Lithuania: Monika Linkyte and Stay

This year, Lithuania

Sorry, Monika Linkyte. I’m still not over it. I know it’s not your fault that Pabandom Is Naujo was set up to give the Eurovision slot to the jury winner in the case of a tie.

But I’m also really sad that we won’t get to see Ruta Mur at Eurovision, because there is clearly no one else like Ruta Mur on stage this year.

Monika Linkyte co-wrote this song – both the music and the lyrics – so I can’t complain about it not being authentic. Her lyrics reflect her struggle in trying to be herself while taking on the expectations of others.

But although the lyrics may reflect her true feelings, I can’t help that the staging reflects a desire to craft a “Eurovision” song. The changes in her staging from the semi-final to the final of Pabandom Is Naujo reflect this. Instead of standing mostly alone on the stage singing in English, she’s added in some more Lithuanian, brightened up the lights, made her backup singers more of the show (like John Lundvik did with The Mamas).

Do artists have every right to change their staging to try to find a winning formula? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean we can’t call out changes that seem to be focus group tested to appeal to the widest amount of people possible, rather than reflecting a vision from the artist as to how to present the song.

So Stay is a servicable ballad, performed well by Monika Linkyte. But it’s also very generic, aside from the Ciuto Tutto hook. And the changes that are designed to appeal to a mass audience are also the changes that are going to make it seem like any other song on the night.

The trick to winning Eurovision is not to be something people like. People don’t vote for songs they like. People vote for songs they have a strong reaction to. I really wish Monika Linkyte had pushed the boundaries from “crowd-pleasing” to “reflecting the desperation and need and self-forgiveness in her lyrics”

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