POLAND – Poland made their Eurovision Song Contest debut in 1994 in Dublin, represented by Edyta Górniak, with the song “To nie ja!” which was chosen internally by broadcaster TVP. Poland’s first Eurovision participation is noted for being the most successful ever by a nation completely new to the contest, but also for the storm of controversy which broke out around Górniak’s dress rehearsal performance.
“To nie ja” (It wasn’t me) was the Polish entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1994, performed in Polish by Edyta Górniak. This was Poland’s debut at the contest, and consequently the first time that the Polish language had been used in a contest entry. The song achieved second place in the Eurovision final – at the time the highest ever placing attained by a debut song (even in the very first Contest, Switzerland won with their second song of the night). It was released as a single in English as “Once in a Lifetime”.
The song is a dramatic ballad, with Górniak describing herself as having an “easy world” – seemingly one of easy distinctions between good and bad. She sings that she is not Eve, referring to the Biblical character, and asking for her listener not to blame her for the sins of that figure.
The result has stood as the most successful first-time entry in contest history until the ballad “Molitva” performed by Serbian Marija Šerifović went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2007; Serbia’s first entry as an independent state. Serbia and Montenegro’s entry in the 2004 contest also placed second. At the same contest, Hungarian entrant Friderika, making her country’s début with “Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?” placed fourth, presaging the domination of the contest by Eastern and Central European performers in subsequent years.
Somewhat ironically, Górniak was threatened with disqualification after singing the second half of the song in English during the dress rehearsal watched by the national jury members. An English-language version was later recorded, titled “Once in a Lifetime”, and featuring Górniak telling her lover that their relationship is a “once in a lifetime” event.
The song was performed twenty-fourth on the night, following Russia’s Youddiph with “Vyechniy stranik” and preceding France’s Nina Morato with “Je suis un vrai garçon”. At the close of voting, it had received 166 points, placing second in a field of twenty five.
The song was translated into English as “Once in a Lifetime” and released as a single. It was Gorniak’s debut release and featured on her debut album Dotyk. The music for the song was written by Stanisław Syrewicz. The Polish lyrics were written by Jacek Cygan and the English lyrics by Graham Sacher. Both versions appear on the single. The single cover includes pictures by photographer Marlena Bielińska. The cover artwork was designed by Debi Ani Design Associates.
Two videos were made – one for the Polish version and another for the English version. “To nie ja” starts with Gorniak singing on a dark stage surrounded by smoke and blue light. Inserts of her singing in the recording studio occur throughout the video. For “Once in a Lifetime”, Gorniak wears yellow clothes in front of a white background, while the camera shows her from different perspectives.