When we, as Irish people, look back at our history as a nation, there are certain key events that are synonymous with, and indeed define the Irish historical landscape – The Famine, The Lockout, The Rising, The Civil War etc. However, when we examine our colourful past, there are a handful of occurrences that have all but been written out of Irish history and the dexterous rise and even speedier demise of the pop band Six is a prime example of this calamitous historical amnesia.
For what now seems like a miniscule amount of time, Emma O’Driscoll, Andy Or, Sinéad Sheppard, Kyle Anderson, Sarah Keating and Liam McKenna were ostensibly the most recognisable people in Ireland, but eleven years after break-up, their most famous (or infamous) cover of the Guys ‘n’ Dolls song, There’s a Whole Lotta Lovin’ is a long-forgotten gem. Despite, as the Wiki story goes, being the third best-selling single in Irish chart history (I thought it was THE biggest, but there ya go), There’s a Whole Lotta Lovin’ is a notably absent track on Irish radio and the deletion of the cheesy-but-incredible chimes of this particular sestet.
It all started when in 2001, Louis Walsh, Bill Hughes the ~ indomitable ~ Linda Martin began their quest to find Ireland’s newest pop band with Popstars; Ireland’s first-ever and indisputably most successful reality TV talent show. Over the course of a number of weeks, thousands of hopefuls were whittled down to a selected few and the judges travelled to each budding popstar’s home to deliver the good or inevitably devastating news. Of course, this was the same talent show that launched Nadine Coyle’s career, having infamously lied about her age to meet the show’s requirements, only to be later dropped and replaced by Sarah Keating. (Wikipedia has gloriously understated Nadine’s subsequent success with Girls Aloud, by stating that she simply “went on to join Girls Aloud”, whilst giving detailed (as much as possible) accounts of the other members’ fates.)
Viewing figures for Popstars were astronomical and it was inescapable that Six would go on to enjoy massive success, given that the majority of Ireland fell in love with them. (Wildly presumptuous and a comment entirely based on my extreme bias.) However, as the band quickly reached dizzying heights of hysteric fame, the success was short-lived, as they disbanded in 2003, falling victim to showbiz’s fickle kiss.
Nevertheless, for a particular generation, Six were THE band, at least in Ireland, and sure, we won’t all remember them with the same level of extraordinary obsession that others will, but why has their music completely vanished from the Irish pop-music landscape? Sure, we won’t all remember Linda Martin handing Liam a pair of Marigolds to tell him that he was in the band and “on dishwashing duty in the house”, or when Emma’s parents nervously waited in the kitchen as she told us how she would become a secondary school teacher if she didn’t make the cut, but didn’t we all have a fondness for Six? Not every 7 year-old from the west of Ireland felt just as dejected as Sarah did when she initially was told that she didn’t make the band, and not everyone thought Kyle was the coolest person in the world and wanted to be like him when they grew up, but that doesn’t mean that Six didn’t earn their place in the trajectory of Irish music.
Granted, this is most definitely the nostalgic lament of a childhood obsession rather than a tragic national polemic, but wouldn’t anyone else be up for a Six reunion, à la Samantha Mumba’s one night only gig last year? I’d be first in line with the 7-year-old inside of me still dying to know just how exactly did Kyle get his hair like that?
P.S. If you’re interested to see where they are now, here’s what they’re all at: