Tu bije serce Europy! Wybieramy hit na Eurowizję (Poland) 2022 Reviews: All Finalists

As I’m running out of time before this weekend’s Extra-Super Saturday, I’m going to review the Polish, Croatian and Sammarinese finals in a single post each over the next three days, starting with Poland.

Ania Byrcyn — “Dokąd?”
From the video, this looks like an ode to motherhood, but having translated the lyrics through Google, its either not the case, or there are subtle references that didn’t translate well. Brycyn’s vocals are rightly at the centre of this track, couched in swirling strings and gently piano chords. This has good staging potential given the drama of the song, but what it lacks for me is something new: no matter how well this is performed, we’ve heard these kinds of ballads many times over at the contest.

Daria — “Paranoia”
The sugar hit of this batch. Before the end of your first listen you’ll be bobbing along to the infectious beat. It’s a fun little modern, radio-friendly pop track with quirky lyrics. The major problem is that this song has been online since October and so Daria has performed it live several times. From that, we’ve learned that her vocals are not great, and unless she’s made vast improvements in her singing technique over the last few weeks, this is going to make it very hard for her to get a good jury vote.

Emilia Dębska — “All I Need”
Musically there’s a lot that’s interesting about this ballad: it has ominous percussion which is enhanced by glitchy synths, and there’s a great run of notes on the piano at the end. This is the kind of variety I wish more Eurovision songs would use. Debska’s vocals are solid, although it sounds like she’s singing a bit through her teeth at times. The lyrics are probably the weak part if this track: they take a bit too much time to reach the end of each line, meaning that you can see the rhyme coming from a while away. Otherwise, even though I don’t think this has much of a chance of winning, I applaud its innovations.

Karolina Lizer — “Czysta woda”
If went to see a variety show of music from Poland, I’d probably expect to see something like this as one of the acts. It’s a folk song with brass and woodwind instruments to reinforce the sense of something that has a traditional appeal. Unfortunately, I think they overshoot the mark here and present us with a song that definitely reaches to tradition, but also stays there in the past.

Karolina Stanisławczyk feat. Chika Toro — “Move”
It seems that many national selections include at least one or two Latin-tinged songs, even if the country in question has no real connection to this genre (I’m not saying they necessarily should). This one has some nice sounds and bonus points for having a good amount of the lyrics in Spanish, but I can’t help think that in this case, you might as well go for the original in Spain’s “SloMo”. This one even has its own equivalent of the “mo-mo-mo-mo” chorus, except it’s “move-move-move”.

Krystian Ochman — “River”
The current favourite to win Saturday night, and this is due in large part to Ochman’s strong and striking vocals. To be fair, the song itself is pretty solid, the kind of thing you’d expect to hear in a top 40 countdown or something like that. Musically it has echoes of the Gary Jules version of “Mad World” and Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”, although lyrically I’m not sure what to make of the religious overtones. In any case, should Poland select this, I’m fairly confident the jury vote will help send it through to the final.

Kuba Szmajkowski — “Lovesick”
Almost too slick and smooth for its own good, this track employs deep EDM beats and grooves to complement the singer’s vocals. I hope Szmajkowski has a lot of charisma and performing chops, because this becomes fairly repetitive after a while and doesn’t offer much new in the second half of the track. It’s something that grabs your attention initially but its grip isn’t very strong.

Lidia Kopania — “Why Does It Hurt?”
When this started, I honestly thought for a second two that we were headed for a hip-hop song with that particular piano riff favoured by some US rappers like Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg. Instead, we’re given a catchy pop track with lyrics that both reinforce and occasionally evade cliches about being in love. All this to a fairly bouncy beat. It’s strange, but also familiar — it’s a bit of an enigma to me after several listens.

Szlachta Sisters — “Drogowskazy”
Surprisingly pleasant synth-pop song which really doesn’t do anything wrong except being a bit too deadpan for the contest. The vocals are pretty good, there’s a nice beat and the instruments meld well together. But it’s one-paced, not something that guarantees success at Eurovision. It might be cool and collected, but it also misses several moments to really take it to the next level.

Unmute — “Głośniej niż decybele”
If this wasn’t last on the list alphabetically I would have moved it to this place anyway, because it is the most intriguing entry you will see in any of the national finals this year, and I’d to end the post with these thoughts. The song has a simple electronic beat, but that’s not important. There are no audible lyrics, because Unmute is a group of Deaf people who perform the song’s lyrics in (Polish) sign language. I’ve checked the Eurovision rules, and I can’t find anything that says there has to be audible vocals, it’s just implied in the understanding of what a song is. This challenges that assumption, just as the lyrics challenge the notion that Deaf people are lacking in anything because of their deafness. While I don’t think this is going to win the selection, it certainly demands that we ask questions about what the boundaries of Eurovision are, and whether they should be reconsidered.