Eurovision 2014 is still months away, but there’s already been casualties, and some major ones at that. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, and (worst of all, if I may pick one) Serbia (NOOOOOOOOO!) have all said non to Copenhagen, and it sucks. But with a lack of cash being a popular reason for withdrawal, no amount of EBU bribery (unless, of course, the bribe is of the monetary variety) is going to get them back. So instead of dwelling on who won’t be buying airfares to Denmark, let’s focus on who will.
Back in the competition next year we have Bosnia & Herzegovina (which eases the pain of Serbia’s exit a little bit), Portugal, and Poland. Whilst it’s only been a year’s break for B & H and Portugal, Poland hasn’t shown up since failing to qualify for the third time in a row in 2011. Evidently, they’re ready to give it another try (and I don’t mean not qualifying), and I for one am super glad to have them back. To celebrate what will hopefully be a worthwhile return on the twentieth anniversary of their debut, I’m casting a spotlight on their ESC history right here, right now. Refresh your memory or get to know Poland as they were, 1994-2011.
POLAND: THE STATS
Debut 1994 – 2nd place with To Nie Ja! by Edyta Górniak
Silver medals 1 – 1994
Bronze medals 0
Best result 2nd – 1994
Top 10 finishes 2/16
Top 10 success rate 12.5%
Top 5 finishes 1/16
Top 5 success rate 6%
Wooden spoons (last places!) 1 – 2011 semi final
Semi final qualifications 1/7
Qualification success rate 14%
My favourite entry
Keine Grenzen, Zadnych Granic by Ich Troje (2003). Not only is this my favourite from Poland, it’s also one of my favourite Eurovision songs of all time (let’s just say that when Poland are good, they’re really, really good). Who would have thought that a message song largely carried by a guy who, in his own words, can’t really sing – and in my own words, sounds like he lives on a diet of gravel – would be so beautiful? I think it works because it isn’t a cheesy kind of message song, á la What If and a million others from ESC history. If you check out the translation you’ll see it’s not sickeningly sweet, and is actually very pertinent to the contest created to unite Europe. Plus, it has a stunning melody and structure, and builds into something worth waiting two-and-a-half minutes for.
My least favourite entry
Time To Party by the Jet Set (2007). Most of the Polish entries I don’t like are boring, not bad. But this terrible piece of trash (if you know what I mean…I’m being incredibly subtle here) I file away in the ‘Why, God, Why?’ category, alongside such gems as Switzerland 2004. Okay, so the chorus could be less catchy, but lyrically and just generally – yeuch! If you’re not convinced, allow me to present you with a few lyrical samples:
“Every little moment is so special for me. I’m a little bit crazy, crazy, like a baby, uh.” BRB, off to puke.
“Hey guys, you really know what I like, just like that…you know that I’m really hot.” Modesty is always appreciated. Unfortunately, the Jet Set has none.
If you still think Time To Party has some redeeming features, then I respect your right to have your own opinions, but at the same time, I’m afraid there is NO HOPE FOR YOU.
More of the memorable
To Nie Ja! by Edyta Górniak (1994) – A close second-favourite of mine, this spectacularly-sung ballad gave Poland an epic debut result. In my mind, it should have beaten Ireland, but since there was an (inexplicable) sixty point winning margin, I can’t really justify that.
Ale Jestem by Anna Maria Jopek (1997) – This didn’t make much of a splash on the scoreboard, but I reckon it’s an interesting, pleasantly folksy number that’s definitely memorable in comparison to some of Poland’s other entries.
Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (2006) – They didn’t qualify on attempt #2 (it still hurts…) but Ich Troje rocked my socks yet again in Athens. I really dug those elaborate outfits, too.
For Life by Isis Gee (2008) – I really like this, based on everything except Isis’ oompa-loompa spray tan (if that was her natural colour I apologise, but I find it hard to believe anyone could have come into the world so orange).
Legenda by Marcin Mrozinski (2010) – Memorable mainly because Marcin had one of his backup dancers in a headlock at one point. That’s what you get when you try to overshadow the main artist, I guess.
Jestem by Magdalena Tul (2011) – A prime example of a great entry ruined by chaotic staging, inappropriate lighting and unsuitable costumes. The visuals should have been slick, sexy, and heavy on black leather and studs. Still, Mags wasn’t the only one to be let down by staging in Düsseldorf, was she…coughBluecough.
Their best stage show
For Life. Poland brought out the dry ice and string instruments (which were played by people who hopefully didn’t choke on said dry ice) for this soaring ballad, which was performed to perfection by Isis in her striking blue gown with matching, lusted-after-by-Jaz bracelet. The aspect I really liked about this performance was Isis’ move down the catwalk to the mike stand, just in time for the first of several money notes. I don’t think catwalks are used often enough in the ESC when they’re available, so I applaud anybody who does elect to use them – especially when that person is wearing massive high heels.
Their best costume/s
Ich Troje. Like I said, these babies were elaborate, and like something out of a period drama (I think they also served as inspiration for Eric Saade’s Masquerade video). Maybe they distracted a little from the song, which is always a danger when you give your seamstress free reign over the fabric bolts AND bedazzler, but you can’t say they weren’t eye-catching, particularly with Michał’s festive green hair setting things off.
Their best vocalist/s
Edyta Górniak. Who cared that she had forgotten to change out of her nightgown when she was attacking the song like that? Only someone who lives to rally against sleepwear on the ESC stage, that’s who. Edyta’s vocal was full of light and shade, i.e. soft ByeAlex moments and epic Pastora Soler moments (only she pre-dated both of those guys) and she nailed all of them without breaking a sweat. Sometimes it’s the singer that makes a song great, and in this case, top-notch vocals certainly made To Nie Ja! what it was/is. I can’t imagine it having the same impact with a lesser vocalist in charge.
Just because they’re not a hotshot kind of country when it comes to Eurovision, don’t assume Poland won’t be in it to win it next year. You never know when a country will surprise you with a cracking song – and if they do happen to send one, they may even not screw it up with crappy staging!
While we’re waiting for Poland (and everyone else) to choose their song, here’s something to think about…
Are you happy to have Poland back in the contest? What have been your highlights and lowlights from their past participations?