Edward Neil Hannon (born 7 November 1970) is a Northern Irish singer and songwriter, best known as the creator (in 1989) and frontman of the chamber pop group The Divine Comedy. The band's official website says that "The Divine Comedy is Neil Hannon," and Hannon is quoted in an interview as saying, "The Divine Comedy will always be my band because... I thought of it first!" Hannon also wrote the theme tunes for Graham Linehan sitcoms Father Ted and The IT Crowd.
Early life and education:
Hannon was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, the son of Brian Hannon, a retired Church of Ireland clergyman and former Bishop of Clogher. He moved with his family to Enniskillen, in County Fermanagh, in 1982. While there, he attended Portora Royal School.
Hannon is founder and mainstay of The Divine Comedy, a band who have achieved critical and, at times, commercial, success throughout the past 21 years. The band achieved their biggest commercial success in the mid to late 1990s with the albums Casanova (1996), A Short Album About Love (1997), and Fin de Siècle (1998). Hannon continues to release albums under The Divine Comedy name, the most recent being the critically acclaimed Bang Goes the Knighthood (2010).
In 2000, he and Joby Talbot contributed 4 tracks for Ute Lemper's collaboration album, Punishing Kiss.
In 2004, he played alongside the Ulster Orchestra for the opening event of the Belfast Festival at Queen's. In 2005, he contributed vocals to his long-time collaborator Joby Talbot's soundtrack for the movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
In 2006, it was announced that Hannon was to lend his vocal ability to the Doctor Who soundtrack CD release, recording two songs -- "Love Don't Roam" for the 2006 Christmas special, "The Runaway Bride", and a new version of "Song For Ten", originally used in 2005's "The Christmas Invasion". On 12 January 2007, The Guardian website's "Media Monkey" diary column reported that Doctor Who fans from the discussion forum on the fan website Outpost Gallifrey were attempting to organise mass downloads of the Hannon-sung "Love Don't Roam", which was available as a single release on the UK iTunes Store. This was in order to attempt to exploit the new UK singles chart download rules, and get the song featured in the Top 40 releases.
The same year, Hannon added his writing and vocal talents to the Air album Pocket Symphony, released in the United States on 6 March 2007. He is featured on the track "Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping", for which he wrote the lyrics. This song had been originally written for and sung by Charlotte Gainsbourg on her album, 5:55. Though it was not included in its 2006 European release, it was added as a bonus track for its American release on 24 April 2007.
Hannon won the 2007 Choice music award for his 2006 album, Victory for the Comic Muse. It was announced the next day that he had left EMI by 'mutual consent'.
When the band Keane played at the O2 Arena in London in July, "A Bad Dream" was introduced by Hannon. He introduced it by reading the poem "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" by W.B. Yeats, upon which the song is based.
He is credited with composing the theme music for the sitcoms Father Ted and The IT Crowd, the former theme composed for the show and later reworked into "Songs of Love", a track on The Divine Comedy's breakthrough album Casanova. Both shows were created or co-created by Graham Linehan. For the Father Ted episode, "A Song for Europe", Hannon co-wrote and sang "My Lovely Horse", the song Ted and Dougal enter in Eurosong (a parody of the Eurovision Song Contest). For the same episode, Hannon wrote "The Miracle Is Mine", the 'typical' Eurovision ballad sung by Ted's nemesis, Father Dick Byrne. Hannon appears on stage with him as one of the backing singers. A dream sequence in the episode shows Ted and Dougal in the song's pop video, with Hannon providing vocals. Hannon also wrote and performed "My Lovely Mayo Mammy", sung by Eoin McLove in the episode "Night of the Nearly Dead", and wrote "Big Men in Frocks", sung by Niamh Connolly in "Rock-a-Hula Ted". When a raffle is held in order to raise funds to repair the roof of the parochial house, the Kraftwerk-esque quartet of priests enlisted to perform play an electronic piece of music composed and performed by him. Both of the advertisements for telephone numbers; in The IT Crowd (the new emergency number) and Father Ted (Priest Chatback) have jingles composed by Hannon. In the episode "A Christmassy Ted", his name is mentioned by Mrs Doyle while she attempts to guess that of the mysterious guest.
A new Divine Comedy album, Bang Goes the Knighthood, was released in May 2010.
Hannon has also collaborated with Thomas Walsh, from the Irish band Pugwash, to create a cricket themed pop album under the name The Duckworth Lewis Method. The first single, "The Age of Revolution", was released in June 2009, and a full length album released the week after. The group's second album, Sticky Wickets, came out in 2013.
In April 2012, Hannon's first opera commission, Sevastopol, was performed by the Royal Opera House. It was part of a program called OperaShots, which invites musicians not typically working within the opera medium to create an opera. Sevastopol was based upon Leo Tolstoy's Sevastopol Sketches. Hannon's second opera for which he wrote music, In May, will premiere in March 2014.
Hannon has been considered one of the last crooners in the pop landscape.