When Poland first released their song for Eurovision 2019, the audience was immediately divided. I say “divided”, it was more a 20/80 split of positive to negative. But, Poland has never been a country that has been popular at Eurovision, in general, placed in the Top Ten just three times in their 25 year history of participation in the contest, so should they be surprised? Well, yes! Because you know their most memorable moment involved butter churners and washboards, amongst “other things”. There is so much room for growth for this country.
Meet Tulia, a seemingly innocent group of girls who could almost be passed off as Buranovskiye Babushki 50 years earlier (before they went commercial pop!) or a “good girl” t.A.T.u. (and apologies for the double Russian reference, but I’m referring to musical styling only – which is Eurovision, right?).
Tulia formed in 2017, taking the name of one of their members, Tulia, because Joanna, Dominika and Patrycja doesn’t quite have the same impact for a band name. They’ve already released a self-titled album, which has gone platinum in Poland for sales over 30,000, and made quite a name for themselves on YouTube, which we will get to later.
There was something about Tulia’s entry, Fire of Love (Pali sie), that I was drawn to, but I was also kind of in that 80% of meh. For fans of 90’s music, it reminded me of Shampoo’s Trouble, or perhaps U.G.L.Y. by Daphne & Celeste from 2000. I love these songs (I have the latter’s CD in my collection), but also admit they can be annoying. The conflict I had was that the group was so reserved in their delivery, so I decided this entry deserved a little more research.
It’s amazing what a little background check does, and I soon converted to the 20% of "I LOVE IT!", and disregarded all connections to the aforementioned songs and artists.
Tulia became YouTube sensations in Poland with their covers of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters and Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence. Metallica! Of all bands for this group to cover. But Depeche Mode, one of my favourite bands, not to mention Enjoy The Silence being the 4th most played song on my iPod (yes, I do have this info on hand, too!). Upon seeing this, these were the first two songs I bought as soon as I returned home. And I love! Tulia, innocent? I don't think so. Depeche Mode and Metallica are hardly bands for the casual music listener. These girls have a little spunk in their repertoire.
Fire of Love (Pali sie) has us “sitting on an iceberg, waiting for the sun”, telling of a cold, lonely heart, containing the burning sensation inside that falling in love has. I liken it to times where I have had that same burning desire, but feel cold and alone. It’s perhaps life’s biggest contradiction. And so, the delivery of Fire of Love now makes sense. Outwardly lifeless movement delivering fiery vocals from within.
For a little added intrigue, the video clip for Fire of Love (Pali sie) was inspired by the Polish film, Cold War, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film, Cinematography and Director at this years’ Academy Awards. The American Society of Cinematographers awarded it the top prize in cinematography, and Paweł Pawlikowski was named Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. I’ve had little experience with Polish cinema, but I have endured Krzysztof Kieślowski’s epic Dekalog, a 10-hour television drama series based on The Ten Commandments – one hour per commandment - which pretty much makes me an expert. It’s depressing, but brilliant, just like Tulia’s film clip. The conflict of the fire brigade actually having a function in this extreme wintery scenery accentuates the meaning of the song – no matter how cold it is, love will continue to burn.
The punters have Poland just missing out on progressing through from Semi-Final 1 to the Eurovision Grand Final, which is a good thing, because these predictions regularly get better for the less regarded songs than worse. In a field where many songs have a similar style, Fire of Love (Pali sie), is not only unique this year, but unique for Eurovision in general.
My fingers are crossed for a Grand Final place for Tulia, and my toes for a photo opportunity with them in Tel Aviv.