Westlife

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Westlife
Westlife 2011 3.jpg
Westlife performing live on their Gravity Tour in October 2011 in Hanoi, Vietnam
Background information
Origin Dublin, Ireland
Genres
Years active
  • 1998–2012
  • 2018–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website westlife.com
Members
Past members Brian McFadden

Westlife are an Irish pop vocal group, which formed in 1998 in Dublin, disbanded in 2012 and reunited in 2018. They were originally signed by Simon Cowell in the UK, Clive Davis in the US and managed by Louis Walsh and Sonny Takhar.[1] The group's original line-up consisted of Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan and Brian McFadden.

The group rose to fame with their debut international self-titled album, Westlife (1999). Followed by Coast to Coast (2000), World of Our Own (2001), Unbreakable - The Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (2002) and Turnaround (2003) which continued the group's success worldwide. Before the start of their Turnaround Tour in 2004, McFadden departed from the band. The four remaining members continued as a group to release their cover albums Allow Us to Be Frank (2004) and The Love Album (2006) and the studio albums Face to Face (2005) and Back Home (2007). After a one-year hiatus in 2008, they regrouped and released the studio albums Where We Are (2009), and Gravity (2010) and the compilation album Greatest Hits (2011). After eight years, the group will release their eleventh studio album in 2019 with new singles from November 2018 onwards.

Westlife sold over 40 million studio albums[2][3] and 55 million records overall worldwide.[4] Based on BPI certifications, the group have sold 11.1 + million albums and 6.8 million singles in the UK.[5][6] The group accumulated 14 number one singles in the United Kingdom, 22 top 5 hits and 26 UK top ten singles over their 14-year career, as well as having seven number one albums. In 2012, the Official Charts Company listed Westlife 34th amongst the biggest-selling singles artists and 16th amongst the biggest selling groups in British music history.[7] They are holders of the following Guinness World Records: first to achieve seven consecutive number one singles in the UK, most public appearances in 36 hours by a pop group, most singles to debut at number one on the UK chart and top selling album group in the United Kingdom in the 21st century.[8][9][10] They have had 33 number-one albums worldwide. The band has received over a billion views on YouTube counting only the ones uploaded from their official site alone,[11] were streamed more than 300 million times,[12] and more than 550 million in Spotify.

Westlife never managed to break into the U.S. market, achieving only one hit single in 2000, "Swear It Again". Despite this, the United States ranked top fifth for the number of views of the band with total of more than 30 million for the past 12 months only on YouTube as of June 2018.[13]

They have one World Music Award, two Brit Awards, four MTV Awards, four Record of the Year Awards and overall with a total of 91 awards and 19 nominations so far. As a live act Westlife have sold 5 million concert tickets worldwide from their twelve concert tours. They still hold the record for the most shows played at The SSE Arena, Wembley - 28. They sold out Croke Park Stadium in a record breaking 5 minutes. They also hold the record for the most shows played at The SSE Arena, Belfast by any band - 50 and hailed as the Biggest Arena Act of all-time in the United Kingdom.[14] Their thirteenth and latest concert tour is called "The 20 Tour".[15]

History[edit]

Origin (1997–1998)[edit]

Kian Egan, Markus Feehily and Shane 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, changed in 1997 to IOYOU. The group, managed by choreographer Mary McDonagh and two other informal managers, released a single titled "Together Girl Forever" which was written by Feehily and Filan with unreleased songs "Everlasting Love" and "Good Thing".[16]

Original member and lead vocalist of the band, Shane Steven Filan
Original member and lead vocalist of the band, Markus Michael Patrick Feehily

Louis Walsh, the manager of fellow Irish boy band Boyzone, came to know the group after he was contacted by Filan's mother, but the group failed to secure a BMG record deal with Simon Cowell. 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."[17] Three members of the band (Lacey, Keighron and Garrett) were told they would not be part of the new group, and auditions were held in Dublin where Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden were recruited.

Westlife was managed by Louis Walsh.
Westlife was originally signed by Simon Cowell.

The new group, formed on 3 July 1998, was renamed Westside but that name was already in use by another band, so it was changed to Westlife. In Westlife – Our Story, Byrne revealed that, unlike the others in the group, he was keen to change the name to West High. McFadden 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.

Debut album, Coast to Coast, World of Our Own (1998–2002)[edit]

Westlife's first big break came in 1998 when they opened for Boyzone and Backstreet Boys' concerts in Dublin. Later, they won a special Smash Hits Roadshow award at that year's Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. In April 1999, the group released their first single, "Swear It Again" which immediately topped the charts in Ireland and in the UK for two weeks. It became the biggest-selling single in a week one by a debut artist.[18][19] Their second single, "If I Let You Go" was released in August 1999, which established them as the first boy band to hit the No. 1 with its first two singles.[20] The third single was the highly acclaimed "Flying Without Wings" produced by Steve Mac and written by Mac and 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. Their first album, simply titled Westlife, was released in November 1999 and went to No. 2 in the UK. The album was the biggest chart dropper on the top 40 in UK music history when, in its 58th week on the charts it leapt from No. 79 to No. 3 before falling to No. 37 the following week.[21] Despite the history, the album successfully managed to peak at No. 1 in Scotland in the year 2001 after premiering at No. 6 at the Scottish Charts in 1999.[22]

In December 1999, a fourth, double-side, single was released, "I Have A Dream"/"Seasons in the Sun". It knocked Cliff Richard's "The Millennium Prayer" off the top spot and earned them the 1999 UK Christmas number-one single.[23][24] The fifth and last single from the album, "Fool Again", also peaked at number 1.[25] Then the group had a promotional tour in the United States for their Swear It Again and peaked at No. 20 in the Billboard Hot 100.[26] An Asian tour followed in support of their debut album before releasing a second album.

Coast to Coast was released a year later and was another No. 1 UK album, beating the Spice Girls' Forever album. It became the country's 4th biggest selling album of 2000.[27][28] The album was preceded by a duet with Mariah Carey singing the Phil Collins' classic "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" and the original song "My Love" (their second Record of the Year award). Both singles reached No. 1 on the UK charts.[29][30] With this, Westlife broke an unexpected record of the most consecutive number-one singles in the UK, having their first seven singles debut at the top and became the fastest number one music act beating Elvis Presley's previous record of three years versus 23 months of Westlife getting each its first number-one singles and second music act to have the longest string of number ones in UK history.[31] However, in December 2000, their eighth single, the UK and Ireland exclusive "What Makes a Man", only debuted at number two.[32] Despite not peaking at number-one, "What Makes a Man" remains to be the biggest selling original single of the band to date in the UK. Outside the UK and Ireland, they gained chart success with "I Lay My Love on You" and "When You're Looking Like That". In 2001, they launched their first world tour, "Where Dreams Come True Tour".[19] They survived the 2000 Mexico City major earthquake and lightning during this time.[33] This time as well, they were included in the top ten earners list of all acts in UK and Ireland and sold over 2.5 million units in Asia Pacific region.[34][35]

The single 'My Love' was controversially used as part of a Central Intelligence Agency torture program in Afghanistan. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, "the music pounded constantly as part of a scheme to assault prisoners’ senses".[36] 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, all of which peaked at No. 1 in the UK.[37][38][39] "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). Overall in 2002, IRMA awarded the band plaque about their 1 million units sold in Ireland and ranked seventh as Irish's millionaires under age 30 with 18 million euros for all the five members.[40] For every performance each band member will get 228000 euros, which means the 68 dates will rake in 1.55 million euros for them by June 2002. The cash will also be rolling in from sales of their merchandise, while a recent advertising deal with Adidas is worth 488,000 euros to each of them with a total of 3.33 million euros each at the end of the said tour.[19][41]

Unbreakable, Turnaround, and McFadden's departure (2002–2004)[edit]

Brian McFadden left Westlife for his family and later released his solo music.

The group released their eleventh UK No. 1 single, "Unbreakable" in 2002.[42] Amidst rumours of a split, Westlife released their first greatest hits album in November that same year titled Unbreakable - The Greatest Hits Vol. 1, which 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.[43] At this time, Because Films Inspire made a TV documentary titled "Wild Westlife", directed by Iain MacDonald and starred the group, featuring their daily life as musicians and their tour experiences.[44] In 2003, Westlife went on their third world tour, The Greatest Hits Tour and invited to play at the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo, shrugging off rumours of a split.[45]

In September 2003, Westlife released "Hey Whatever", which peaked at No. 4 on the UK Charts.[46] 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.[47] Their version of "Mandy" is also considered the single with the longest leap to the top (from No. 200 to No. 1) in UK music history.[48] "Obvious" was released as the final single from the album, charting at No. 3.

On 9 March 2004, just three weeks prior to embarking on their fourth world tour, McFadden left the group to spend more time with his family and six months later to release solo music projects.[49] On that day, a press conference was held where all the group's members were present, each giving emotional individual speeches. McFadden's final public performance as part of Westlife was at Newcastle upon Tyne's Powerhouse nightclub on 27 February 2004.[50][51] McFadden attended the first day of the band's tour date as an audience. The last time the five had reunited in public was when McFadden acted in an Irish reality television show Anonymous where he disguised as a fan in an album signing event of the group in November 2005 and had a broadcast in January 2006. He subsequently began a solo career, and reverted 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.[52] McFadden later released more singles, but only with moderate success.

Irish boy band Westlife achieved the first number one on the UK Singles Downloads Chart with "Flying Without Wings" in September 2004.

Less than a month after McFadden's departure, the group kicked off their "Turnaround Tour".[53] A live version of "Flying Without Wings" was released as an official UK download, earning them the first official UK Downloads number 1.[54]

Face to Face, Back Home, and cover albums (2004–2008)[edit]

In September 2004, they performed on the World Music Awards, where they were recognised as the Best Irish Act of that year. They then released a Rat Pack-inspired album and fifth album ...Allow Us to Be Frank, which peaked at No. 3. No singles from this album were released in the UK. "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", both with music videos as well, were released as digital downloads only.

Prior to the release of the ...Allow Us to Be Frank album, Westlife scouted for "the perfect fan" to help promote their album.[55] After X Factor-style auditions, they found Joanne Hindley, who recorded "The Way You Look Tonight" with the group.[19] To mark this special collaboration, a special programme was televised, showing auditions and live performances, called She's The One, presented by Kate Thornton.[56] Westlife continued to tour Europe as part of their "The Number Ones Tour". In early 2005, they started their "Number Ones Tour" which ranked number 84 worldwide with top concert tour ticket sales with 191,361.[57]

In October 2005, Westlife returned with their comeback single, "You Raise Me Up", which was taken from their sixth album Face to Face. On 5 November 2005, both the album and the single were at No. 1 in the UK, at the same time, during the second week of the single. It was the first time that Westlife had held both the top album and the top single position in the same week and the first Irish music act to have such feat.[58][59] "You Raise Me Up" was awarded as their fourth Record of the Year in the UK, for 2005. In December of 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 number 2.[60] Westlife then released a third single, "Amazing", which debuted at No. 4.[61] 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.[62][63] The tour ranked the band sixth for the year with number of performances with 32 shows and recorded 238,718 paid-for attendances.[53] The band was mentioned as part of the names of male groups that peaked in the United Kingdom album sales in 2005 with 45 percent of the market.[64]

In late 2006, Westlife signed a brand new five-album deal with Sony BMG. Their seventh album, The Love Album was a compilation 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 No. 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.[65]

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). They also returned to the Miss World stage where billions saw the exclusive live performance of The Rose. Westlife then kicked off their eighth world tour, "The Love Tour", in Perth, Australia.[66] The group then went on to other Australian cities before moving on to South Africa, the UK and Ireland. The tour had a total of £1,031,033 secondary gross sales.[67]

On 5 November 2007, Westlife released their eighth 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.[68] The first single released from the album was a cover of Michael Bublé's "Home", which peaked at No. 3 in the UK.[69][70] "I'm Already There", not released as a single, managed to chart in the UK based on downloads alone, following a performance on an episode of The X Factor.

On 15 December 2007, they had a two-hour show called The Westlife Show where they performed 10 of their songs, some of which were voted online by fans and some from Back Home. It was hosted by Holly Willoughby.[71] 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 25 February 2008. This tour marked the first time that the group had travelled and performed in 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.

10th anniversary and hiatus (2008–2009)[edit]

From 2005 to 2008, Music Week revealed on their website that Westlife was the official third top touring act within the years while they were the seventh top touring act of 2008.[72] On 28 March 2008, after 27 sell-out shows, in the space of 10 years and have sold 250,000 tickets. All four members were presented with a plaque cast of their hands, which can also be seen in the Wembley Square of Fame similar to Hollywood Walk of Fame.[73] Then to mark their tenth year in music, Westlife staged a special 10 Years of Westlife, a sold-out concert at the world's thirty-third biggest and Europe's fourth biggest stadium,[74] Croke Park, on 1 June 2008.[75] which Egan described to be a "pop extravaganza".[76] It was only the second time for an Irish act to headline the stadium after U2.[77] Filan confirmed that a corresponding live concert DVD would be released. The group announced that they would be on hiatus for a year after their Back Home Tour[78] 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.[79] 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, Walsh announced in the show Xpose that 1 July 2008 would be the official start of the longest hiatus of the group. 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 during that year's X Factor final where they performed "Flying Without Wings" with runners-up JLS. After the performance, Filan and Byrne were interviewed on The Xtra Factor with Ronan Keating and Stephen Gately of Boyzone. As JLS also performed, "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. In the last week of January 2009, a DVD entitled The Karaoke Collection was released. This is the first time Sony Music has released an official Karaoke disc for music videos in DVD format. In 27 February 2009 issue of Herald Ireland, Louis Walsh revealed that Simon Cowell had already picked three new songs which he believed would be instant hits. On 18 March 2009, Westlife won the Best Irish Pop Act on the 2009 Meteor Awards for the ninth consecutive time.

Last two studio albums: Where We Are and Gravity (2009–2010)[edit]

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 Charts. 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 number 2 on both Irish and UK Singles Chart and ranked number 85 in the year-end official sales chart.[80] 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 with, "Everybody Hurts", an R.E.M. cover which was organised by Cowell.[81] The tour in support of this album was called, "The Where We Are Tour". The tour entered at number 50 of top concert tour for the third quarter of the year with 241,865 ticket sales.[82] The eleventh album was recorded and processed with songwriter and producer John Shanks in London and Los Angeles and was entirely produced by Shanks.[83]

As the 2000s decade ends with 275 singles reached the number-one position on the chart in the UK. Over this period, Westlife were the most successful group at reaching the top spot, with 11 number-one singles and second to most total number of weeks at number one with 14 weeks. Westlife is also the second biggest selling music act in the UK of the decade, 21st century. And second from the list of artist from the past decade, 1990s, in UK Albums and Singles Charts. While in 2005 half of the decade, they were the fifth.[84]

On 14 November 2010, the single "Safe" was released. It debuted on the UK Singles Chart on 21 November at No. 10, giving the group their 25th Top 10 single in the United Kingdom. The new album titled Gravity was released on 22 November 2010.[85] It went to No. 1 in Ireland and No. 3 in the UK. In March 2011, they started their eleventh major concert tour, the Gravity Tour. This tour marked the first time the group travelled to Oman, Namibia, Guangzhou and Vietnam for concerts.

Westlife was named the fourth most hard-working music artist in the UK by PRS in 2010.[86] In 2011, Cowell described the band as hard working and enthusiastic. He said: "I don't think I've met anyone who worked as hard as these guys. They were like little puppies in those days. It was all about the fans. In those days the band was so happy and so enthusiastic and just wanted to sing."[87] In August 2011, it was reported in the Irish Examiner that the profits of the band's firm grew five-fold in 2010 with 35 million euros or 31 million British pounds up to an estimated 50 million euros for four of them in the band.[88][89]

Also from the said year Billboard compiled the top international touring acts worldwide, the group ranked 14th with $5,104,109 estimated net take of tour grosses (assuming a typical 34% artist cut after commissions and expenses).[90]

Greatest Hits, split (2011–2018)[edit]

As of 2011, the group is the longest reigning band and second longest reigning number one music act in the 21st century in UK. 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 Byrne felt it as 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.[91]

On 23 April 2011, Egan's Twitter account posted a series of tweets saying he was to walk away from the group. He later said his account was hacked and deny the announcement.[92] 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. It debuted at number 1 in Ireland and number 4 in the UK. The first and lead single, "Lighthouse" was released in November 2011. And a follow-up promotional single "Beautiful World" released later. In October 2011, Egan ruled out speculation that McFadden would reunite with them for the new compilation album and its promotion for a television show. Egan 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."[93] With a new compilation album coming out, it was speculated Westlife would be doing a new greatest hits tour. They were scheduled to headline the ChildLine Concert in Dublin on 12 November 2011 and to have another exclusive concert on O2 Blueroom, also in Dublin on 24 November.[94][95]

A UK Tour was first officially announced on 18 October 2011, with dates confirmed for May 2012 and it was titled, The Greatest Hits Tour or The Farewell Tour. Stereoboard.com reported that the tour was sold-out in minutes.[96] On 19 October 2011, Westlife officially announced they were splitting after an album and a tour.[97]

After 14 years, 26 top ten hits including 14 number one singles, 11 top 5 albums, 7 of which hit the top spot and have collectively sold over 44 million copies around the world, 10 sell out tours and countless memories that we will forever cherish, we today announce our plan to go our separate ways after a greatest hits collection this Christmas and a farewell tour next year. The decision is entirely amicable and after spending all of our adult life together so far, we want to have a well-earned break and look at new ventures. We see the greatest hits collection and the farewell tour as the perfect way to celebrate our incredible career along with our fans. We are really looking forward to getting out on the tour and seeing our fans one last time.

Over the years Westlife has become so much more to us than just a band. Westlife are a family. We would like to thank our fans who have been with us on this amazing journey and are part of our family too. We never imagined when we started out in 1998 that 14 years later we would still be recording, touring and having hits together. It has been a dream come true for all of us.

Kian, Mark, Nicky and Shane[98]

During this time, the Official Charts Company compiled the band's chart history which states that other than their number-ones they had 25 UK Top 10s, 26 UK Top 40s, 27 UK Top 75s, 20 Weeks at Number 1, 76 Weeks in Top 10, 189 Weeks in Top 40 and 282 Weeks in Top 75 in the UK Singles Chart. While 7 Number 1s, 12 UK Top 10s, Top 40s, Top 75s, 7 Weeks at Number 1, 92 Weeks in Top 10, 189 Weeks in Top 40, and 299 Weeks in Top 75 in the UK Albums Chart.[99] A second statement was issued through their official site, saying the fans were continuing to be the best support system.[100][101] Some fans on social networks described themselves as feeling "devastated" following news of the split.[102][103] People left their messages on Twitter by using #WestlifeForever and #Westlife, it trended on Ireland, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, New Zealand, and UK. A live stream Q&A happened on 28 October 2011 as a "thank you" to their fans. As part of it, ITV commissioned a one-off music event as they took to the stage to sing some of their greatest hits, it was entitled "Westlife: For the Last Time".[104] Another show entitled, "The Westlife Show: Live", was broadcast from Studio One of London Studios on the same channel on 1 November 2011.[105] Then they had a live guesting on The Late Late Show.[106] Their last TV appearance together was on X Factor UK in 11 December 2011 performing "What About Now". They were honored at that time by Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre with four specially commissioned bar stools which will be a permanent fixture at the venue. This marks an amazing 49 performances at SECC where they entertained over 380,000 fans over the years selling more tickets than any other act.[107] The band had their final concert on 23 June 2012 at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. The 82,300 capacity show was sold out in 4 minutes. Due to this popular demand, an extra date was added at Croke Park on 22 June 2012 which was also a sold-out. Combined, there was a total of 187,808 spectators on both nights.[108] Their last concert was also screened live in more than 200 cinemas worldwide that include the UK and Ireland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark[109] and had an additional screenings three days later due to popular demand and more countries in July and August 2012.[110][111] It was the biggest live attendees in a last concert performance date by a music band and officially the 11th largest attendance at an outdoor stadium worldwide.[112] They released a DVD which went to number 1 in both UK and Irish chart. It stayed for 30+ weeks in the charts so far. In that year too they were declared as 34th top grossing tour act of the year with earnings of $35.2 million (€27 million). The farewell tour consisted of eight dates in China and 33 in the UK and Ireland culminating in two nights at Croke Park in June. In total the band sold 489,694 tickets at an average price of $71.85 (€55) each. They are also the top music artist in the list that didn't have a major break in the America.[113]

Cowell and some media predicted a possible reunion in the future,[114] but Westlife put an end to that speculation by vowing they would never reunite.[115] Later reports from the Daily Record said there was an "irreparable rift" in the band,[116] 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."[117] Later, the band also denied it and called the split a "united decision".[118] However he confessed three months after the split, Byrne said that members of the group fought with one another more and more often in the latter years leading up to the split and he felt that it was the right time to end their time together. A more comprehensive story behind the split was discussed by the Daily Mail where it stated that they came up with their break-up final decision in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 7 October 2011 despite a new 5 million British pounds record album and tour offer deal of RCA Records.[119] A year after Westlife ended, they agreed to all voluntarily wind up Bluenet Ltd, their main entertainment firm, after going their own ways and split €2.3million to €595,500 each except for Filan who missed out any of it as he declared bankruptcy at that time due to property crash problems.[120]

Since the split the four lads have released albums and singles individually. Filan, with three studio albums and tours (with support act dates for Lionel Richie) released and a Top 5 hit album in UK. Feehily signed with an independent record label (which he is the co-director) and released albums and singles. He also made it as a supporting act to Mariah Carey and Wet Wet Wet. Egan was voted King of the Jungle in ITV's I'm a Celebrity 2013 series, was a coach judge in The Voice of Ireland, and been a support act for Boyzone. Byrne joined Strictly Come Dancing UK and hosted several major Irish television and radio shows.[121] They were also seen in public events by twos, Filan and Feehily, Byrne and Egan, Egan and Filan, Byrne and Filan, Feehily and Byrne, Egan and Feehily.[122][123]

In 2014, Syco Music said to The Sun: "All the guys are up for it in principle. It's now just a matter of sorting out all the details, Syco would love Brian to be part of the band again. It’d create the same sort of buzz as when Robbie Williams returned to Take That. But the other lads will need to be convinced because they were always very clear that when Brian left it was for good."[124] but Egan later twitted "Guys I'm sorry to say but I don't know where these rumours are coming from about a Westlife reunion but it's untrue. Sorry #westlifeforever."[125][126] In 2015,[127] 2016,[128] 2017,[129] Walsh expressed that the four-piece band will reunite. He had been in contact with Albert Hammond, Ed Sheeran and James Arthur to create songs for the band. He wants to adopt an edgier side for their comeback.[130]

However, on 2016–2017, four years following the split, Filan told Lorraine and other media outlets that while there are currently no plans for a Westlife reunion, he would not rule it out for the future.[131] Byrne expressed in 2017 "Shame this Westlife news is not true. They were always my guilty pleasures." He also talked about touring with the group: "Who wouldn't want to do that again? The laugh with the boys and travelling around and seeing all the fans again. It's nearly six years next summer since we've done it so who knows? Maybe in ten years. I've spoken to all the lads individually but we've never brought up a Westlife reunion, the thing about it is the four of us haven’t been in a room together since Jodi’s [Kian’s wife] mum's funeral,’ That was the last time we spoke properly as a band, if you want to call it that., I'm sure it will happen but I don't know when and I know know if even we know when the right time will be."[132][133] Feehily added, "People have offered us blank cheques to get back together but it's not about money. There are no plans to reform. The time isn't now. We all have a lot more that we want to achieve first. It feels way too soon to be honest, a 20th anniversary tour could still happen one day as 2019 is 20 years since we released our first single, while 2021 is 20 years since our first world tour. So you never know".[134] On 31 March 2018, it was reported on Allkpop that all of them might guest on a Korean popular musical show Immortal Songs 2 but Filan was the only one who appeared on the show as a judge afterwards.[135] As of 28 April 2018, Irish Sun published that the last four remaining members of the pop group was offered 11.4 million euros each by Cowell just to reunite with their former band mate McFadden with an album and a tour. A total of 50 million euros set and willing to invest 20–30 million euros more for the said reunion.[136] Egan later said any of these reports were untrue. Later they revealed they've been phoned up by Walsh and Cowell every six months since their split. On 23 September 2018, several Irish news outlets started reporting that the group has been signed to Universal Music Group for a new five-year album and tour deal with Virgin EMI Records.[137][138][139]

Reunion, new music and The Twenty Tour (2018-present)[edit]

In 3 October 2018, the group has formally announced there'll be new music and tour coming soon on their official social media accounts. According to the reports, they've been preparing for their comeback for the past twelve months. Byrne added: "While we were away, we realised what Westlife really meant to the fans — and to us."[140] McFadden was not involved in the reformation as he said on his recent interview with Closer Magazine, "...there's no reason for me and the boys to stay buddies." and "For me, it was just a job. I only met the guys when I joined the band and have no regrets about leaving."[141] New tour dates are to be announced and the new single is slated to have a debut live performance in the Irish TV series show The Late Late Show and to be released before the end of 2018, penned by Ed Sheeran.[142] Sheeran and longtime songwriter/music producer for the band Steve Mac have come up with four new tracks for them and one is upbeat.[143] Full-length album will be released in 2019. In the meantime, on the evening of 17 October 2018, the UK and Ireland dates of the tour were announced through Westlife's social networks and was called "The 20 Tour". A pre-order site of the forthcoming new Westlife album (for both unsigned and limited signed, which was taken down minutes later) from their official store before 12pm (London time) on Monday, 22 October 2018, was cited where you will receive an exclusive pre-sale code for early access tickets to the 2019 UK & Ireland tour. Pre-sale starts at 9am (London time) on Tuesday, 23 October 2018. General on-sale tickets will be available from Thursday, 25 October 2018 from 9am (London time).[144]

Popularity[edit]

Westlife's debut album and single coincided with the apogee of boy band popularity, and their success was most apparent in Ireland, the UK, and most of African, Asian, Australian and European countries. They had 12 worldwide concert tours over their 14-year career. On April 2001, over one million fans wanted to chat with the lads from 122 countries.[145] They have more than 50,000 official fans club members in mainland China alone in 2006.[146] Boy band One Direction was mistaken for Westlife in Ghana.[147] Three of their studio albums were part of the 50 fastest selling albums of all time in UK.[148] In 2000s, "Swear It Again" became a popular song for wedding and funerals in the British Isles. In 2009, Flying Without Wings was listed as seventh most popular song for wedding's first dances in UK.[149] In 2016, three of their songs ("I'll See You Again", "Flying Without Wings", "You Raise Me Up") made it on the top pop music choices for funerals in Ireland.[150] They are Vietnam's most viewed music artist in YouTube as of 2015.[151] In South Korea, their singles "My Love" and "You Raise Me Up" stayed in the top 60 of the Official International Karaoke Charts since the inception of the charts in December 2010 up to its recent chart released.[152] They are the biggest selling international, foreign album act in Philippine and Indonesian music records history.

They were invited by Wayne Rooney and Coleen Rooney to sing on their wedding reception in Portofino, Abbey of Cervara, Italy and got paid £400,000, one of the highest amount paid acts for a wedding. They are Coleen's favorite pop band, invited to Coleen's 21st birthday but was unable to make it.[153] The band also performed for the Sultan of Brunei, an occasion on which they were paid £2.5 million to play a private concert of seven songs.[154] They also performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2000, and in 2005 with the songs "World of Our Own" and "You Raise Me Up" with Rolf Løvland and Fionnuala Sherry, and in 2009 with "What About Now" and "You Raise Me Up" in front of former US President Barack Obama and met him afterwards.[155] They also played for Pope John Paul II and Queen Elizabeth II twice in a live concert television show and shook hands with them.[156] They were the first ever pop band to top the entertainment bill at the Vatican and a private concert for the Pope.[157] They also personally met former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and picked autographs also for his daughter.[158] The band was also mentioned in the book version of Me Before You, which was released in 2012.

Despite their success worldwide, Westlife was unable to break into the U.S. market. They had only one hit single in the United States, "Swear It Again", which peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2000. The band made an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live and the U.S. edition of their debut album, Westlife was released, but it didn't meet with success. In 2002, with the two most prominent boy bands in the US, the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, going on hiatus that year, an attempt was made to promote and release a US version of World of Our Own, but was never successful. Billboard called the failure due to corporate politics.[159]

"We sent over a CD of World of Our Own with no name on it. They didn't know it was Westlife and every single radio station in the States – all came back and said that this is an absolutely huge hit. They said it was great for radio and people are gonna love it, especially as there's just a slight bit of rock guitar to it. But as soon as we revealed it was Westlife, the radio pluggers all went, 'Whoa, not Westlife – it's a boyband.' And we cannot break that down, no matter what song we come out with. The problem with America is that it's all radio and you've got to break into radio first. And currently radio doesn't want to play boy bands or pop music. If Bono wrote a song with us tomorrow and it was the biggest hit in the world, if Westlife's name is put to it, it won't be a hit in America because radio will not play us."[160]

— Nicky Byrne

"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. 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 singer Kenny Rogers. Though Westlife didn't gain as much success in the States as they did elsewhere, their music was still appreciated. Kid David Corey, assistant PD and music director at top 40 WXKS (Kiss 108) radio station in Boston, Massachusetts was a Westlife supporter that was recorded saying "Bands like Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync are still climbing the charts, and radio is supporting them, so I don't think the boy band thing is going to hurt them. Besides, this song ["Swear it Again"] is just too good for any of that to be a concern. I can't imagine anyone not playing this because it's another boy band, especially when it doesn't even sound like those other guys."[161]

Celebrities including Chris Martin of Coldplay, Jamie Vardy, Elton John, Sharon Osbourne, Martine McCutcheon, Niall Horan, Neil Murillo, Daniel Bedingfield, Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, Sam Mangubat, Stormzy, Sofie Hagen, Gemma Collins, Matt Kilgallon, Shona McGarty, Alexandra Burke, Michael Devlin, Scott McKenna, Dominic Ball, Dan Osborne, Union J, James Arthur, Zhong Chenle and Robert Pattinson have recognized their love for Westlife's music.[162][163][164][165][166][167][168][169] [170][171][172][173][174][175][176][177][178][179][180][181][182] Some well-known music artists like Ronan Keating, Will Young, Shayne Ward and Ruben Studdard have also covered their songs. Some of the following are original songs by Westlife that have been covered by other artists (which includes professionally recorded or performed list only). Some were officially released as a single.

Despite their popularity, some artist have expressed their dislike to the group like Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Bob Geldof, Pierce Brosnan, Liam Gallagher, Melanie C, Victoria Beckham, Gary Barlow, Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher.[198][199][200][201][202][203][204][205][206][207] Some have also criticized the band for having lots of covers, having the same sound on every albums released and lack of songwriting skills. Feehily revealed in 2009: "There were many songs which I would be even scared to mention, you know, that were suggested to us which we turned down. "There were many cover versions and many original songs that were either terrible. There was loads of stuff through the years, like 'You Are Not Alone' by Michael Jackson?, that were suggested by their record company chief Cowell".[208] Westlife have proven to have more original songs, worked with many songwriters and music producers and co-written numerous songs throughout their 14-year career. (See Westlife songlist for the compilation.)

Collaboration[edit]

Before their success, the band served as supporting opening acts for the boy bands Backstreet Boys and Boyzone. Since then, the group has recorded studio and live performances with music acts including 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"), "If I Had Words" with The Vard Sisters, "I Have A Dream" with Indonesian child-star Sherina. These songs were also recorded and included on various albums. In 2002, Westlife re-recorded their hit song "Flying Without Wings" with Mexican singer Cristian Castro and with Korean singer BoA as two separate duets.

Westlife has performed live duets with many other music artists including: Will Smith, Wyclef Jean, Toby Keith, Esperanza Spalding, Luis Fonsi, Alexander Rybak, Amadou and Mariam, Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lang Lang, Natasha Bedingfield ("Man in the Mirror"),[209] Wang Leehom ("You Raise Me Up"),[210] Mary Black ("Walking in the Air"), Sinéad O'Connor ("Silent Night"), Dean Verbeeck ("Swear It Again"), Donny Osmond ("Crazy Horses"), Kevin Spacey ("Beyond the Sea"), Mariah Carey ("Never Too Far/Hero Medley"), Secret Garden ("You Raise Me Up"),[155] Lionel Richie ("Easy"), Boyzone ("No Matter What"), Ronan Keating ("The Dance"), Ray Quinn ("That's Life"), JLS ("Flying Without Wings"), Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries ("Little Drummer Boy") and various artists for a charity single and live concert or television performances with music artists such as Steps, 5ive, S Club 7, Blazin' Squad, Gareth Gates, Liberty X, Girls Aloud, Busted, McFly, Emma Bunton, Leona Lewis, Rod Stewart, Cheryl, Mika, Michael Bublé, Joe McElderry, Miley Cyrus, James Blunt, Blue, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jon Bon Jovi, James Morrison, Alexandra Burke, Jason Orange, Susan Boyle, Rachel Stevens, JLS, Jamie Cullum, Gloria Estefan, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, and V, where the former boyfriend of Feehily was a member named Kevin McDaid.[211] In 2018, the band is reported to have a collaboration with Ed Sheeran for their comeback single.[212]

Products and endorsements[edit]

Some of the products that Westlife officially released, aside from their music releases, include video games, Cadbury chocolates, books, calendars, and tour merchandises such as T-shirts, jewellery, stationary, toiletries, dolls, watches, clocks, mugs, duvets, wallpaper, key chains, and posters. Their second studio album Coast to Coast received additional products mostly in Asia that include MRT transport ticket, picture card calendar, postcard set, signed fold-out poster, glossy slipcase and Filofax.[213][214] They also received sponsorship from Tayto in 2000[215] and for their concert tours from Calvin Klein in 2001, Adidas in 2002 and Volkswagen in 2011. They have official and unofficial books released. One of them is the 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.[216] The band released two perfume gift sets, "X" and "With Love".[217]

Charitable support[edit]

The group has supported various charitable causes. They were involved in the "Helping For Haiti" charity single that was released in February 2010 in the UK, as well as releasing a cover version of "Uptown Girl" for Comic Relief, one of their biggest selling singles to date.

They have participated in a Royal British Legion poppy appeal and did an advertisement for Galway's Irish Water Safety campaign.[218][219] They also lent their support to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).[220] On 4 November 2005, they performed with other music artists 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.[221] They also performed live for charity on Sports Relief,[222] Macmillan Cancer Support,[223] Croí, Western Alzheimer's, O’Dwyer Cheshire Home, Mayo Cancer Support Group, Marie Keating Foundation,[224] Outward Bound Trust,[225] ChildLine, Children in Need, Sheffield's Children Hospital. They had also helped for auctions on Meningitis Research Foundation,[226] Carlton Celebrity Auction (for Centrepoint (for the homeless),[227] the N.S.P.C.C., and The Samaritans),[228] Zutto charity painting, Pushing The Envelope (for National Literacy Trust). They've visited also Great Ormond Street Hospital.[229] They've been involved also with the following organizations: Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID),[230] Cancer Research UK, United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP),[231] Muscle Help Foundation,[232] Global Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign[233] and Real Man campaign.[234] They are also included as ambassadors of The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC). As part of IPSCC, Feehily signed up for their anti-bullying campaign, "Join the Fight for Children's Rights".[235] and Aware,[236] Byrne for Heart Attack and asthma awareness campaigns, Daily Star's Reclaim Our Streets crusade,[237] Byrne for Oxfam's East Africa famine appeal (by Celtic v Manchester United football match),[238] and for Children's Hospice South West (by Truro charity football match).[239] Filan, Byrne for Soccer Aid,[240][241] JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am, One World Beat.[242] Filan for Irish Red Cross (by Sligo Rover's Showgrounds football match),[243] and Egan for Strandhill Indonesian Relief Fund (SIRF, in aid of the South Asian tsunami victims).

Members[edit]

Discography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

One of their biggest selling video concert tour film, Where Dreams Come True

Tours[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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