Pop Factor: 258 Controversy Rating: 214

Brian McFadden’s two-fisted attack on the Catholic Church is a braver and more lucid political statement than anything, say, Bono has ever managed. That it’s also part of the most naked grab for cred since Robbie at Glasto just makes things better. But for even the most ardent pop fan there comes a point at which the hilarious context must face up to the reality of the record, and in this case the reality of the record is that it’s shit. 3 (Tom)

Poor Brian. Such are the mental scars from being regularly whipped black and blue with a rosary for failing to recite 1 Corinthians c.4v.32 from memory, its impaired his judgement. Here, Brian unwisely attempts to make the jump from boy band member to Serious Artist in the space of just two singles. If ‘Serious Artist’ entails ‘sounding a bit like Bryan Adams’.

Sadly, Raging Bri falls at the first hurdle, in that for all its burning iconoclastic fury, Irish Son fails the Born In The USA Test. Which is, of course, if you’re going to say something angry and political, say it in the chorus. What you shouldn’t do is rely on people listening to the lyrics in the verses, especially if you are otherwise known as The Ugly One From Westlife and no rockist in their right mind is going to take you seriously.

Irish Son, however, ignores this sage advice altogether, hitting the prime ‘Guinness in the air’ moment of frenzied climax right on the words ‘THIS IS THE CITY THAT RAISED ME!” thus ensuring that no one will listen to anything after that and declare it a great patriotic anthem for as long as anyone cares.

And Brian’s wrong anyway. To borrow a phrase from another of pop’s great political commentators – ‘We share the same biology, regardless of ideology, what might save us me and you, is that the Catholics love their children too.’ 0 + JOKER (Matt DC)

Wow. This is pretty unlistenable. Like a Phil Collins song with three coats of wax. Or what Mike and the Mechanics would be if they could just “mellow out” a little. Yeah, I can’t get through two listens. Pretty bad. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing here? 0 (Forksclovetofu)

From the soaring instrumentation – check out those strings – to the introspective lyrics Brian McFadden has shown his sensitive side with “Irish Son.” The divorce has matured Brian McFadden, turning him into a rugged lad with a golden heart. What a step from Westlife to this solo single. Brian McFadden may have turned a tinge too Bryan Adams gone Irish, just listen to those touching lyrics. Brian has obviously suffered a lot during his childhood. There’s no pretense, it’s all heartfelt. “Irish Son” takes a step back, trying to aim for a well-written tune, but like Brian says, this Irish son has moved with the times as well. Perfect for a Christmas gift but it also fits on every radiostation. Just don’t dare play it in my house unless you want to DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH. 0 (Stevie Nixed)

It’s like the 60s never happened! Faith in God; the comforting straitjacket of morality; lyrics which adults have to explain to their kids. If that’s not bad enough, it sounds like U2 when they were in their “earnest, standing next to trees” period. There will be a picture, behind McFadden, of an aged, venerable oak on the album cover, mark my words. “This double CD of God songs is not avaiable in the shops. Order now and get a free crucifix worth more than Brian McFadden’s entire oeuvre” 2 (Derek Walmsley)

It has the slick music of a proper pop song, but the lyrical and vocal style is rather more indie. I like the keyboards and violins, but the dismal whininess of the rest of it is not at all likeable or appealing. The music rather overwhelms the very weak singing, which is probably for the best, but it does suggest a (suitable) lack of confidence in the words and/or vocals. I guess he’s probably hoping to be the new Robbie Williams, and this is plainly supposed to be a declaration of spiritual maturity and independence, but he’ll surely have to do better than this in every respect to get a big new audience – perhaps learning that going a bit hoarse and strained here and there is not enough of a vocal repertoire for a solo singer, when you lack tunefulness and power and brio. Though come to think of it, I’ve never quite understood how Robbie got where he did, so what do I know? I do feel confident in saying that this is not the new ‘Angels’, however. For the quite pretty music: 3 (Martin Skidmore)

Me, I disconnect from you. (Me = the lyrics, you = the music). The “think for yourself” theme couldn’t be more at odds with the drippy MOR song stylings. (“Stylings” almost always being a bad adjective). Pity, since the “fact-based” lyrical sentiment is timely, given the recent election in America and the current over-reaction to the importance of moral values. The more forgiving part of me would like to think that the guitar (keyboard?) track is both a U2 pastiche and parody, but the overall “Songs Of Praise” feel give lie to that notion. Brian McFadden should borrow some bile from that other Irish son, Cathal Coughlin. 3 (Henry Scollard)

I want to run. I want to hide. Tear down the walls. Dye my eyes and call me pretty. The band should stop listening to Train. Give me a sign (and a break). 4 (David Raposa)

standard irish bleating, really quite over the top and useless, would have been a moving and worthy indictiment of religous abuse and the dangers of faith, if it was quieter and more subtle. (and that indictment is legitmate)

would like to have seen sinead o connor do this–because she understands both anger at god, and anger at church. (cf her cover of joni mitchells magdaelene laundry) 5 (anthony easton)

Hmm. So this fellow is a pop star? I’ve had to do some research, you understand; I’m afraid I’m an American. This is pretty innocuous music. It kinda floats here to there until it’s gone. I suppose that’s comforting if nothing else. This is the kind of song that would ingratiate me if it became ubiquitous. Fortunately, I am an American. Isn’t that nice? 6 (Atnevon)

That would be an ecumenical matter. 5 (Steve M)