Westlife

Westlife

Westlife is an Irish pop band that was formed on 3 July 1998. They were signed on by Simon Cowell and are currently managed by Louis Walsh. Over the years, Westlife's music has evolved from teen pop to an adult contemporary sound, with an emphasis on ballads.

The group's original lineup comprised of Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan , and Bryan McFadden. Filan and Feehily are the band's lead vocalists. All of the band members are songwriters, although most of their hits have been composed by external writers. On March 9, 2004, McFadden left the band to work on solo projects (before his departure, McFadden also contributed lead vocals).

Westlife has sold more than 40 million records worldwide. They garnered 14 number one singles in the United Kingdom, the third-highest in UK history, tying with Cliff Richard and tailing behind Elvis Presley and The Beatles. The band has also won numerous awards such as the "Best Irish Pop Act" at the annual Ireland Meteor Awards and ITV "Record of the Year" award in the UK. The band has also broken a few top records, including "Music artist with most consecutive number 1's in the UK" and the "Biggest selling arena act in the UK".

History

Formation

Prior to Westlife, Kian, Mark and Shane along with fellow Sligonians Derrick Lacey, Graham Keighron and Michael Garrett, were part of a six-member pop vocal group called 'IOYOU'. The group was groomed and managed by choreographer Mary McDonagh along with two other informal managers and they released a single titled "Together Girl Forever". Louis Walsh, the manager of the 1990s boy band Boyzone, was contacted by Shane's mother and came to know about the band. However, IOYOU did not meet Simon Cowell's approval for a record deal with BMG, thus changes were needed. Two members of IOYOU were given the sack and auditions were held in Dublin where Byrne and McFadden were recruited. A third original member of IOYOU, Michael Garrett, was also dropped. The new group, formed on July 3, 1998, was re-named Westside but as the name was already taken by another band, it was changed to Westlife. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating was brought in to co-manage the band with Walsh. Westlife then began to release an album titled Swear It Again EP, though it was only released in Asia. The album has songs such as Until The End Of Time, Everybody Knows, Let's Make Tonight Special, Forever, Don't Calm The Storm and On The Wings of Love. Some of these singles were used as B-Sides to some of their number 1 hits.

Original lineup

Dreams Come True - World Of Our Own (1998-2002)

Westlife's first big break came in 1998 when they opened for Boyzone in Dublin. Later that year, they won the 'Best New Tour Act' award at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. In March 1999, the band released their first single, "Swear It Again" which immediately topped the charts in Ireland and in UK for two weeks. Their second single, "If I Let You Go", released in August 1999 along with the highly acclaimed "Flying Without Wings" (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, "Pokemon 2000". The first album, simply titled Westlife, was released in November 1999 and peaked at #2 in the UK. Ironically, the album was the biggest chart dropper in the music history of UK, falling from #3 to #37, and is also the band's only original studio album that never reached #1. 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. The fifth and last single from the album, "Fool Again", also peaked at #1. Then, the band went on a short UK 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 #1 UK album beating the Spice Girls' Forever album. It becomes the country's 4th biggest selling album of 2000 and is Westlife's biggest selling album to date. The album 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 #1 on the UK charts.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. 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, the boys launched their first world tour, "Where Dreams Come True Tour", unofficially nicknamed "The No Stools Tour" due to the band's reputation of performing while perched on stools.

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 #1 in the UK. "Bop Bop Baby" was also released as a single but it peaked at #5 in the UK Singles Chart. In 2002, Westlife went on their second world tour, the World Of Our Own Tour (In The Round)

Unbreakable - Departure of Bryan (2002-2004)

The band released their eleventh UK #1 single, "Unbreakable", in 2002. Amidst rumors of a split, Westlife released their first greatest hits album in November that same year. Unbreakable - The Greatest Hits Vol. 1 zoomed all the way to #1 in the UK. The release was followed by the double a side single, "Tonight/Miss You Nights", which debuted at #3 in the UK. In 2003, Westlife went on to their third world tour, The Greatest Hits Tour, shrugging off rumors of a split.

In September 2003, Westlife released "Hey Whatever", which peaked at #4 on the UK Charts. Their fourth studio album, Turnaround, was then released in November, earning the band another UK #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. Their version of Mandy is also considered as the highest single leaper to the top (from #200 to #1) in the UK music history. "Obvious" was released as the final single from the album, charting at #3.

On 9 March 2004, just three weeks prior to embarking on their fourth world tour, Bryan McFadden left the band to spend more time with his family and work on solo projects. On that day, a press conference was held where all the band's members were present and had an emotional individual speeches. Brian's final public performance as part of Westlife was at Newcastle Upon Tyne's Powerhouse nightclub on 27 February 2004. 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 #1 and soon after, he released his first solo album, "Irish Son" under Sony Music. He went on to release more singles but those releases made moderate success only.

The new age

Allow Us... - 10 years (2004-present)

Less than a month after McFadden's departure, the band 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. 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. After X Factor style auditions, they found Joanne Hindley, who recorded "The Way You Look Tonight" with the band. . 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. The band also performed "Fly Me To The Moon" with actor Kevin Spacey. Westlife continued to tour Europe as part of their "The Number Ones Tour", before taking a 4 months break from work.

In 2005, Westlife returned with their come back single, "You Raise Me Up", which was taken from their Face To Face album. On 6 November 2005, both the album and the single were at #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. "You Raise Me Up" was awarded as their 4th Record Of The Year in UK for 2005. In December that year, the band released "When You Tell Me That You Love Me", a duet with Diana Ross, as the second single and debuted at its peak position of #2. Westlife then released a third single, "Amazing", which debuted at #4 and marked as the band's lowest selling single yet. After that, Westlife embarked on the Face To Face Tour, travelling extensively to the UK, Ireland, Australia and Asia. This tour marks the first time that Westlife have travelled to mainland China for a concert.

In late 2006, Westlife signed a brand new five album deal with Sony BMG. Their 8th album, The Love Album, was a "love" concept album which consisted of popular love song covers. The album outnumbered 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 #1 single. This made Westlife the third act (along with Cliff Richard) in the UK to have the most #1 singles, tailing behind Elvis Presley (21) and The Beatles (17). Westlife then kicked off their eight world tour, The Love Tour, in Perth, Australia. The band then went onto other Australian cities before moving on to South Africa, the UK and Ireland. The band played their last major concert of 2007 at Bitts Park in Carlisle, England.

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 #1 on the UK Music Charts and it was also 2007's fifth biggest selling album in the UK. The first single released from the album was a cover of Michael Bublé's "Home", which peaked at #3 in the UK. "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. Months later, "Us Against The World" was announced and released as their second single in UK and Ireland. However, it failed to perform well only peaking at #8 and is the band's lowest charting single to date. Before the release of the second single, they embarked the Back Home Tour on 2008 February 25. This tour marks the first time that the group have traveled and performed to New Zealand. 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.

To mark their tenth year in music, Westlife will be staging a special 10 Years Of Westlife sold-out concert at World's thirty-third and Europe's fourth biggest stadium, Croke Park, on 1 June 2008. With a capacity of 82 300, it will be the band's biggest show to date. Shayne Ward will be filling in as a support act for the concert, which Kian described to be of a pop extravaganza. Shane confirmed that a corresponding live concert DVD will be released. The band announced that they will be on hiatus for a year after their Back Home Tour and that there will not be an album release in 2008 as they will be spending more time on the production of their tenth album. On June 16, 2008, HarperCollins UK will release Westlife's autobiography, 'Westlife - Our Story', as part of their 10th year celebration. The book has said to be written by each members of the band 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. As promised, the band's official website confirmed on September 27, 2008 the release of a DVD on November 24, 2008 entitled 10 Years Of Westlife - Live at Croke Park.

As the group ended their successful Back Home tour, Louis Walsh announced in the show Xpose that 1 July 2008 is the official start of the longest hiatus of the band so far. He said that it will be a one-year break, from that day up to 1 July 2009.

US market

Westlife has 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 #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 Westlife's World Of Our Own album 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 maximize the potential and opportunity available when the two most prominent boy bands in the US, the Backstreet Boys and N' Sync, went on hiatus that year. The Westlife hit song "Flying Without Wings" peaked at #2 in the US 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, which won them much critical praise. Recently, an interview with Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell was held saying that the group will try to break into the music market of the United States in their comeback in 2009-2010.

Collaborations

The group had collaborations in some of the most renowned music acts such as 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) and have performed with Westlife on stage. These songs were also recorded and included on various albums. The band have also recorded "If I Had Words" with The Vards, "I Have A Dream" with Indonesian star Sherina and "My Love" with Amr Diab. In 2002, Westlife re-recorded their hit song "Flying Without Wings" with Cristian Castro and Korean singer BoA as two separate duets.

They had 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 (Brown Eyed Girl), (The Dance), M2M, The Cranberries (Little Drummer Boy), Raymond Quinn (That's Life), Wang Lee Hom (You Raise Me Up), Mary Black (Walking In The Air), Kevin Spacey (Fly Me To The Moon) and Do (Heaven). Also, prominent stars' Claudia Schiffer, Robert Bathurst, James Wilby, Ioan Gruffudd, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Tim McInnerny and Vinnie Jones have also starred in their music videos.

Philanthropy

The band has had 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. Aside from that, the band released their cover version of "Uptown Girl" as a Comic Relief single, which was one of their biggest selling single to date. Apart from it, they have also help the S.I.R.F. organization in aid of the South Asian tsunami victims. Also in November 4, 2005, they have 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 of four charities: the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Unite Against Hunger, St. Mary’s Hospital and the Topsy Foundation. They've also been actively helping both the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID), Childline and Children in Need, Cancer Research UK organizations. Most recently, they performed "Us Against the World" live on Sports Relief, "The Golden Mile Challenge" of Bluebell Wood and participating in Galway's Irish Water Safety Campaign by doing an advertisement.

Selected discography

Albums

Year Album Chart
United Kingdom
Chart
Ireland
Certification
United Kingdom
1 1999 Westlife 2 1 4x Platinum
2 2000 Coast To Coast 1 1 5x Platinum
3 2001 World Of Our Own 1 1 4x Platinum
4 2002 Unbreakable - The Greatest Hits Vol. 1 1 1 4x Platinum
5 2003 Turnaround 1 1 2x Platinum
6 2004 Allow Us To Be Frank 3 1 2x Platinum
7 2005 Face To Face 1 1 4x Platinum
8 2006 The Love Album 1 1 3x Platinum
9 2007 Back Home 1 1 3x Platinum

UK No. 1 Singles

Release Date Song From the Album Weeks at #1
1 12 April 1999 Swear It Again Westlife 2
2 9 August 1999 If I Let You Go Westlife 1
3 18 October 1999 Flying Without Wings Westlife 1
4 6 December 1999 I Have A Dream / Seasons In The Sun Westlife 4
5 27 March 2000 Fool Again Westlife 1
6 18 September 2000 Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) Coast To Coast 2
7 30 October 2000 My Love Coast To Coast 1
8 5 March 2001 Uptown Girl Coast To Coast 1
9 5 November 2001 Queen of My Heart World Of Our Own 1
10 18 February 2002 World Of Our Own World Of Our Own 1
11 4 November 2002 Unbreakable Unbreakable - The Greatest Hits Vol. 1 1
12 17 November 2003 Mandy Turnaround 1
13 24 October 2005 You Raise Me Up Face To Face 2
14 6 November 2006 The Rose The Love Album 1

References

See also

External links







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