Since returning to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, Poland has gone four-for-four when it comes to making the final.
It’s a remarkable turnaround. Following three straight non-qualifications from 2009 until 2011, and two years sitting out in 2012 and 2013, Poland has emerged as a consistent qualifier — even when fielding songs in diverse genres from saccharine balladry to raunchy rap.
Today TVP confirmed that they’ll compete at Eurovision 2018 in Portugal — once again staging a national final. Ahead of that grand spectacle we just have to know: What is your favourite entry since Poland’s 2014 return?
Below you can re-watch each of their performances, and read a positive and negative review from the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals. Then let us know your favourites by voting in our poll.
2014: Donatan and Cleo with “My Slowianie”
Talk about a return! Cleo, who rapped about the physical attributes of Slavic women, parodied stereotypes of Polish culture. As we’ve discussed countless times before, she deliberately sought to portray Poland as a nation stuck in the dark ages, and a place where women have two duties: to be angels in the kitchen and wantons in the bedroom. It was all the more ironic because Poland, one of Eastern Europe’s economic success stories, celebrated its 10th anniversary of EU membership that spring. Whether viewers admired the sophisticated social commentary or simply the voluptuous woman churning butter, this tune climbed all the way to 5th with televoters and ultimately finished in 14th place (with 62 points).
The positive: Welcome back Poland! I’d like to say that I missed them, but honestly, with such lacklustre pre-break showings I barely noticed they were gone. Thankfully, they have returned from their ESC vacation ready to make amends for past sins. On paper “My Slowanie” is a stereotypical Eurovision song – a hand clapping, ethnic flavoured, “message” song sung by a busty blonde. However, Donatan & Cleo invert the formula to produce a feminist call to arms, albeit more in the vein of the Spice Girls than Emily Pankhurst. Some say the juries will crucify this, but can they really ignore over 40 million Youtube views and massive domestic sales? Poland have risen, Lazarus style, from their usual pit of mediocrity and deserve their place in the Grand Final. (Padraig)
The negative: All right. I kind of get it. It’s like a strong, sassy song that makes fun of Polish chauvinism or something. But come on, Eurovision is not the best venue for parody – the performance goes by so fast, people will either take it seriously and be put off, or they’ll just think it’s a joke. And musically this is something that just gets on my nerves – is it singing or whining? And is that really a melody? I might have to make this brash act one of my bathroom breaks. (James L)
2015: Monika Kuszynska with “In The Name of Love”
Monika, a former model who was left paralysed by a tragic car accident, sang the touching ballad “In The Name of Love”. The first singer to compete at Eurovision in a wheelchair, she didn’t shy away from her personal history: she displayed footage of herself from before her accident to make a statement on disability and inclusion. While she had changed physically, she was as talented and lovely as ever. She finished in 23rd place with 10 points — and left with the respect of millions.
The positive: Poland has gone from one end of the spectrum to the other in switching from softcore folk/hip-hop porn to pure white curtains and dresses and ballads. Monika’s voice is very pleasant to me, and that’s the winning aspect of the song. She isn’t striving for high notes that she can’t reach or chirping like a baby chick. She’s a true alto and works that to her full advantage with pleasant, full lower notes, and that is a stark contrast to many of the other girls trying to belt out octaves that aren’t humane to the ears. In summary, Poland’s song needs some improvement to stand out, but Monika’s voice is enough for me to be in love with it. (Sopon)
The negative: Positives first – the sentiments behind “In The Name of Love” are wonderful, and kudos to Monika for trying to become a role model for others. Sadly, good intentions aren’t enough at Eurovision. The song is about as exciting as soggy cardboard and goes nowhere. Some have speculated that this could be catnip for jurors, but will they be able to digest all the syrupy sweetness? (Padraig)
2016: Michal Szpak with “Color of Your Life”
He was the surprise winner of Poland’s national selection in a year when all of Europe was screaming “Margaret!” The Caribbean sounds of her Spotify hit “Cool Me Down” smacked of modernity. Critics said that his song was drab and dated in contrast. No matter. With his long hair and unique swerve on style, Poland’s answer to Conchita Wurst went to Eurovision, did his thing, and placed third with televoters. The jury may have dragged him down, but he still managed 8th place (with 229 points) — Poland’s best result since 2003.
The positive: Every time I listen to this song I like it more and more. The chorus boasts a killer hook – although they could do with spicing up (and modernising) the production, which would benefit hugely from more understated verses. And Michal is possibly the best performer of the whole year – his raw emotion when singing convinces me that the awful lyrics are in fact a masterpiece. With a memorable, gothic performance, this should at least qualify. (Edd)
The negative: I’d shed a tear for Margaret, but Michal is such a drip that Europe’s already at risk of flooding. The man just exudes misery. “Color of Your Life” is already a dirge of immense proportions, but Michal sings it in such a languid manner that it’s difficult to avoid being dragged under. Life is a myriad of colours, fuelled by progression. However — as Michal doesn’t quite sing — “all this stinks”. (Padraig)
2017: Kasia Mos with “Flashlight”
A stunning beauty with a heart of gold, Kasia used her Eurovision 2017 promotion to advocate for animal rights and to raise awareness about dogs in chains. She kept the animal theme going on stage by releasing a flock of digital birds across her LED, which eventually displayed the word “Freedom”. Looking fabulous in a white bandage dress and hitting every note like the pro she is, Kasia finished in 22nd place with 64 points.
The positive: “Flashlight” is varied, textured and deep. Although it lacks immediacy, there’s enough atmosphere and subliminal messaging here to power a grid. Kasia is showing up with a heady mix of activism and flesh. Not many stars can slay this way. (Deban)
The negative: I try to be a positive person, and although I appreciate artists who dare to include deep stories in their songs, I can’t feel the same for those who sing dramatic songs just for the sake of it. That’s exactly what Kasia does. This song is over-the-top and apocalyptic… and what’s the point, really? It’s too pretentious. Also, lyrically it’s a mess. Rhyming “fire”, “desire”, “higher” and “wire” should be illegal. (Luis)