Top 10 Irish Pop Groups

Best Of the Bands

U2
U2. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

The island of Ireland has a strong pop music tradition ranging from the days of punk and new wave to contemporary pop.  These are the best of the Irish pop groups.

10
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The Frames

The Frames
The Frames. Photo by Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

The Frames are a Dublin based Irish rock band founded by Glen Hansard in 1990.  The specific personnel of the group has changed frequently with Glen Hansard remaining the leader.  Their 2004 album Burn the Maps reached #1 on the Irish album chart.  The follow up The Cost included the song "Falling Slowly" which would win an Academy Award for its appearance in the film Once.  The song was recorded both by The Frames and Glen Hansard with his romantic partner of the time Marketa Irglova.  Their version broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

Glen Hansard's solo career has included two albums, 2012's Rhythm and Repose and 2015's Didn't He Ramble. Both reached #3 on the Irish album chart and broke into the top 100 in the US performing better in the US than any albums by The Frames. Didn't He Ramble was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album.

Top Hits

  • "Fake"
  • "Finally"
  • "Falling Slowly"

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    09
    of 10

    The Pogues

    The Pogues
    The Pogues. Photo by ShowBizIreland / Getty Images

    The Pogues are a legendary Celtic punk band.  The best known lineup operated through most of the 1980s with lead vocalist Shane MacGowan. They first gained major attention opening for The Clash on a 1984 concert tour.  The Pogues first broke into the top 10 of the UK pop singles chart with a version of the Irish folk song "Irish Rover" recorded with the Dubliners.  In 1987 they released "Fairytale Of New York," which has become a perennial Christmas hit in the UK.

    The Pogues broke up in 1996, but they decided to come back for a Christmas tour in 2001 and have remained together roughly ever since. However, they have remained just a live touring band and have no plans to record new studio music. Their final studio album Pogue Mahone was released in 1996.

    Top Hits

    • "Fairytale Of New York" with Kirsty MacColl
    • "Irish Rover" with the Dubliners
    • "If I Should Fall From Grace With God"

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    08
    of 10

    Boomtown Rats

    The Boomtown Rats
    The Boomtown Rats. Photo by Fin Costello / Redferns

    The Boomtown Rats were a key new wave band of the late 1970s and early 1980s led by Bob Geldof.  When the group's "Rat Trap" hit #1 in the UK in 1978, it was the first #1 UK pop hit single by any Irish group.  The band are probably best remembered for the 1979 #1 hit "I Don't Like Mondays."  The song was based around the story of 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer who went on a shooting spree at a San Diego, California elementary school.  It won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Pop Song.  

    The Boomtown Rats continued to hit the UK charts with singles into the mid 1980s. They released a total of five top 10 pop hit singles. Lead vocalist Bob Geldof is probably best known for his role in co-writing "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and putting together the Live Aid charity concerts.

    Top Hits

    • "I Don't Like Mondays"
    • "Rat Trap"
    • "Banana Republic"

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    07
    of 10

    The Corrs

    The Corrs
    The Corrs. Photo by Dave Hogan / Getty Images

    The Corrs are a family group who play a combination of pop and traditional Irish folk music.  The band consists of the Corr siblings, three sisters and their brother.  The group's career began to take off when they appeared in the 1991 hit movie The Commitments.  The Corrs' 2000 recording of "Breathless" with producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange hit #1 in the UK and broke them into the top 40 in the US.  The group went on temporary hiatus in 2006 while the members work on other projects.

    In 2015 the group came back together for a European tour and a sixth studio album titled White Light. It hit the top 10 on the UK albums chart but failed to produce any hit singles. The group announced in 2017 that they were at work at a seventh album to be produced by T-Bone Burnett.

    Top Hits

    • "Breathless"
    • "Runaway"
    • "Summer Sunshine"

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    06
    of 10

    The Cranberries

    The Cranberries
    The Cranberries. Photo by Catherine McGann / Getty Images

    The Cranberries are an Irish rock band led by vocalist Dolores O'Riordan that came together in 1990.  The group achieved major worldwide succes in the 1990s and sold over 40 million albums worldwide.  The group's first major success occurred with the 1993 single "Linger."  MTV latched on to the song and its music video turning it into a top 10 pop hit in the US. The Cranberries turned to heavier rock with their next album No Need To Argue and the single "Zombie" which referenced the 1916 Easter Rising.

    The Cranberries went on hiatus from 2004 to 2008 while group members worked on other projects. They reunited for a North American and European tour in 2009 in the wake of the released of Dolores O'Riordan's solo album No Baggage. The group's next album Roses was released in 2012. It hit #51 on the US album chart.

    Top Hits

    • "Linger"
    • "Zombie"
    • "Salvation"

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    05
    of 10

    The Script

    The Script
    The Script. Photo by Scott Barbour / Getty Images

    Rock band The Script were formed in Dublin in 2001.  They are led by lead vocalist Danny O'Donoghue.  The group's music has been featured in a wide range of TV shows.  Their self-titled debut album hit #1 on the UK album chart in 2008.  It included the band's breakthrough pop hit in the US "Breakeven" which sold over two million copies and reached #1 on the adult pop and adult contemporary charts.  2010's "For the First Time" continued the group's success in the US and 2012's "Hall Of Fame" became The Script's first #1 pop hit single in the UK.

    The Script released their fourth studio album No Sound Without Silence in 2014. Danny O'Donoghue described it as a prequel to the group's debut album. It debuted at #1 on the UK album chart, the group's third to top that chart, and reached the top 10 in the US. The single "Superheroes" was a #3 charting pop single in the UK.

    Top Hits

    • "Breakeven"
    • "For the First Time"
    • "Hall Of Fame" with will.i.am

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    04
    of 10

    Snow Patrol

    Snow Patrol
    Snow Patrol. Photo by Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images

    Snow Patrol are Irish, but they hail from Northern Ireland instead of the Irish Republic.  The group first came together in 1994.  Snow Patrol did not have significant commercial success until their major label debut album Final Straw in 2003.  It included the top 5 UK pop hit "Run," but it was the follow up, 2006' s Eyes Open and the single "Chasing Cars" that turned the group into international superstars.  "Chasing Cars" earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song and became one of the biggest UK pop hits of all time.

    Snow Patrol's two most recent albums, 2008's A Hundred Million Suns and 2011's Fallen Empires have both reached the top 10 on the US album chart. However, they have failed to generate a significant pop hit single to follow up "Chasing Cars."

    Top Hits

    • "Chasing Cars"
    • "Run"
    • "Signal Fire"

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    03
    of 10

    Boyzone

    Boyzone
    Boyzone. Photo by Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    The boy band Boyzone began in 1993 when manager Louis Walsh placed advertisements for applicants to take part in an "Irish Take That."  The group were signed to a major label contract in 1994 and their first single, a cover of the Four Seasons' "Working My Way Back To You," reached #3 at home in Ireland.  It was followed by 16 consecutive top 5 hit singles in the UK before the group went on hiatus in 2001.  Boyzone came back together in 2008 and have earned two more top 10 hits.  Stephen Gately, one of the group's two lead vocalists, died suddenly in 2009. 

    Boyzone rallied to release the #1 charting UK album Brother in 2010. They followed it with BZ20 in 2013 that climbed to #6. However, they have failed to have major hit singles off either album. A 25th anniversary concert tour is planned for 2018.

    Top Hits

    • "No Matter What"
    • "Words"
    • "When the Going Gets Tough"

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    02
    of 10

    Westlife

    Westlife
    Westlife. Photo by Patrick Ford / Redferns

    Westlife began as a group called Six To One that changed their name to IOYOU.  They came to the attention of Irish manager Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell expressed interest in signing them but insisted that three members be let go. Auditions were held and two new members were added.  The group had their first big break in 1998 opening for Boyzone and Backstreet Boys in Dublin.  Westlife released 10 consecutive top 3 charting studio albums in the UK.  The group topped the UK pop singles chart 13 times.  Westlife officially broke up in 2012. In a 2016 interview, group member Shane Filan said, while there were no official plans, he wouldn't rule out a reunion at some point in the future.

    Top Hits

    • "Uptown Girl"
    • "You Raise Me Up"
    • "Queen Of My Heart"

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    01
    of 10

    U2

    U2
    U2. Photo by Chris Jackson / Getty Images

    U2 first came together in 1976 when the group members were still teenagers.  They have since become one of the top pop-rock bands of all time. U2 have been credited with record sales in excess of 150 million worldwide and are members of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.  They have topped the US album chart with seven studio albums and two compilations.  Six singles have reached the top 10 on the US pop singles chart.

    In the course of their career, U2 have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other rock band. They are also noted as champions of human rights and philanthropic work.

    Top Hits

    • "With Or Without You"
    • "One"
    • "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"

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