In February 2023, Poland held their national final – Tu bije serce Europy! – to select a song for Eurovision. Last year, they enjoyed a spot on the left hand side of the board with Ochman and his song ‘River’ and this year they are hoping to qualify with Blanka and her song ‘Solo’.
Read on to find out about Blanka’s career pre-Eurovision and her road to the contest so far.
Who is Blanka?
23-year-old Blanka (full name Blanka Stajkow) was born in Szczecin, Poland to a Polish mother and a Bulgarian father. While she did not come from a musical background (her mother is a model and her father a businessman), Blanka herself has always been interested in performing. According to an interview with the Polish celebrity website Plejada, she performed with various disco dancing groups all over Poland and would sing and dance to music videos on MTV every morning before school. When she was 13, she wrote and recorded her own single called ‘Strong Enough’ which inspired her to start taking music seriously and embarking on a singing career.
To develop her confidence singing in English, Blanka has spent time in the United States, where she took part in various open mic events in Los Angeles and New York. Notably, she has performed at The Bitter End club in New York, where Lady Gaga first started playing when she was just 15.
Returning to Poland, Blanka auditioned for the tenth series of the Polish edition of Top Model. While she did not progress beyond the audition stage of the competition, she did use it as a vehicle to promote her debut single ‘Better’. You can listen to it below:
Of modelling, Blanka has said she sees this as a way to earn a living and continue to fund her real passion of music. Identifying more as a singer than a model, Blanka told Plejada: “You can do many things, but it’s good to know which is the main one.”
The Road to Eurovision
Following the release of ‘Better’, Blanka went on to sign with Warner Music Poland and released her second single ‘Solo’ in September 2022. It immediately became a favourite among her fans, who praised its summer sound and lyrics about moving on and enjoying being alone after a toxic relationship. Blanka was inspired to submit the song to Tu Bije Serce Europy! after seeing YouTube comments under the song’s music video encouraging her to do so. Out of around 300 submissions, ‘Solo’ was one of 10 songs to be selected for the national final.
The contest took place on Sunday 26th February, with Blanka performing ninth in the running order in front of an LED background of palm trees and with four female backing dancers. The vote was decided by 50% jury votes and 50% televotes, and ultimately Blanka ranked first with the jury and second with televoters, making her the winner after fan favourite Jann (who had scored first with televoters) only scored fourth with the jury with his song ‘Gladiator’.
Some Polish fans were dissatisfied with the result, accusing the jury of unfairly favouring Blanka and rigging the vote in her favour and some even started a petition calling for Jann to be crowned the winner instead. In response to this, while giving an interview to Voice.fi, Blanka said:
There is a lot of speculation and many of the things said are not true. There is a lot of false information going around, which is crazy. Of course, I don’t feel good listening to this. I try not to watch the news and make sure these things don’t affect me. My family and team support me. I feel good and focus on making new music and positive things.Blanka, Voice.fi
While Blanka did not perform at the Polish Eurovision pre-party in Warsaw, she has performed ‘Solo’ at Israel Calling and is also due to perform at the London Eurovision Party on 16th April. This will give Blanka the chance to perfect her performance before taking to the stage in Liverpool, where she will perform ninth in the second semi-final on Thursday 11th May.
In a year low on so-called ‘girl bops’, and with Blanka performing between two male acts (Greece‘s Victor Vernicos and Slovenia‘s Joker Out), could she have an added advantage and secure a place in the Grand Final on Saturday 13th May? You’ll just have to tune in to the second semi-final to find out!
You can follow Blanka on Instagram here.