ESC 2017: Poland – Flashlight is not an Acceptable Metaphor

Last year Poland made a huge splash at Eurovision. From their shocking national final winner, all the way to the performance at the final that saw them take top marks from the voters at home. It’s hard to repeat success though…

These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of 2017’s Eurovision songs but I’m also going to make some bold predictions about the eventual fate of the song. These will probably be very wrong for a variety of reasons including I have no idea what almost half the artists sound like live or what type of staging and song changes could be made. There’s plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging (2016 Spain for example) so in the end they’re just guesses in the dark.

Country: Poland
Artist: Kasia Moś
Song Title: Flashlight
My Ranking: 36th (out of 43)
Semi Final: 1st Semi Final
Final placement prediction: 24 out of 26

Poland have seen much more success since they returned to the contest in 2014 – a very infamous year for Poland. Last year fan favorite Michał Szpak cracked the top 10, which is just about their best position since their debut in 1994. Poland has an uphill battle due to a variety of things, including Poland’s location in the world and their global ties. Poland doesn’t have a strong voting bloc unlike many other countries and Polish people are often seen as a joke but politically and socially so there’s a lot of sterotype for them to break through. I was hoping because of the diversity slogan we might have gotten a song in Polish but we’ll have to wait for another year.

This year Poland is throwing it’s weight behind Kasia Moś. The 30 year old is a triple threat: pop singer, song writer, and dancer. She has a background in jazz, has collaborated with producers in America, and even been on the cover of Polish Playboy. I was hoping for something upbeat then from Kasia with “Flashlight” but alas she taps her darker side and jazz roots. She is credited as one of the writers of the song along with two others though, which is always nice. Kasia is a staunch animal rights advocate and even dedicates her song to animals.

While Kasia absolutely has the vocal strength to make this song feel more epic than it has any right too, it unfortunately has a lot of stumbling points. Kasia never has a moment where she just lets a note loose. It makes the song feel tense with no release point and always going for those low notes is a stylistic choice but one I feel eventually hurts the overall song as you can quickly lose interest. The song doesn’t build to anything and while the music and tone seems to say darkness, it’s not the lyric message, and worse, it wasn’t on the stage in Poland.

Poland is obviously taking a page from Jamala’s win with sending a dark ballad but part of the beauty of “1944” was the personal connection between Jamala and the song. Despite Kasia being the writer, she doesn’t seem all that concerned about the message of the song and has said a bunch of platonic things about it including that the song could be for animals OR refugees. You know. Either. Those are very interchangeable. /sarcasm

I’m willing to chalk that up to bad translation but it’s pretty clear that the song could be about refugees, but it isn’t. The song is about grabbing an English dictionary and then rhyming the words in the verse with little concern for how much sense you’re making or what it might mean if you don’t look at the lyrics in couplets. Just take the intro the song:

Like a bullet from a smoking gun,
They try to tell us that we don’t belong

Each of these lines makes sense isolated but together they actually become nonsense. A bullet from a smoking gun has nothing to do with non-belonging no matter how much I try to think about it. The song meanders in and out of rhymes and near rhymes that sound okay at first but upon a re-listen they become a series of disjointed empty phrases. The song ends on an equally confusing note, which fails to bring a closure to the song:

Falling deeper got you in a sight
Bringing down your eyes in the sky

Okay. I can English essay bullshit my way through what they might have been trying to say but over all this is a case of “translated from the original European”. There’s nothing wrong with not making 100% sense in English per se but the main metaphor of the song is that “Fire, like a burning desire [is] like a flashlight burning in our eyes”. Which is again, nonsense and also, not very powerful. I doubt anyone looks at a flight light and feels it’s a very strong metaphor for burning desire. There are ways to set up flashlights as metaphors but this song never accomplishes it. It’s no “rise like a phoenix” which has a well known gimmick to represent it on stage. Showing a flashlight on stage is just not going to have the same effect.

I think this entry will qualify on sheer vocal talent as Kasia really brought her A game to the national final and low notes are impressive when held so long but a lack of any hook, the lackluster of actual flashlights, and very likely an empty stage with no connection to the song will send this down to the bottom of the final list.

Shine on you crazy flashlight.

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