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Mapping the Wasteland, Baby! Hozier’s rise to Irish musical greatness in 5 songs

Let’s take a moment to examine the Irish artist’s immense career to date.


It’s hard to remember a time before Hozier in Irish music. Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, a  Wicklow native, comfortably ranks among the giants of the Irish music pantheon, both in terms of critical and commercial esteem.


He holds the third highest-selling single of any Irish artist in the last 20 years in America (source),  his magnanimous debut ‘Take Me To Church’.


Yet, the surprising truth is that it’s been less than 10 years since the release of Hozier’s debut EP Take Me To Church, the namesake single from which, released under Rubyworks Records, went double platinum, peaking at number 2 in the Billboard Top 100.


In that short space of time, Hozier has been consistently active. Releasing the follow-up EP From Eden,  a subsequent self-titled debut album followed in 2014, the Nina Cried Power EP and its full-length successor Wasteland, Baby! landed in 2019. This is coupled with a handful of massive single releases, including the recent ‘Tell It To My Heart’, and a busy touring schedule that has seen him headline sold-out arenas around the world.


In short, it’s been busy. So, let’s take a moment to sketch out a timeline of Hozier’s career to date, using 7 of his most iconic tracks to help us on our way.

1- Take Me To Church

Early 2013 saw Hozier spending most of his time writing music and performing at various open mic nights around Dublin city.  ‘Take Me To Church’ was written and originally recorded in the attic of his parent’s house in Bray, but the track’s humble beginnings did little to allude to the global phenom it would go on to be.


After some re-recording, the final version of ‘Take Me To Church’ was released on the 13th of September 2013. Many discovered the track, and through it Hozier, through its iconic music video. Touching upon themes of homophobia and alluding to state and church-sponsored violence, the video spread quickly in popularity (currently sitting at just over 698 million views).


‘Take Me To Church’ established Hozier as a household name, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and earning a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.

2 – Cherry Wine

To call Hozier’s self-titled debut album, released in September 2014, a success would be a gross under exaggeration.


Despite the album only seeing an official release in the final third of the year, three singles; ‘Take Me To Church’, ‘Sedated’, and ‘From Eden’ would feature in the 50 most-played singles on Irish radio in 2014 (as reported by licencing body PPI). In a year where popular music was dominated by Pharrel’s ‘Happy’, Hozier found massive popularity penning often politically motivated, thought-provoking songs.


Such was the staying power of the Wicklow native’s debut full length, that its seventh and final single ‘Cherry Wine’, not officially released until February of 2016 would still muster twenty weeks on Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart.


‘Cherry Wine’ finds Hozier at his most fundamental elements, with the live recording featuring an arrangement of just vocals and acoustic guitar. The track alludes heavily to domestic violence abuse, as does the video which stars Saoirse Ronan. Proceeds from the single were given to various international charities supporting victims of domestic abuse.

3- Nina Cried Power

After finishing an extensive period of touring his debut in 2016, Hozier took some much-needed time out in Ireland to refresh and recharge.


He cites the doomsday clock moving to two minutes to midnight in 2018 as a massive influence on the overall tone and feel of what would go on to become his second LP Wasteland, Baby!.


The album’s lead single was ‘Nina Cried Power’, released on the 6th of September, featuring guest vocals from legendary R&B and Gospel singer Mavis Staples. As the track’s name suggests and in keeping with the overall ethos of Wasteland, Baby!, the track pays homage to the artists whom Hozier saw as having their work imbued with a sense of protest.


The track peaked at number 10 in the Irish Singles charts while Wasteland, Baby! Debuted atop both the Irish album charts and the Billboard Top 200, eventually earning gold status and earning the artist his first US album number 1. Wasteland,Baby! would be promoted in part by an extensive world tour, featuring sold-out shows across Europe and the United States.


4 – Tell It To My Heart

The next stop on our journey arrives after almost 18 months of Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland. ‘Tell It To My Heart’, produced by Italian production trio Meduza, was released on the 29th of October, 2021 and starred vocals from Hozier.


The global context is crucially important here.  It’s cited by the artist in a press release supporting the single as being the impetus behind pushing himself to record a song outside the norm for his career to that point, with the offer to feature on the track arriving at the “end of a long period of weighing up what we’ve missed about nightlife and its spaces”.


‘Tell It To My Heart’ peaked at number 10 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs charts, spending some 26 weeks in total there. The single would peak at 13th on the Irish Singles Charts and would go on to generate more than 145 million streams on Spotify alone, making it one of the Irish artist’s most popular songs on the platform.

5 – Swan Upon Leda

That brings us to the present day, or at least as close to it as October 7th, 2022. ‘Swan Upon Leda’.


The beautiful new single was inspired, in part, by the overturning of Roe. vs Wade in America, with its title alluding to Greek Mythology and Irish Poetry. Hozier has pledged to donate to several international charities which support access to women’s reproductive healthcare and civil rights.


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