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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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 are credited with record sales of more than 150 million worldwide and are members of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.  They topped the U.S. album chart with seven studio albums and two compilations.  Six singles reached the top 10 on the U.S. pop singles chart.

In the course of their career, U2 won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other rock band. They are also champions of human rights and philanthropic work. Among the causes the group and/or individual members support are Amnesty International, War Child, and Music Rising.

U2 released the album Songs of Experience in December 2017. It reached #1 on the U.S. album chart, their first chart-topper in eight years. 

Top Hits

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

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09
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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 on cutting three members. New auditions resulted in adding two new group members.  The group had their first big break in 1998 opening for Boyzone and Backstreet Boys in Dublin.  Westlife released ten consecutive top 3 charting studio albums in the U.K.  The group topped the U.K. 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.

All Westlife members have released solo albums. Brian McFadden has experienced the greatest success. Three of his solo singles have reached the top 10 on the U.K. pop charts. Shane Filan also released a significant pop hit single. "Everything to Me" went to #14 in the U.K. in 2013.

Top Hits

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

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08
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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."  More than 300 applicants responded, and they all sang George Michael's "Careless Whispers" for the initial audition. Eventually, producers narrowed the applicants down to the membership that became Boyzone. They soon became one of the world's most successful boy bands.

The group signed 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 U.K. before the group went on hiatus in 2001.  Boyzone came back together in 2008 and 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 U.K. album Brother in 2010. They followed it with BZ20 in 2013 that climbed to #6. However, they have failed to have significant hit singles off either album. Boyzone planned a 25th-anniversary concert tour for 2018. In April 2018, the group announced that they would break up permanently after the release of one more studio album, a tribute to Stephen Gately, and the concert tour.

Top Hits

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

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07
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Snow Patrol

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

The members of 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 U.K. pop hit single "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 U.K. 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 U.S. album chart. However, they have failed to generate a significant pop hit single to follow up "Chasing Cars."

The group initially announced their next studio album would reach stores in 2016. However, group leader Gary Lightbody said that he battled a period of writer's block and scrapped a set of songs in favor of even better new songs. Snow Patrol announced in January 2018 that their next album Wildness is on track for a May 2018 release.

Top Hits

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

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06
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The Script

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

Rock band The Script was formed in Dublin in 2001.  Lead vocalist Danny O'Donoghue is the group's leader.  The group's music featured in a wide range of TV shows.  Their self-titled debut album hit #1 on the U.K. album chart in 2008.  It included the band's breakthrough pop hit in the U.S. "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 U.S. and 2012's "Hall Of Fame" became The Script's first #1 pop hit single in the U.K.

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 U.S. The single "Superheroes" was a #3 charting pop single in the U.K.

In September 2017, the Script released their fifth studio album Freedom Child. It addresses including terrorism and political division in the U.S. Critics were mixed in their opinions of the new album. It reached #1 on the Irish album chart. 

Top Hits

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

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05
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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 significant worldwide success in the 1990s and sold over 40 million albums worldwide.  The group's first breakthrough 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 U.S. The Cranberries turned to heavier rock with their next album No Need To Argue and the single "Zombie" which referenced the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland.

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 released their next album Roses in 2012. It hit #51 on the US album chart.

Lead vocalist Dolores O'Riordan died unexpectedly at age 46  in January 2018. She was in London to work on new recordings. The group plans to complete a final album with vocals already recorded by O'Riordan.

Top Hits

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

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04
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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 U.S.  The group went on temporary hiatus in 2006 while the members worked 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 U.K. 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. The group released the album titled Jupiter Calling in November 2017. It reached the top 20 on the U.K. album chart, and the Corrs promoted it with a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Top Hits

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

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03
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Boomtown Rats

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

The Boomtown Rats were a critical new wave band of the late 1970s and early 1980s led by Bob Geldof.  When the group's "Rat Trap" hit #1 in the U.K. in 1978, it was the first #1 U.K. pop hit single by any Irish group. The band is probably best remembered for the 1979 #1 hit "I Don't Like Mondays."  The song tells 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. However, many radio stations banned the song due to its violent content.

The Boomtown Rats continued to hit the U.K. charts with singles into the mid-1980s. They released a total of five top 10 pop hit singles. Lead vocalist Bob Geldof co-wrote the charity holiday hit "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and played a crucial role in putting together the Live Aid charity concerts. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him.

The Boomtown Rats came back together as a functioning band in 2013. The group performed shows in the U.K. and Ireland, and they re-entered the studio to record an as-yet-unreleased new album. It will be the band's first set of new songs since 1984's In the Long Grass.

Top Hits

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

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02
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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 significant attention opening for The Clash on a 1984 concert tour.  For a short time in the 1990s, Joe Strummer, a founding member of the Clash, sang with the Pogues. The group first broke into the top 10 of the U.K. pop singles chart with a version of the Irish folk song "Irish Rover" recorded with the Dubliners. Two of their songs went all the way to #1 on the pop singles chart at home in Ireland. In 1987 they released "Fairytale Of New York," recorded with singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl which has become a perennial Christmas hit in the U.K. It has sold more than 1.2 million copies in the U.K. alone.

 

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 are only a 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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01
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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 frequently changed 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 earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Folk Album. Hansard released his third solo album Between Two Shores in January 2018. It reached the top 20 on the Irish album chart.

Glen Hansard says that significant influences include his family's holy trinity of Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, and Bob Dylan. Glen Hansard frequently performs Van Morrison songs in concert. 

Top Hits

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

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