When John and Edward Grimes first appeared on The X Factor in the UK in 2009, Simon Cowell initially described the Irish twins as “not very good and incredibly annoying”. The duo, now going by the portmanteau Jedward, eventually won him over with their high-camp, high-octane take on pop.
In Australia, the 21 year olds are best known for representing Ireland twice in Eurovision, dressed like the Power Rangers on a Mardi Gras float. While Australia doesn't get to vote in the official Eurovision competition, local viewers voted them our favourites in SBS' 2011 poll. They've got a hardcore following here, and they plan to make it bigger with their first big concert tour in the country.
“It'll be cool, because Australia's got a lot to catch up on,” says Edward. “This will be more than a tour. It's kind of like a launch for us. We want people to know the whole Jedward story. We're only 21, and we've done loads of stuff.”
“But doing Eurovision and everything has been a learning experience,” adds John. “Loads of people do performances in school, but we've done all that in public – like an apprenticeship. Everything we do next will be on a much more solid level.”
Jedward have released three albums in as many years and are currently at work on their fourth (John is pulling out the guitar and plans to pen the bulk of the album). They've starred in their own TV shows – OMG Jedward's Dream Factory and Jedward's Big Adventure – and appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. The busy schedule has earned them a reported €6 million, but on a recent promo visit to Sydney they were showing they’re still thrifty.
“We just bought these in Chinatown,” says Edward, pointing at their matching t-shirts (his is black, John's is white). “They were two for $50. That's a good price, right?”
The twins are known for what they call their “bold and vibrant” look. They do their own styling – suggesting they have a backup career should this music thing fall through – and vacillate between ludicrously large coifs with glittery jumpsuits, and sharp suits ready for the catwalk. “We change our hair and clothes three or four times a day,” Edward admits.
Like many Eurovision contestants famous for they’re outrageous fashions, Jedward could never be accused of being among the world’s best singers and dancers. But even the hardest-nosed music snob would have to admit the energy and showmanship on stage is… relentless.
“It's expensive to get over to Eurovision, so this is the closest you're going to get in Australia,” Edward says. “It's always high energy, like an ultra workout. We want people to have a great time.”