• Hayley Bessell

Bulgarian Independence Day - Poli Genova in focus


Photo Credit: EBU / Andres Putting

September 22 is Bulgarian Independence Day which commemorates the day Bulgaria became liberated from the Ottoman Empire.


To mark their national day, we will look at the career of two time Bulgarian representative at the Eurovision Song Contest, Poli Genova.


Poli has had a very diverse career and is a woman of many talents. This includes singing, songwriting, acting, dancing, modelling, reality TV, voice-over work and charity work.


Let’s dive in!



Early years


Poli Genova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and from an early age she was somewhat of a musical child prodigy. From ages 8 to 14, she was a key member of the children’s singing ensemble Bon Bon.


After leaving Bon Bon, Poli wanted to continue her music career so she studied at the Lyubomir Pipkov National School of Music (clarinet) and the Krastyo Sarafov National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts.



Bulgarian national final attempts


Since as far back as 2005, Poli had been attempting to represent Bulgaria the Eurovision Song Contest.


On two occasions she attempted this as part of a group. The first group she was in, Melody, finished in 9th in 2005 with 'Otkriy me sega'. The second group Poli was in called Melody Traffic finished in 4th place in 2006 with 'Love That You Can't See'.


In 2009 Poli had the chance to compete as a solo artist in the Bulgarian National Final. Sadly, she just missed out on winning by finishing in 2nd place with 'One Lifetime is Not Enough'.



Eurovision Song Contest 2011


Poli gave the Bulgarian National Final another shot in 2011, and this time she was successful.


'Na inat' (which in English translates to 'In spite') proved to be the winning formula and she was to be the Bulgarian representative at the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 in Dusseldorf, Germany.



This pop rock track was co-written by Poli, along with Borislav Milanov, who has produced numerous Eurovision songs as the Symphonix International founder.


In Dusseldorf, Poli, a well seasoned and experienced performer on the stage, appeared with a band and showcased her fantastic voice and charisma. Unfortunately for Poli, she didn't qualify for the Grand Final, finishing in 12th place.



Junior Eurovision 2015 host


With Eurovision now under her belt, and TV experience as a child, Poli was the obvious choice to host the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Sofia, Bulgaria. This was the year that Australia first competed in the Contest. That year Destiny Chukunyere went on to win the Junior Eurovision trophy for Malta, who went on to compete at Eurovision 2021.




Eurovision Song Contest 2016


Not one to stay down for long, in 2016, Poli was internally selected to be the Bulgarian representative for the Contest in Stockholm, Sweden.


'If Love Was a Crime' was internally chosen as the song, again co-written by Poli and Milanov, performed mostly in English with its chorus in Bulgarian.


On stage, Poli appeared alone in a futuristic looking black, white and nude dress, along with a cape. Towards the end of the song, as she is singing the lyrics "unafraid, never fade, when it's dark we illuminate, when we rise together", her outfit illuminated. She was joined on stage by her backing singers which included Cesar Sampson (Eurovision 2018's Austrian entrant).



This time, Poli sailed into the Eurovision Grand Final which was only the second time Bulgaria qualified since their debut in 2005.


In the Grand Final, Poli finished an incredible 4th place, behind Ukraine, Australia and Russia. This was Bulgaria's best result in the Eurovision Song Contest to date (however, the record would be broken the following year with Kristian Kostov's 2nd place for Bulgaria).


In the voting, all but two countries gave Bulgaria at least one point (jury or televote). Australia, always the lover of a good dance song, gave 10 points through the televote and the Australian jury gave it 8 points.


To this day, 'If Love Was a Crime' remains an iconic and extremely popular song with Eurovision fans. It is played at parties, club meet ups and appears in many personal top playlists (mine included!). OGAE Australia's (Australia's official Eurovision fan club) 2019 Eurovision Top 100 countdown placed 'If love was a crime' in 6th place, and ahead of many Eurovision winners.



Since Eurovision


Following Eurovision Poli has been active both personally, musically and through television.


She had her first child in 2019 and is now expecting another!


Poli has had number one hits on the Bulgarian charts with 'How We End Up' in 2020, and 'Last Night' in 2021. Poli's latest single release is 'No More' which features her fiancé, Joseph in the video.



For two seasons (2017-2018), Poli was a coach on 'Voice of Bulgaria' and more recently in 2020, Poli appeared on the Bulgarian 'Masked Singer', disguised as a a pair of eyes behind a bush.


Would she do Eurovision again? She has hinted previously that she might... So watch this space, Poli may still give Bulgaria their first ever Eurovision win.