Euro 2012 song: Koko
By Robert Strybel, "The Polish Answer Man"
Controversial but catchy
Poland's official Euro 2012
By Robert Strybel,
Our Warsaw Correspondent
Click here to see them perform on Polish TV
WARSAW - A most unusual ditty is being sung as the Polish national team's official anthem for this years Euro 2012 European Soccer Championships, co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. "Koko, koko Euro spoko", whose title imitates a hen's clucking to say "the Euro is awesome, cool, OK or nifty", is sung by a gaggle of farmwives' ranging in age from 32 to 82. Performing in the long white peasant dresses of the Polish-Ukrainian borderlands, they belong to what up till recently had been a little-known local folk group called Jarebina (Mountain Ash). It is based in the village of Kocudza in eastern Poland's Lublin region.
Their song, containing original words set to the tune of an old folk melody, raised quite a few eyebrows when first presented on national TV. "This must be a joke,"was a common reaction. Many felt it would only serve to entrench the negative stereotype of Poland as a backward, agrarian country. But in an open competition, "Koko, koko" actually beat out the entries of a string of well-known performers including veteran songstress Maryla Rodowicz and the tongue-in-cheek Cabaret Otto.
Probably the main reason it won was that votes were texted in, and that means it was the e-gadget generation that carried the day. Many younger texters and net-surfers are known for their fondness for things weird and off-the-wall, and "Koko" seemed to fit the bill.. But soon the song caught on, and most everyone was humming it.
The Jarzebina ladies actually traveled to Brussels, Belgium and performed their song outside at the European Parliament. Since they didn't copyright the words (the folk melody was public domain), soon other groups came up with their own versions of the tune which one Reuters journalist called "kitschy but catchy."
My good friend Joan Bittner of Hamtramck, Michigan's Polish Art Center recently sent me a Google-translated English version, asking me to check its accuracy. Anyone who has ever seen an online computer translation can imagine what a disaster they're like. I therefore decided to come up with my own translation of "Koko" which I present below for your information and amusement. (Incidentally, Franciszek Smuda is the coach of Poland's national soccer squad.)