Pabandom is Naur

I’ve been having a particularly busy few weeks outside of Eurovision which means that my involvement has been limited to some Twitter blips here and there. Before this week’s Super Saturday takes place, and the events of the last week are consigned to the iceberg, I just wanted to say to Lithuania:

Let me state my credentials upfront (which should be evident from looking at previous blog posts.) I am, Lithuania, one of the devoted international viewers you so kindly greeted in English this year. And I know you greeted us in English because I have watched every single one of your many, many, many semifinals.

I have been with you since your Eurovizijos Atranka days, before your rebrand and glow-up. I was there for Lolita Zero’s first go-round. I was there for ALL the Vidas Barekis performances, for the Monika Marijia double song controversy, for every single Twosome entry. I not only know who Voldemars Peterssons is, but I actually welcome seeing him on my screen. A picture of KaYra is my iPad lock screen. I live in a house where we eagerly dissect each and every one of Gabrielius Vagelis’s fashion choices.

This is not a complaint. The reason I watch, Lithuania, is because your Eurovision selection show has introduced me to so, so much good music. Gerai Gerai? Ruta Loop? Monique? MeandI? Joseph June? Andrius Pojavis? All on my playlists with certified bangers.

The problem, Lithuania, is that with your rebrand and glowup, you had me convinced that you were willing to take risks. Ever since The Roop won in 2020 with a song about how they were still a vital force for creativity despite their age, you have been an absolute, electric unexpected force at Eurovision. It seemed like you, Lithuania, were taking risks. That’s not to discount the songs you sent previously, but Donny Montell and Jurij Veklenko and Ieva Zasimauskaite are definitely acts that fit into a more traditional Eurovision model.

And then this year happened.

I have nothing against Monika Linkyte. She won according to the rules. By May, she’ll be in heavy rotation on my Eurovision playlist. I’ll probably even be singing along to the Lithuanian bits in Liverpool.

But to have the two top acts tie? And then have a quick handwavy explanation that the jury would break the tie, ignoring the many, many people who had voted not only in this heat but in previous heats? I feel like Ruta Mur was robbed of her deserved moment in the sun. She was the people’s choice! And she co-won Pabandom Is Naujo, and is just not going to Eurovision on a rules technicality.

It was a moment that was not satisfying for viewers. It was not fair to acts. And it left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth after investing HOURS of time into following this competition.

The result also made me quite sad as a viewer. Again, nothing against Monika Linkyte’s song, but it was clearly written to be a ‘Eurovision’ song. The use of a Mamas-style backing choir? Those swelling choruses? The insertion of Lithuanian-language bits at the last minute? It just all feels very calculated. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

But oh, oh, how I mourn for what we’ve lost in Ruta Mur – a woman who sent one of the many excellent tracks from her album Prime Time. Ruta did not send a song written for Eurovision. Ruta sent a song that she wrote for herself – a song pouring out her sadness about not being able to connect with the person she loves. And Ruta is unlike anyone else that is going to be appearing at Eurovision this year – a singer who performs songs about loving women, who appears on the stage like a butch cowboy and then releases that mournful, mournful voice.

At a time when the contest is prizing authenticity over manufactured moments, the whole thing just feels like a step backward for a country that has a wonderful music scene.

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