The other two Baltic states are sometimes a bit less reliable than Estonia for quality in my mind in Eurovision but fortunately they’ve both delivered something rather great this time around. Let’s head over to Latvia and Lithuania and see what they have for us.
Latvia – Triana Park – Line
Up until two years ago, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Latvia had dropped out of Eurovision, if you thought about them at all. Unless you watched the semi-finals that is, and what self-respecting Eurovision enthusiast doesn’t watch the semi-finals, eh? After their rather great pirate novelty entry in 2008, they had six straight misses in possibly the most inept manner possible, most of these entries being right at the bottom of the semi. Eastern post-Soviet nations often do relatively well so this was quite unusual, and it made Wolves Of The Sea all the more poignant as each year passed. In 2015 however, a huge turn around happened, and I’m making a big thing of it because it’s like Latvia became an entirely new country after the FKA Twigs-esque Love Injected by Aminata injected some new life into Latvia’s Eurovision entries. Both that and the following entry, Heartbeat, were on the credible and challenging side of alt-pop, gaining fans through some sheer musical complexity and daringness. Latvia’s back in people’s good books again. And Line is not much different.
Sure, Triana Park are a ‘rock band’, but they’re a dance-rock band and while this entry isn’t written by Aminata like Justs was, it still has her influence all over it, with airy vocals and subtle but powerful production, the way that bubbles along is really interesting, a really fresh take for a Eurovision song. It’s very modern in its mesh up of genres and yet doesn’t just mash up genres in an uninteresting way either, there’s power in its subtlety. Latvia continue to be on to a rather good thing, although I must admit it isn’t quite as powerful as their previous two. Ironic, because I allegedly am a rock fan but their previous two entries were more powerful.
Will it qualify? This Latvian run is onto something good so you would think so, yes, but it’s less of a sure deal than Justs was last year. It is performing last in the semi which may be to its advantage but it’s not exactly the powerful finish that means it might benefit from that, there may be entry fatigue. It’s separated from so many potential allies although northern Europe is probably not going to be unkind to it, especially as this sort of music is popular there right now. Juries may be turned off by a dance-rock outfit (juries are famously unkind to rock in my opinion and I’m always on their case about it) but the quality and credibility may help it along. Semi 1 is so difficult to predict because so many entries have reasons that they may not connect, but the main reason this one might fail is that it’s Latvia running on fumes a bit and that’s pretty weak of a reason to faial compared to most. So I do expect to see this through, not as solidly as their previous two entries but in a solid 7th perhaps.
Lithuania – Fusedmarc – Rain Of Revolution
Lithuania are on the other end of the modernity scale from Latvia, often sending dated and ill-informed efforts to Eurovision and I hope it won’t offend any Lithuanians if I say that they are my least favourite Eurovision country, barely having any entries I like in their whole back catalogue and qualifying with those entries (perhaps thanks to a generous and active diaspora in places like the UK) much more often than not. The likes of Donny Montell and that guy who sang about his shoes represents the very worst of Eurovision in my mind, a song that is barely exciting, never has me wanting to go back to it, and sounds bad on the stage. Sorry, Lithuania, I love your country far more for the other things it offers – as I’ll prove if I ever get round to covering it in my history section in about three years time.
Thing is, it had grown so common for me to dislike Lithuanian entries I almost expected to, and so I was really caught off guard with Fusedmarc’s Rain Of Revolution. Now, this came through a large Lithuanian NF as ever, surely the most pointless thing to exist most years. Except by all accounts, it wasn’t this year and there were apparently several memorable entries that according to the fan circles I move in should have won. Some, like Lolita Zero and Greta Zazza, that I’ve heard since are decent, but not quite for me. Fusedmarc, with her rather wonderful title, is quite different. She’s singing a rather strained song, but it really works and comes together rather well, she’s sounding cool in the verses as she moves through the song and it comes together in a climax that just sounds great to me. The lyrics have a sense of urgency to them and given that she’s calling to feel the vibes of revolution, one imagines that she’s really trying to give Lithuania their long awaited victory, as the only Baltic nation to have not won.
It won’t win. I’m well aware of that, but I really like it and so I’m facing supporting Lithuania actively for the first time ever. I’d be disappointed if this was one of the rare Lithuanian non-qualifiers, and I think it’s got enough punch to potentially make it through even a tough semi 2, but it’ll be a close-run thing. In its advantage it is near the end and will be fresh in voter memories, especially if they do something flashy with the visuals. Against it is potentially juries not voting for someone whose vocals may sound imperfect (even though that makes it better for me), and being surrounded by two songs that will surely go through and make a large impact for not being ‘typical Eurovision’ in Bulgaria and Estonia, while this, as much as I like it, is very much typical Eastern European Eurovision personified. It does remind me a bit of former Lithuanian entry Attention, the last Lithuanian entry to be left in the semis. I like it far more, but I worry that that won’t be enough to save Rain Of Revolution, Lithuania may be in trouble.