Just Say No to Bad Irish Music

Run Away!!!!!

In an earlier post (“In the Spirit of the Bothies”—Celtic Corner) we suggested some wonderful Irish music for St. Patrick’s Day. Here’s a short list of what to avoid. It’s not a comprehensive list, so first a few general rules:

--If the music has been featured on PBS, there’s a high probability that it’s toxic and should be avoided.
--If the CD package looks like everyone on it has been airbrushed, put it back and wash your hands.
--If there is a full orchestra with more strings that an alley full of cats, there’s a high likelihood of excess.
--If one or more of the musicians looks cheesy enough to sprout mold, look elsewhere.
--Don’t even consider anything that has one or more of the following things on the cover: rainbows, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, little girls in short skirts and fake boing-boing curls ….
--Anything that purports to tell “the Irish story” is a load of sentimental hooey from someone of third or fourth-generation Irish ancestry who has never actually been to Ireland.
--No actual Irish person sings “Danny Boy.”
--If there’s anybody on the cover whose last name is not Clancy and they’re wearing a white cable-knit sweater, move away from the CD rack.

By all means avoid these:

1. Lord of the Dance—"Riverdance" was pretty excessive, but can be forgiven as the first in its genre, but this production is a testament to Michael Flatley’s ego. Sheesh, the namesake song is from the Shakers, for heaven’s sake!

2. The High Kings—Ireland’s indigenous attempt to cash in on "Riverdance." The performers are talented, but the production is naff, and the material is a grab bag of tired old chestnuts.

3. Celtic Thunder—A blend of the Backstreet Boys and guys old enough to be their dads singing every sentimental song in the book, plus crap such as “Puppy Love,” a song that comes from that old American spaniel Paul Anka, not an Irish setter.

4. Celtic Tiger—Just when you thought Michael Flatley couldn’t get any more over the top he proved he could.

5. Celtic Woman—Oh dear! What if we collected a handful of pop tarts and told them to sing a few old songs with as much excess as they could muster? Well, that’s what happened.

6. Black 47—A lot of people like this band and they can knock out of the walls of your favorite watering hole, but anyone who glorifies the IRA from the comfort of New York City offends us.

7. Three Irish Tenors—See notes on PBS above. Whenever classically trained musicians try their hand at traditional music they generally boil it to blandness.

8. Celtic metal music—Actually, some of this isn’t bad, but there’s very little that’s “Irish” about it. Metal music is pretty much a North American phenomenon and when it migrates it usually doesn’t travel well.

9. Enya after 1989 and anyone else trying to sound like her. Enya’s early Celtic/New Age explorations were ethereal and magical; after 1989’s Watermark it’s all been recycling. This is pretty much true of all Celtic New Age with the exception of Loreena McKennitt.

10. The Corrs—Okay, you can have a little bit of The Corrs, but be forewarned: too many sweets ruin your teeth.

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