Westlife – Without You

“At some point, we should probably stop covering every Westlife single.”

Tom: At some point, we should probably stop covering every Westlife single.

Tim: Oh, I don’t know, I think it’s nice that someone’s doing it.

Tom: Well, this is not that point. Particularly as the album came out on Friday.

Tom: I had the usual ‘modern Westlife track’ reaction to this: got distracted and forgot it was playing during the first verse, then perked up at the chorus. And then — which is a departure from normal — actually started listening properly at the second bit of the chorus.

Tim: See, I was deliberately paying attention, but still had the same “ooh!” reaction to the chorus coming, when the first cymbal hit.

Tom: I’m sure I’ve heard that piano counterpoint melody in the chorus somewhere before — between that and the guitar behind the middle eight, it really sounds like they’ve taken some style tips from Coldplay. That’s not a bad thing at all.

Tim: No, no even slightly. I wouldn’t say no to a key change, mind, but aside from that this is fine. 

Tom: Frankly, this sounds like a big emotional number from a soundtrack, and I think it’s probably the best one off the album.

Westlife – Dynamite

“Spoiler alert: it’s quite the belter.”

Tim: I’m not quite sure why, but we seem to have got fully into covering Westlife’s comeback, and I guess there’s no reason to stop. Here’s the third track, released a couple of months back, but only now given a video. Spoiler alert: it’s quite the belter.

Tom: You’re raising my expectations, Tim. Now I’m expecting something really good.

Tom: “Belter”? Really? You’re going with “belter”? I wouldn’t th– never mind, I just got to the key change.

Tim: We mentioned on Friday that Alphabet haven’t concerned themselves with what’s modern, and it’s nice that they’re not the only ones. As with the previous two, we’ve Ed Sheeran and long term Westlife collaborator Steve Mac on writing duties, and aside from the ever so slightly tropical sounding beat underneath, this is just as much a classic Westlife track as we had twenty years ago. And for that, I love it.

Tom: For me, the key change is the only “yep, that’s classic Westlife” bit, because the rest is… well, it’s an okay pop song. You’re right that it’s very old school, I’m just not sure it’s an improvement. That said, if it’s what you’re looking for…

Tim: Not only that, mind – there’s the key change as well, and it’s one of my favourite types: you sing one line, BOOM, you sing it again a couple of notes higher. Shayne Ward did it, and now Westlife have joined him. And, obviously, accompanied it with an actual explosion, because of course they have, the song’s called Dynamite, it’d basically be breaking the law not doing that. Good work, lads (though I could maybe have done without that thrusting shot at 3:18).

Tom: I mean, fair play to them, they haven’t faked-up the tour footage, that is basically just bragging “look at us, it’s been decades and we still get arena crowds, what’re you gonna do about it”.

Tim: Album’s finally got a date, by the way: November 15th, so stick that in your calendar please, and maybe even book the day off work. Not saying I have, mind, but, well, maybe.

Westlife – Better Man

“It’s not often I want to skip back twenty seconds just to check that I actually did hear what I think I heard.”

Tim: Most of the time here, we like to feature tracks we enjoy. Often, though, they might not be all that great (in some cases they’re downright awful), but nonetheless fun to talk about. Now, I not saying I don’t enjoy this track, as it’s alright, but boy is there one particular thing worth mentioning.

Tom: The line “I felt things when we were naked”? The acting at the start, where it’s clearly not a proper recording session? Although that’s really quite nicely resolved with the outtake at the end.

Tim: Possibly worth a mention, yes, but not the main thing. Because it’s not often I want to skip back twenty seconds just to check that I actually did hear what I think I heard, but here, I genuinely did. That key change is just obscene.

Tom: I’m just annoyed that the childhood nostalgia flashbacks are the right years for my own childhood now.

Tim: Speak for yourself, I’ve got a good few years left, and I’m already enjoying it.

Westlife – Hello My Love

“That’s an unfortunate series of three notes.”

Tim: Westlife have gone and got themselves a bit modern – isn’t that fun!

Tom: I didn’t even know they’d reunited!

Tim: Me neither, but apparently all it took was Simon Cowell calling them up every six months and offering then £10 million each. Seriously.

Tim: So we both like a song that you can remember afterwards (with some exceptions, looking at you Baby Shark who I once had going round in my head for an entire eight hour shift at work) – but is it good if gets a completely different song stuck in your head? It’s only a few notes, but it’s that progression towards the end of the chorus of “it’s just my” that gets my brain going straight into “driving at ninety, down those country lanes“.

Tom: Oh, you’re not wrong. That’s an unfortunate series of three notes.

Tim: Now don’t get me wrong, I love Castle On The Hill, and any song that sounds like it, such as this one, probably isn’t a bad track. But it’s not really helpful, is it?

Tom: And unfortunately, for me, it’s all that I can remember. Actually, that’s not true, I can remember the utterly clunky line “hair growing where it’s meant to”.

Tim: Yeah, that’s a bit of an awkward one.

Tom: This isn’t a bad track by any means, it’s just cursed with the Comeback Track Problem: for anyone except the fans, it’s got to be a barnstormer of a track, on a par with their best. It’s got to be a Shine. And as far as I can tell, this just isn’t.

Saturday Flashback: Westlife – What About Now


Tim: Last week Nicky off Westlife was announced as being the one to compete for Ireland in Eurovision, and since you like to steer clear of Eurovision tracks, this’ll do because to be honest I’m surprised we’ve not covered it before.

Tim: It’s a cover of a song by American band Daughtry; the original is here but before you click that be aware that (a) it’s a charity video and really rather depressing and (b) it sounds EXACTLY THE SAME. There is literally not a semiquaver’s difference in them – instruments, even the vocals are fairly similar. Fairly sure you could set them playing at the same time, with one in the left ear and one in the right, and you wouldn’t think anything of it at all – I won’t test that, mind, because it’s a right faff for a predetermined conclusion, but if anyone’s bored, that’s a Sunday afternoon project for you.

Tom: I can see why they chose it, though: it’s an astonishingly good chorus. I mean, it’s not as good a track as this other What About Now, but it’ll do.

Tim: So, it’s an unnecessary cover, especially since it was released only a couple of months after the original got to number 11 over here, but on the other hand: it’s a really, really good track anyway, worthy of a cover; it has a lovely video, thanks to the wonders of Iceland; and it was Westlife who performed it at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize concert in honour of Barack Obama, so there you go.

Tom: And to be fair: it’s a belter, albeit with slow verses. Inspired choice to come back from the middle eight in a minor key and then slam it back into top gear with the final chorus, though.

Tim: Well done them, then.

Tim: UPDATE: One of our readers, Wouter, has been in touch, having put the two tracks together, and yes – they really are the same, save for a “uhhhh” from Westlife after the first chorus and a bit of extra guitar twiddling in the final chorus from Daughtry. You can hear excerpts here: Daughtry’s in the left channel, Westlife’s in the right.

Saturday Flashback: Westlife – Queen Of My Heart

“I had to stop myself from throwing my hands in the air.”

Tim: Strictly Come Dancing’s back on this weekend; shall we have a waltz?

Tom: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: put the emphasis on the wrong word, Strictly Come Dancing sounds filthy.

Tim: I’m not sure how to type the noise you make when you’re almost throwing up. Imagine I have, though, because that’s pretty much what I’ve just done.

Tim: No ashamed to say it: one of my favourite songs ever, largely because of the video which is wonderful on many, many counts – the lights underneath the stairs and the ballroom, the colour coming in for the chorus, Nicky shaving his head for no apparent reason other than that he doesn’t have any singing to do at that point, Kian lying seductively on the mantelpiece because he knows he’s got it.

Tom: I can’t say I react quite the same way, but then there are scantily clad women slowly dancing, so I can still get behind this.

Tim: As for what happens at the key change, it’s up there with Dina Garipova and 3+2 for sheer ridiculousness.

Tom: Agreed. I had to stop myself from instinctively throwing my hands in the air.

Tim: Not just the video, though: lyrically it’s one of the nicest break-up songs I can think of, and it’s got beautiful chiming bells. I wake up to this song most mornings, and sometimes I will happily let it go on repeat for half an hour.

Tom: Wait, what?


Westlife – Lighthouse

Ah, that’s right nice, that is.

Tom: This is it, then, the first single from Westlife’s final album. Before the inevitable reunion, Greatest Hits, and new album in five years’ time. And it’s part-written by Gary Barlow, so I’m expecting great things – although after The Collective, who knows?

Tim: Ah, that’s right nice, that is.

Tom: Piano melodies that sound like Elton John. Westlife-classic harmonies. Uplifting chorus leading into a soul-stirring chord progression. Video with lots of depth of field and beautiful scenery. Middle eight to break it up. No spectacular key change here, but that’s not too much of a shame.

Tim: Not much left for me to add there, but it’s got the sort of drums in the chorus that make you what to air-drum along to them. That’s a Good Thing. And that piano really does sound like Elton John, doesn’t it? Huh.

Tom: I mean, what more do you want? This is a textbook Westlife song, and I mean that as a sincere compliment: it’s not going to be the closing number for their farewell tour, but I can see it closing the first half.

Saturday Flashback: Westlife – My Love

For some reason I’m holding a lighter in the air.

Tim: Last week, sad news hit much of the music world: after twelve years of making music, Westlife are to disband. If we wanted to (and I won’t deny there’s a teeny tiny part of me that wouldn’t mind) we could probably do a fortnight-long retrospective of their work; for everybody’s sanity, though, it’s probably best just to keep it to one track, and we’ll go with this one, which starts with them making a somewhat curious travel decision.

Tim: Quite why they’d bother walking (or even flying) when then can just magically change their surroundings at will is beyond me, but anyway.

Tom: It’s such a bizarre line – for a brief moment, my brain accepted it as a perfectly reasonable option. Of course you’d walk.

Tim: This was their six release and sixth UK number one, and their first (and only) Swedish number one, and it’s my personal favourite of theirs. Why?

Tom: I don’t know, but for some reason I’m holding a lighter in the air. I don’t even own a lighter.

Tim: Because it’s by the book, brilliantly done, boyband stuff. There’s the slow and understated first verse. Then comes the emotional chorus, leading in to a more substantial second verse with a beat behind it. The chorus comes back again, perhaps seeming a little bigger this time from the context. The middle eight, split in two with the calm bit at the end leading into the soaring vocals of the stunning final section. We get fanfares (actual fanfares!) in the background just to signify what a brilliant song this is.

And there’s the video as well. There’s the inevitable hammy acting, which can sensibly be ignored.

Tom: A couple of them do the same thing I do – they forget how to walk properly when there’s a camera pointed at them.

Tim: Then at the end it too tries to get the message across, with the flying cameras and impressive peninsula, that this is a Song That Will Be Appreciated. And personally, I can’t help but appreciate it.