Initial Review: “River” by Ochman (Poland)

If there’s one selection that received all the type and “winner’s vibe” chatter this weekend, it was the soaring ballad “River” by Krystian Ochman representing Poland. On paper this looks like it’s Eurovision-ready, although the stage performance at the Polish national selection showed that there’s some work to be done there. Ochman spent almost all the song with either his eyes closed or looking anywhere else but down the camera. This is fine if you’re playing to a stadium full of your adoring fans, but would be a disaster at a television show like Eurovision where you need to make a connection with viewers, most of whom will be seeing/hearing you for the first time. And I don’t normally make costume recommendations, but those white sneakers need to go.

Fortunately, there’s still the fundamentals of a really strong entry here from which the delegation can build. All being well, we should see Poland back in the final for the first time since 2017 — the juries will see to that, and if the Polish diaspora (strangely missing the last few contests) can get out their phones, I can see this finishing top 3 in the second semi-final. The song is interesting from start to end, if only to hear what Ochman’s voice is going to do next. The lyrics are bit repetitive and I’m not sure whether they are supposed to have religious overtones, but I guess on the other hand they do stick in your head. Poland is the largest active country (by population) which hasn’t won the contest yet, and while they may still fall short this year, they clearly have the potential to bring the contest to Warsaw in the not-too-distant future.