It's shop of the pops for Mickey's Aldi song
A Fermanagh grandfather may be the new face of Aldi after his send-up of the German superstore went viral.
Mickey MacConnell's ballad about developing a penchant for Aldi's weird and wonderful bargains – based on a real-life experience when his wife sprained her ankle, leaving her unable to do the weekly shop – has received nearly 160,000 hits.
The song's popularity came to the attention of Aldi's top-brass, who asked him if they could use the song for the store's new advertising campaign in the Republic.
The upbeat ballad strikes a chord with anyone who has frequented an Aldi or Lidl store.
For a surprisingly reasonable sum, one can pick up anything from spanners, sockets, fishfingers, angle grinders or streaky bacon, the ballad goes. That's not to mention a trove of survival accessories, including inflatable dinghies, portable generators and wetsuits from Japan – all available within aisles of the German superstore.
"As a songwriter, I write these long, sad, miserable songs, and every now and then I have to write something that is a bit lighter," the Kerry-based journalist and guitar-player explained.
"I was thinking how the Germans now own us heart and soul – the Troika and the Germans.
"Basically, it started as a throwaway piece to take the p*** out of the Germans. I wrote it and forgot about it."
It was when a professional film crew, making a programme about the tourist board-inspired Gathering, filmed Mickey performing the song in Kerry bar that The Ballad Of Lidl And Aldi went viral.
The company behind Aldi's advertising soon got in touch, asking if the song could be used, with some of the content tweaked, including references to the commercial opposition.
"There was a suggestion, would I mind changing the words, or would my artistic temperament be offended? And I said: 'Jaysus, I would take it in a heartbeat if there was money in it!'". The songwriter, known for writing Only Our Rivers Run Free, made famous by Christy Moore, added: "I haven't heard back, so I don't know if Aldi have bitten."
The ballad does not end too well for Mickey's protagonist. From the highs of Aldi's new weekly bargains comes the low –when his wife makes a full recovery and discovers a house coming down with plants, a garden littered with furniture, and a "shed full of plastic s*** I didn't really want".
So did he really go to Aldi for a pound of sausages and return with a wetsuit from Japan?
"Yes, shame on me," he admitted. "I have things that I do not even know how to use, that I bought. I actually have things that you're supposed to attach to an air compressor. I don't have the air compressor yet.
"I think it (the song) is a triumph of the common place, rather than anything else," he added.
"It's made me look seriously at the whole thing about the Irish comic song tradition, which is dying out, sadly."