Two things about St. Patrick's Day: Everyone is Irish, and most people are pretty annoying. Since no one remembers what the holiday is actually about (each year we Google; each year we forget), March 17 has become an excuse to wear tacky green T-shirts and drink to excess, often to the strains of U2's greatest hits. Guinness tastes great with "Beautiful Day" and "Where the Streets Have No Name," but Bono and Co. aren't the only Irish musicians worth blaring on the Blarney Stone jukebox.
Ahead, we celebrate 13 other Emerald Isle artists whose tunes will go down smooth today, tomorrow, and any day of the year. Unfortunately, their songs don't magically show up in your iTunes library,
like U2's latest did, so if you like what you hear, put down the pint glass and the green bagel and seek out some more. Whatever his deal was, St. Patrick probably would have wanted it that way.
Listening to the Blades, you can practically imagine being in a dimly lit club in Dublin in the 1980s. Their powerpop music is defined by power chords, addictive hooks, and an audible Irish brogue. Beware: these songs will be stuck in your head long after St. Patrick's Day.
This trio of Dubliners actually had their start in a boy band, of all things. Guitarist Mark Sheehan and singer Danny O'Donoghue performed in the boyband Mytown, which failed to generate a large audience outside of Ireland. Luckily, the two musicians banded together in 2001 and have been producing distinct pop music since. The Script's unique sound has roots in fellow countrymen like U2 and Van Morrison, but their catchy pop songs are all theirs.
Courtesy of Phonogenic More
Van Morrison Van the Man isn't just one of the greatest Irish artists of all time. He's up there with Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, and Joni Mitchell as one of pop's all-time great chameleons and innovators (and grumps). He's been a garage rocker, a folkie, a soul man, and more, and in concert, the 69-year-old will still rock a black suit and hat and knock you on your duff. Photo: Courtesy of Rhino. More
Hozier Though he's only 24, bluesy folk-rock phenom Andrew Hozier-Byrne writes and sings with an old-soul perspective. His gospel-tinged hit " Take Me to Church " reached No. 2 on the pop charts and landed him a gig dueting with Annie Lennox at the Grammys, and now, people all over the world are hip to his yearning, searching songs about love, death, and religion. Just think how insightful he'll be when he reaches Van's age. Photo: Courtesy of Columbia. More
The Cranberries When talk turns to fire-breathing female hitmakers from the '90s, as it often does, Dolores O’Riordan deserves mentioning right alongside Courtney Love and Shirley Manson. The Cranberries leader sings in a voice both lilting and lacerating, and her band does pretty jingle-jangle ("Dreams," "Linger") and pulverizing fuzz ("Zombie") with equal conviction. Photo: Courtesy of Island Records. More
The Corrs Best remembered for turn-of-the-millennium hits like "So Young" and "Breathless," the really, really ridiculously good-looking Corr siblings were like blander Cranberries. Their mix of poppy rock and Irish folk was perfect for supermarkets and minivans, though their Bono-assisted 2002 live cover of Ryan Adams' "When the Stars Go Blue" suggests they were cooler than everyone thought. Photo: Courtesy of Rhino. More
Thin Lizzy Dino's Bar and Grill sounds like an American establishment with nickel-wing Tuesdays, but the watering hole immortalized on Thin Lizzy's 1976 classic "The Boys Are Back In Town" may have been based on a pub in Dublin, the band's hometown. Unless frontman Phil Lynott was singing about Los Angeles, as some suggest. Either way, Thin Lizzy made beefy hard rock spiced with righteous twin-guitar leads and served with a side of R&B boogie. A St. Paddy's Day without "Whiskey In the Jar" is like a St. Paddy's Day without whiskey. Photo: Courtesy Mercury Records. More
Sinead O'Connor Known to condemn authority figures, start feuds with pop tarts, overshare details of her personal life, and, oh yeah, make excellent music, Sinead O'Connor is basically the female precursor to Kanye West. Everyone knows her for "Nothing Compares 2 U," her smash Prince cover from 1990, but she was a noted alt-rocker before that fluke hit, and she's made gobs of great music in the quarter-century since. (Check out the 2005 reggae album Throw Down Your Arms.) She's also had the guts to talk openly about her struggles with depression, earning the right to call her most recent album I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss. Photo: Courtesy of Parlophone. More
Two Door Cinema Club As highly capable makers of arena-ready dance-rock, these lads from Northern Ireland are due a major American breakthrough. Their 2012 sophomore album, Beacon, was a Top 20 hit, and the single "Sleep Alone" dented the alternative charts, so if listeners aren't sick of Imagine Dragons, Atlas Genius, Bastille, Capital Cities, Of Monsters and Men, and other such enemies of subtlety, the Club might see a surge in membership. Photo: Courtesy of Glassnote. More
Snow Patrol Speaking of overblown big-feels rock, Snow Patrol has been doing the nu-U2 thing for more than a decade, scoring hits with songs like "Chasing Cars," a ham-fisted ballad that went Top 10 in 2005. There's some debate as to whether the band should be classified as Irish, since it formed in Scotland and includes a few musicians from that country, but singer and primary songwriter Gary Lightbody is proudly Northern Irish, and the Patrol has twice toured with U2, so it's best not to quibble. Better to rock the toweringly lame "Called Out in the Dark" the next time you need to psych yourself up for some grown-folks biz, like asking for a raise or meeting with your accountant. Photo: Courtesy of A&M. More
Ash Formed in '92 and still burning hot, this Northern Irish trio embodies the best of '90s alternative rock, from Britpop to pop-punk. U.K. hits like "Goldfinger" and "Oh Yeah" never really broke stateside, where Weezer and Green Day fans would've gobbled 'em up, but to paraphrase fellow Irish-blooded rocker Morrissey, America isn't the world. Ash is prepping a new album called Kablammo!, and the raging lead single, " Cocoon," is a comfort blanket for anyone who remembers a time when 90% of all rock bands didn't sound like Two Door Cinema Club and Snow Patrol. Photo: Courtesy of Reprise Records. More
Damien Rice A sort of proto-Hozier, this gentle folkie has been soothing the masses at a glacial pace since debuting in 2002 with O. The scraggily troubadour has since released only two additional studio albums, the most recent of which, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, was produced by Rick Rubin. Rice's songs are hushed and lovely, with minimal strings and rhythmic accompaniment. His music would be inaudible at St. Patrick's Day parties yet perfect for the mornings after, when you're gathering up empties, feeling a little empty yourself. Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. More
Stiff Little Fingers It's not quite right to say this foursome formed in Belfast in 1977. Belfast formed them, and with their blistering debut, Inflammable Materials, Stiff Little Fingers made gnashing punk rock about "The Troubles," the bloody conflict between British loyalists and Irish nationalists then plaguing the country. On classics like "Suspect Device" and "Wasted Life," SLF cried for peace over heavy-artillery guitars, earning comparisons to the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Since reuniting in '87 after a five-year break, the Fingers have proved more like the latter, and 2014's No Going Back offers 12 songs of anthemic, romantic rock 'n' roll. Photo: Courtesy of Great American Music. More
The Undertones These Derry lads knew all about the capital-T Troubles. Their hometown was the scene of the infamous 1972 "Bloody Sunday" incident, which left 14 dead and inspired a certain early U2 classic. And yet, the Undertones focused on adolescent dramas, essentially inventing pop-punk with a string of zippy songs about getting dumped and trying to fit in. Their masterpiece is "Teenage Kicks," a truehearted expression of young lust whose relevance isn't linked to any regional sectarian conflict. It's about the one between boys and girls (and teens and the world), and it'll resonate forever. Photo: Courtesy of Salvo. More
Glen Hansard / The Swell Season / The Frames Life keeps imitating art for Glen Hansard. He got his start in the '80s busking on the streets of Dublin, just like the character he'd play in 2007's Once. That film was about him falling in love with a fellow musician portrayed by Markéta Irglová — already his partner in folk-rock duo the Swell Season — and after the movie’s release, he and Irglová really did have a fling. They've since ended it but remain friends, and Hansard is still famous for his work in that duet, as well as with Irish rockers the Frames, which he founded in 1990. In all of these projects, Hansard projects a studious, sad-eyed, scruffy singer-songwriter vibe, though he rocks hard on "Take the Heartland," his tune from the Hunger Games soundtrack. "Should I kill you with my sword, yeah?" he sings, fitting himself into a fantasy scenario one hopes life won't replicate. Photo: Courtesy ANTI Records. More
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