Stay by Monika Linkytė.
Every year the national finals season chugs around again and as Eurovision fans our hearts flutter with excitement at the new crop of songs we’re about to receive. Then I look at how many shows and songs Lithuania wants to make us sit through which brings me crashing back to earth with the reality of the scale of the task ahead.
This year I had planned to be out on the Saturday night in January that kicked things off, but illness saw me stuck in a hotel bed, so I popped the first heat on. Most of the 30 (thirty!) songs across both heats passed me by, and I dipped out of the semi-finals where two thirds of them got another go. By the time I came to review the finalists I was somewhat surprised to find myself drawn to this one, which happily turned out to be the winner.
I hadn’t even clocked that Monika has been here before. In 2015 she became the envy of many a fanboy, stealing a kiss with Vaidas in the middle of their duet. My lack of recognition of the song was due to Monika having pretty much reworked both it and her performance by the final. It’s quite the revelation as to how much staging and backing vocals affects a song, and it’s a huge improvement from her original heat.
The camera shot is less intense on Monika; some of the first performance is extreme close-up. She’s ditched a slightly cheap-looking white outfit for a much more flattering orange – the colour of Baltic amber we’re to understand, matched by a less harsh hairstyle. The stage has been similarly warmed by orange-hued lighting.
Monika’s biggest and most successful change is to pull focus away from herself and bring in the backing vocalists, once lined up to the side, and now forming a circle around her, allowing her to interact with them which adds an impression of sisterliness and gives the song a feeling of solidarity you’re invited into as a viewer.
The transformation is astonishing. Musically too Monika picks out an almost throw-away refrain and gives prominence to the repeated ‘Čiūto tūto’ line – ‘it’s too loud’. It lifts the song enormously, and this has found its way into my top 10 this year, from a very inauspicious start. Who saw that coming from my sick bed three months ago?
My marks: DOUZE POINTS!