Can you imagine a world without Jedward? A better world, arguably, but not nearly as much fun. And that’s how it was before the sixth series of The X Factor in 2009. Mentored by their fellow Irishman, Louis Walsh, they finished sixth that year, beaten to the number one spot by Joe McElderry. Only time can judge who will be the more outlasting act.
They were equally loved and hated by the public for their extravagant, slightly out-of-time performances. But you can’t deny how they’ve paved the way for sub-par acts on the show since. No Jedward, no Wagner. They were that groundbreaking.
Jedward, as much as you want to see them as a single entity, are in fact two separate people – John and Edward Grimes. John is the elder of the two by 10 minutes. They were constantly bullied at school for standing out and their love of pop music. Well, Jedward showed ‘em in the end by reaching the finals of the 2009 X Factor. Unfortunately, bullies reside in every part of life, and Simon Cowell singled them out for his famed acidic tongue: “They’re vile little creatures who would step on their mother’s head to have a hit.”
Despite loosing The X Factor, Jedward enjoyed success with the release of their debut single “Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)”, featuring Vanilla Ice in February 2010. It was a genius fusion of Queen’s “Under Pressure” with the aforementioned Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”. You’d have thought they’d fade into obscurity after that, especially after their record label, Sony Music, dropped them the following month.
But then, Jedward aren’t a normal act. Almost a year later, in February 2011, Jedward won the Irish national selection for that year’s Eurovision Song Contest with their entry single “Lipstick”. They came a respectable eighth, beating the United Kingdom’s entry, Blue, who drooped in at eleventh. They’ve also enjoyed their own reality television show, become the advertising face of Coco Pops and Oreos, and a teenage poll in The Irish Independent also voted them more popular than The Beatles.
It’s their relentless work rate and ability to divide opinion that has made them such an enduring novelty act. Liam Gallagher once argued “how do you not smack them? I know all about annoying f@*king little brothers, but nobody comes close to them. What the f@*k is happening to British music? And what are those things on their heads?” But then, in retort, Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor has said “They’re not good singers. But you know…eight-year olds love them…you know there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s entertainment.”