There are seven entries from Poland in our countdown: three entirely in Polish, three in English and one that is a hotchpotch of Polish, German and Russian. We’ve already had their first Polish language song (see No. 403), next up is Poland’s first English language song to make the Top 500.
Lidia Kopania is from Koluszki in central Poland. In 1998 she released her first single, Niezwykły Dar (Unusual Gift) and in 2003 became the vocalist for the Hamburg-based band Kind Of Blue (named after the famed 1959 jazz album by Miles Davis). Three years before she joined the group, Kind Of Blue had come third in Germany’s national selection final for Eurovision 2000, behind Stefan Raab’s Wadde Hadde Dudde Da and Corinna May’s I Believe in God. May would go on to represent Germany in 2002 with I Can’t Live Without Music, while Kind Of Blue’s guitarist Bernd Klimpel would return in 2009 as co-writer of I Don’t Wanna Leave for his Polish bandmate. Another of the song’s four composers was Alex Geringas, a Russian-born composer of TV soundtracks who has written hits for Anastacia and Kelly Clarkson. Geringas would have felt at home at the 2009 contest as it was held in his birthplace of Moscow.
I Don’t Want To Leave was tipped to do well in Russia but it finished a disappointing 12th in the second semi final. Part of the problem was Lidia Kopania’s live vocal performance which lacks the crispness and sparkle of the studio version, and at times – particularly towards the end – is downright excruciating. To make matters worse she was immediately followed in the running order, and thus overshadowed by, the pre-contest favourite – and runaway winner – Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale. Nevertheless I Don’t Wanna Leave did receive 10 points from Irish voters, the only nation to place Poland higher than Norway’s winner.
Poland started Eurovision so well: 2nd with their debut entry To Nie Ja by Edyta Górniak. However subsequent years haven’t lived up to such an auspicious start. Since 1994 they’ve only managed two further Top 10 finishes (Keine Grenzen-Żadnych Granic, that Polish/German/Russian mash-up by Ich Troje, in 2003; and their most recent offering, Color Of Your Life by Michał Szpak, in 2016). In the first seven years of the semi final they qualified only once (For Life by Isis Gee in 2008) but even that song ended up in second-to-last place. Dispirited by such a sequence of failure the Poles skipped the contests of 2012 and 2013, but results have improved markedly since their return in 2014 with all three entries managing to qualify for the final.