All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

It’s 3 days to go until Junior Eurovision 2023, and we are counting down the 16 nations who are participating in Nice, France on Sunday, November 26, 2023.

Every day we will do an overview of a participating nation in alphabetical order, recapping how they got to Junior Eurovision, a brief history of the nation’s participation, a brief biography of the artist, and finally, our “expert” panel of editors give the entries a score out of 10 and a brief review.

Next up, we look at Poland, a recent tournament powerhouse who should be inspirations to countries whose first results at JESC have been horrible.

Poland’s history at Junior Eurovision:

Poland was one of the countries in the very first Junior Eurovision in 2003. They came last. Poland re-upped in 2004. They came in last. Poland took this as a sign, withdrew, and would not return until 2016.

They placed 11th in 2016, 8th in 2017, and then the unexpected happened – they won in 2018. Roksana Wegiel performed “Anyone I want to be” and Europe said, “girl, you are a winner.”

She screamed it from the top of her lungs and delivered Poland’s win at Junior Eurovision. And until one Carla and “Bim Bam Toi,” Wegiel ‘s official video was the most watched video in Junior Eurovision history.

Viki Gabor repeated the trick for Poland in 2019 with a crushing win, becoming the first host nation to win JESC and the first to win two in a row, with “Superhero.” Gabor’s win came on the back of some stellar televote numbers (Kazakhstan won the Jury vote), but Wegiel and Gabor are still fan favorites to this day.

Unfortunately, despite pre-tournament chatter of Poland gunning for a third in a row, they could not as they changed direction with Ala Tracz’s “I’m Still Standing” (co-written by Polish Eurovision 2018 representative Gromee). “I’m Still Standing” came in 9th.

’twas only a minor hiccup, though, as Sara James almost won Junior Eurovision 2021 by coming in close second in both jury and televote. Malena’s “Qami Qami” edged Sara’s “Somebody” by only 6 points, but this edition produced a star whose career has exploded since. Sara entered the 2022 edition of America’s Got Talent and earned Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer. Sara only narrowly missed out on the Top Five, but social media took note and the 14-year-old earned cult status in the United States. We only expect her career to get better from here.

Laura’s “To the Moon” came in 10th at Junior Eurovision 2022.

Before Junior Eurovision 2023:

Telewizja Poland (TVP) once again utilized Szansa na sukces (“Chance of Success”) as its national selection for Poland at Junior Eurovision. And given the TV ratings (around 1 million per episode), it is certainly a hit for the broadcaster.

Over three heats (broadcast on September 3, 10, and 17, 2023), three winners were advanced to the Grand Final and two “Golden Tickets” were given out.

Leon Olek won Heat 1, Filip Robak won Heat 2, and Maja Krzyżewska won Heat 3. Daria Malicka and Gracjana Górka won the two Golden Tickets.

Polish JESC commentator Marek Sierocki was the main juror, with two different guests each heat. Heat 1’s judges were Sara James (JESC 2021) and Tulia (Eurovision 2019), Heat 2’s judges were Cleo (Eurovision 2014) and Roksana Wegiel (JESC 2018), Heat 3’s judges were Gromee (Eurovision 2018) and Viki Gabor (JESC 2019).

The Grand Final was held on September 24, 2023. For the first round of voting, 50% of the vote came from the jury and 50% from the online vote. Konrad Smuga (TVP’s Art Director for JESC), Daria Barycka (TVP Entertainment and Talent Development Director), and Grzegorz Urban (Szansa na sukces‘s musical director) were the jury.

Leon Olek won the first round, and Maja Krzyżewska came in 2nd to also advance to the Final round, where the winner would be selected entirely by public vote. Maja Krzyżewska won with her take on “I Just Need a Friend,” introduced as the song for Poland at Junior Eurovision 2023 during the night of the final.

The Artist:

Maja refers to herself as “Maya from the End of the World” as she hails from Szeszupka, which the EBU says has less residents than JESC entrants this year.

As with most of Poland’s representatives, she has participated in Poland’s version of The Voice Kids.

Bonus Thanksgiving Content Related to Poland:

Watch Polish, D.C. United and former Leeds United midfielder Mateusz Klich being introduced to American Thanksgiving Classics. Legend.

The Song:

“I Just Need a Friend” was written by a large professional songwriting team that has prior experience with TVP, Poland at Eurovision, and in Poland at large.

Dominik Buczkowski-Wojtaszek and Patryk Kumór return for another try at Junior Eurovision, having already tasted victory as co-composers (with Małgorzata Uściłowska – a.k.a. Lanberry) of Viki Gabor’s “Superhero.” They also co-wrote “Empires,” which was Alicja Semplinska’s entry for the cancelled Eurovision 2020, and Sara James’s “Somebody” for Junior Eurovision 2021.

A talented multi-instrumentalist, Buczkowski-Wojtaszek is also a member of Polish indie band Young Stadium Club.

Patryk Kumór is also a keyboardist who has performed in metal bands, primarily progressive metal band Division by Zero and symphonic black metal band Darzamat. Kumór, performing under the name Specter, was the keyboardist and chief arranger on Darzamat’s 2005 album “Transkapartia.” Those interested in the early state of blending symphonic and orchestral elements with extreme sub-genres such as black metal or death metal will get a kick out of this album. Though Septic Flesh, Carach Angren and Fleshgod Apocalypse are the big names in the symphonic metal genre these days, Darzamat is a well-known and underrated symphonic metal band who bridge the sound between the present and the sounds of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth.

Also on the team is 18-year-old Polish singer-songwriter Marissa (Maria Dzięcielak), who despite her young age has several hit singles and has written for the likes of Sara James, Doda, Oscar Cyms and Krystian Ochman.

Producer Piotr Zborowski and Spanish / British singer-songwriter Carla Fernandes round out the team.

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Poland’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2023.

Providing their thoughts for Junior Eurovision this season: Alexandros (Greece), Yehonatan Cohen (Israel), Boris Meersman (Belgium), James Maude (Los Angeles, California), and William Carter (Dallas, Texas).

The Verdict:

Alexadros – 7.5 – A compelling dynamic ballad emerges, serving as a poignant reminder of contemporary values. While not explicitly centered on dogs, the song underscores the broader theme of friendship. The music video, thoughtfully crafted, effectively communicates the intended message. The artistic portrayal complements the lyrical content, emphasizing the significance of connection and camaraderie in today’s context. Overall, the composition, coupled with the visually appealing video, successfully conveys a message of importance, transcending the specific narrative to resonate universally with audiences.”

Boris – 2.5 – “Remember when Poland tried? The only value retained by the Polish entry this year is its excessive overproduction. Maja opens by whinging about how she needs a friend (the video clip provides her with several?), how she feels there’s no place for her in this world, how she feels alone. What a load of poppycock. Maja does not have a songwriting credit meaning she’s just the mouthpiece for a group of professional songwriters OOPS. And I’m sorry, but this is a level of insincerity that absolutely grinds my gears, ESPECIALLY since they (adults) are using a CHILD for their insidious purposes. Not only is “I just need a friend” a waking misery, a midtempo ballad that doesn’t go anywhere, and a overproduced robotic mess which reaches its token “positive” key change way too late, it also doubles as a platform for adults to express their toxic discontent in a contest meant FOR children with music BY chldren. Everything wrong with modern-day JESC is represented by this song. Get it out of my sight.”

James – 4 – “It’s not because the music video utilizes a dog that I say that this song kind of leaves with a whimper. Loneliness is a major issue for children in this supposedly connected world, but I am not sure this song works as a cry for help or as a clarion call for more connection. If only the lyrics and the overall theme were as well thought out as the composition and production.”

William – 7 – “This is a deceptively simple song, but it makes up for it with big buckets of sincerity. There’s real emotion in these lyrics (and in Maja’s vocal delivery), but the sentiment remains credible as something a performer this young could feel and express in her own words. Plus it’s an EARWORM. I don’t see this winning, but I think it could place a lot higher than some people are expecting.”

Yehonatan – 6.5 – A classic ballad with a great message. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but it’s still a pretty solid entry that could really come to life on stage.”

Total: 27.5 points (Average = 5.500)

This may be the most divisive entry so far, with some fearing the sentiment is either faked or lost and some thinking that the “I Just Need a Friend” sentiment could land.

Twelve countries in, here are our current rankings in editor scores:

1.) France – 42.5 points (Average = 8.500)

2.) Armenia – 38.0 points (Average = 7.600)

3.) Ireland – 37.5 points (Average = 7.500)

4.) Georgia – 35.0 (Average = 7.000)

5.) North Macedonia – 34.5 points (Average = 6.900)

6.) Albania – 33.5 points (Average = 6.700)

7.) Estonia – 32.5 points (Average = 6.500)

8.) The Netherlands – 31.0 points (Average = 6.200)

9.) Germany – 30.5 points (Average = 6.100)

10.) POLAND – 27.5 points (Average = 5.500)

11.) Malta – 26.5 points (Average = 5.300)

12.) Italy – 23 points (Average = 4.600)

What do #YOU think of Poland’s entry? Let us know in the comments below, on our social media, or in our forum.

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