having withdrawn due to illness.

After the last act had performed and voting was going on, the fearsome fivesome Šarka came onto the stage to give a tribute to the Spice Girls, performing their 90’s smash Stop!, which it has to be said, was well under par and a little misplaced. Next up was a foxy trio, dressed to kill in black with lace trim, performing an 80’s sounding Lithuanian rock number.Then all finalists were called back out on stage, and Andrius Pojavis was awarded a laptop for coming first in the audience vote. DAR were announced as the winners of website vote.

The voting / result:

The voting pattern was pretty hard to fathom at first, but it looks as if each act begins with a certain number of votes based on public reaction. A peek at the standing after act four revealed that Ieva &
Gabrielius were proving to be a huge hit with the audience, with the
second placed act lagging far behind – some of the acts were eve listed
with minus scores, making the voting all the more intriguing. After her perfomance, we got another sneak peak at how the voting was doing and Girmantė had shot to the top, with over 28,000 points, pushing Ieva and Gabrielius into second place with just over 22,000 points. Right after his performance, Andrius Pojavis shot to the top, but would he remain there once viewers had begun to vote en masse after lines had been opened? After the musical interlude, all finalists were called back out on stage, and Andrius Pojavis
was awarded a laptop for coming first in the audience vote. DAR were
announced as the winners of website vote. Combined votes followed the entertainment, with Andrius Pojavis bagging full marks, Gerai Gerai & Miss Sheep garnering 10 points and Girmantė Vaitkutė coming in third with 8 points taking these three acts through to the superfinal.  It was up to the judges to pick a winner for Lithuania from the top 3, and it turned out to be the dark horse of the evening, Andrius Pojavis who won the ticket to Malmö.

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