Mention Jedward, and you will definitely get a reaction. Love them or love to hate them, everyone has an opinion on the Grimes twins.
When I first saw them on X Factor, it was car-crash TV. It was so awful I couldn’t look away. But then something funny happened. If I flicked onto the show, I would wait until Jedward came on before flicking again. They grew on me.
Open-mouthed horror turned into something, well, kind of maternal. Their innocent resilience to harsh criticism (famously hoping that ‘boos’ might be ‘woos’) and sometimes off-the-scale levels of enthusiasm started to make audiences feel protective of them. The tide began to turn. The old Kit Kat ad – “you can’t sing, you can’t play, you’ll go a long way” – came to life in red PVC. And the boos did indeed turn to woos.
Last Tuesday, the boys played the first date of their national tour in The Royal Theatre and Event Centre, Castlebar. The show, like all of the initial eight dates in the tour, sold out within minutes. The venue was full to the rafters of kids and tweens (because, let’s face it, this is their audience – and which is why adult critics should wind their necks in a bit).
Meeting Jedward before their show was like getting a shot in the arm of positivity, giddiness and childlike exuberance. I’ll admit it: I turned into a 14-year-old fan. Their energy was infectious. In the current morass of economic woes, doom, gloom and general misery, the Grimes twins are a stiff-quiffed glimmer of get-up-and-go. Sparkly spangly rainbows of childlike optimism that remind us not to take life too seriously.
Nothing but nothing gets them down. They seem genuinely amazed that they are so popular and just want to make their growing young legion of obsessed fans happy. There was a special meet-and-greet that allowed some lucky children (including Mayo News competition winner 13-year-old Lorraine Hayes from Drummin and her friend Tara Hastings) to meet the twins. They boys went out of their way to spend time with everyone they met, signing pictures and postcards (many homemade) and chatting. The kids were in seventh heaven.
Jedward are what they are. They don’t pretend to be great singers (‘we know we’re not, like, opera singers or anything’). They’re not interested in going clubbing or living the rock’n’roll life. They’re just two pop-loving boys who like to dress up, dance, sing, entertain and have fun. Think about the violence of video games, the raunchiness of Christina Aguilera, the prevalence of teenage drug and alcohol abuse, and be thankful that kids have acts like Jedward that say it’s ok to do your own thing and to act your age.
It’s good, clean, honest silliness in winged runners, and I (along with the swelling ranks of the Jed Army) am all for it.
AUDIO Our interview with Jedward
INTERVIEW Chatting with Jedward