Gerry Smyth
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Popular music and the Celtic Tiger
in From prosperity to austerity
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When Bono sang ‘Uncertainty can be a guiding light’ on the title track from U2’s album Zooropa (1993), he seemed to many people to be perfectly attuned to an emerging sense of Irish identity – one that was truly over the past and apparently ready to embrace all that an uncertain future had to offer. It was, with its combination of yearning for guidance and bemused insecurity, an entirely appropriate musical articulation of Celtic Tiger Ireland. In this chapter, Smyth traces aspects of the Celtic Tiger through the music of U2, to The Script, who he sees as embodying the philosophy of the period. He makes the point that the various ‘failures’ articulated by the various protagonists on the first album, for example, are belied by the ideology of expectation and attainment that underpins the music itself. The chapter looks at the significance of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ as an index of this period, and finally, the chapter looks at the cultural phenomenon of Jedward, the grimes twins who became famous, or infamous, from their time on the X Factor, and sees them as the soul of the Celtic Tiger: young, brash, loud, four eyes focused firmly on the prize but ultimately lacking in substance.

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From prosperity to austerity

A socio-cultural critique of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath


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