The last national final review of the year is upon us… Together with Sweden, Lithuania will choose on Saturday and that’ll be the last one of the season. After a marathon of shows, six acts now remain to fight for the ticket from Vilnius to Stockholm. Among them: Two former Eurovision entrants. Katarina and Nick have listened to these six and you can read their thoughts below!

Aistė Pilvelytė – You Bet

Katarina: This song is such a typical Eurovision ballad it hurts. I can’t decide what’s more cliché: the melody , the lyrics, her staging or the screamy chorus. It could stand out in a year full of upbeat songs, but I don’t think Lithuania could possibly qualify with this.

Nick: Aistė has quite a powerful voice and she’s so eager to show us she can handle the big notes that she already uses it in the first verse. She’s got the voice, but in that part of the song it’s just overdoing it. It’s a ballad by numbers and it probably took them longer to come up with the colour of her dresses than it took them to come up with the melody of this. I’m just not impressed.

Donny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting For This Night

Katarina: As expected, everyone is comparing this song to Love Is Blind, and I prefer this entry. It sounds much more mature than his 2012 attempt, has a more contemporary sound and the chorus is quite catchy. Donny’s vocals aren’t the best, but I believe his song has the appeal that is needed in Eurovision and I think Lithuania would have a chance of doing much better than last year if they chose him.

Nick: The return some Lithuanian Eurovision fans were waiting for: Donny Montell. He’s coming across rather confident on stage, he’s all grown up and he’s arrived in… well, let’s say, this decade. Vocally, he needs to be careful not to fly from confident and self-conscious to overconfident. It’s a very decent entry. I quite enjoy listening to this and it’d bring Lithuania to the final once more, but I doubt it’ll do better than Love Is Blind.

Erica Jennings – Leading Me Home

Katarina: Is this really the song that won the semi-final? I can see what it is trying to be, but it just doesn’t work for me. I could say the same for this one as I did for Aisté’s entry: it’s boring and has no imagination at all. Another thing that bothers me is that I hear no emotion whatsoever in Erica’s voice, it doesn’t sound like she can actually relate to the lyrics she is singing.

Nick: Agnete will be needed for this. Erica needs to be broken out of her ice – she’s possibly the coldest performer I’ve seen this season. I assume she knows what she’s singing about, but she doesn’t live it – not even close to it. And when a performer doesn’t believe what she’s singing, neither will the viewers. She did Eurovision before and she should keep those memories alive, but steer clear from Stockholm. She has a nice voice, but if you don’t use it in the right way in such a basic song, you miss the opportunity. No idea why this won the semi also.

Ieva Zasimauskaitė – Life (Not That Beautiful)

Katarina: Lithuanians really love ballads this year, don’t they? I think this one is rather enjoyable, and certainly better than the previous two ballads, but everything about this song reminds me a bit too much of Iris in 2012. It also sounds like a grower to me, which isn’t a great thing considering the majority of the voters in Eurovision only hear the song once, so I would say it has no chance to do well in the contest.

Nick: I think Katarina was spot on in her comment. This shouts Belgium 2012. Ieva is nice, talented and young, the song is a midtempo ballad, bland and inoffensive. The end just builds a little more than Iris’s did. It’s another ballad in the line-up, but the strongest ballad there so far. It’s nice, it’s inoffensive, it’s not a winner, not even in Lithuania.

Ruslanas Kirilkinas – In My World

Katarina: I am not even surprised that it’s another ballad. I actually like this song very much, even though the lyrics are more cliché than those Aisté is singing. My only problem is that it sounds extremely dated – it reminds me of songs that did well in 2003, it doesn’t belong to 2016. I think he has the best staging in the selection though, not sure how much it can help.

Nick: I didn’t mind this when I was listening to it – in itself. Again an inoffensive ballad that could go either way for me. A song I didn’t mind whether it’d be in Stockholm or not, it left me cold. It’s dated, old-fashioned, but not bad enough to hate. And then I checked out a live performance: White shirt, hopping around, bare feet, an arrogant look – all that picture needed was a violin and an ice skater and we’d have a Dima Bilan: A reason to set off all alarms and ask Lithuania to please not vote for this. Just don’t do it.

Rūta Ščiogolevaitė – United

Katarina: Who let this cheap version of A Million Voices reach the final? Everything, from the instruments, to the composition, to the cheesy lyrics sounds like an attempt to copy Polina’s success. Unfortunately, while Russia’s song was touching and well performed, Ruta’s entry is just the musical equivalent of a sleeping pill. It is also ironical how the same country that gave Polina 0 points last year is now supporting a poor rip-off of her song.

Nick: Right, so there are several issues here – but those issues don’t involve Rūta. The song obviously follows a Polina formula. That’s a formula which has proven itself in Eurovision, so there’s no reason not to try it. Rūta is a competent vocalist and she shows charisma, so that’s good and I’d like her to be successful. The big issue here however is the fact that Lithuania gave Polina, the best example of this genre, a big fat zero. Rūta can’t help that, neither can the songwriters – but Lithuania shouldn’t be voting for this in such a case. The song is decent enough though.

Our favourites

Katarina: The choice is rather easy for me, since there is only one song I really like and it’s of course I’ve Been Waiting For This Night. It’s not only my favourite, but I also think it’s the only entry that could do well in Eurovision – the rest of them are just too forgettable and dated. Erica is a better vocalist than Donny, but I’m afraid she would struggle to qualify from the semi-final while Donny has a potential top 10 song. If Lithuania wants to make it two years in a row in the Grand Final, then this song is the only right choice!

Nick: Honestly, I’m disappointed that this is what Lithuania have come up with after so many weeks. None of these songs would be in my personal top five, but they would all be rather far away from my bottom five too. It’s all in the midfield. There are three acts I could be satisfied with for Stockholm and those are Donny, Ieva and Rūta. Looking at where I’d expect those songs to finish, I’d agree with Katarina and say that I’ve Been Waiting For This Night is the best choice for Lithuania.

Media Liaison: One of the founding members at escXtra. I'm the Dutchman who loves every little idiotic Eurovision fact there is. I usually listen to a lot of Eurovision music, but when I'm not, I listen to country music, schlager and pop, but mostly artists like Tina Turner, Emma, Ilse DeLange and Helene Fischer. On escXtra, you can find me doing pretty much anything that needs doing: Interviews, liveblogs or just your daily portion of news!

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