In the 2018 series of Ireland’s Got Talent, a star was born: Stephen Barry. The singer, from County Kerry in Ireland, had faced a fair few setbacks in his career. Indeed, he had already auditioned for judges Louis Walsh in the X-Factor and Denise Van Outen in a West End musical production. Both judges had turned him down for these auditions, so the pressure was on his shoulders as he went before them again.
Thankfully for Barry, who was living in London and working as a musical theatre singer, his audition for Ireland’s Got Talent went a lot better. Drawing on his stage experience, he chose the song “Somewhere” from West Side Story. This wowed the judges, who gave him a standing ovation and enthusiastically sent him through to the next round. In the semi-finals, the tall 31-year-old chose The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” a classic song that would challenge any singer.
Once again, Barry pulled off a stunning performance. The judges were transfixed, with Van Outen particularly showing her appreciation for the high notes that Barry hit. The performance was rapturously applauded by the audience and earned him a standing ovation from Walsh. Given his lack of success on the X-Factor, this must have felt like redemption for the Kerry singer.
Unfortunately for Barry, he didn’t secure enough votes to make it through to the finals. DeafTones, Double Impact, and RDC were all chosen ahead of him, and his dream of winning the competition was over.
The song “Unchained Melody” was written in 1955 and used in the film Unchained, which was released in the same year. It became one of the most widely recorded songs in the 20th century, with notable versions by Elvis Presley in 1977 and Robson & Jerome in 1995.
However, it was The Righteous Brothers’ 1965 recording of the song that has been the most successful, despite only originally being released as a B-side. When released as an A-side, it only reached number 14 in the UK charts. The song gained a resurgence when it appeared in the 1990 film Ghost and became a chart-topping single worldwide. After this, The Righteous Brothers’ recording is widely considered to be the definitive version of the great song.