Ahead of the Curve: Pop Music’s Next Irish Export?

(YouTube video courtesy Eurovision)

Tomorrow, Saturday, marks the grand finals of the 56th annual Eurovision Song Contest in the tiny country of Azerbaijan — a European continent-wide singing competition best described in one online publication as “’American Idol’ crossed with the Olympics.”  The competition, Europe’s most-watched non-sports TV event, has featured such artists as Sixties British pop idol Cliff Richard, Seventies dance-pop favorites ABBA (Sweden’s winning representatives in 1974), and French-Canadian songbird Celine Dion (who won in 1988 for Switzerland, singing in French).


Among this year’s national representatives are a group of Russian grandmothers, longtime British pop star Engelbert Humperdinck, and an Irish duo who could well be set to launch a world pop-music takeover with a win – identical twins John and Edward Grimes, better known as Jedward.  2012 marks their second crack at continental success, having finished in eighth place overall last year with the techno-pop hit Lipstick.  This year the brothers, who once finished in sixth place on the sixth season of the British reality-TV series The X-Factor, have another high-energy pop tune, Waterline, which has already been a top-ten hit in their native Ireland.


Outside of Eurovision competitions, Jedward have had three additional Irish top ten hits, including a mashup of Queen and David Bowie’s hit Under Pressure with American rapper Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby, which made extensive (and some say excessive) use of the bass line from the original (Vanilla Ice also made an appearance in the Jedward mashup); both of their albums, Planet Jedward and Victory, have also reached the top slot in Ireland, and saw significant success in the United Kingdom as well.  A third album, Young Love, is set for release later this year.


One could say that this young duo, with the occasionally stand-up “quiff” hairstyle, and with strong appeal to the Big Time Rush and One Direction demographic, have already conquered their home turf and are ready for a new challenge.  Could they be poised to hit American shores as the next in a long line of successful Irish musicians, from the Clancy Brothers and the Chieftains, to U2 and Enya?  Only time will tell…


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