Perspectives on Poland: A Nation Facepalms

The nation has spoken – Poland’s official Euro 2012 anthem is titled: ‘Cluck Cluck Euro’s Cool’ (Koko koko Euro spoko). Yes, that is ‘cluck’ as in the noise a chicken makes. When the nation woke up the next morning, it buried its head in its hands and muttered “Oh god, what have we done.”

A television audience has chosen the eight stolid countrywomen of jaunty folk group Jarzębina z Kocudzy over lithe pop divas and stubbly-chinned MCs to represent their team this summer.

Dressed in traditional rural garb and ranging in age between 32 and 82, Jarzębina z Kocudzy invite inevitable comparisons with the ‘Buranovo Grannies’ who are to represent Russia at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Jarzębina z Kocudzy means The Rowan Tree of Kocudzy (a village near Lublin).

Like the Russian grannies, Jarzębina z Kocudzy are a marketing manager’s wet dream. They appeal both to conservative, church-going Poland and inspire enthusiastic, if tongue-in-cheek, hand waving among young urbanites.

But there is a problem. Poles are happy to sing along to ‘Cluck Cluck Euro’s Cool’ within the privacy of their own borders, but choosing such a cheesy, homespun number to represent Poland on the international stage has poked at the nation’s darkest fear – that the world will see it as backward and unsophisticated.

“Sweet Jesus, clucking grannies! What will the world think of us,” reads a typical comment among the thousands swirling around Poland’s news portals and forums.

Poland is desperate to show its Western European guests that it can do glitz and business-like organisation with the best of them. Every Polish effort to promote itself features glossy photos of gentrified market squares, shiny glass skyscrapers and clean-limbed lads and lasses directly from a Microsoft corporate ad circa 1992.

And therein lies the problem. The image Poland thinks it should be projecting is 20 years out of date. Stock photos of relaxed professionals sitting around a boardroom table scream ‘cheese’ to a Western audience, not ‘modern.’

Have a listen to the official Euro 2012 anthem as a case in point. ‘Endless Summer‘ by obscure German songbird Oceana is a soulless blend of Euro-pop drivel and absurd English lyrics (“Like a drum, you’re gonna be my number one, make my heart beat like a drum…”) Whichever semi-comatose committee gave it the nod undoubtedly saw it as hip, modern and sexy. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of thing Borat dreams about.

Far better to relax and go with the warbling bumpkins. It’s an undeniably catchy tune and, contrary to Polish expectations, exactly the kind of thing ‘sophisticated’ Westerners will love.

We just have to hope Poland doesn’t get wind of Ireland’s Euro 2012 song – ‘The Rocky Road to Poland’ will automatically be perceived as an insult to the nation’s transport infrastructure.

Those lyrics in full (English translation below):

Cieszą się Polacy, cieszy Ukraina,
Że tu dla nas wszystkich Euro się zaczyna,
Że tu dla nas wszystkich Euro się zaczyna.

(Chorus)
Koko koko Euro spoko,
Piłka leci hen wysoko,
Wszyscy razem zaśpiewajmy, naszym doping dajmy. (x2)

Nasi dzielni chłopcy to biało-czerwoni,
Wygrać im się uda,
Ucieszy się Smuda,
Wygrać im się uda,
Ucieszy się Smuda,

(Chorus)

Orzełki biegajcie żwawo po murawie,
Zdobywajcie gole i będzie po sprawie,
Zdobywajcie gole i będzie po sprawie.

(Chorus)

Nie myśl sobie bracie, że rady nie damy,
Nie kłopocz się siostro,
My Euro wygramy!

In English (roughly):

Poles are happy, Ukrainians are happy,
Because here for all of us, Euro begins.

(Chorus)
Cluck cluck Euro cool,
The ball flies mighty high,
Let’s all sing together, and support our (boys).

Our brave boys, are white and red,
They will make it,
Smuda will be happy.

Run eagles, joyfully over the grass,
Score goals and it will be done.

Don’t think my brother, that we can’t do it,
Don’t worry my sister,
We will win Euro!

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8 thoughts on “Perspectives on Poland: A Nation Facepalms

  • May 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm
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    This is so cool! Go Poland! The song is hilarious

    Reply
  • May 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm
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    I am Polish and I think the song choice is absolutely great.
    It’s very funny, very different from the pop or r&b stuff everyone else expects. KOKO SPOKO MAKES EVERYONE LAUGH – how good is that!

    Reply
  • May 6, 2012 at 3:33 am
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    I’m an Australian student living in Krakow soon and I have mixed feelings about this. If it is done tongue-in-cheek I think it will be great, otherwise it is (as the article states) ‘backwards and unsophisticated’.

    If it is marketed to be ironic and a poke at the west’s image of Poland, then it will demonstrate Poland’s sense of humour and that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    Reply
  • May 6, 2012 at 8:54 am
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    Well, well…! what have we here..? Stare Babcie have come out of hiding from deepest Lubelszczyzna – not far from Chelm is where we have Polska rzeczywistosc – yes that is the real Polska. All this modernity nonsense that we are repeatedly force fed with, day after day – Warsaw trying to vie with ‘modern’ Dallas – get real folks – reaL Polska is in Chelm and wioska’s in its vicinity – will they emerge out of this feudal age into the contemporary day?? I wonder! EURO 2012, much heralded as a spotlight to efficient, modern, upto date ‘intel centrino’ Polska, is garbage – it will still take Polska a geeration or two to come to recognise itself for what it is – introverted, brooding, sleepy, and then to mature out of premenstrual teenage into adulthood. When that happens, the Babcie’s songs will have a meaning – today the Babcia’s with their absurd la la la is just a good mirror. Aby do wiosne !! Back to the laka, with the cows….

    Reply
  • May 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm
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    Let it be.
    Babcias rock! I think the song and the group are terrific.

    Reply
  • May 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm
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    Comment number 4 needs to let out the theoretical cultural hot air and get out in the sunshine, walk a little and live in the ‘present’ so as not to get frown lines from thinking too much about the future of Poland. The future is now so dance with it baby!

    Reply
  • May 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm
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    Finally! :)
    I hope this is a sign that Poles are getting it right when it comes to how they portray themselves to be. Who cares whether or not that’s in line with being “Western?” At least it’s authentic, which is in itself something of a rarity these days:)

    Reply

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