by Sean McTiernan
Sometimes videos go viral within the confines of a specific country and they never reach the wider world. And often, that’s a real shame. Lucky for you, Irishman (meaning born, raised and residing in actual Ireland) Sean McTiernan-that’s me!-is going to give you a glimpse into the country’s already storied collection of viral gems. Get your shillelagh and whatever additional racist paraphernalia you need, it’s going to be mighty.
Obviously since we’re talking about Ireland we might as well start talking about rap music first. Irish people may not seem like the kind of race to embrace hip hop right off the bat but there have been some moderately successful attempts (note: that is not a link to a House Of Pain video, so you should actually click it). However, as you and I, sensible adults both, are well aware: moderate success is not what makes a viral video. Unless you’re a small child or attractive lady with an ukulele, filming yourself performing a song with fair to good results is not going to get you much attention. What kind of things will do well are the bizarre, the tragic and the genius. I will now confront you with all three, in that order. And before we go any further, as we are dealing with my people rapping, there is going to be a lot of swearing and NSFW things going on in the videos below. I know I said that goes for all videos, but these ones in particular have a lot of blue talk in them.
I told you so. Ireland has a rich history of political satire; the quality of our radio political comedy is impossible to explain to a nation accustomed to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” It’s usually completely surreal, intensely cruel and totally spot on. A rapper from Kilkenny (the same claustrophobic tourist town that spawned such music icons as RSAG and …um…see below) called Captain Moonlight opted for a more-direct-than-usual approach. The people he’s talking about are all Irish politicians and sadly, he’s actually quite right. Upon hearing this, you’ll understand that Cee-lo Green’s supposedly cathartic late summer hit falls a bit flat compared to this. And sure one might be a fairly effective pop soul novelty song and the other is something you’d fine written in excrement on the walls of an asylum, but you can’t fault the honesty of my fellow Kilkenny man. Support his music (his other songs are similarly enthusiastic) here.
This guy is also from Kilkenny, he genuinely thinks he is good at rapping and he has retaliated with threats of violence on the original now-deleted facebook fan page. He also has friends in Kilkenny that do not, unlike mine, consist solely of weedy musicians unwilling to get into physical confrontations. Because of this, I will refrain from further commentary on this video. Apart from pointing out this video, once you get past the singular delivery and accent, it makes an interesting companion piece to What’s Up Fatlip. Oh and I should link you to the remix. I may already have said too much, let’s move on.
If you didn’t skip the first 100 seconds of that video, you should have. It’s not very funny and if I have trouble understanding the accents, I’d imagine ye’d be completely lost. After that though, when the song kicks in it becomes amazing. The Rubberbandits are from Limerick, an Irish city that’s never made any sort of play for the award of Most Salubrious Irish City. The bandits began with prank phonecalls but now have moved into the world of comedy rap. And if there’s one thing vaguely-criminal Irish men in their teens and twenties love and do not comprehend in equal measure, it’s rap music.
What is crucial about the Rubberbandits’ approach though is that they’re not mocking the music, they actually have a obvious love for it, and are instead taking the piss out of the kind of attitudes prevalent in Irish men their age. The above, a frank dissection of drug dependency developed as a necessity to mount a large woman, is probably their most accessible. The song is more cartoon electro than rap, the punch lines are hilarious (if you miss a few words, stick with it. This is the Limerick Rosetta Stone), it has one of the better fight scenes I’ve seen in a music video and the dancing is stentorian in its excellence.
This needs a little more explanation. So the IRA and all splinter groups are either dangerous idiots or professional criminals. Anybody who romanticizes them, and I have met several in my travels around North America, is also a dangerous moron. There is a particularly weird subgroup though, one that often emerges in men in their early 20s when they go on the drink. You’ll think you know someone enough, you go to the pub with them the first time and then six pints in and they start spouting on about wanting to kill British people and how great Michael Collins was (the person, not the movie. No one’s ever been that drunk). These people usually have no real idea of Irish history and just need an excuse to beat up suspected Protestants (which they may have never seen in the wild). The above is a savagely funny and sadly believable version of the kind of speech I’ve overheard several times, which tend to be as vehement as they are completely inaccurate. Sure the song is funnier the more Irish history you know but if you’re familiar with any sort of ugly ancient rhetoric being mixed with youth culture, you’ll find a lot to laugh at. Oh and if you’re wondering why the Rubberbandits wear shopping bags on their head, it’s probably this song.
This slice of cold G Funk is probably the least likely song to travel. It’s hard to understand, it sort of depends on you knowing about the infamous Limerick politician after which the song is named and is generally a bit weird. I really love it though. If you wait for the real life footage, you’ll see the make-up is startlingly accurate. If you want to know about a good chunk of what’s wrong with Irish Politics, just pay attention to the lines:
Willie: “I know your father.”
Bandit: “My father’s dead.”
Willie: “I KNOW YOUR FATHER.”
Who can’t love the idea of an Irish politico transformed into a castrato Nate Dogg singing “Buy this block of hash off me”? An evil man, that’s who.
Sean McTiernan is 21, his favorite rapper is E40 and he only smokes when he’s drinking. He has a blog and a Twitter. So does everyone though. He also has a podcast on which he has a nervous breakdown once an episode, minimum. In other words: it’s great for the gym.