Regardless of your thoughts about who won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – it was Italy by the way with “Zitti E Buoni” by Måneskin and yes, for the record, I actually quite liked its glam rock intensity though I was not so secretly hoping France or Switzerland might win – one of the standout songs of this year’s competition, which featured a slew of very strong songs, was “Dance Alone” by THE ROOP.
Lithuania’s entry for 2021 (and also for 2020 when the contest was cancelled by COVID-19), THE ROOP, which comprises lead vocalist Vaidotas Valiukevičius, percussionist Robertas Baranauskas and guitarist Mantas Banišauskas, are the total package – musically talented, visually inspired and able to inject an impish sense of winning fun into their performances.
But what you see on stage and what goes on behind-the-scenes are often two very different things which becomes powerfully clear in the just-released documentary, Dance Alone, which takes a look at life was like for the band in the wake of the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 and how they dealt with what felt at the time like the worst of all possible outcomes.
But out of dark times comes some exciting possibilities including in THE ROOP’s case the creation of the song they entered for this year’s contest, a song so infectiously cool and fun that it placed them in eighth position with a score of 220 points.
What is especially cool about the song is that it celebrates difference and individuality and exuberant joy of being unashamedly yourself, something which comes through in every note and lyric of the song and which beautifully explains the mission and persona of a band that is described in the documentary as “the most loved band in Lithuania” over the last year or so.
The documentary is revelatory, joyous, reflective and fun, opening a window onto a band that went a long way to making this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, a thing of giddily vivacious joy, all the important after what was by any estimation the year from hell.