"Come On Eileen" was a single released by Dexys Midnight Runners in 1982. The song was written by Kevin Rowland, "Big" Jim Paterson, and Billy Adams; it was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. It originally appeared on the album Too-Rye-Ay. It was their first number 1 hit in the United Kingdom since 1980's "Geno".
The song won Best British Single at the 1983 Brit Awards.
The song begins with Celtic-style fiddle played over a drum beat, with the bass guitar and piano providing accompaniment. An extended version has an additional intro of a Celtic fiddle solo, playing the Irish song "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms" by Thomas Moore.
The chorus was loosely inspired by the song "A Man Like Me" by the 1960s British soul group Jimmy James and the Vagabonds.
The bridge of "Come On Eileen" features an improvised counter-melody which begins in a slow tempo and gets faster and faster over an accelerando vocal backing. The chord sequence of the bridge is actually the same as the verses but transposed up by a whole tone.
Throughout the song, there are numerous tempo changes and key changes:
The music video to accompany the single was directed by Julien Temple. It features members of the band wearing sleeveless shirts and overalls. The "Eileen" as featured in the video (and on the record sleeve) is Maire Fahey, sister of Siobhan Fahey, former singer with Bananarama and Shakespear's Sister. The American singer Johnnie Ray, an early rock-and-roll crooner, is also featured in the video using old film footage, and mentioned in the opening lyrics.
Filming took place on Brook Drive, Kennington, London. The shop which was called "Vi's Stores" in the video can be seen on Google Street View and is now called the Brook Drive Mini Market.
In the British charts, the song spent four weeks at number one in August 1982. This success was repeated around the globe; spending five weeks as the Kent Report's number one in Australia and reaching number one in April 1983 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. It also holds the distinction of preventing Michael Jackson from having back-to-back number one hits in the U.S. The number one hits "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" were separated by Dexys Midnight Runners' one week stay at the top.
The song was also successful in Ireland, where it reached number one and spent a total of eleven weeks in the charts.
It is a common example of a one-hit wonder in the U.S., as the band failed to reach similar popularity with any of their later songs, though in the UK they had already reached number one two years earlier with "Geno", and went on to have further hits.
In a poll by the UK TV Channel, Channel 4, the song was placed at number 38 in the 100 greatest number 1 singles of all time. A similar poll by the music channel VH1 placed the song at number 3 in the 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders of all time.
The song reached number 18 on VH1's Top 100 Songs of the 1980s.
The song was named number 1 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.
Musicians (band members) Kevin Rowland – vocals Billy Adams – banjo and backing vocals Giorgio Kilkenny – bass and backing vocals Seb Shelton – drums and backing vocals Micky Billingham – piano, accordion, and backing vocals Helen O'Hara – fiddle Steve Brennan – fiddle Jennifer Tobis – fiddle Roger MacDuff – fiddle "Big" Jim Paterson – trombone Paul Speare – tenor saxophone Brian Maurice – alto saxophone