For those of you who forgot about Ireland’s toxic twin gift to the X-Factor and Eurovision all those years ago, Jedward are still an active pop duo who are in the process of trying to get their next album underway. Jedward did actually manage to gain some degree of commercial success at least in the UK and Ireland in fairness to them, which isn’t bad for two Dublin lads who can’t really sing. In order to try to maximise the success of Jedward’s album back in 2010, the track list consisted of a series of already very successful hits by other artists which the duo covered in their own brand of bubble-gum pop. The duo aren’t really known for their vocal capabilities so it’s no surprise that their covers weren’t as successful as the originals.
Although there have been plenty of incredibly successful artists who couldn’t sing that well, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Noel Gallagher and Johnny Rotten to name a few. So, why is it that Jedward seemed to struggle to gain the same success as those artists? Tacit Knowledge.
Tacit Knowledge is a kind of unspoken innate knowledge built up over time in individuals which is hard to teach to others. In economics, it’s used to show how certain areas tend to develop more successful economic sectors than others. For example, Ireland’s economy up to a few decades ago was hugely dependant on agriculture and as a result, the Agri-food and drink sector is the biggest indigenous sector in Ireland’s economy. This is due to years and years of ongoing practice in the sector which developed certain routines specific to Ireland’s activities in agriculture which cannot be learned as easily by individuals from other areas because they have not built up the knowledge through years of practice. Tacit Knowledge is the same reason that you can explain to a child in a minute the process of tying their shoes but it may take them a lot longer to learn how to do it for themselves.
This build-up of Tacit Knowledge over time occurs too in the world of music. Take for example one of the songs on Jedward’s album, All the Small Things by American band Blink-182. The song was released in 1999 but the band formed in 1992. So, let’s say even if the song was written as early as 1997 to be released for the 1999 album Enema of the State, that means the band had already been working, writing, and performing for five years at this stage. They were a solid outfit, trained and hardened in performing and making music, whereas Jedward went on a talent show and got a record deal within a year and didn’t gain the experience and practice needed to write and perform the song as well as Blink-182 did. So, it’s no surprise that Jedward weren’t as big of a success as Blink-182 despite releasing the exact same single.
By Daragh O’Leary