‘Maniac 2000’ tends to elicit vivid memories; the smell of pyro smoke, the bright green of Fat Frogs and the hesitant lilt of the go-to line “Will you shift my friend?”. For Mark McCabe, however, this song - which is, as it stands, Ireland's fourth best-selling Irish single of all time - has become somewhat of a long-standing legacy. For the first time in almost 13 years, McCabe will be returning to the ‘madness’ and performing the tune live in EP’s Electric Ireland at the #90sPowerParty.
“I'm the ‘one hit wonder’, I'm as one hit as they come,” McCabe says with a laugh and a self-effacing smile. Evidently, the label doesn’t bother him. Though, as he explains, the undeniable indulgent joy the song brings to many is difficult to scorn. “I’ve been through good times and bad with it, but you can’t ignore something which gives people such a good buzz. People have embraced [Maniac 2000] as a go to tune for the end of the nights, for weddings and 18ths and 21sts...It's become a timeless classic for want of a better word, and we never imagined it would ever get anywhere close to something like that.”
Indeed, the song had humble beginnings; it was recorded initially in the now closed Temple Theatre nightclub to be played on Pulse FM, the pirate radio station on which McCabe was a host between 1996-1999. After people began walking into record shops only to find they couldn’t buy the song, McCabe was approached to release it. From there, the song soared to the top of the charts and stayed there for a solid ten weeks, beating out such big-hitters as Madonna and The Backstreet Boys. “It Kept Westlife off the top for seven consecutive No.1s(sic), which really pissed off Louis Walsh at the time.” The song, with its infectious beat and ad-libbed, catchy and at times existentially devastating lyrics (“Life/It has no meaning”) captured the Irish imagination.
Though the song has returned to the public consciousness due to this year marking 15 years since its release, it could also be partially down to our modern fixation upon the ‘90s in general. We’ve started to venerate the time and return to the fashion, music and films of the time with zeal, even those of us who were only a zygote during the decade. “I suppose it’s odd in a sense that people who didn’t necessarily grow up in the '90s are now embracing the fashion and embracing the music, but that just shows what good taste we had... It’ll be the noughties in a few years, and then it’ll be a whole other generation who come up looking at the clothes we wore and the silly things we did. I think people like to be nostalgic. It’s good to remember good times.”
Perhaps our interest in the ‘90s isn’t as arbitrary as it may seem. “The nineties laid the foundation for dance music as we know it today... Even now, popular music is all based predominantly on dance music, there's more and more dance music coming out whereas rock and indie has taken a backwards step to a certain extent… For me to have grown up and to have been in that scene and for it to still be around, it's great… it’s continuing the legacy and I have a bit of experience in that legacy.”
While our generation may be keen to revisit these halcyon days before Twitter and Facebook began to lord over our lives, it’s undeniable that the rise of social media and the omniscient presence the internet now has in our lives has influenced music. Though Mark’s chart topping success is definitely relevant, and he himself presents 2FM’s National Chart Show, McCabe has noticed the rapid shift in how we listen to music. “It all moves so much quicker. The chart that I present is calculated on sales over a seven day period and it includes streaming, downloads, and physical sales, but that could change the day after. It could change that night in the digital world.” So what metric, now, can be used to determine real musical success? “ I’d go for Shazam quite a lot. It’s a really good indicator if people are hearing music for the first time and want to know what it is. So if everyone wants to know what that tune is, it’s probably the tune that’s going to rate highest overall...but the chart is still the chart to me.”
Despite how things have changed, our appetites for the lovable bangers of our youth clearly clearly hasn’t left us, as Mark’s Saturday night EP performance - followed by The Venga Boys on Sunday, with more acts to be announced - set to be as packed as Electric Ireland’s Bonnie Tyler show was last year. Break out the neon tights and Devil’s Bit, yeah yeah funky yeah.
Mark McCabe will be performing ‘Maniac 2000’ in the Electric Ireland tent on Saturday night of Electric Picnic.