Posted by Caroline on May 22, 2012
Posted by Caroline on March 8, 2012
….or possibly not as the case may be. First in this quartet is the Bulgarian entry, Love Unlimited by Sofi Marinova, and are we the only ones to find this a tad bizarre? The song is upbeat and fun, the singer is dressed as though she is about to sing a Lithuanian Disney ballad, and is standing all alone on that great big stage with just a few giant sparklers for company. Surely a song like this demands a few dancers or at least something beyond static fireworks? Better liven it up a bit before Baku we think, otherwise it’ll back to semi-final oblivion for the Bulgarians. Again:
And here’s Estonia’s effort, Kuula by Ott Lepland. Not one of your finest hours, Estonia, it has to be said (and could you really have come up with something more different to Rockefeller Street if you had tried?????) Although we sense there could be a bit of jury love a la Lithuania 2011 heading in this one’s general direction:
And speaking of Lithuania, here they are with their entry, Donny Montell’s Love Is Blind. Now this isn’t bad once it gets going but we have some questions: 1) why does it sound like two songs stuck together? 2) In what way was this better than the dwarf rapper from the national final? 3) why, Donny, are you dressed like Zorro for the first half of the song? Fair enough if it’s a gimmick but don’t come crying to us when you fall into the orchestra pit mid-song on semi-finals night:
Finally we have FYR Macedonia, a little number called Black and White by Kaliopi. Or as we are sending here, the Macedonian answer to Bonnie Tyler:
Posted by Caroline on May 4, 2011
Introduce yourselves and tell us how you ended up representing Lithuania in Eurovision this year! Well, I’ve been singing solo since I was six – taking part in Lithuania’s most popular TV contest for kids and teenagers and becoming a laureate six times. I’ve performed in a number of music competitions and concerts in various countries and my big break came a couple of years ago when I took part in a popular TV contest for clasiccal singers. Since then, I’m doing concerts, playing in musicals, taking part in TV shows – with repertoire ranging from pop, jazz songs to Edith Piaf or Chopin tributes. Last year I tried to get to Eurovision and finished 3rd in a National selection. And this year I came first. There was no big plan or strategy behind it, frankly, I just felt we had a good song last year and this year, and Eurovision selection is a well-watched show in Lithuania, so it was a good chance to showcase them.
Are you looking forward to going to Dusseldorf? What can we expect from your stage show? I’m looking forward to it impatiently 🙂 There was a lot of tension and preparations, as you can imagine, and now I kind of feel fully prepared mentally and ready to go on that stage. So another two weeks or so is just prolonging the tension. Regarding the stage show – it will be quite similar to to what people saw at the National Lithuanian final. Me and a piano player, no ballerinas, disco balls or stage-diving. However, there might be little extra element which I hope audience will enjoy but I want to keep it a secret at this stage.
Lithuania failed to make it out of the semi-final last year, how do you plan to change that this year? I think you can’t plan a result in Eurovision. It’s a cliché phrase, for sure, but I don’t want to make God laugh at my plans. I don’t really concentrate my attention on thoughts about the result (and I mean it, sincerely, it’s not just a safety net phrase that many artists use in case they fare really badly). I just want to sing my song in the best way possible – if I succeed at that, I’ll be happywhatever the result is.
Which of this year’s other entries do you rate? I kind of dig the French entry. Not saying it’s a masterpiece or anything but it makes me listen and take notice. And the guy singing it is a man of my taste :))
Which is your favourite Eurovision entry of all time and which is your favourite from your home country? Hold On Be Strong by Maria Haukaas Storeng (Norway 2008). And regarding Lithuanian entries – I think Strazdas by Aiste Smilgeviciute (1999). I think it’s a brilliant song, very professional. And I feel it was ahead of its time – Eurovision was just not ready for this kind of folk-infused music. It would have done way better 4 or 5 years later or even now, I guess.
Here in the UK Eurovision is regarded by many as a bit of a joke (something we are aiming to change this year with our entry). How is it regarded in Lithuania? Eurovision is very important for Lithuanians. Musical event of the year, more or less. I’ve been watching it since my childhood although I wouldn’t say I was a die-hard fan of it. Last year it seemed a joke to me, as well – but then again, we had a gimmick song. Winning the ticket changed my attitude considerably – taking a closer look I find there’s a lot of interesting songs/performers here.
Why do you think so many people still love it so much even after all this time? Nostalgia is one thing. I think many people in Western Europe have memories of watching it 30, 40 years ago with their parents and that’s a strong sentiment. Also, you just get used to that. A strange comparison, maybe, but it’s kind of like visiting a church with your family every Sunday. You’ll do it even on days when you don’t necessarily want to pray. People check out Eurovision every year even if they say they don’t like it.
On the other hand, it’s top notch TV entertainment and no one can deny that. It’s dynamic, there’s a competition going on, some great melodies and performances. You can always bet on how your country is going to perform on the scoreboard and see dozens of singers from different countries in front of you, performing their songs which often feature a special twist somehow connected to the country’s culture and tradition. What’s not to like?
What will be the first thing you do if you win? I’ll visit a church.
Have you heard the UK entry and what do you think of it? Is it a bit better than our recent entries or are we going to come last again? Be honest……:) A memorable, catchy pop tune, and certainly better than some of the predecessors. Would be surprised if this came last. Many people know, love and remember Blue (although I’m sure they have their haters, too, just like every act that achieved chart success). No, seriously – I think in case of internationally established acts taking part in Eurovision, song is not what matters the most. And that can be great for the act but it can also be really bad. If you hated the act before Eurovision, I’m afraid no performance can change your opinion and vice versa – sometimes a well-known act can get away with pretty much anything. The thing about Eurovision predictions – I find them quite useless. Remember how everyone thought t.A.T.u were going to win. I mean, even if UK was represented by Take That feat. Paul McCartney (well, there can be six of them), could you REALLY be 100 per cent sure about your victory?
And finally, tell me why Lithuania should have the chance to host Eurovision in 2012 and whichcity would you choose to host it?
The city? Rudiskes. Joking, that’s a little town I grew up in. Well, it obviously should be Vilnius,the capital. We have a great, modern arena, nice hotels and everything that’s needed to stage Eurovision.
2012? That would mean I’d need to win this year, right? Well, that’s for the audience and juries to decide. But seriously, besides music, Lithuania should be given a chance as I feel everyone who comes over would enjoy it here. Beautiful nature, warm-hearted and friendly people, beautiful architecture, good restaurants, tasty food and drinks that are also very cheap– a perfect place to party or to relax that Europe needs to see. And Lithuanians would manage to stage a great show – no matter what stereotypical thinking about former Soviet/Eastern European countries sometimes is.
Posted by Caroline on February 27, 2011
…..is the Lithuanian entry, Evelina Sasenko’s C’est Ma Vie, which was chosen at some point in a dim and distant haze last week. Probably because we were left in such open-mouthed speechless horror at its abject screechiness that we just blanked it out of our minds. Er, guys – has it ever occurred to you why it is you’ve never actually won this contest? Would you really like us to explain…..?
Posted by Caroline on May 5, 2010
Introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you ended up being Lithuania’s Eurovision representative this year!
InCulto is a guy band, not a boy band. We love to play our instruments – not really a playback kind of pop band, then. Our music is about mixing uncompatible cultural references and styles. We create indecent music cocktails, you could say, and we do it quite successfully. We’re all about having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously. We do this with a punk rock approach to our music. And, yeah, we are pretty cool 🙂
Actually, we were going through a very bad phase of our career – even thought about stopping, forming other musical projects, whatever. But then we understood that we enjoy making music together too much for such a drastical song. And we came up with the song – I think I was on the toilet when I composed it. And it was like a wild fire – everyone we showed it to understood that the melody, the concept, the lyrics etc. are good and interesting. From then on, the snowball just got bigger and bigger – the song got momentum, ending up with us somehow miraculously winning the National selection for Eurovision.
What are you most looking forward to about taking part and what can we expect from your stage show?
We’re mostly looking forward to big stage with big lights and lots of free drinks/free drinks/good parties. That’s what Eurovision is about, as far as I know. Regarding our show – it’s very nice to feel that excitement, heat about the place we’ll eventually be taking. Should be a good adrenaline fix.
Which is your favourite all time Eurovision song and your favourite from your home country?
Verka Serduchka would have to be my all-time favourite. I think he/she should have won way back then. His or her performance left and indelible mark on my brain – even now I close my eyes and see all the stuff that went on stage during her performance. I think that was magnificent.
Regarding Lithuanian songs – it’s a no-brainer really, has to be You Got Style by Skamp because my wife is the lead singer of that band. I couldn’t come home if I picked some other song. But really, I think the song was really good. Got to mention LT United as well, but You Got Style is more of a song that I could imagine putting on my stereo.
Which of the other entries this year do you rate?
I think the German entry is sexy.
Many Eurovision fans have said it isn’t a great year for songs, what do you think about this?
Well, our song is great so I think it’s a great year for us, anyway.
Lithuania hasn’t actually won Eurovision before. Do you have a strategy to reverse your country’s fortunes and bring it to Lithuania?
Our only purpose is to give a kick-ass show. If we win – superb, if not – great. But just like Verka Serduchka left a mark on the subconscious of many Europeans several years ago – that’s what we want to do. We want people to come home after the show, go the shower, close their eyes and see us going “FUUUUNK” or tearing our pants off or whatever. That is our objective. We have a very good team of managers, dancers, accordion and kazoo players who are out to do just that. We’ll be visiting many countries and if you’re lucky enough we’ll be assaulting an unexpected location near you.
Do you think the fact that you’re an all-male group and you’re a bit wacky might invite some comparisons to LT United? Would you be flattered by such a comparison given they’re the most successful Lithuanian Eurovision entrants to date?
It already has invited a lot of such comparisons. But then, you know , it would be a bit like saying Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson are verbatim copies of each other because each of them has a pair of breasts and an ass and they’re all performing girly kind of music. You can make all sorts of comparisons but frankly the similarities between us and LT United are overrated. I know LT United personally and they’re really good people. Arnoldas, the crazy LT United dancer, even took part in our video. Most of them have a very good taste. I love the fact that their song was based on an infectious idea. But am I happy about people comparing us and them? I accept the comparisons openly but I’m far from flattered.
Eurovision always suffers from accusations of political/neighbourly voting. Do you think the new voting system with the re-introduction of juries has gone some way to changing people’s minds?
I don’t know. We’ll see. It is a good attempt, a fair try. It might actually work. If we are talking about changes I’d much rather see the re-introduction of music being played live – I think that would be more important.
Have you heard the UK entry this year and if so what do you think of it? Any chance Lithuania could give us some points (if we asked nicely, since frankly we need all the help we can get……?)
I have heard it. It’s very strange what UK is doing, in a way. You have a song contest but in the National final you’re actually choosing the singer but not the song. I find that very odd. Honestly – I can’t say I like the song. I also can’t say I hate it. It’s actually not bad. But, to my ears, it passes without leaving a huge mark. Just like quite many Eurovision entries.
Will Lithuania give the UK entry points? Sure, I think it’s possible. We’ll be in the UK in the beginning of May. All our activities are closely monitored by Lithuanian media and thousands of Lithuanian Eurovision fans – we keep a video diary etc, travelling with our own camera crew and our own mobile studio.. If we met up with your representative it would be a very good promotion for UK entry. Would be glad to sit down with Josh, jam a bit, have a conversation, a beer, a whiskey or whatever, let him make a case for his song, film it – a lot of Lithuanian people would see that. Would be great to meet him – so if you know him, tell him to get in touch. Actually, that’s our philosophy – we’re out there to meet everyone, we don’t feel any rivalry with any of the entrants. It’s all about music and music is all about love and partying and having a good time. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do it together.
And finally….what exactly is East European Funk? And how does it differ from, say, West European Funk?
First of all, to create Eastern European Funk you need to have a bit of a different attitude, different historical and cultural background. You need to have had it tough, you need to like it rough, you need to see that things haven’t been great but they can be much better. And understand that you have to live the moment. You need to look ahead and f…in’ enjoy yourself. Secondly, you need to have different instruments. Thirdly, you need to have a bit of Jewish, Gypsy, a bit of Russian and a lot of Lithuanian in you. All that makes Eastern Europe the cultural melting pot it is. If you don’t see it, hear it, you can’t know what it is because I don’t think you can put in words.
Posted by Caroline on March 6, 2010
It was touch and go as to whether Lithuania, exponents of ever so fine Eurovision tunes (breaks into strangely dubious sounding fit of coughing) would actually be able to take part in this year’s contest or whether they would follow Montenegro, Andorra, Czech Republic and Hungary into the abyss of doom. But they are indeed present and correct – although frankly after hearing their entry we’re beginning to wonder whether staying home might not have been a bad idea. East European Funk by InCulto appears to be cut from the same cloth as LT United’s We Are The Winners – group of odd looking blokes delivering vaguely ‘amusing’ performance – the only problem being that it lacks what limited charm that effort had. Of course in 2006 you could get away with a bit of tomfoolery as televoters like that kind of thing. This, however, is 2010 and juries don’t. Take note.
Just one thing however: is it us or is that Nicky Campbell presenting the Lithuanian national final? On a break from Watchdog duties perhaps?