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Westlife (from left-to-right: Feehily, Egan, Byrne, Filan) performing in 2009
Background information
Origin Sligo and Dublin, Ireland
Genres Pop
Years active 1998–present
Labels RCA, Syco, Sony, BMG
Nicky Byrne
Kian Egan
Mark Feehily
Shane Filan
Past members
Brian McFadden

Westlife are an Irish boy band established on 3 July 1998. They are to disband in 2012. The group’s line-up was Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan, and Brian McFadden (left the band in 2004). The group are the only act in British and Irish history to have their first seven singles peak at number one. Westlife have sold over 44 million records worldwide which includes studio albums, singles, video release, and compilation albums.[1] Despite the group’s worldwide success, they only have one hit single in the United States, “Swear It Again“, which peaked in 2000 on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 20. The band were originally signed by Simon Cowell and are managed by Louis Walsh. The group have accumulated 14 number-one singles in the United Kingdom, the third-highest in UK history, tying with Cliff Richard. The group had also broken a few records, including “Music artist with most consecutive number 1’s in the UK”, which consists of their first seven singles and only behind The Beatles and Elvis Presley. The Official Charts Company credited Westlife as the second biggest-selling artist and biggest-selling band of the decade.[2] It is also noted that Westlife are the most successful boy band to orginate from Ireland. With sales in excess of 44 million, 14 UK number ones and 25 top ten singles. They also certified that Westlife have sold 20.2 million records and videos in the UK across their 14-year career – 6.8 million singles, 11.9 million albums and 1.5 million videos.[3]

On 1 June 2008, Westlife marked their tenth anniversary with a concert in Croke Park, Dublin which had more than 83,000 fans attending the special occasion. Music Week revealed on their website that Westlife are the official third top touring act within the years 2005–2008, while they were seventh top touring act of 2008.[4] Also in 2008, they were declared Ireland’s ninth-richest celebrities under 30 years old and thirteenth in general with 36 million euros as a group. In 2009, they dropped as sixteenth richest Irish with estimated 8 million euros each. They were named as the fourth most hard-working music artist in UK by PRS in 2010.[5] In August 2011, it was reported in the Irish Examiner that the profits of the band’s firm grew five-fold in 2010.[6] On 19 October 2011, Westlife announced they were to split after their Greatest Hits album due for release at the end of 2011 and a farewell tour in Spring 2012.[7]



[edit] Origins

The band was originally signed by Simon Cowell

Prior to becoming successful, Egan, Feehily and Filan along with fellow Sligo men Derrick Lacey, Graham Keighron and Michael Garrett, were part of a six-member pop vocal group called Six as One and was later changed to IOYOU in the year 1997. Managed by choreographer Mary McDonagh along with two other informal managers, they released a single titled “Together Girl Forever”. Walsh, the manager of the 1990s boy-band Boyzone, was contacted by Filan’s mother and came to know about the group. However, the group did not meet Cowell’s approval for a record deal with BMG, and thus changes were needed. Cowell told Walsh, “You are going to have to fire at least three of them. They have great voices, but they are the ugliest band I have ever seen in my life.”[8] Three members of the band were told they would not be part of the new group, and auditions were held in Dublin where Byrne and McFadden were recruited. The new group, formed on 3 July 1998, was re-named Westside but as the name was already taken by another band, it was later changed to Westlife. In Westlife – Our Story, Byrne revealed he was keen to change the name to West High but the others wanted Westlife. Brian also changed the spelling of his name to Bryan to make it easier to sign autographs. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating was brought in to co-manage the group with Walsh. The band then released an EP titled Swear It Again.

[edit] Releases

[edit] Dreams Come True: World Of Our Own: 1999–2002

Westlife’s first big break came in 1998 when they opened for the Boyzone and Backstreet Boys‘ concerts in Dublin. Later Act’ award at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party.[9] In March 1999, the group released their first single, “Swear It Again” which immediately topped the charts in Ireland and in UK for two weeks.[9] Their second single, “If I Let You Go“, released in August 1999 along with the highly acclaimed “Flying Without Wings” produced by Steve Mac and written by Wayne Hector (their first ‘Record of the Year’), released in October the same year, also followed suit. “Flying Without Wings” was also included on the soundtrack of the Warner Brothers film, Pokémon: The Movie 2000. The first album, simply titled Westlife, was released in November 1999 and peaked at No. 2 in the UK. Ironically, the album was the biggest chart dropper on the top 40 in the music history of UK when, in it’s 58th week on the charts it leapt from #79 to#3 before falling to #37 the following week. In December 1999, the double a side fourth single was released,”I Have A Dream“/”Seasons In The Sun“, knocked Cliff Richard’s “The Millennium Prayer” off the top spot and earning them the 1999 UK Christmas number-one single.[10][11] The fifth and last single from the album, “Fool Again“, also peaked at #1.[12] Then, the group went on a short UK, US[13] and Asian tour in support of their debut album before releasing a second album.

Coast to Coast was released a year after and was another No. 1 UK album beating the Spice GirlsForever album. It became the country’s 4th biggest selling album of 2000 and is Westlife’s biggest selling album to date.[14][15] The album is still considered by many to be Westlife’s best album and was preceded by a duet with Mariah Carey on the Phil Collins‘ classic “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” and the original song, “My Love” (the song that bagged their second ‘Record of the Year’ award). Both singles reached No. 1 on the UK charts.[16][17] With this, Westlife broke an unexpected record of having their first seven singles debut at the top of the UK charts, tying with The Beatles. However, in December 2000, they failed to secure their eighth chart-topper in a row with their UK and Ireland only single “What Makes A Man” when kid’s favourite, Bob The Builder‘s “Can We Fix It“, was crowned as the Christmas number-one single of that year.[18] Outside the UK/Ireland territories, they have released “I Lay My Love on You” and “When You’re Looking Like That” and gained chart success. In 2001, they launched their first world tour, “Where Dreams Come True Tour“, unofficially nicknamed “The No Stools Tour” due to the group’s reputation of performing while perched on stools.[9][19]

Westlife released World Of Our Own, their third album, in November 2001. “Uptown Girl“, “Queen of My Heart” and “World of Our Own” were released as singles, as of which all peaked at No. 1 in the UK.[20][21][22]Bop Bop Baby” was also released as a single but it peaked at No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart. In 2002, Westlife went on their second world tour, the World Of Our Own Tour (In The Round).[9]

[edit] Unbreakable: Departure of Bryan: 2002–04

Brian McFadden left Westlife for his family and children.

The group released their eleventh UK No. 1 single, “Unbreakable“, in 2002.[23] Amidst rumours of a split, Westlife released their first greatest hits album in November that same year entitled, Unbreakable – The Greatest Hits Vol. 1 zoomed all the way to No. 1 in the UK. The release was followed by the double a side single, “Tonight/Miss You Nights“, which debuted at No. 3 in the UK.[24] At this era, Because Films Inspire… made a TV Documentary titled as “Wild Westlife” directed by Iain MacDonald and starred by the group itself. It reveals how was their musical life on a daily basis and when on tour.[25] In 2003, Westlife went on to their third world tour, The Greatest Hits Tour, shrugging off rumours of a split.[26]

In September 2003, Westlife released “Hey Whatever“, which peaked at No. 4 on the UK Charts.[27] Their fourth studio album, Turnaround, was then released in November, earning the group another UK No. 1 album. “Mandy“, a cover of the Barry Manilow hit, was released in November 2003. Their version won them their third Record of the Year award in under five years.[28] Their version of Mandy is also considered as the highest single leaper to the top (from No. 200 to #1) in the UK music history.[29]Obvious” was released as the final single from the album, charting at #3.[30] On 9 March 2004, just three weeks prior to embarking on their fourth world tour, Brian McFadden left the group to spend more time with his family and work on solo projects. On that day, a press conference was held where all the group’s members were present and gave emotional individual speeches. Brian’s final public performance as part of Westlife was at Newcastle Upon Tyne‘s Powerhouse nightclub on 27 February 2004.[31][32] He subsequently began a solo career, deciding to revert the spelling of his first name back to its original ‘Brian’, he released his first solo single, “Real To Me” which entered the UK chart at No. 1 and soon after, he released his first solo album, “Irish Son” under Sony Music.[33] He went on to release more singles with moderate success.

[edit] Quintet to quartet: Back Home: 2004–08

Less than a month after McFadden’s departure, the group kicked off their “Turnaround Tour“. A live version from the said tour of “Flying Without Wings” was released as an official UK download, earning them the title of the very first UK Downloads #1. In September 2004, they were about to perform on the world-renowned World Music Awards as they were recognized as the Best Irish Act of that year but the little did know that it wasn’t broadcast worldwide unfortunately.[34] They then put out a Rat Pack-inspired album, Allow Us to Be Frank, peaking at #3. No singles were released in the UK from this album. “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”, accompanied with a music video, was released as a physical single in other European countries. “Smile” and “Fly Me to the Moon“, with music videos as well, were released as digital downloads only. Prior to the album release, Westlife scouted for “the perfect fan” to help promote their album from their one-season special show “She’s the One”, presented by Kate Thornton.[35] After X Factor-style auditions, they found Joanne Hindley, who recorded “The Way You Look Tonight” with the group.[9] To mark this special collaboration, a special programme was televised, showing auditions and live performances. Performers included Joanne, Westlife members’ fathers and glamour model Katie Price, Il Divo and Kevin Spacey. Westlife continued to tour Europe as part of their “The Number Ones Tour“, before taking a four-month break from work.[36] On 4 May 2005, Westlife lost their battle for European trademark from the German trademark “West”.[37]

In October 2005, Westlife returned with their comeback single, “You Raise Me Up“, which was taken from their Face to Face album. On 5 November 2005, both the album and the single were at No. 1 in the UK at the same time at the second week of the single. It was the first time that Westlife have held both top album and single position in the same week.[38][39] “You Raise Me Up” was awarded as their fourth Record of the Year in UK for 2005. In December that year, the group released “When You Tell Me That You Love Me“, a duet with Diana Ross, as the second single and it debuted at its peak position of #2.[40] Westlife then released a third single, “Amazing“, which debuted at No. 4 and marked as the group’s lowest-selling single yet.[41] After that, Westlife embarked on the “Face to Face Tour“, travelling extensively to the UK, Ireland, Australia and Asia. This tour marked the first time that Westlife travelled to mainland China for a concert.[42][43] In late 2006, Westlife signed a brand new five-album deal with Sony BMG. Their eighth album, The Love Album, was a “love” concept album which consisted of popular love song covers. The album outsold other compilation albums by Oasis, The Beatles, and U2 in its first week of release and went straight to #1. The first single from The Love Album was a cover version of Bette Midler‘s classic, “The Rose“, which became their 14th UK No. 1 single.[44]

The band on their 2006 concert tour

This made Westlife the third act (along with Cliff Richard) in the UK to have the most No. 1 singles, tailing behind Elvis Presley (21) and The Beatles (17). Westlife then kicked off their eighth world tour, “The Love Tour“, in Perth, Australia.[45] The group then went on to other Australian cities before moving on to South Africa, the UK and Ireland.

On 5 November 2007, Westlife released their ninth album, Back Home, which contained nine new original songs along with three cover songs. The album debuted at No. 1 on the UK Music Charts and it was also 2007’s fifth biggest selling album in the UK.[46] The first single released from the album was a cover of Michael Bublé‘s “Home“, which peaked at No. 3 in the UK.[47][48]I’m Already There“, not released as a single, managed to chart in the UK based on downloads alone following a performance on an The X Factor episode. On 15 December 2007, they had a two-hour show called The Westlife Show where they performed 10 of their songs, some voted by the fans through online and some from Back Home. It was hosted by Holly Willoughby.[49] This time, Westlife together with Tesco brought out “The Definitive Westlife Quiz” that asked about the whole history about the group.[50] It was participated by thousands of fans worldwide. Months later, “Us Against the World” was announced and released as their second single in UK and Ireland. Before the release of the second single, they embarked on the Back Home Tour on 2008 February 25. This tour marked the first time that the group have travelled and performed to New Zealand, performing four sold-out shows in Auckland, Wellington, New Plymouth and Christchurch. Meanwhile, “Something Right” was released as the second single and “Us Against the World” became the third single in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Both songs performed well on several music charts.

[edit] 10 years: Last two studio albums: 2008–11

Clip from their 2008 Back Home concert tour also seen on their 10 Years DVD

To mark their tenth year in music, Westlife staged a special 10 Years of Westlife sold-out concert at the world’s thirty-third and Europe’s fourth biggest stadium,[51] Croke Park, on 1 June 2008.[52] With a capacity of 82 300, it was the group’s biggest show to date. Shayne Ward filled in as a support act for the concert,[53] which Kian described to be of a “pop extravaganza”.[54] Shane confirmed that a corresponding live concert DVD will be released. The group announced that they will be on hiatus for a year after their Back Home Tour[55] and that there would not be an album release in 2008 as they would be spending more time on the production of their tenth album.[56] As promised, the group’s official website confirmed on 27 September 2008 the release of a DVD on 24 November 2008 entitled 10 Years of Westlife – Live at Croke Park Stadium which went straight to No. 1 on UK, Ireland, South African, Hong Kong and New Zealand Music DVD charts.

As the group ended another successful tour, Louis Walsh announced in the show Xpose that 1 July 2008 is the official start of the longest hiatus of the group so far. He said that it will be a one-year break, from that day up to 1 July 2009. On 13 December 2008, while on a break, Westlife made an unexpected appearance on X Factor Final Performance Night where they performed “Flying Without Wings” with JLS. After the presentation, Shane and Nicky were interviewed on Xtra Factor with Ronan Keating and Stephen Gately of Boyzone. As JLS performed also “I’m Already There”, Westlife’s version of the song re-entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 63 while a new entry on Ireland Singles Chart at No. 47 due to extensive downloads only. On the last week of January 2009, a DVD entitled The Karaoke Collection was released. It contains some of their music video hits. In 27 February 2009 issue of Herald Ireland, Louis revealed that Simon already picked three new songs which he reckons to be instant hits. Nicky spread the word last 8 March 2009 that Westlife will come back to music charts when they start recording in June 2009 when he received his VIP Style Awards as the Most Stylish Man on X-pose, TV3. On 18 March 2009, they won the Best Irish Pop Act on 2009 Meteor Awards for the ninth consecutive time.

Their tenth album, Where We Are, was released on 30 November 2009 in the UK and peaked at No. 2 on both Irish and UK Albums Chart. The new single “What About Now“, was released a few weeks earlier on 23 October 2009, with digital downloads being available the day before. The said single peaked at# 2 on both Irish and UK Singles Chart. Daughtry‘s original version of the song gained exposure on the audition rounds of The X Factor prior to Westlife’s release. They were also part of the Haiti charity single in early 2010, “Everybody Hurts“, an R.E.M. cover which was organised by Cowell.[57] The tour in support of this album is called “The Where We Are Tour“. The video album for this said tour will be released in DVD and Blu-ray format in 29 November 2010.[58][59] The eleventh album was recorded and processed with songwriter/producer John Shanks in London and Los Angeles. It was entirely produced by Shanks.[60] On 19 September 2010, the single “Safe” was heard first on X Factor as a snippet; the group later performed the song on the show on 14 November 2010. The single was released on 14 November 2010. It debuted on the UK Singles Chart on 21 November 2010 at No. 10, giving the group their 25th Top 10 single in the United Kingdom. It is also their lowest charting lead single to date in the country. The new album named Gravity was released on a 22 November 2010.[61] It went to No. 1 on Ireland and No. 3 on UK. On March 2011, they started their eleventh major concert tour, Gravity Tour. On this tour marked the first time that the group travelled to Oman, Namibia, Guangzhou and Vietnam for concerts.

[edit] Greatest Hits and split: 2011–12

On 14 March 2011, Westlife confirmed that they had left Cowell after 13 years and his record label Syco Music after nine years. The group cited Syco’s decision not to release a second single from Gravity as the reason.[62] Byrne impacted another reason of being unloved, “We signed to Simon back in 1998 and he was brilliant, but then came the development of The X Factor and American Idol. Simon became famous himself and his interests went that way rather than on Westlife. We almost felt a little bit unloved with Simon Cowell, if I was to be honest. We had it (full time support) with Simon but he got so busy and would do it at the very last minute and we needed someone who was on it all the time.”[63] After going back to RCA Records full-time for a one year album contract, they announced their Greatest Hits album to be released on 21 November 2011. The first and lead single “Lighthouse[64] will be released on 14 November 2011.

On 17 October 2011, Irish Daily Mail reported that the former bandmate McFadden will reunite with them for a show, An Evening with Westlife, in support of the greatest hits album.[65] Paddy Power added their bets if McFadden will rejoin the group permanently and with the next world tour after the report was out.[66] Egan later denied it and said: “All the rumours about Brian re-joining Westlife are untrue. We have been a 4 piece for too long now. We love Brian but it’s not going to be. That includes any TV performances.”[67] With a new compilation album coming out, it is highly speculated Westlife will be doing a new greatest hits tour. According to The Mirror, a source close to the band revealed plans for them to play either the Aviva Stadium or another Croke Park gig in mid-2012.[68] They are scheduled to headline ChildLine Concert in Dublin in 12 November 2011 and to have another exclusive gig on O2 Blueroom in also in Dublin on 24 November 2011.[69][70] in September 2011, announced the concert tour for 2012 will start on May that year.[71] But the official site of the band stated: “Despite untrustworthy websites announcing Westlife dates for a 2012 tour, there is no definite tour plan. As soon as there is, the group will make an official announcement. Until then, please disregard any websites claiming they have tickets on sale this Friday.”[72] A UK Tour was first officially announced on October 18 with dates confirmed for May 2012 and it was titled as The Greatest Hits Tour or The Farewell Tour. The said tour was have sold-out in minutes. added: “After a massive rush, tickets for Westlife’s May 2012 tour were snapped-up almost immediately as fans flocked to the Internet to try and get their hands on tickets for the final performances of the legendary Irish boy band.”[73] As part of it, ITV commissioned a unique one-off music spectacular will mark Westlife’s final TV appearance as the pop giants take to the stage to sing some of their greatest hits, it will be entitled “Westlife: For the Last Time”.[74] Another show entitled “The Westlife Show: Live” to be broadcast from Studio One of London Studios on the same channel on 1 November 2011.[75] Then they will have a live guesting on The Late Late Show later.[76]

On 19 October 2011, Westlife officially announced they were splitting after a Greatest Hits album and a farewell tour.[7] They described the split as an “amicable” one and they want a “well-earned break”.[77][78][79] Later reports from Daily Record however said there was an “irreparable rift” in the band,[80] but was later denied by a source close to the band saying: “There’s no bad blood in the band, they’re still great pals. But all good things come to an end and they are all keen to do their own thing.”[81] Later, the band also denied it and called the split as a “united decision”.[82] A more comprehensive story behind the split was discussed by Daily Mail and Daily Star.[83][84] A second statement was issued through their official site, saying the fans were continuing to be the best support system.[85] Raidió Teilifís Éireann made a collage of “Westlife – through the years” to mark the special occasion.[86] Keith Duffy said he was surprised to hear of the split.[87] Mayor of Sligo Rosaleen O’Grady, who gave the lads the Freedom of Sligo, was reported to be in shock.[88] While The Irish Times defended the band saying:

Westlife remain one of Ireland’s best-selling musical acts. They set a new chart record for having their first seven singles go to number one and had massive merchandising sales, but to most music critics they had no musical merit whatsoever, specialising as they did in syrupy cover versions targeted at a pre- and young teen market. […] The boyband genre is one of the most difficult and demanding areas in the music industry, with many casualties who have been unable to keep up with the workload, the clean-cut image and the derision from serious music fans. Within the parameters of the genre, Westlife achieved excellence. Having a 14-year career in boyband circles would be the equivalent of a rock band having a 35-year career.[89]

Fans have already taken to social networks to comment on the decision to break-up; some fans describe themselves as feeling “devastated”, “the day the music died.”[90] Some media predicted a possible reunion in the future.[79] However, Westlife scuppered that speculation by vowing they would never reunite.[91] People can leave their messages on Twitter by using #WestlifeForever and #Westlife. It trended on Worldwide, Ireland (Dublin), Indonesia (Bandung, Jakarta), Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, New Zealand, and UK (Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Manchester) categories.[92] A live stream Q&A was announced for 28 October 2011 as a thank you to their fans,[93] but was moved to 3 November due to schedule conflicts.[94]

[edit] Longevity

The band have been in the music industry for thirteen years since they signed up. With huge popularity on-hand, numerous reports had spread out that the band have broken up or taking a hiatus especially when they released a greatest hits compilation album in 2002, McFadden left the band in 2004, and in a year-off recording in 2008 where Egan has insisted that they are not splitting up for good, telling The Sun: “The minute people hear we’re taking a break, they are going to say we are splitting up for good – which is not true. “Myself and Jodi (Albert) are going to go and do some travelling and I’m sure the other guys have plans as well. It will be the first time in years that there hasn’t been a Westlife album vying for the Christmas number one, which will be a bit weird, but I think we have earned the time off. We love Westlife and people still want to hear us, so we are not going anywhere. Why would we give that up?”.[95]

In 15 June 2011, they cleared up the another hiatus report and Egan insists he and his bandmates have no plans to put the group on hold and they’re working on new material and any quotes about us taking a break are simply not true.”[96] In August 2011, Byrne says that after their second greatest hits they might not come back with a new 2012 studio album because it might feel too soon. He added: “We are out of contract at the moment which is a great position to be in because if this album does well we’re looking to the future, like a footballer you are free to talk to anybody.”, “I would say we’d probably look at what’s on the table and then maybe discuss with a few other people, labels and see what’s there and move forward.”[97] In October 2011, a source told The Mirror, “The boys are pretty knackered, They’ve been constantly working for the past decade and just want time to enjoy what they’ve made for themselves before coming back with a brand-new album. They’re not splitting up – it’s a break. The plan is to come back with full force after that.”[98]

[edit] Artistry

Shane Filan, the lead vocalist of the group

[edit] Vocal ability

The boyband concept is designed to have different parts and roles. Filan, Feehily and McFadden (pre-departure) all took part on the main vocals while Byrne and Egan usually perform the backing vocals and very occasional solos in songs up to the recent date. These are the classifications on vocal abilities: Filan has ‘the popular tune’ (mid-range to high voice) and thus sings the tenor-like melody most often, whereas Feehily has ‘the soulful voice’ and can go from quite low baritone notes through to a very high tenor voice. He sometimes sings falsetto. Byrne has ‘the husky voice’ and can sing high harmonies effortlessly, while Egan has ‘the rocky voice’ and usually does low harmonies.

[edit] Instruments

Westlife’s main key instruments are their vocals. However some of them can play musical instruments, most notably Egan who plays piano, drums and guitar (he can be seen playing piano in the videoclip for “Angel“), and Feehily also plays piano. During their gigs and concert tours, they are accompanied by a band, acoustic and rock, and do not usually play instruments onstage.

[edit] Songwriting

Over years of their career, Westlife’s music has evolved from teen pop to a pop sound, with an emphasis on ballads. Most of the group’s hits have been composed by experienced songwriters, most notably Steve Mac and Wayne Hector. For the band’s list of own songs composed, see Songs written.

[edit] Music and image

The band identify themselves as a pop band recording pop songs which comprises ballads and love songs. Westlife has been known for their teen pop songs during their early days with slow, mid, and uptempo songs. Albums known for teen pop sound are Westlife, Coast to Coast, World of Our Own and Turnaround. As the years progressed they tried different genres like jazz and big band in 2004 with Allow Us to Be Frank album and pop-rock in 2009 with their album Where We Are. As they also mature, they verge into adult contemporary being most evident on their cover album, The Love Album. Matured pop songs are also found on their LPs, Face to Face and Back Home, and Gravity. Filan answered when he was asked about the radical change in their music: “We’ve definitely changed – our music has evolved, but not drastically. Westlife is never going to drastically change, but I think we can get more exciting, different and more fun for the fans.”[99]

Every Westlife album have always been a mixture of genres. R&B genre is evident as a sound of the band since the start where their voices were harmonising and blending with each other. We can hear it on their songs “When I’m With You”, “How to Break a Heart”, and “Sound of a Broken Heart”. Acoustic genre also took place as they have its versions with their songs “My Love”, “Flying Without Wings”, and “If I Let You Go”. Club or electronic sounds were also heard from their remixes on each singles released. Dance music is also a genre of Westlife as heard on their songs “When You’re Looking Like That”, “Bad Girls”, “World of Our Own”, “Beautiful Tonight”, “No One’s Gonna Sleep Tonight”, and “Uptown Girl”. Live music has came to their way as they have officially released recorded live sounds such as “You Raise Me Up” (Live at Croke Park) and “To Be With You“. They did country music too like their recording of “Daytime Friends, Nighttime Lovers”. As a pop band they are also inspired to cover songs that were different and put into their own genre which is pop (With the likes of “Home” from jazz music, “I’m Already There” from country music).

During their starting days, the band’s musical content was mostly about love and inspirational songs but as they grew older, they have given the chance to have the songs that were from an individual’s everyday experience in life. As for their image, they publicly begun as boyband with wholesome and clean-cut image. Now, they call themselves a manband with a more broad and manly looking image as they grow older.[100]

[edit] Popularity and influence

When the band signed a formal contract in 1998, their managers had already intended for them to be massively popular and so approached top producers and songwriters. Their début album and single luckily coincided with the apogee of boyband popularity. Their success has been most apparent in their homeland and the UK. Also popular in Europe, they have singularly failed to crack America. They have been compared sometimes favourably and sometimes less so to their contemporaries Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, Blue, A1, and Take That and to other pop bands like Busted, McFly, Simple Plan, F4, S Club 7, Steps and Spice Girls.

The group’s influences are Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, and Boyzone while pop is their main music influence. They are adored by many people even celebrities like Chris Martin of Coldplay, Alexandra Burke and Nadine Coyle of Girls Aloud.[101][102][103] The band have “tribute bands” performing their songs like Envy, Westlives,[104] That’s Life,[105] and Westlike. On the other hand, Westlife also paid tribute to their co-boybands as one of the tour setlist in 2007.[106] Later pop bands such as One Direction, The Wanted, and JLS expressed such adoration for the group over their respective music careers.

[edit] US Market

Despite their success in some parts of the world, Westlife have been unable to break into the US market. Their debut single and music video “Swear It Again”, released in the US in 2000, was a hit on mainstream radio and the band even made an appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live. The song was No. 75 on the Billboard Hot 100 year end chart of 2000. A US edition of their debut album, Westlife was also released. In 2002, an attempt was made to promote and release a US version of World Of Our Own but was scaled back as the band decided to concentrate promotions in other foreign markets where they had a larger fan base. This was a surprising decision as the band did not maximise the potential and opportunity available when the two most prominent boy bands in the US, the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, went on hiatus that year.

The Westlife hit song “Flying Without Wings” peaked at No.2 in the USA when American Idol Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard recorded and released it as his debut single. The band was disappointed when they heard of the news as they were planning on bringing that song to the American audiences in the near future. In 2003, Westlife went to Nashville to film a TV documentary. While they were there, they gave a live performance of the song “Daytime Friends“, originally by country music legend Kenny Rogers.

[edit] Collaborations

Westlife is signed to the management of major record label Sony Music under Syco Music (2002–2011) and RCA Records (2011–present). Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell and others comprise the group’s management and production team now and then.

The present manager of Westlife, Louis Walsh.

The group has recorded studio and live performances with some of the most renowned music acts: Mariah Carey (“Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)”), Lulu (“Back at One“), Joanne Hindley (“The Way You Look Tonight”), Diana Ross (“When You Tell Me That You Love Me”), Donna Summer (“No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)“), and Delta Goodrem (“All Out of Love“). They have also collaboorated on “If I Had Words” with The Vards, “I Have A Dream” with Indonesian child-star Sherina, and “My Love” with Amr Diab. These songs were also recorded and included on the various albums. In 2002, Westlife re-recorded their hit song “Flying Without Wings” with Cristian Castro and with Korean singer BoA as two separate duets.

Westlife has performed live duets with some of the biggest names in the music industry including: Sinéad O’Connor (“Silent Night“), Donny Osmond (“Crazy Horses“), Mariah Carey (“Never Too Far/Hero Medley“), Secret Garden (“You Raise Me Up”), Lionel Richie (“Easy”), Ronan Keating (“The Dance”), Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries (“Little Drummer Boy“), Roy Orbison (“Pretty Woman“), Delta Goodrem (“All Out Of Love“), Raymond Quinn (“That’s Life“), Leehom Wang (“You Raise Me Up”), Mary Black (“Walking in the Air”), Kevin Spacey (“Fly Me to the Moon“), Do (“Heaven”), JLS (“Flying Without Wings“), Boyzone (“No Matter What“), Various artists “All-Stars” (“That’s What Friends Are For“; “Merry Christmas Everybody“; “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday“) and even their fathers (“That’s Life“).

In an interview with December 2010 isuue of OK Magazine, when the band was asked who they would like to duet with if they could pick anyone, they chose Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera.[107] They find interest in collaborating also with Tinie Tempah, Boyzone, Take That, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood.[108] Before they were reported to have recording as a duet with Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, Julio Iglesias, and Bryan Adams.[109][110] Some artists expressed the love to work the band like Chipmunk and boxer Mike Tyson.[111] While artist like Hot Chip wants to cover their songs.[112] Some well-known music artists also recorded the group’s songs in reality like Ronan Keating, Will Young, Shayne Ward, Ruben Studdard. (See Songs covered by other artists)

Aside from Steve Mac and Wayne Hector, the group has had opportunities to work on their original songs with many well-known songwriters/producers including Savan Kotecha, Rami Yacoub, Per Magnusson, Pete Waterman, David Kreuger, Max Martin, Anders Johansson, Josef Larossi, Jorgen Elofsson, Andreas Carlsson, Arnthor Birgisson, Kristian Lundin, Jake Schulze, Diane Warren, and most recently, Ryan Tedder, Chris Braide, Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Steve Anderson, Steve Robson, Ruth-Anne Cunningham and John Shanks. For the full list, see External songwriters.

Long-time collaborator Wayne Hector once defined the essence of Westlife songwriting:

“If you want to write a song for Westlife, you’ve got to have a lyric that connects on a basic level. We’ve always thought the reason Westlife songs have been so successful is because it’s about situations that everybody goes through. We weren’t trying to be too clever about it, we were trying to be emotional.”[113]

For their remixed songs, Rokstone, Orphanz, Ashanti Boyz, Wideboys, Soul Seekerz, and Jim Steinman have already worked for the group on some of their single releases. Some of the music video directors who have worked with Westlife are: Cameron Casey, Wayne Isham, Nigel Dick, Stuart Gosling, Phil Griffin, Antti Jokinen, David Mould, Alex Hemming, Philip Andelman, Sean De Sparengo, Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini.

Shayne Ward, No Way Out, K-otic, Natural, Six, Totally Spies, D-Side and Lauren Waterworth, Bellefire, The Conway Sisters, V, Twen2y4se7en, Zoo, Kwest, Pop, Sub Bass 5, Traphic, Mark Dakriet, 4th Ba5e, Reel, Peter Andre, Girls Aloud, Eton Road, Gareth Gates, Roxanne, Alsou, The MacDonald Brothers, Billiam, Cushh, The Unconventionals, Dyyce, Lady Nada, Code 5, Annabel Fay, Hope, The Fuel, Wow, Glenn Cal, Parade, Jedward, JLS, and Wonderland were some who supported them on different tours. Wonderland are a girlband co-managed by Westlife member Kian and Louis Walsh.

The band performed to famous people such as Pope John Paul II,[114] U.S. President Barack Obama,[115][116][117] the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah with family[118] and Queen Elizabeth II.[119][120]

[edit] Products and endorsements

Some of the products that Westlife officially released are books, calendars (from 2001–present), tour merchandise such as T-shirts, and fragrances. They have their own webpage for their official merchandises since 2008, available for men and women.[121] They also received sponsorship for their concert tours from Adidas on 2002 and Volkswagen on 2011.

To the list of their books, they have official and unofficial books released. The lone book written by the members of Westlife was released on 16 June 2008 by HarperCollins UK Publishing entitled ‘Westlife – Our Story‘, as part of their 10th year celebration.[122][123] The book was said to be written by each group member for three months. It contains the life they have for the past ten years in the business. It features also some of the private pictures from the lads. On 28 May 2009, they re-released the autobiography, adding their Croke Park experience and first time in a paperback edition. At that time also, the band released a 3-piece perfume set entitled “X”. It leaked on December 2008 and was formally released on November 2009.[124] In September 2010, they released their second fragrance entitled “With Love”.[125]

[edit] Philanthropy

While each member of the group has had their own individual humanitarian advocacies and activities, Westlife has been supporting various projects for a charity cause from the start. One of which was when the group re-recorded “I Have A Dream” with Indonesian star Sherina for a UNICEF fund raising. They are involved also on the Helping For Haiti charity single that was released 8 February 2010 on UK. Aside from that, the group released their cover version of “Uptown Girl” as a Comic Relief single, which was one of their biggest selling singles to date.

On 4 November 2005, they performed together with Christina Aguilera and Diana Ross at Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa for The “Unite of the Stars” Gala Banquet charity concert that supports four charities: the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Unite Against Hunger, St. Mary’s Hospital and the Topsy Foundation. They also performed live for charity on Sports Relief, Macmillan Cancer Support, Croí, Western Alzheimer’s, O’Dwyer Cheshire Home, Mayo Cancer Support Group, Marie Keating Foundation, Outward Bound Trust, ChildLine, Children in Need, Sheffield’s Children Hospital.[126][127][128][129] They’ve participated also in Royal British Legion and Galway‘s Irish Water Safety Campaign by doing an advertisement.[130][131] They had also helped for auctions on Meningitis Research Foundation, Carlton Celebrity Auction (for Centrepoint (for the homeless), the N.S.P.C.C., and The Samaritans), Zutto charity painting, Pushing The Envelope (for National Literacy Trust) and Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).[132][133][134][135][136] They’ve visited also Great Osmond Street Hospital for charity.[137][138]

They’ve been involved also with the following organisations: Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID), Cancer Research UK, Byrne for Heart Attack and asthma awareness campaigns, Daily Star’s Reclaim Our Streets crusade, Filan for Irish Red Cross (by Sligo Rover’s Showgrounds football match), Byrne for Oxfam‘s East Africa Famine appeal (by Celtic v Manchester United football match), Filan and Byrne for Soccer Aid, JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am, One World Beat, Egan for Strandhill Indonesian Relief Fund (SIRF, in aid of the South Asian tsunami victims), World Food Programme (WFP), Muscle Help Foundation, Feehily for Aware, Byrne for Children’s Hospice South West (by Truro charity football match), Global Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and Real Man campaign. They are also included as ambassadors of The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).[139] As part of IPSCC, Feehily signed up for their anti-bullying campaign, “Join the Fight for Children’s Rights”.[140][141][142][143][144][145][146][147][148][149][150][151][152][153][154]

[edit] Discography

Main Article: Westlife discography, Westlife songlist, Westlife videography, Westlife filmography

[edit] Awards, nominations, records and achievements

Main article: Westlife awards, Westlife records

[edit] Tours

Main article: Westlife tours

[edit] See also

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