Editorials & Opinion

🇱🇹 Slideback Sunday: The night of the collective “Aww”

Only a short hop back to 2018 and to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon

This week’s ‘slideback’ sees Matt and the team put Lithuania’s 2018 entry under the microscope. Dear Eurofans, we present Ieva Zasimauskaitė and “When We’re Old“…

I absolutely love the beginning of the performance. The first shot is the back of the stage looking out at the arena full of audience phone lights being held high. Then the front stage lights are brought up to mark the start of the song. A beautiful start that really sets the tone. I know that the Lithuanian delegation had a hard time convincing the Lisbon production team with their exact staging requirements. But the close up shots are perfection: stunningly lit with a clean, all black backdrop – not easy to pull off in live performance. In the absence of LEDs in 2018, the Lithuanian team made good use of the on screen video overlays of different couples and families. Gently gliding in a soft pink flowing dress, Ieva moves to the bridge section of the stage and ends the performance with the killer blow of looking into her actual husband’s eyes and singing “I’m not afraid to grow old if I have your hand to hold.”

I have a very specific memory of Ieva’s semi-final performance, which sums up everything I love about the Eurovision fandom. I was standing in the audience near that bridge section of the stage. Behind me was a Lithuanian man and woman, clearly together as a couple, and in front was a huge group of Israelis. As you can imagine, the large contingent was VERY excited about their entry that year and was VERY vocal about it! When the postcard started rolling for Lithuania the group turned to the couple behind me and invited them to go right to the front to get the perfect view. After the song had finished, the couple returned to their original standing spot, misty-eyed and very appreciative of the kind gesture. It was one of the best things I’ve experienced at any Eurovision Song Contest I’ve been to.

I’m not going to lie (and it might be just because I’m getting older and more sentimental) but revisiting this song and performance has got me. Or is that just something in my eye? Yes, definitely just something in my eye.

This week’s guest star: Audrius Giržadas (Lithuania Head of Delegation)

When I saw Ieva back during the national selection, I thought well, well, well. Welcome back. And when I heard her song for the first time, I said “Wow!” It was a very different wow for a very different song. It was so fragile, so sensitive, but was it for Eurovision? We all know that Eurovision is a huge colourful sea of big loud voices, mad choreography, cinematography, bright lights and explosions. Would such a silent, fragile, sensitive song that was supposed to touch the hearts of everyone, get drowned out in that big colourful sea of Eurovision music and performances? Ieva believed in her song very much and she convinced us. After the first rehearsals and first set of interviews in Lisbon, we saw that the audience also noticed her message and understood the song. So, we knew it could work for the Eurovision Song Contest.

What do the team think?

Dan

When this was originally selected, I wasn’t overly keen. In fact I’ll admit it was probably one of the entries I skipped past regularly in the lead up to the contest. However, in my eyes, the performance brought everything about this to life. I remember being in Lisbon and witnessing Ieva’s rehearsal – that was the moment ‘I got it’. The subtle melody, Ieva’s soft vocals and those alluring lyrics pulled together with a mesmerising, minimalist performance made this stand out gloriously. Ieva also captured our hearts with her sweet, almost Disney like presence on stage. Whilst it wasn’t the best that year, I do think it’s a stunning piece of art and Lithuania’s strongest offering to date.

Nick

When I was introducing a special someone to the Eurovision Song Contest, this was one of the first songs I knew I had to play her. The simple reason for that is that it feels genuine. Ieva really meant every single word she uttered during those three minutes. At first, I found it rather bland and meh, until those lyrics started to make sense. That’s when it hit me that this may just be the most perfect love song the Eurovision Song Contest has ever seen. Ieva’s voice, with those lyrics and her expressions during the performance, make this a stellar entry for Lithuania. It really should’ve done better than it did.

Wiv

I have loved this song since the first time I listened to it! Both the music and the words went straight to my heart, and they’ve stayed there ever since. It was my number one in Lisbon, and I still remember the feeling I had when it was called as a qualifier (7.56.00) in its semi-final. I was in tears almost every time she rehearsed, especially the first time I saw and heard it in the arena. #yesimasoftie. The simplicity of the performance just completes the package. Also, Ieva is absolutely perfect for this song. The emotions in the lyrics are perfectly mirrored in her voice. I also love the way she sings the last chorus in Lithuanian, but keeps the main message of the song (in my opinion); “I’m not afraid to grow old when I have your hand to hold”, in English. The perfect end to the perfect song and performance.

Simon

Credit to Ieva for being brave; not afraid to turn up the schmaltz when all around her are wheeling out bangerz and big ballads. The mawkishness is maxed out by the appearance of her boyfriend to close the three minutes- though you can’t argue it is fitting for the song. The tune is very sensitive and musically light, and to me needed more of a crystal clear voice than Ieva gave it. But with Lithuania’s third best ever final result, it is hard to criticise the approach.

We would love to hear your thoughts on Ieva and “When We’re Old”. Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter@escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our reactions to the news in the run up to Rotterdam!

Matt Baker

As a writer with the Eurovision disposition it was only inevitable that I should find myself merging these two interests. If it wasn't Sonia singing "Better the Devil You Know" that got me hooked on Eurovision, then it was the Gina G banger "Just a Little Bit". The 90's is where it all started for me, who knows where I'll end up!

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