To quote the great John Prine: all the snow has turned to water and Christmas Day has come and gone.
But while the rest of us were making due with a pair of socks, Christmas provided local singer Karen Corbin with a pair of #1 chart hits – in Ireland no less.
Picking up on the European tradition of a Christmas #1, a social media campaign in Ireland was started to see Corbin’s recording of The Fields of Anthenry top the charts as a tribute to the late rugby player Anthony “Axel” Foley.
The charts – based on iTunes downloads in Ireland and seemingly updating in real time – get a bit murky to follow, however on the two Fridays prior to Christmas, Corbin did indeed hit #1, topping out the pop chart on December 16 and the world chart on December 23, meaning the county native was charting alongside the likes of Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey and the recently late George Michael.
An impressive feat, and one that in her own words fell into her lap, Corbin seemingly topped the Irish charts despite herself – at least in the beginning.
“It was around November 25th,” Corbin said, “I’m so bad at keeping up with my Twitter account and I accidentally clicked on my Twitter icon on my iPad and I noticed all these @KarenCorbin tweets. I was like, ‘what is this?’ There was already a thing posted on the Irish Mirror newspaper, just a small article that they were going to do this for Anthony Foley. Basically this person was trying to get in touch with me and they were tweeting I guess for three or four days.”
Corbin said she didn’t think much of it but by the next morning someone was trying to reach her through Facebook. It was an unusual name asking if her music was available in Ireland. Confirming with her husband that it all looked a bit shady, she promptly blocked the account and continued on with her day.
“…because there’s so many fake accounts out there, right? I’m protective of my information,” Corbin said, “so I banned this person from my page and it was actually the person trying to reach me! Anyway, they were trying to set it up so they could get a link for Ireland.”
Once unbanned, the man – Corbin assumes the person to be male as they never really identified themselves beyond their Number 1 for Axel Facebook group – explained the campaign and that they’d selected Corbin’s recording because they wanted a newer version of the song and took a liking to her take of it.
“The Fields of Anthenry, unbeknownst to me, is pretty much the anthem of rugby,” Corbin said. “I did not know this.”
Christmas number one campaigns – when they’re not just trying to block X Factor winners from the top spot – often have a charitable component and after Corbin was put in touch with Foley’s sister she agreed to donate proceeds to the Mid Western Cancer Foundation in Limerick, a group Foley was involved with and that Corbin – who recently lost a friend to lung cancer – found fitting.
Corbin said the prospect of not only topping a chart, but being hand selected for a push to the top, was beyond unexpected.
“I was pretty humbled by it once I figured out what was happening,” Corbin said. “I was in denial about it for about 12 hours. After I started reading this and conversing with the guy on Facebook and he said Anthony’s sister wanted to reach out to me I thought, ‘you know what, it’s just a meant to be thing’. What an amazing thing for Christmas!
“The recognition is amazing,” Corbin continued. “I would never ever have dreamed about a campaign like this. It shows you the power of social media and the impact that it can have. It’s crazy how social media can really take over and reach so many people at one time.”