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Westlife Biography

Westlife are an Irish pop group formed on 3 July 1998. The group's original lineup comprised Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan and Brian McFadden (departed from the band in 2004). The group is the only act in British or Irish history to have their first seven singles go straight to Number 1, and they have gone on to sell over 44 million records worldwide which includes their studio, single, video, and compilation albums. Despite the group's worldwide success, they've only had one U.S. hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts: "Swear It Again", which made it to #20 in 2000.

Westlife were originally signed by Simon Cowell and are currently managed by Louis Walsh. They garnered 14 number one singles in the United Kingdom, the third-highest in UK history, tying with Cliff Richard and trailing behind only Elvis Presley and The Beatles. The group has also broken a few top records, including "Music artist with most consecutive number 1's in the UK". It was officially announced by the Official Charts Company that they are the "2nd biggest selling artist" (trailing behind Robbie Williams) and "Biggest selling band of the decade" (beating Coldplay) in UK with 11 million album sales.

On 1 June 2008, Westlife marked their 10th anniversary with a concert in Croke Park, Dublin which saw more than 83,000 fans attending the special occasion. Music Week revealed on their website that Westlife is the official third top touring act within the years 2005–2008, while they were 7th top touring act of 2008. Also in 2008, they were declared as Ireland's ninth-richest celebrities under 30 years old and 13th in general with 36 million euros as a group. In 2009, they dropped as 16th richest Irish with estimated 8 million euros each. They are named as the third most hard-working music artist in UK by PRS in 2010.

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. 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, IOYOU did not meet Cowell's approval for a record deal with BMG, and thus changes were needed. Three members of IOYOU 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, though only in Asia.

Westlife's first big break came in 1998 when they opened for the Boyzone and Backstreet Boys' concerts in Dublin. Later that year, they won the 'Best New Tour Act' award at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. 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. 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, Pokémon: The Movie 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. 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 group went on a short UK, US and Asian tour in support of their debut album before releasing a second album.

The group released their eleventh UK #1 single, "Unbreakable", in 2002. 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 #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. 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. In 2003, Westlife went on to their third world tour, The Greatest Hits Tour, shrugging off rumours 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 group 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 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. Bryan'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 with moderate success.

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. 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. After X Factor-style auditions, they found Joanne Hindley, who recorded "The Way You Look Tonight" with the group. 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. On 4 May 2005, Westlife lost their battle for European trademark from the German trademark "West". In 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 #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 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. Westlife then released a third single, "Amazing", which debuted at #4 and marked as the group'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 marked the first time that Westlife have travelled to mainland China for a concert.

The new album, Where We Are, was released on 30 November 2009 in the UK and peaked at #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 organized by Cowell. 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.

The eleventh album was recorded and processed with the Grammy award winning songwriter/producer John Shanks in London and Los Angeles. It was entirely produced by Shanks. On 19 September 2010, their first 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 said single was released on 14 November 2010. It debuted on the UK Singles Chart on 21 November 2010 at #10, giving the group their 25th Top 10 single in the United Kingdom. However, it is also their lowest charting single to date in the country. The new album named Gravity, which was named by a fan, was released on a 22 November 2010. Gravity Tour dates for 2011 supporting the album have also been announced.

The boyband concept is designed to have different parts and roles. Filan, Feehily and McFadden (pre-departure) all take 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.

The band classify 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 most likely their upcoming album Gravity.

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 harmonizing 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", 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 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.

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. The band have "tribute bands" performing their songs like Westlives, That's Life, and Westlike. On the other hand, Westlife also paid tribute to their co-boybands as one of the tour setlist.


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