At Eurovision 2022, Poland got their best rest result since 2016, and their 5th best result overall in the contest. It was some progress in making their adult Eurovision success reflect some of their huge success in Junior Eurovision. Flying the Polish flag in 2023 will be Blanka, whose win in the Polish national final was not, shall we say, without controversy… Will the Polish diaspora turn out for her in the televoting?
Blanka, full name Blanka Stajkow, is a model turned singer, having released her first single while on the reality TV show, Top Model (Polish version). “Solo” is her second single. Her mother is a model, and her father a rich businessman, and it’s possible those connections have helped her along the way. Certainly, Blanka had some connections with the Polish jury in their national final. Without rehashing the saga, suffice to say that the broadcaster more or less rigged the result. Many Polish Eurovision fans are furious of course, but this preview is to look at the entry – not the circumstances of how it came to be chosen…
I mention all this as I want to be clear, I have not taken this into consideration when evaluating what I think about the song. The placing here is reflective of what I think of the song, not all the selection rigging. “Solo” is (annoyingly) catchy and uptempo with a Latin-Caribbean feel. Yet ultimately it is a basic song, pretty unoriginal and quite outdated – that Latin-Caribbean pop bop is very early 2000s. All of that does not necessarily discount the song – a sparkling, engaging performance and solid or impressive vocals would lift it up. Sadly for all concerned, that’s not what we get.
I do appreciate that singers can have a) off days and b) some songs are harder to sing well live than others but I’ve seen enough of Blanka singing live to see that she is going to have her live vocal smothered by backing track and/or live backing vocalists. Again, it’s not the first time the named artist has had to let the backing vocalists take the strain (I’m thinking Azerbaijan in 2016) but there was more to their performance. Again, from what I’ve seen so far, there is little energy, engagement and she doesn’t look a natural live performer. Maybe, just maybe, that shows that just because you’ve got rich parents and have been a model, doesn’t mean you can become a pop star just because that’s what you want to do.
If it looks like I have been super harsh there, it can be tempered with the knowledge that I have a feeling this could well qualify despite what I think, or indeed despite what many Polish Eurovision fans would want either. While she did not win the public vote, she still came second, and “Solo” is into the Top 5 in the Polish charts. Poland also has some solid diaspora voting countries in their semi-final (UK, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belgium) and even though Polish fans are still angry about the national selection, I think that may get outweighed by enough that do – and with no juries to mark down live vocals (or lack thereof) that basic, catchy number may well edge Blanka into the final (where she will get dust from juries I predict!).
Poland in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1994
Appearances (excluding this year): 24
Best result: 2nd in 1994
Last year’s result: 12th