With Lithuania at #5, Ukraine at #4, and now Poland at #3, it’s a real cluster of Eastern European neighbours at the summit of my rankings. Ukraine and Lithuania are no strangers to the top of my rankings, but it’s not somewhere I have had Poland until now. All it takes is for the right song and right artist to make an impression on me, and that’s what Ochman has done with his song “River”. Can he help Poland achieve some contest success after much underachievement over the years?
Krystian Ochman, to give him his full name, is a Polish-American singer-songwriter who won The Voice of Poland in 2020 and with his song “River” (he was a cowriter), won the Polish national final, winning over 50% of the vote in the three song “superfinal”. It was the huge favourite going into that national selection, and despite being unwell, Ochman still delivered an amazing live vocal.
It’s that live vocal combined with a haunting and catchy chorus that is what has firmed this up in my personal top 3. He really does have an outstanding voice, and he’s never disappointed in any of the pre-parties. The lyrics of the song are perhaps not perfect but they are catchy and repetitious without seeming to be TOO repetitious (it’s a fine line to tread!). Some people have commented that he sings this very coldly and without emotion, but I’d have to respectfully disagree on that one.
Ochman is an absolute teddy bear of a guy – he’s just so sweet, self-effacing, polite and you have to resist wanting to give him a big warm hug. I should know, as me and my friends saw him several times at London Eurovision and we had a photo with him at the end of what must have been a long day and night and he was still so welcoming and polite and happy to be with the fans.
The theory goes that this will do very well with the juries and certainly the vocal gymnastics he gets to use at the bridge may well help. Not having the jury vote was the big downfall of Poland’s 2016 entry – which got a huge diaspora-backed public vote but almost nothing from the juries. I am sure this will get some jury love, but it remains to be seen what level of public vote Ochman can get and how much the Polish diaspora can be mobilised. It would be a bit of an outside bet for the win, but this could and should give Poland one of their best results of recent years.
Poland in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1994
Appearances (excluding this year): 23
Best result: 2nd in 1994
Last year’s result: 14th in semi-final (did not qualify)