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Polish is a beautiful language containing some lovely words and great poetry, but it can prove tricky to learn. Poland has produced some well-known musicians – the composers Frédéric Chopin and Krzysztof Komeda and singer Paweł Kukiz but the best Polish music is rarely played outside the country. So if you’re trying to learn the language, listen to these catchy pop songs to help you learn Polish.
This song is an emotional and powerful ballad with simple, yet effective, words. The song gives those not familiar with Polish the chance to sing along – it’s a karaoke favourite – to the meaningful lines “Bo bez ciebie nie ma nic, z tobą jedną mogę być, jeśli tylko chcesz” , which translates wonderfully as “because without you, there is nothing, with you I can be, if you only want”.
This is a love song with easy to understand words, using everyday common phrases and past simple tense to tell a story of a girl who liked to dance. The lyrics describe a car journey, where the radio stopped and a couple “Didn’t count the stars” (“Nie liczyliśmy gwiazd”). The rousing chorus concludes with the line “we danced as if the time had died” (“Zatańczmy proszę tak jakby umarł czas mówiła”).
Polish singer Doda often makes the headlines for her controversial photoshoots. Her real name is Dorota Rabczewska and she has been an MTV Europe Music Awards winner and a World Music Awards nominee. Before her solo career, she was part of the band Virgin. Her biggest hit, “Nie daj się”, was released in June 2008 receiving substantial airplay and critical acclaim. Lines such as “Każdy na początku wierzy że jest dla niego plan” (“At the start everyone believes there is a plan for themselves”) and the repeated title “Nie Daj Sie” (“Don’t Give Up/Don’t Let Go”) also make this a perfect one for learning good Polish phrases.
Lady Pank are a popular Polish rock band, formed in 1981 in Warsaw by Jan Borysewicz and Andrzej Mogielnicki. Their song Poland’s capital “Stacja Warszawa” (“Warsaw Station”) is a beautiful song for listening to while watching the sunset over the Wisła River. It starts with the line “W moich snach wciąż Warszawa” (“Warsaw is still in my dreams”) taking the listener on a journey through the streets of Warsaw, both in the video and in the emotive lyrics.
The band IRA, whose name has nothing to do with the Irish Republican Army and is actually a Latin word for ‘anger’, were most popular during the 1990s. Their song “Ona jest ze snu” is Poland’s equivalent to England’s “Wonderwall”, the heartfelt Oasis ballad often played at weddings, birthdays and sung in bars and football stadiums throughout the UK. Here in Poland, the catchy “Ona jest ze snu” is a good one to learn when settling in to Polish culture. “Ona jest ze snu” translates as “she is from a dream” or “she comes from a dream” and is a classic Polish pop song.
Wilki’s hit song Urke (“We Drink For a Better Time”) is an uplifting Polish pop song containing positive and happy lines. The chorus rocks along with the song’s title repeated, “Pijemy za lepszy czas” (“we drink for a better time”) while the verse professes “Nie trać wiary w marzenia” (“Don’t lose faith in your dreams”).
Another emotional love song, the lyrics tell of the writer’s pain, “I suck this pain through the city of Włocławek, loving you like Ireland”. Some lines are tricky to translate, but ask your friends in Poland to help you with lines such as “Gdzieś na ulicy Fabrycznej, spotkać nam się wypadnie. Lecz takie są widać wytyczne by kochać Cię jak Irlandię” which can be roughly translated as “Somewhere on Fabryczna Street we met and fell out, but I follow the masterplan to love you like Ireland”. With so many Polish people living in Ireland these days, this has also become a common song for ex-patriots to sing.
Another fantastic ballad from Paweł Kukiz, this time when he teamed up with Yugopolis for this delightful tune about a city wakening up. The writers ask “give us a good day”, in Polish, “Daj nam dzisiaj dobry dzień”. The video also fits with the vibe of the song, a very relaxing song which will help understand some good everyday words and phrases in Polish like “słońce” (“sun”) and “z naszymi marzeniami” (“with our dreams”).
With almost 50 million views on YouTube, it is not hard to understand why Kancelaria’s 2008 hit is so popular and a common starting point for foreigners trying to understand Polish pop music. The song begins eloquently, “Zabiorę Cię… właśnie tam…dzie jutra słodki smak” (“I will take you right there… where there is a sweet taste of tomorrow”). The song has great vocals and guitar hooks to accompany the love story. The enticing chorus tells us “Między nami jest coś nie zaprzeczaj mi, tyle mogę Ci dać”, (“Don’t deny me the chance, there is something between us and I can give you so much”).
Although not an official pop song, it has been covered thousands of times and continues to be the most heard song on any given night out in Poland. For this reason, you should probably try to learn this one first. You raise a toast to the song, usually a shot of vodka wishing your friend happy brthday; wishing them “sto lat” (100 years). It’s a fairly short song, so easy to learn:
“Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje, żyje nam.
Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje, żyje nam,
Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz, niech żyje, żyje nam,
Niech żyje nam!”