Maybe you saw a picture of them in the NY Times yesterday? Maybe you've seen that silly hair? Heard their silly name? No, not John and Edward, but Jedward.
Tonight they're competing in the dubiously named Eurovision Song Contest. The actual song seems to be way down the list of priorities for the masses who vote by telephone across Europe. Years ago the contest was all about the song, but no more. Today choreography, costume & charisma of the performers probably count more than the song. For all of those reasons Jedward should do well, although the vagaries of the voting among the millions of people across Europe mean nothing can ever be taken for granted.
John and Edward Grimes are the Irish twins who a few years back made a splash on Britain's X-Factor. During the contest they adopted the name Jedward. They finished sixth in the contest, but the "Planet Jedward" phenomenon was only beginning.
Jedward come across as so innocent that they don't seem to appreciate that there are a lot of cynical people desperately hoping they will err and let what many assume is their mask slip. People in the media seem to be continually trying to trip them up with questions about sex, which the brothers answer unfailingly as if they are living on the set of Leave It To Beaver. It's jarring to witness.
This is what seems to bother people most: they just assume Jedward are a pair of fakes. I suspect that they're more real than most people my age could imagine.
Jedward are SpongeBob, only more like SpongeBob on speed. Actually, they're like a mixture of SpongeBob and Tigger. Ridiculously innocent and far too energetic. They can wear you out. Two minutes of them is enough for me.
What I think doesn't matter, though. Their fans are not men in their 40s, but kids. Younger kids love them due to that energy and their wacky behavior ... and that crazy hair.
Teenagers - mainly girls - like them too. They like their antics and their hair too, but I suspect that many of these girls like Jedward because of their innocence. These are children who have been exposed to a popular culture that is beyond excessively sexual and Jedward are the opposite of that. They are a breath of fresh air.
Can they sing? Not really, but that also misses the point. They're multimedia stars, not music stars. You have to hear them sing, see them dance, listen to them being interviewed and see them interact with their fans to appreciate what it is that appeals to kids.
Can they conquer America? Can they become global superstars? On the one hand I say why not? There's no reason to assume that American kids (or Brazilian or whatever) are any different than kids in Ireland, Britain, Europe. Jedward are just plain fun. Yet, I can't help thinking that it would be impossible to remain as joyously naive as John & Edward are today while raking in huge sums of cash.
Also, I have to assume that the window of opportunity is not going to last long. I don't think they can expect to get away with their current routine when they're older. Even 22 might be too old for it.
They may not "crack America" as the saying goes, and they don't have to. They're doing pretty well for themselves right now. However, I suspect that they'll find their way across to America somehow. You'll probably try to resist, but the children won't. When you see the joy they bring to children, they'll have you hooked too.