Alen Chicco is already a household name (with a certain degree of notoriety) for being the first drag artist to walk onto the stage in his native Lithuania’s version of the X Factor TV show. Mūsų Lietuva – (‘Our Lithuania’) – is bold, theatrical, full of passion and dynamic, sounding at times more like a modern opera song or a piece from a film score as much as a pop single. Written and performed in his mother tongue (although the accompanying video does come with helpful English subtitles), Chicco’s voice is impressive, blending and mixing with the powerful musical composition tightly, his vocal performance well outstripping the usual ‘singer-songwriter’ and more akin to musical theatre or classical ballad.
The track builds slowly, gently adding strength and power, an ode to ‘home’ and to belonging, Chicco’s voice easily able to cope with the rise and fall of the track, potent and emotive. Sure, it’s easy to draw a ‘Eurovision entry’ comparison in terms of the feel and the language, but ‘Our Lithuania’ is more than that; there’s elements of performers like Callas or Caruso in the way Chicco’s vocal – which feels effortless at the same time as it’s full of strength and emotion – is delivered, maybe even Freddie Mercury’s surprise performance of ‘Tavaszi szél’ in Budapest, and – coupled with the narrative video translating the lyrics – ‘Mūsų Lietuva’ is an epic, honest, and authentic neo-operatic piece that makes a compelling and commanding change from meaningless bubblegum pop; for that, all power to it.
Review by Alex Holmes