12th Jun 2020
Irish pop duo Jedward have experienced an unprecedented renaissance in recent weeks — and with good reason
The year was 2009.
Ireland was in the midst of a post-2008 economic downturn. Ryan Tubridy was named as the new host of the Late Late Show. Ireland won the Six Nations Championship and Grand Slam for the first time since 1961.
And Jedward burst into our lives and our consciousness on the X-Factor.
When John and Edward Grimes first appeared on our screens over 11 years ago, we cherished despising them. There was something about the twins from Dublin. Whether it was the hair or the outfits, they reminded me of eccentric evil geniuses who would be best placed in an Austin Powers motion picture.
While we admonished and berated them from our couches, they finished sixth on the mammoth show and were credited with increasing ticket sales for the X Factor Live Tour of 2010. Young children loved them and the show they were selling was a money maker. Plus, in that same year, they had a number one album with Planet Jedward.
John and Edward were a walking talking warning for not giving your children sugary drinks. Their excitement, zest for life and incessant energy was both exhausting and magnetic.
However, we couldn’t get enough of them, even though Twitter spent late nights being angered at their persisting popularity. They were a polarising pair but the twins had a knack of proving the naysayers wrong.
If there’s one thing that gets Ireland aroused it’s the Eurovision. And so, in 2011 Jedward represented Ireland in the song contest with ‘Lipstick’ and finished eighth in the grand final. They returned again in 2012 singing ‘Waterline’ and finished in 19th place.
They had our respect and followed in the footsteps of Johnny Logan to take their place in a long line of Irish men we like to loathe and love in equal measure.
Proving us wrong
In between television shows and appearances on Celebrity Big Brother, the duo continued to make music with their fourth studio album released last year. Unfortunately, the showbiz world is fickle and soon their star was not as bright. Some on social media even wondered if they had been kidnapped or disappeared?
Yet once again, the hyperactive doublet proved us wrong. No, they had not been taken hostage or vanished, they had simply been quarantining with Tara Reid in LA. The unlikely trio met on Celebrity Big Brother and their friendship has been solid, random and steadfast ever since.
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Then to make our relationship with them even more complicated, Jedward has propositioned themselves as men who fight the good fight. During the recent protests in America in response to the killing of George Floyd, the 27-year-olds were seen protesting on the streets along with thousands of others.
It turns out today is the day that I retweet Jedward…pic.twitter.com/h0dbRMigmf
— Gareth Bouch (@garethbouch) June 5, 2020
To be frank, we are now obsessed. This always happens with us Irish. We’ll hate you and mock for you for years, but then you do a deed that sews our broken hearts back together. It happened with Daniel O’Donnell too. The wee Casanova has entered a new state of celebrity after videos of him singing in windows during quarantine circulated on the internet.
Jedward are no longer just a pop act. They are activists, visionaries and national treasures.
The festival of Jedward love on Twitter has been like a perpetual summer. To add to the infatuation and golden hue, the overwhelming consensus is they are lovely lads. Sound, down to earth and never let fame or the weird world they encountered go to their heads.
I may come out of this lockdown loving Daniel O’Donnell and Jedward(for BLM protest).
The world is weird https://twitter.com/shane_reaction_/status/1270137947111776258
— Anna Banana (@Annacreegan) June 9, 2020
Did anyone have “jedward turn up at a BLM protest in Hollywood CA” on their 2020 bingo card? https://twitter.com/planetjedward/status/1267910596072058880
— ????? ?’????? (@artimusfoul) June 2, 2020
My brother-in-law met Jedward when they visited the radio station he used to work for. Said they were lovely guys. They recorded a personalised video message for my daughters. I’m not all that surprised to see they’re fighting the good fight here. https://twitter.com/planetjedward/status/1267910596072058880
— Dli O’Doir (@dli_odoir) June 2, 2020
In Ireland, we feed on comebacks and stories where something naff suddenly becomes ‘it’. Usually, when it’s an individual, it’s a man. In another piece, I might have said that misogyny is at play when it comes to redemption stories.
If we ridiculed a woman as much in her past, she would always struggle to make it back into our good books. Every interaction would be tinged with her before. With men, the outcome is almost always different.
But this is not that type of story.
This is the story of Jedward, our most multifarious and random export.
Let us bask in the glory of this revival.
We don’t receive many stories of joy in these strange times, but this is most certainly one.
Let’s enjoy it.
Image: @PlanetJedward Twitter Page
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