At No. 403 we have the first of seven Polish entries in our countdown. Poland first entered the contest in 1994 with To Nie Ja by Edyta Górniak, a rousing ballad very much in the Eurovision style. It came 2nd behind Rock’n’Roll Kids (see No. 424), which was the highest placing for a nation making their first appearance until Molitva (see No. 419) in 2007 – although, of course, Serbia had competed as part of Yugoslavia (see No. 476) and with their Montenegrin neighbours prior to their debut as an independent nation.
The Poles’ second stab at Eurovision was Sama (Alone), musically a completely different sort of beast altogether: in a minor key, folky, downbeat. Very downbeat. In the lyric Justyna compares herself to a little flea, and sings: “I’m alone and I feel poor, as if God…doesn’t love little fleas”. Perhaps unsurprisingly the juries failed to warm to the song and it finished way down in 18th place. Nevertheless, it’s a fine, ethereal piece of songwriting and worthy of a place in the Top 500.
Justyna Steczkowska was the first winner of the Polish talent show Szansa Na Sukces (A Chance For Success) in 1994, and after Eurovision went on to record a dozen albums, most of which were hits in her native country. More recently she was runner-up in the 2007 series of Taniec Z Gwiazdami (Dancing With The Stars), as well as hosting the Polish version of Dancing On Ice, and acting as a judge on The Voice of Poland.
Poland may have been latecomers to Eurovision, yet their involvement with another global music competition has been longstanding. The Sopot International Song Festival has been held in Sopot, near the Polish port town of Gdansk since 1961 (that first contest, like Eurovision’s, was won by the Swiss). Conceived as an Eastern Bloc alternative to Eurovision it was also open to entries from outside the continent – Canada won in 1965 and 1970, while the USA were victors in 1966. Over the years there has been some cross-over between the two competitions, for example Marion Rung, a two-time Eurovision representative for Finland won Sopot twice, and the Herreys were winners in 1985 with Summer Party, a year after their Eurovision triumph with Diggi-Loo, Diggi-Ley (see No. 441).