Westlife - biography


Westlife were an Irish boy band formed in 1998. They disbanded in 2012 after finishing their farewell tour. The group's line-up was Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne. Brian McFadden was part of the group until 2004. Westlife had sold over 45 million records worldwide which includes studio albums, singles, video release, and compilation albums.[1] Despite the group's worldwide success, they only had 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 were managed by Louis Walsh. The group had 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.[2] The band had 14 UK number ones and 25 top ten singles, consisting of 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 were 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 the release of their Greatest Hits album on 21 November 2011. The album debuted at number 1 in Ireland and number 4 in the United Kingdom. The band also announced a farewell tour for spring 2012.[7]



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 renamed 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. 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.

Releases Debut album, Coast to Coast, 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 April 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 its 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 Girls' Forever album. It became the country's 4th biggest selling album of 2000.[14][15] 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 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]

Unbreakable: Departure of McFadden: 2002–04

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 "Wild Westlife," directed by Iain MacDonald and starred the group itself. It reveals how their musical life was 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 the highest single to leap to the top (from No. 200 to #1) in 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. McFadden'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.[citation needed] 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.

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