Lithuania: Vilja gets some “Attention”
Some national finals are relatively straightforward. One night, a handful of acts, a jury, a televote, maybe a superfinal, and you’ve got an act, ready to go to Eurovision. Bing bang boom, you’re done.
Well, Lithuania doesn’t play by your rules, man.
This year’s “Eurovizijos” was a twelve-week long affair, incorporating two competitions in one. Rather than having each singer take a song to the National Selection, a pool of twenty singers was slowly whittled down while a separate pool of sixteen songs was also winnowed into one winner. By the time the Final rolled around, three singers had to perform the same song, “Attention“, whether it was suited to their vocals and personal style or not.
So, on the night of the final, we saw performances by Vaidas Baumila, Mia, and Vilija Matačiūnaitė. After the jury and public vote had their say, it was Vilija who got the ticket to Denmark…interestingly enough, with a song that she had co-written.
Vilija had tried her hand at Eurovision back in 2005, when she came in 7th place with “Oh My God“. Later that year, she came in second place in the talent show “Kelias į žvaigždes”. Since then, she’s stayed in the public eye through her music, as well as a number of acting roles and spots on reality tv.
To be honest, I’m on the fence with “Attention”. While it’s great to see a pop song performed by its composer (which seems to be a strong trend this year so far), there’s something that feels a bit awkward and forced about it. There are a few possible hooks that can catch a listener’s ear, but the song still lacks the polish and cohesiveness of other songs we’ll hear this May.
As for the National Final’s format, I’d have to give this a pass. By picking a song completely independently of an artist, you run the risk of pairing a potentially great song with an equally strong voice that just wouldn’t fit it. Would “Take a Look at Me Now” worked better for Mia? Would Vaidas have won with “It’s Not Too Late“? By removing the personal connection that a singer has with a single song, it turns the National Final into a karaoke contest, and turns the performer into simply a replaceable cog in the machine, rather than the potential pride of a nation.