Truth be told, I can’t remember the moment I fell in love with Westlife.
Maybe it was when I first saw the “If I let you go” music video; the five hunky Irish lads crooning around a mediterranean beach, the white linen outfits, floppy hair, and all of it whipping about in slow-mo... Or maybe it was upon seeing my first Westlife "stool rise" move that sealed the deal.
Whatever the groundbreaking moment was, all I know is that for the majority of my years aged between 7-12, I was Westlife mad, and so was nearly every other girl I knew. Thus, to celebrate the launch of Westlife's 20th anniversary tour, here’s my take on why we all loved them so much.
The Westlife boys, mid stool-rise
The boys next door
Put simply, the Westlife boys were the male version of “the girl next door”. Hailing from Ireland’s west coast (well, not quite. Brian and Nicky were from Dublin. But that's enough about Brian), they were the epitome of good, wholesome Irish lads; smelling as strongly of turf and All-Ireland Finals as they did of hair gel and Louis Copeland suits.
As far as the Irish public could see, Shane, Mark, Kian and Nicky were just a couple of happy-go-lucky lads who were continuously boggling at the hand of cards they’d been dealt. They seemed to be forever elbowing each other in “Can you believe this?!” disbelief, and we appreciated their aversion to getting any “notions” along the way. In fact, it was this genuinity and overwhelming positivity that was probably the most infectious thing about them.
A clear example of this, is in the music video for “My Love”.
Here we see lads hanging around an empty airport, Shane is on the phone (a crummy Nokia – nice touch), before getting interrupted by Nicky who announces that their flight has been cancelled. Although Mark almost loses his cool for a second “Please tell me you’re joking”, the group quickly comes up with a plan.
It’s at this point that Westlife shows they have not forgotten their roots because, instead of opting for a swish hotel room for the night, they agree that they’d “be faster walking” than they would be getting the next flight. Yes, these are men of the people. They have decided they’d rather walk an entire flight journey instead of giving in and paying the price of an additional night’s accommodation.
Have you ever seen a more Irish reaction to such a situation?
"Hope and possibility"
Throughout my tweenage – and indeed teenage – years, Westlife represented hope and possibility. In fact, their lyrics were short of transformational at times. Whether it was believing that I too could become an “Uptown Girl” as I danced around my room with an actual head brace on; or being filled with a sudden confidence at the local rugby club disco as soon as “When You’re Looking Like That” came on, these lads knew how to turn the frown of an impressionable young girl upside down.
What’s more, the Westlife boys were funny; they didn’t take themselves seriously and openly laughed their way through mis-stepped dance routines on stage. They promised to never “treat you bad”, because they never “wanna see you sad”, and truth be told, they largely kept to that promise.
Apart from a few dodgey hairstyles, many awful outfits, and the obvious break-up with Brian (although that was mostly his fault), these lads have done little else than bring us good, clean, wholesome pop goodness since they first graced radio and MTV back in 1999.
So, on the launch of their 20th anniversary tour, I say here’s to another 20 years more. May their coats be long a billowing; may their hair be forever gelled, and may the "stool rises" never leave their set-routines.