Three-Minute Throwdown: Lithuania 2020 Edition

After 3 heats of 12 songs each and 2 semi-finals, the top 8 entries as voted by the jury and public have been decided and will compete to succeed Jurijus “Jurij” Veklenko, who with his song “Run with the Lions” achieved an 11th place finish in the second semifinal in Tel Aviv. Latvian representative Samanta Tīna is scheduled to perform during Pabandom Iš Naujo, the Lithuanian national final, as well. The final is slated to broadcast at 20:00 CET (21:00 EET) on 15 February at the LRT Television channel.

In this series, songs will be broken down to their musical features and how these features interact with the performance environment and other features where applicable. These one-shot takes will feature no backtracking (pausing ok for the sake of writing). These songs will be analyzed in running order in a stream of consciousness style.

Aistė Pilvelytė – Unbreakable

F# major. I felt the first part in 7 (like it was missing a beat), but that could have just been a side-effect of not having the beat pick up before around 0:30. Bright blue rectangle was moving behind her before exploding into LED waves. Strong four-to-the-floor bass drum, and the “I believe” short-short-long rhythm sits atop a tresillo rhythm in the synthesizer playing a chord. The transitions into the chorus are well-crafted. Sounds like a Swedish schlager without a key change. She tried to hit an F#5 twice, hit it once and not sure if the other note was supposed to be an F#5 or an E#5 (sounds like an F5).

Rūta Loop – We Came From The Sun

G minor. Ballad. Her lilting singing reminds me of Lana Del Rey but less forward in the mix and with less reverb. Bass drum came in 16 beats ago from 0:42. Very deep, throaty bass around 0:51, when two backing dancers enter. Black-and-white staging. Highly choreographed. For a second, I thought the synthesizers in the second verse (which started off a cappella) were vocoder bits (I am inclined to think that whatever they are is incoherent). Nice vibe, if a bit vacuous lyrically and darker than I would have expected from a song claiming people came from the sun.

KaYra – Alligator

D major. Clown makeup and uncannily happy electric guitar, drums, and piano. Is this going to be the Lithuanian version of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”? The two dancers wearing nude makeup also contribute to a general sense of non-humanness, blending to be whatever the second person (you) wants KaYra to be. Oh, she just ruined her makeup. I think that was intentional. Though I don’t know her artistry personally, it may have signified showing the real emotions underlying the unsettling performance aesthetic.

Monika Marija – If I Leave

A minor. Begins with gang vocals singing the same pattern twice, though the final note is dropped an octave the second time. Drums and claps accompanied. In the verse, add some electric guitar and piano. Entire verse was on the Am7 chord (A-C-E-G), finally changed in the pre-chorus (around 0:40). Dm-F-C-G. Mid-tempo ballad. Enjoyed the gang vocals, and I like the harmonizations in the second chorus onward. Can probably be tightened up even more in the three months between now and the semifinals. The layering (quiet beginning of chorus beginning at 2:30) reminds me of country pop and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) aesthetics – possibly a bit formulaic, but nevertheless effective, particularly with the solid vocal delivery.

Meandi – DRIP

This song starts off with a phone ringing in F atop a beat. This looks like a troll/joke entry, but hard to tell from the first 10 seconds. Cm7 – Dm7b5 – G7 is being played by the synthesized instrument, and the synth bass line sometimes plays outside notes (notes outside the chords and/or key, which is C minor). Hip-hop aesthetics are the first for this final. If this makes it, it’ll have to be censored. This seems to be going for the lyrical vibe of the 2018 and 2019 Czech Republic songs (“Lie to Me”, “Friend of a Friend”) though in slightly more mainstream musical genres. A lot of his face in the LED projection. This could get popular, but the lyrics aren’t really audience-friendly.

THE ROOP – On Fire

F minor. The roots of the chord progression Fm7-Ab-Cm-Eb outline the first chord, which just so happens to be the tonic seventh chord. Neither F minor nor C minor sounds particularly strong as a tonic, since there is no C major chord (to more strongly signify F minor) or G major chord (to more strongly signify C minor). Furthermore, the beginning melody used predominantly the notes Bb, C, and Eb, which are shared within both C and F minor pentatonic scales (C minor pentatonic: C Eb F G Bb; F minor pentatonic: F Ab Bb C Eb). The tension is resolved in the chorus. Interesting combination of electric guitar and what sounds like a gated bass line (the bass pulses because the hit of the bass drum silences the bass signal in a technique called ducking). The loop aesthetic is hypnotic, though there is a lot of space between the lead singer and the other band members, in part due to the dancers who use the magnifying glasses from the beginning and dance with their hands behind their heads. Interesting way to be remembered. Black silhouettes on red near the end highlight the “on fire”-ness a bit better than the otherwise black-and-white backdrop.

The Backs – Fully

C major. How many singers are there? Deep oceany vibes from how dark the synth pad sounds and how sparse other instruments are. Ah, there were four. The harmonies weren’t completely on point, but the idea of gospel-like vocals here is pleasant. The silence after the first chorus was a letdown. Usually, a silence suggests a change in texture to follow or room for another buildup. Instead, the texture stayed the same, at least for a few measures. Might have been better to build up a little, then build down and then up again. Empowerment song. Nice high notes into the second chorus, where the texture has built up. I’d like a fedora, please and thank you! May have been better to use more belting if possible.

Moniqué – Make Me Human

E minor. Off-tonic beginning (C-Em-G-Am beginning chord progression). The giveaway is the singing of the F# over the C major chord. Piano ballad but with electronic touches – percussion and synth bass. Aptly non-human in approach – could do with more of a robotic costume should it advance to Rotterdam. The wobbly backing vocals fit perfectly for the aesthetic. Abstract heart at the beginning of the second verse echoes the staging of Azerbaijan 2019, though this is much less cyborg-like in approach from what I can see up until now (1:14). The drop into the second chorus is very effective. Reharmonization in the final chorus, similar to what “Arcade” did, could strengthen the impact here.

Of these 8 songs, which one did you connect with the most? Leave a comment here and watch the show on Saturday night!

Image copyright A. Blažević/LRT.

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