Although the Lithuanian preselection procedure should have been well under way by now, it seems that things have not worked out as expected. The Lithuanian broadcaster (LRT) had received 52 applications by artists of various experiences, who were supposed to sing live in front of a jury this past weekend. Some artists didn't show up at all,although most did. Some were not allowed to perform and some just couldn't (or wouldn't) perform as required.
In order to make sure that no artists of a lower standard reach the semi finals , LRT have come up with an original way of categorising the participants according to their experience. They have been divided in groups, each group bearing one of the colours of the Lithuanian flag. So the most experienced (and popular) singers are in the red team, the ones with little experience (and less known) in the yellow team and the very new ones in the green team.
It seems though that the yellow and green group were far larger than the red group. Many resounding names of the Lithuanian music scene such as Bavarija, Violeta Riaubiškytė, Alanas Chošnau and Edmundas Kučinskas, were absent having not applied at all. There were also a couple of no-shows: Vilija Matačiūnaitė did not show up at all and Artas was late and he didn't perform in the end.
What caused the greatest sensation – and infuriated the jury – was the failure of two of the biggest stars in the selection to sing in front of them. Rūta Ščiogalovaitė, runner up of the popular TV reality show Lietuvos šokių dešimtukas and NFparticipantin 1999 and 2004 (when she lost to Linas & Simona) and Aistė Pilvelytė, a multiple finalist (6th in 2006, 9th in 2005, 11th in 2004 and having participated in 1999 as well) refused to sing. Rūta claimed bronchitis and Aistė said she couldn't warm up her voice. The jury reportedly did not believe the reasons given.
The broadcaster has not made any announcements yet concerning the fate of the singers that either didn't show up or did not perform at all. Had they been less popular, they would probably have been disqualified on the spot, but as the aforementioned artists are among the most popular applicants, the matter needs to be discussed before any decision is made. The jury consisted of the members of LT United, the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 Lithuanian representatives, a musicologist, a producer and, for the first time ever, a psychologist!
So far, LTR News reports that the Latvian group The Michaels will not be allowed to proceed to the next stage unless there is at least one Lithuanian member in the group. The problem arose when Tomas Sinickis, leader of the Gravel group refused to join them as agreed, not approving of the selected song. Another group, Mėsa,who placed more emphasis on their appearance than their song will probably not be seeing the semi finals either. The same goes for Nykštukaz, who wanted to make use of props and vocal effects that clashed with the set rules.
Finally, Andrius Mamomtovas , the leader of LT United said that in his opinion two acts stood out and could potentially win, Saulės kliošąs and Julija&4fun.
We will know soon enough, though, what it is to be done as well as who will make it to the semi finalsafter the introduction shows onJanuary 13 and 20. According to the producer and organiser of the show Mr Jonas Vilimas 10-15 acts will not make it to the semi finals.
A very special thanks to Eglė Jarašiūnaitė for her contribution to the article.