Meet the ESCXTRA team! Justas

Justas Buivydas

Hi! My name is Justas, I’m from Vilnius, Lithuania and my biggest passion in the world is Eurovision. I love analyzing this contest from every possible side: music, vocals, history, predictions, odds, statistics, politics, etc. and I am trying to invent a new profession for me and it will be called “A reviewer of Eurovision”. In a picture down below you can see me talking in the morning show of our national broadcaster LRT. Damn was I wrong when I predicted that Jurijus will qualify to the final or Ieva AT LEAST will end up in the top 5 😂

Aside from Eurovision, I love history, politics, sports (especially basketball) and If you want to see some pictures of my beloved cat, you can find me on Instagram as @buive.

Your first Eurovision memory?

I was only 7 years old but I specifically remember my mom being excited because Ruslana won Eurovision in 2004. Ukrainians are like brothers to Lithuanians, so that was actually a big deal and few weeks after winning Eurovision Ruslana came to Lithuania to perform during a charity event which was broadcasted on TV.

I tried watching Eurovision in 2005, but since I was pretty young my mom said I have to go to sleep, so I couldn’t. But that changed in 2006, when everyone, literally EVERYONE, in Lithuania were watching the contest because our biggest stars joined together as a group called LT United to represent the country. This was also my first year when I was waking up earlier all spring to watch the songs being introduced on the morning show of LRT. That year went well for Lithuania and the popularity of the contest blew up and since then I was all about this contest.

Your Eurovision journey?

I used to get hyped about things all the time, but usually, the hype would fade away quite soon. But not with Eurovision – after 2006 my obsession for the contest started growing and I don’t think I have reached my peak yet.

In 2009 I watched Melodifestivalen for the first time, in 2010 I went to the studio for recordings of Lithuanian national selection. I made a poster for group AGAMA, who I’ve supported that year. To this day I think that their song “Field of kings” could have performed very well in Oslo.
(On 3:09 of this video you can see my poster in the back)

Just as I turned 18 years old in 2014 I’ve joined a team of Eurodiena.lt – at that time the one and only Lithuanian news page about Eurovision. This winter we launched a podcast about Eurovision. If you understand or want to learn Lithuanian, you can find it on Spotify.

Since 2009 I dreamed about going to see Eurovision live. Symbolic, that this finally happened when the slogan for the contest was “Dare to dream”. It’s a funny story: I went for a casual vacation to Tel Aviv in winter 2019. Of course, I knew that the contest will be held there a couple of months later, but just being in the city, seeing all those Eurovision billboards made me realize – if I was there in winter, why couldn’t I come back in May?! This had to be the year, no more procrastination and thinking that Eurovision is too expensive or too far away. So while I was still in Tel Aviv, I booked my flight tickets and started looking for a place to stay. It actually was too expensive, but my dream finally came true and it was totally worth it!

So now I can’t even imagine not being in the host city for Eurovision. I was planning to go to Rotterdam this year as well, but we all know how it went. So definitely Tel Aviv was my first, but not the last Eurovision. After reaching my biggest goal of seeing Eurovision live, I have a new one – I want to make more people interested in Eurovision and maybe one day even be in the Lithuanian Eurovision team, perhaps Head of Delegation? I know, that sounds very ambitious and if you know me, you know I am a humble person, but when I dream, I dream big.

Why is Eurovision special to you?

Eurovision is a place where impossible becomes possible – you can expect anything to happen. Here you can see an opera soloist dancing on a stick and a few seconds later she is followed by everything-hating BDSM guys from Iceland. It’s so unpredictable, diverse, dramatic and full of everything. Eurovision combines three things that I love: music, history and sports.

Music. The variety of music in Eurovision is never-ending and I admire that from the bottom of my heart. Pop, rock, jazz, R&B, electro, opera – every single person can find at least one song every year that they can fall in love and vote for. And since I have never been a dedicated fan of one genre of music, every year I fall in love with at least 15-20 songs.

History. I am studying history at Vilnius University and I learned so much about the history of Europe and the relations of countries from Eurovision. From Albania to The UK – all participating countries share a close history with one another. Also, the contest which has been an annual thing for more than 60 years has a huge history. And even though I get so mad, when people say Eurovision is all about politics, on some level, there is a point in that statement. I love analyzing and discussing that part of our beloved contest. This is actually one of my favourite videos on the internet where Eurovision meets history.

Sports. Obviously, you have heard that Eurovision is called the Music Olympics. And that is so true! The excitement, unpredictability, euphoria or disappointment while watching results being announced is just like watching your favourite basketball team play a close final game of the season. It’s nerve-racking, but we all love that feeling.

What attracted you to ESCXTRA?

A huge community and amazing editors. I love how ESCXTRA is not only about the news – interesting reviews, predictions, quizzes are what makes it so special. I have some experience in Eurovision waters and I am here to share it with you, but more importantly – learn from you. As mentioned before, I want Eurovision to be a part of my career sometime soon and this international page is a huge step forward for me. My absolutely favourite section of this page is Editorials & Opinion and I am really looking forward to being a part of it!

And finally, your top 5 Eurovision songs of all time?

I spent two days thinking about it and I can say that this is by far the hardest top I have ever made. I want to mention that this is my top of Modern Eurovision – 21st century only. These are the songs I grew up with and I have not included any songs from the 20th century (even though they are amazing), because I would need an extra month to think about it. I absolutely love like 50 songs but I must mention these songs, that were closest to my top 5:

11. Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006 | Hari Mata Hari – Lejla
10. Norway 2013 | Margaret Berger – I feed you my love
9. Sweden 2012 | Loreen – Euphoria
8. Latvia 2015 | Aminata – Love Injected
7. Iceland 2019 | Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra
6.Bulgaria 2018 | EQUINOX – Bones

5. Portugal 2008 | Vânia Fernandes – Senhora do Mar

4. Italy 2019 | Mahmood – Soldi

3. Belgium 2015 | Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside

2. Iceland 2020| Daði og Gagnamagnið – Think About Things

1. Portugal 2017 | Salvador Sobral – Amar pelos dois

Even while writing this sentence I feel bad that I haven’t included some of the songs to this top, or that some of them are too low. I think I am only certain with “Amar pelos dois” as my nr. 1. This melody, beautiful language, Salvador’s voice and emotions bring me to another world every time I listen to this masterpiece. I would probably put Loreen as my 2nd because I absolutely adore “Euphoria”, just after listening to that song for perhaps 83749 times other songs in my list sound a bit more fresh. I could also replace “Lejla” with any other amazing Balkan ballad – “Molitva”, “Oro”, “Adio”, “Lane Moje” or “Nije ljubav stvar”.

I must also mention that I haven’t included any Lithuanian entries to my top since I am so bias and can’t rate some of them lower than my top 5. But my favourites from Lithuania would be The Roop, Ieva Zasimauskaitė, Andrius Pojavis and Aistė Smilgevičiūtė. Aiste’s more than 20-year-old song “Strazdas” is a beautiful gem which is not yet found by the Eurovision community, so I want to finish this article with this song.

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