LT United: Lithuania’s ‘Winners of Eurovision’
Today is July 6, which means it’s Statehood Day in Lithuania. What better way to celebrate Lithuania’s Statehood Day than by discussing a Eurovision group that has united Lithuanians all over the world... LT United!
LT United are a supergroup which joined forces with one goal... to represent Lithuania at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest and be the winners of Eurovision. Their song ‘We Are The Winners’ placed sixth in Athens, giving Lithuania their best ever result at the Eurovision Song Contest which has not been surpassed to this day.
Let’s meet the six members of LT United, learn about the history of their musical creation, and discover why they are so important to the legacy of Eurovision as well as Lithuania’s history at the contest.
How The Winners of Eurovision Were Born
Before the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, Lithuania came dead last in the semi final of the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. With nothing to lose, a bold idea was created that would change the course of Lithuania’s history at Eurovision forever...
‘We Are The Winners’ was the brainchild of Andrius Mamontovas, a Lithuanian rock musician and guitarist, who began his musical career by founding the alternative rock/electronic band Foje. The 15-time Bravo Award (Lithuania’s equivalent of the ARIAs or Grammys) winning artist has been a vegetarian since 1993 has appeared in concerts of world-renowned artists such as Sting, Bryan Adams, and The Sugarcubes.
In an interview with Eurovoix, Andrius explains the inspiration behind the iconic Eurovision entry, which was actually a previous winner.
“It started as a joke. I called one of my friends and I had this idea for the song, it is a very simple song. It says ‘We are the Winners of Eurovision’. In 2005 Greece won and called the song ‘My Number One’... and I thought I should write a song of the winners of Eurovision.”
Andrius also cites the Telex song ‘Euro-Vision’, Belgium’s entry in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, as subconscious inspiration behind the choice to sing about Eurovision at the contest itself.
With the idea of singing about winning Eurovision firmly in mind, Andrius assembled a supergroup of Lithuanian musicians: keyboardist and fellow Foje member Arnoldas Lukošius, BIX member Saulius Urbonavičius, multi-instrumentalist Eimantas Belickas, and Eurovision veteran Viktoras Diawara, co-founder of the pop group Skamp, who were Lithuania’s 2001 Eurovision entrant with the song ‘U Got Style’. Lithuania placed thirteenth in the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen.
A late entrant to the group was Marijonas Mikutavičius, who composed Lithuania’s official song for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games ‘Trys Miljonai’ (Three Million). The song has been a sporting anthem for Lithuania ever since and it features the lyric ‘Pabandom iš naujo’, the name of Lithuania’s national selection show since 2020 - a show which Marijonas would go on to host. Though LT United originally contained 5 members, he was the sixth to join, filling up the six-person quota for the amount of people allowed on stage at Eurovision. The idea of the group and its performance piqued Marijonas’ interest - “I only needed a few minutes to make my choice,” he said.
The music video for ‘We Are The Winners’, directed by Donatas Ulvydas, focused on the six performers' combined experience and expertise as professionals in their fields.
In true Lithuanian fashion, the group were described by Andrius Mamontovas as “the musical equivalent of [a] national basketball team”. The name LT United was inspired by the notion that it was time to unite Lithuania towards a common goal. “Our nation is small and can only succeed if it works all together,” Andrius elaborated, “Lithuania is a nation of winners, but nobody knows that, so our mission is to inform everyone”.
How LT United Informed Everyone They Were Winners
‘We Are The Winners’ by LT United gained over 32 669 televotes in the 2006 Lithuanian national selection, nearly doubling the votes of the second-placed future Eurovision 2010 entrants InCulto, who came runners-up with 16 451 votes for their song ‘Welcome to Lithuania’, sending LT United to Athens for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest.
The band refused to perform the song in the lead-up to the Contest, and, despite the song’s lyrics, had the song pulled from radio stations, instead electing to wait until the Eurovision Semi Final to showcase their song to Europe so that it would be "a fresh surprise for the audience of the competition".
Andrius has revealed that he did not go into the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest expecting to win, joking that “it would be even more ironic” if the song came last.
The audience in the Greek contest may have booed the song, but Europe voted, voted, voted for the winners and Lithuania received their first ever 12 points in the history of Eurovision thanks to Ireland. Lithuania finished sixth overall with 162 points.
How The Winners Kept Winning
‘We Are The Winners’ was sung by Lordi at their Eurovision winners’ press conference. Despite not being victorious at the contest, it has become the unofficial anthem of the winners of Eurovision and left a legacy envied by many Eurovision entries.
A World Cup Anthem remix of the song was released, despite Lithuania having never qualified for a World Cup to date. Robbie Williams has also sung part of ‘We Are The Winners’ at a concert in Brussels. LT United’s classic song is still used in the Lithuanian national final during the voting segment to this day.
The success of ‘We Are The Winners’ has confirmed that a song does not have to come in first place at Eurovision to be the true winner of Eurovision. Winning hearts all over Europe is a victory in and of itself, and LT United is a testament to that. LT United did not go to Eurovision to become the winners of Eurovision, they were already winners before they arrived there. In a way, the song's performance at the Eurovision Song Contest harkens back to the lyrics of 'Trys miljonai'. These words embody the spirit with which LT United approached the Contest.
Nesikankink dėl medalio, (Don't torment yourself over the medal)
Bet verta kovot ligi galo dėl savo garbės, (But it is worth it to fight till the end for your own honour)
Pabandom iš naujo, (Let's try again)
Nors esam pasauly tik trys milijonai, (Even if there are only three million of us in the world)
Neliek savo kraujo dėl aukso, (Don't spill your blood for the gold)
Nes būsi legenda, ('Cause we will be legends)
Kol nepraradom vilties, (As long as we won't lose hope)
Net jeigu ir vėl (Even if again)
Tik per klaidą netapom mes čempionais. (Just for one mistake we haven't become the champions)