As the international media descended on Ireland in November to cover its impending financial crisis, their choice of imagery was striking. Almost all pictorial coverage, in the UK and American media at least, focused on one of three images: beggars, ghost estates or horses.
The first two are predictable enough – similar pictures exist in almost every major city across Europe and the United States – but the third is a puzzler. It appears that for all the rapid financial and technological advances we’ve achieved over the past twenty years, Ireland remains the only country in the world where a horse can freely roam the streets of a major city, with or without its owner, and nobody will bat an eyelid. Except for foreigners, of course, but they hardly count.
Limerick comedy rap duo Rubberbandits have made a small industry of this “only in Ireland” schtick, achieving unlikely success with Ireland’s usually hyper-conservative state broadcaster RTE. They first came to (indie) prominence with the hilarious ‘Up Da Ra,’ a sly satire of those radical Irish nationalists (many of them in the US) whose grasp of historical fact is only rivaled by their loose grip on intelligence. ‘Willie O’Dea‘ is no less funny for the fact only a few thousand people could ever understand it.
As comedians, Rubberbandits are as much miss as they are hit – like a crude, very esoteric, Irish version of the Lonely Island – but as musicians they definitely know their way around a catchy tune. ‘Horse Outside’ is their bid for a Christmas #1 (a bigger deal on this side of the pond than in the States) and is by far their most accessible tune to date.
The song subtly subverts accepted cliches about what women want from a man: while a man with a fancy car might symbolise wealth and success, a man with a horse symbolises a man with a horse. And at the end of the day, that’s all ladies are really interested in, right? Giddy up now, baby.