The Irish are famous for their artistic talents. Many of the world’s finest singers, playwrights, musicians, actors, filmmakers and designers were either born in, or can trace their roots to the Emerald Isle.
But even the best of the best can have a bad day. For most of us, that means yelling at the kids or bcc-ing your boss on that email about your drunken weekend. But artists inhabit a different sphere – and sometimes their grand gestures and inspirational flourishes come across as hokey, silly or just downright embarrassing.
We’ve counted down the ten most cringe-inducing moments in Irish pop culture. But don’t let the number fool you, there are probably way more moments out their that are equally likely to give you an uncomfortable flush.
1. Celtic Thunder: Rocky Road to Dublin
The earth will move when you hit play – it’s the body of every departed Irish folk singer rolling over in unison at this sanitized, choreographed take on an Irish classic. Performing it on a giant Celtic Cross just adds insult to injury. And why do they keep changing positions?
2. The Irish Tenors vs Ronan Keating / Fairytale of New York
These covers of the iconic Pogues song would bring a tear to Shane MacGowan’s eye, but for all the wrong reasons. The tenors’ schmaltzy version is just plain weird, but Ronan and duet partner Moya Brennan (of Clannad!) look uncomfortable calling one another “slut” and “punk.”
3. The Wolfe Tones / Boston Rose
The Wolfe Tones are an iconic folk group – but occasionally they didn’t pay attention to their song lyrics. Tommy Byrne should have rethought the line: “I’ll wait for you, I’ll think of you – no threat to you I’ll pose.” Sounds like the lyrics to a restraining order.
4. Bono Honors Sinatra / 1994 Grammy Awards
The U2 singer’s prose poem to Sinatra is filled with memorable lines, all of which should have signaled the Grammy organizers to play the “wrap it up music” after a minute. Top prize has to go to “Frank walks like America – cocksure,” though calling him the “big bang of pop” has to rank a close second.
5. Daniel O’Donnell Sings “That’s Amore”
The person who thought this up is a genius. Never have a song and a singer been more badly matched. What’s next for Wee Daniel – a cover of “Wrecking Ball”? The ghost of Dean Martin is shaking his head.
6. Jedward / “Waterline”
It’s not nice to wish ill on anyone, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the Jedward lads to get CLOSER to the waterline. It could then carry them across the Irish Sea -- then the evil spell would be over, and prosperity could return.
7. Tom Cruise / “Far and Away”
To be fair, he gave it a lash. But Tom Cruise’s exaggerated Irish accent in “Far and Away” should have cost him that certificate of Irish Ancestry he was awarded a few months back. The Minister must not have a Netflix account.
8. Richie Kavanagh / Aon Focal Elle
If something is meant to make you cringe, does that mean it’s bad? Absolutely not, in the case of novelty songman Richie Kavanagh. This song will teach you a coupla focal – and you’ll probably sing along.
9. Cahill Dunne / “Jig Don’t Jog”
Ever look at your granny and think she could stand to lose a few pounds? Then this is the perfect video! It combines speeded-up Irish ditties and Irish scenery (Not sure, but it looks like he works out in every county). Yep, it’s as weird as it sounds.
10. Dustin the Turkey / Irlande Douze Pointe
Yes, it was written to be cheeky, irreverent and downright insulting, but Dustin laid it on with a trowel. Viewed five years later, it’s like watching a video of that time your brother-in-law mooned the neighbors after too many beers.