Three-Minute Throwdown: Poland 2020 Edition

At the beginning of the year, Poland decided to use the show Szansa na sukces (A chance for success) to pick the Polish representative who will perform in Rotterdam in May. This follows a successful reboot of the show on the junior level, where the winner, Viki Gabor, would also go on to win Junior Eurovision 2019 with the song “Superhero”, a song whose musical elements highlight Gabor’s heritage while also bringing to light the urgent dangers of climate change, an urgent topic that Eurovision descendant Greta Thunberg and many others have been addressing in public discourse.

This is the third of three final selections that will occur this weekend. The other two, Slovenia and Ukraine, already released at least snippets of all the songs in advance. As of early Sunday morning, the song to be performed by Alicja Szemplińska has not yet been released. The available songs will be analyzed in one take (stopping okay, backtracking not) from a musical and performance standpoint, giving insights where relevant.

Kasia Dereń – Ufaj mi (Trust/count on me)

On 18 February, Kasia Dereń revealed on Instagram that she would be singing “Ufaj mi” as a potential Eurovision candidate. The track was later released to the public and can be listened to below.

The song is in F minor and displays EDM production elements from the get-go. The instruments are all synthesized: while the core piano sound in the verse may have been acoustic or synthesized realistically, the ADSR (attack, delay, sustain, and release) envelope makes the piano sound sustain and prevent it from naturally decaying (gradually decreasing in volume until silence), plus the tremolo effect makes the sound increase and decrease in volume in a periodic pattern. At around 0:36, the sound is still rather dark, but there have been some bass drum hits, which suggest that the song is about to build up more instruments into (probably) a drop. New section, likely a chorus (around 0:44?), adds some mallet percussion with significant syncopation. If the build is coming around again, I would prefer the mallet percussion to be clearer, with more highs, so the interaction between all the rhythms is clearer. Fun drop around 0:55. Enough high end to counteract the fatness of the synth bass, and the bass is actually not overwhelming! The call of the lead instrument in the post-chorus section and Dereń’s “on me” (or is it “ufaj mi”?) response work well together, which reminds me vaguely of the call-and-response within the parallel section in “Superhero” (though in that case, Gabor was the call to the violin-like response). Nice combination of languages – mostly Polish, but “you can count on me” gets the point of the song across succinctly. The drop-out around 2:17 built up very nicely back into the original groove. Dereń’s high belt notes (F5) are solid in studio; all that remains is for her to execute in competition. One thing that might bring it down is the focus on the fourth degree of the F minor scale – on the B-flat note in the melody. Melodies that emphasize chord tones are generally easier to sing and remember than those that insist on pushing non-primary sounds.

Albert Černý (with Lake Malawi) – Lucy

Polish Eurovision source Eurowizja spoke to Albert Černý, the lead singer of Lake Malawi (Czech Republic 2019), about his competing in Szanza na sukces. Seeking a chance for more Eurovision interest than they received from within the Czech Republic, Lake Malawi has gone to Poland to do so. Even though Černý is not a Polish citizen, he spent his primary school years there and has a family history there as well. Though it is unclear whether Lake Malawi will head to Rotterdam as a group should they win, it remains a distinct possibility. The song to be performed is their latest single “Lucy”, which as Wiwibloggs reports is originally inspired by the band’s playful adventures with an abandoned cardboard cutout of 2019 host Lucy Ayoub. I may have heard some snippets of the song out of curiosity, but I also have been listening to a lot of music from all across Europe, and it’s hard to keep everything in mind over such a short time.

This song has six accidentals. There are a lot of different sections, and they require a second listen I can’t afford. The song starts off sound like Eb minor, but sections like around 1:47 are in Gb major and emphasize the Gb major chord and Gb note significantly. Like Dereń’s song, this song begins with a substantial amount of synthesizer and production input. Intro section gives way to funky bass and drums at 0:18. I hope the band stomps on 1 and 3 and claps on 2 and 4 this time around should they choose to go a cappella in pre-parties; the syncopation in “Friend of a Friend” made it way too easy to sing along too early while only clapping on 2 and 4, as had happened at PrePartyES 2019. Solid harmonies and hook into 0:35. This song is much more groove-based than Dereń’s offering, which speaks to the group chemistry within Lake Malawi. The actress comment was a bit of a clever fourth-wall break. Seeing that this video is 3:51 now, what parts of it actually are the song as it will be edited down to be? The synth pop vibes, combined with the musicality of the trio, make them a charismatic choice despite only netting seven televote points last year. The change in passaggio (Italian for passage), in this case the change between head voice and mixed voice, is a bit questionable around 2:04, but the music is solid and purposefully not overproduced. That is a LOT of Lucies at the end. Oh, real Lucie came around at the end, and the video was effectively 3:22! If a section is to be cut, I am guessing that the bridge is most likely to be cut, followed by the intro and outro parts and then a shortening of one of the internal sections. This goes higher than the original key of “Friend of a Friend”, and I expect this song to be dropped down to C# minor/E major or even to C minor/Eb major.

Alicja Szemplińska – TBA

Eurovision Poland released a clip on Saturday night from Eurowizja’s (Polish OGAE) Instagram stories saying that the final song would be coming soon. It is too late to analyze anything besides the song’s being in C minor during the clip and it sounding like a power ballad.

Do you think the two released songs have the winning touch? Or will Alicja Szemplińska, the winner of The Voice of Poland, reign victorious in her late release of the song? Tune in at 15:15 CET on TVP2.

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