“Burn the bridges as you’ve gone, I’m too weak to fight ye. I got my personal hell to deal with” – Peter Cunnah.
Northern Ireland still remains unknown to many people around the world and it constantly shocks me why more people didn’t read Atlases, study world history or look at a map when they were younger! We exist! As I continue to promote Northern Irish nationalism through this blog and my lifestyle, let’s delve into music next. Northern Ireland is blessed with musicians, writers and rock stars. I wanted to choose 10 songs from different Northern Irish artists that reflects our music industry down the years. Yes, I skipped a few and have chosen these myself, I love all of these songs, and the artists responsible too. These are ten of our most iconic popular songs.
1.D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better
D:Ream was a dancey pop band from Derry/Londonderry in the mid 1990s. Their biggest hit single was “Things Can Only Get Better”, a UK number 1 single and also used in various adverts and campaigns including Tony Blair’s 1997 “New Labour” campaign. Peter Cunnah is the lead singer.
2.Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
No list of Northern Irish musicians should neglect “Van the man”. Hailing from Hyndford Street in East Belfast, Ivan “Van” Morisson has written hundreds of songs since the 1960s. He was in a band called Them and has travelled the world with his music for years, still he is releasing new albums! However, his 1967 hit “Brown Eyed Girl” is still my favourite.
3.Ash – Girl From Mars
Ash are a modern day rock n roll trio who put Northern Ireland on the rock music map back in the 1990s. Having toured with Oasis, Manic Street Preachers etc. down the years, Ash are still rocking strongly in 2020. They recently celebrated 28 years as a band and played their first gig in Poland in March 2020. I’ll go way back to 1995 for this entry though – the iconic Girl From Mars.
4.Snow Patrol – Run
Snow Patrol burst onto the rock scene in Belfast in the late 1990s and then shifted their style to be more pop rock than heavy guitar music. This worked well for them with a load of hit singles and albums all over the world. I still think their dreamy ballad “Run” is their best work, released in 2004.
5.The Divine Comedy – Something For The Weekend
Neil Hannon from Derry/Londonderry rose to popularity in the mid 1990s with a peculiar dress sense and pop style. He’s the oddball on this list for sure, yet I’ve chosen arguably his most sensible composition to date, “Something for the Weekend”. Aside from this he wrote “My Lovely Horse” for Father Ted, Generation Sex and the obscure “Frog Princess”.
6.Therapy? – Screamager
Therapy? (you need to use the question mark) are one of the heavier rock bands on this list. Their 1994 album Troublegum is fantastic and they continue to tour and record. Check out this awesome tune, “Screamager”, I always love bands who invent their own words, a trait I also do.
7.The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
This is possibly the most famous Northern Irish rock song of all time. On my travels around the world, I met so many people who knew this song. It’s a classic, what more can I say? Even better was seeing the band play live on Top of the Pops wearing Northern Ireland football shirts. A teenage dream is so hard to beat.
8.Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster
Not shy of the troubles and political situation in Northern Ireland, SLF / Stiff Little Fingers released a load of punk rock classics in the 70s and 80s. My personal favourite is “Alternative Ulster” but “No Sleep Till Belfast” also ranks highly.
9.Two Door Cinema Club – What You Know
Two Door Cinema club went to the same secondary school as me – Bangor Grammar School and they have a unique retro style to their music. They have an unusual dress sense and stage presence and are very good at releasing simple yet catchy tunes. I’ve chosen What You Know as my essential Tudor Cinema Club tune – yes the band was supposed to be “Tudor cinema club”!
10.Dana – All Kinds Of Everything
Little Dana once won the Eurovision Song Contest while representing Ireland. Northern Ireland never had our own Eurovision so we had to side with United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland. Dana grew up during the troubles in the city of Derry/Londonderry. She later got into politics.