20 years of Westlife: My top 20 tracks from the Irish pop vocal group
Author’s note: Original title of this post was “My Top 15 Westlife Tracks,” first posted on MySpace on October 12, 2009. It received only 22 views, as of July 25, 2012. I repurposed the blog post, with a new title, revised paragraphs, and additional tracks, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Guinness World Record-breaking pop vocal group from Ireland.
2002 was the last hurrah for boybands to take over the waves. If ever they are still around, they ain’t boybands anymore but have become an adult contemporary vocal group or a “man band” or, in the case of one British boyband, changed music direction.
Only good boybands endure. The great boybands of the late 1990s and early 2000s were Boyzone, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and A1. At this moment, it is Boyzone, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, and A1 keeping the music – and the nostalgia – alive. In my opinion, these are good musical acts.
After seeing the music video of the new Backstreet Boys’ song “Straight Through My Heart” (in late 2009), I began to expect new material from Westlife. Westlife is one of my favorite musical acts and I would love to hear from them again. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will be able to regain their supremacy at the UK singles charts. I expect another monster hit from them. (Author’s note: Weeks later, they released a cover of the Daughtry hit “What About Now.”)
Below is the list of my top 20 Westlife tracks:
(Legend: Text in orange indicates a new addition to the list and is a song already heard before the completion and publication of the original list in 2010. Text in blue also indicates a new addition but is a song heard years after the completion and publication of the original list.)
1. If I let you go
But if I let you go I will never know
What my life would be holding you close to me
Will I ever see you smiling back at me? (oh yeah)
How will I know
If I let you go?
This is the very song that sold me to Westlife; this is my most favorite track from the group and one of the three soundtracks of my life in 2001. During a Valentine’s Day program at high school, a sophomore gave out a solo rendition of the group’s 2nd No.1 UK hit. I instantly fell in love with the song and it became one of my signature favorite songs. I also heard a disco remix of the song at home. A guitarist-boyfriend of my classmate would play the song whenever I asked for it. Months later, when I was a sophomore, my class hosted a convocation program. I and four classmates performed our version of the song, much to the applause of the school.
This love is unbreakable,
and each time I look in your eyes,
I know why,
this love is untouchable,
I feel in my heart just can’t deny,
each time I look in your eyes ohh baby,
I know why,
this love is unbreakable
The 11th No.1 single was not quite a sad tune but I like the lyrics of the song. The music and the words jive, giving out a great harmony. Not overtly melancholic but it is a hopeful song, emphasizing on true love. This is the song I anticipated before 2002 would come to an end. This song stays true to the pop standards set by the vocal band.
3. You Raise Me Up
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains,
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas,
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders,
You raise me up To more than I can be
On All Saints’ Day of 2005, I learned three things: first, Westlife has their version of the song “You Raise Me Up”; second, it became their 13th No. 1 UK hit; and third, member Mark tells the world he is gay. The song was the first to hit No. 1 at the UK charts after falling short of one member. Now a quartet, this haunting yet powerful melody proved Westlife is here to stay. I feel chills whenever I heard this song, thanks to the orchestra in the song. This is one of the hardest songs to cover. I first heard their version when I was taking a bath one early morning.
4. If you heart’s not in it
But if your heart’s not in it for real
Please don’t try to fake what you don’t feel
If love’s already gone
It’s not fair to lead me on
Cause I would give the whole world for you
Anything you ask of me I’d do
But I won’t ask you to stay
I’d rather walk away
If your heart’s not in it
A b-side from the 3rd album World of our Own, this is one of the best b-side songs ever. It is much more melancholic than “Unbreakable.” After reading the lyrics of the song in a song magazine, I thought it was a new Westlife song in 2002. This is the song that comforted me throughout the worst summer of my life in 2003.
Show me the way to make a start
Show me the road back to your heart
And I’ve learned the only truth that I need to know
There’s a million places I can go
But without you it ain’t home
It ain’t home
It took me almost 10 years to appreciate this b-side track from their 2003 album Turnaround, their last album with Bryan McFadden. I can’t remember how I came across this song on the internet after many years but it’s a welcome addition to the list which has expanded to 20 songs.
6. Flying Without Wings
It’s little things that only I know
Those are the things that make you mine
And it’s like flying without wings
Coz you’re my special thing
I’m flying without wings
An old schoolmate described Westlife’s 3rd No. 1 as slower in the earlier part but emotional and powerful as it progress. One of the most powerful and emotional songs I ever heard in my life.
Well you came and you gave without taking
But I sent you away, oh Mandy
Well, you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
And I need you today, oh Mandy
I never heard about Westlife releasing a new single way back in 2003. When I first heard the song in the early days of 2004, I concluded that it was a new Westlife single, and Westlife it was. My classmate shared to me the lyrics of the 12th No. 1 song.
8. That’s Where You Find Love
It’s where the stars line up
It’s where the oceans touch
It’s in a place you’ve never been that feels like home
It’s in the air right now
It’s where you give your all
And give a little more
I’ve never been so sure
That’s where you find love
A track from their 5th album Face To Face, this is another great b-side track from Westlife. One of the songs I loved in 2006.
9. Somebody Needs You
Somebody needs you like never before
Somebody wants your love
Baby so open the door
Don’t you leave me alone
Don’t you turn out the light
Somebody wants you
Somebody needs you tonight
One of the best B-side tracks off their 2nd album Coast To Coast. It is quite a fun danceable track. I had in mind to record my version of this song if ever I can break into the music scene.
10. My Love
So I say a little prayer
And hope my dreams will take me there
Where the skies are blue
To see you once again… my love
All the seas from coast to coast
To find the place I Love The Most
Where the fields are green, to see you once again… my love
Westlife’s 7th No. 1 was one of the most popular songs at the last quarter of 2000. Many people at school would sing the song aloud. This was the song that made Westlife famous in my country.
11. Uptown Girl
She’ll see I’m not so tough
I’m in love with an uptown girl
You know I’ve seen her in her uptown world
She’s getting tired of her high class toys
And all her presents from her uptown boys
She’s got a choice
I shall never forget the summer of 2001 because I kept hearing this song. A niece of mine, who was schoolmate at school, lent me a cassette single of this song way back in August 2001. This song scored Westlife their 8th No. 1 in the UK.
It’s a keeping for the lonely
Since the day that you were gone
Why did you leave me
In my heart you were the only
And your memory lives on
Why did you leave me
Soledad is one of the best tracks never released as a single by Westlife. This song could be a perfect soundtrack to a horror-romance-tragedy movie, based on the music. A classmate, whose boyfriend was a guitarist, corrected the wrong lyrics I had in my notebook.
13. I Lay My Love On You
I lay my love on you
It’s all I wanna do
Everytime I breathe I feel brand new
You open up my heart
Show me all your love, and walk right through
As I lay my love on you
An upbeat track, this is one of the best pop songs of the early 2000s and one of Westlife’s most popular songs.
14. World Of Our Own
We got a little world of our own
I’ll tell you things that no one else knows
I let you in where no-one else goes
What am I doing without you?
And all of the things I’ve been looking for
Have always been here outside of my door
And all of the time I’m looking for something new
What am I doing without you….
Their 10th No. 1 is what I described as ‘strong pop.’ Coming from a beach picnic in the summer of 2002, I arrived home in time to hear the song becoming No. 1 at a local radio countdown.
15. Open Your Heart
Baby, open your heart
Won’t you give me a second chance?
And I’ll be here forever
Open your heart
Let me show you how much I care
And I will make you understand
If you open your heart
To love me once again
A b-side from their 1st self-titled album, “Open Your Heart” is a very simple pop song. Although the tempo is quite slow, it is danceable enough like “Somebody Needs You.”
16. Written In The Stars
‘Cause when I look at my life
How the pieces fall into place
It just wouldn’t rhyme without you
When I see how my path
Seem to end up before your face
The state of my heart
The place where we are
Was written in the stars
A track from their first greatest hits album, “Written In The Stars” is a feel-good love song.
17. I Promise You That
Whatever you say
Whatever you do
There will be good times waiting for you
Whatever you hear
I won’t disappear
I promise you that
I promise you that
I first heard this track, a b-side from 2002’s “World of Our Own,” in the first quarter of 2016. Westlife sure does have a lot of hidden gems.
18. Every Little Thing You Do
It’s every little thing you do
That makes me fall in love with you
There isn’t a way that I can show you
Ever since I’ve come to know you
It’s every little thing you say
That makes me want to feel this
There’s not a thing that I can point to
‘Cause it’s every little thing you do
Another great B-side track off Coast To Coast and one of their finest B-side songs.
I’ve made it obvious
I’ve done everything but say it
(I’ve crushed on ya so long, but on and on you get me wrong)
I’m not so good with words
Since you never noticed
The way that we belong
I’ll say it in a love song
Just weeks before my high school graduation, I saw the video to this song on MTV at a former classmate and best friend’s house. A few days before my graduation, while visiting an injured classmate, I heard the song on the radio. This was one of my LSS tracks of the 1st quarter of 2004.
And all I’ve been doing is protecting
A lie for the sake of my pride
While all the others set me thinking
We could be more than just amazing
I came across the song on Yahoo music in the 1st quarter of 2006 during an out-of-school club trip to one of the most economically progressive cities/provinces in the country. This was my LSS track in the 3rd quarter of 2006. Every time I listen to this song, I recall a former special someone, an object of infatuation.
Do you still listen to Westlife? What’s your most favorite song from the Irish pop vocal group?
Don’t forget to share Westlife to the new generation of music fans.
A happy 20th Westlife anniversary to you all!