Farewell, West Men!

Money isn’t everything, but happiness is.” –Mark Feehily

Westlife, dibentuk pada tahun 1998, adalah boyband asal Irlandia yang sempat mendunia dan mendominasi industri musik. Westlife pada awalnya beranggotakan lima orang pria tampan, yaitu Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, dan Bryan McFadden yang akhirnya mengundurkan diri dari Westlife pada tahun 2004. Westlife have sold over 45 million records worldwide which includes studio albums, singles, video release, and compilation albums. The band have 14 United Kingdom number ones and 25 top ten singles, consisting of 20,2 million records and videos in the United Kingdom across their 14 years career, 6,8 million singles, 11,9 million albums and 1,5 million videos. Salah satu boyband legendaris ini menyatakan akan membubarkan diri setelah tur konser ‘selamat tinggal’ mereka pada tahun 2012 ini.
Westlife diproduseri oleh produser ternama yang sebelumnya telah mengorbitkan Boyzone, Walsh, bersama dengan pentolan anggota Boyzone itu sendiri, Ronan Keating. Keenam pria ini memulai debutnya di atas panggung sebagai penampil pembuka dalam konser Boyzone dan Backstreet Boys di Dublin, Irlandia pada tahun 1998. Pada bulan 1999, Westlife merilis single debut mereka, “Swear It Again”. This single immediately topped the charts in Ireland and in United Kingdom for two weeks. Single kedua mereka, “If I Let You Go”, dirilis pada bulan Agustus 1999 yang dilanjutkan dengan single ketiga “Flying Without Wings” pada bulan Oktober 1999. Menyusul para single yang merajai tangga lagu tersebut, Westlife meluncurkan album perdana mereka yang diberi tajuk “Westlife” pada bulan November 1999. In December 1999, the double a side fourth single was released, “I Have A Dream” and “Seasons In The Sun”, knocked off the top spot and earning them the 1999 United Kingdom Christmas number 1 single. The fifth and last single from the album, “Fool Again”, also peaked at number 1. Then, the group went on a short United Kingdom, United States and Asian tour in support of their debut album before releasing a second album.
Album kedua Westlife adalah album yang paling ditunggu-tunggu pada saat itu. Akhirnya setelah menyelesaikan rangkaian tur keliling dunianya, mereka merilis “Coast to Coast” pada tahun 2000. It became the United Kingdom’s 4th biggest selling album of 2000 and is Westlife’s biggest selling album to date. Dua single andalan dari album ini, “My Love” dan “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” (duet bersama Mariah Carey), berhasil meraih puncak berbagai tangga lagu di United Kingdom. With this, Westlife broke an unexpected record of having their first seven singles debut at the top of the United Kingdom charts, tying with The Beatles. Dari album ini mereka juga merilis single “What Makes A Man”, “I Lay My Love On You” dan “When You’re Looking Like That” yang meraih popularitas tinggi di berbagai tangga lagu Eropa dan Asia. In 2001, they launched their first world tour, “Where Dreams Come True Tour”, in Europe, United States and Asian countries.
“World Of Our Own”, album ketiga Westlife, dirilis pada bulan November 2001. ketiga single dari album tersebut kesemuanya mencapai puncak berbagai tangga lagu di United Kingdom, yaitu “Uptown Girl”, “Queen of My Heart” dan “World Of Our Own”. “Bop Bop Baby” was also released as a single but it peaked at number 5 in the United Kingdom Singles Chart. In 2002, Westlife went on their second world tour, “World Of Our Own Tour (In The Round)”.
Menepis rumor yang beredar seputar bubarnya mereka pada waktu itu, Westlife merilis album greatest hits mereka yang pertama, “Unbreakable – The Greatest Hits Vol. 1” pada bulan November 2002. This album was a huge success. Single “Unbreakable” menjadi single kesebelas mereka yang menjadi nomor 1 di United Kingdom. The album zoomed all the way to number 1 in the United Kingdom. The release was followed by the double a side single, “Tonight” and “Miss You Nights”, which debuted at number 3 in the United Kingdom. In 2003, Westlife went on to their third world tour, “The Greatest Hits Tour”, shrugging off rumors of a split.
Pada bulan September 2003, Westlife meluncurkan single “Hey Whatever” yang dilanjutkan dengan peluncuran album keempat mereka, “Turnaround”, pada bulan November 2003. Their single, “Mandy”, won them their third Record of the Year Award in under five years (the other two has won by “Flying Without Wings” and “My Love”). “Mandy” is also considered the highest single to leap to the top (from number 200 to number 1) in United Kingdom music history. “Obvious” was released as the final single from the album, charting at number 3.
Berita yang sangat mengejutkan bagi para penggemar Westlife muncul pada tanggal 9 Maret 2004. Bryan McFadden resmi mengundurkan diri dari grup yang telah membesarkan namanya itu, hanya dalam waktu tiga minggu sebelum Westlife memulai tur konser dunianya yang keempat. 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. Bryan berganti nama menjadi Brian McFadden yang memilih untuk bersolo karir setelah keluar dari Westlife. Kurang dari sebulan setelah kepergian Brian, Westlife mengadakan “Turnaround Tour”.
Album pertama yang dirilis Westlife dengan formasi baru tanpa Brian adalah “Allow Us To Be Frank”. Album yang dirilis pada tahun 2004 ini tidak merilis satu single pun di United Kingdom. Lingkup album ini adalah lokal Irlandia serta beberapa negara di Eropa saja, mungkin karena mereka masih menyesuaikan dengan formasi baru. Apalagi mengingat bahwa penggemar Brian adalah cukup mendominasi dalam fanbase Westlife, alias dia banyak disukai oleh para penggemar. Ini bagaikan anti-klimaks bagi Westlife. Mereka seolah memulai kembali dari awal. Hingga akhirnya pada tahun 2005 mereka bangkit kembali dengan album terbaru mereka, “Face to Face”.

We all think that it’s a good thing to have something outside of just the singing to prove that we can do other things, like I can play the piano, Bryan can play the piano, Bryan can play the guitar.” –Kian Egan
That’s the nature of this boy band thing, we’re disposable.” –Mark Feehily

Westlife melakukan comeback ke dunia musik United Kingdom pada tahun 2005 dengan single “You Raise Me Up” dari album ketujuh mereka, “Face to Face”. On November 2005, both the album and the single were at number 1 in the United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom 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 number 2. After that, Westlife embarked on the “Face to Face Tour”, traveling extensively to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Asia. This tour marked the first time that Westlife traveled to mainland China for a concert. Ini menandai ‘kembali’nya mereka setelah kepergian Brian McFadden pada tahun 2004 lalu.
Album kedelapan Westlife, “The Love Album”, dirilis pada tahun 2006. Album ini berisi cover dari lagu-lagu bertemakan cinta yang legendaris. The album outsold other compilation albums by Oasis, The Beatles, and U2 in its first week of release and went straight to number 1. The first single from this album was a cover version of Bette Midler’s classic, “The Rose”, which became their 14th United Kingdom number 1 single. This made Westlife the third act (along with Cliff Richard) in the United Kingdom to have the most number 1 singles, tailing behind Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Westlife then kicked off their eighth world tour, “The Love Tour”, in Perth, Australia. The group then went on to other Australian cities before moving on to South Africa, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Pada bulan November 2007, Westlife mengeluarkan album kesembilan mereka yang bertajuk “Back Home”. The album debuted at number 1 on the United Kingdom Music Charts and it was also 2007’s fifth biggest selling album in the United Kingdom. The first single released from the album was a cover of Michael Bublé’s “Home”, which peaked at number 3 in the United Kingdom. Months later, “Us Against the World” was announced and released as their second single in United Kingdom and Ireland. Before the release of the second single, they embarked on the “Back Home Tour” on 25 February 2008. This tour marked the first time that the group have traveled and performed to New Zealand, performing four sold-out shows in Auckland, Wellington, New Plymouth and Christchurch. Meanwhile, “Something Right” was released as the second single and “Us Against the World” became the third single in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Both songs performed well on several music charts.
Untuk merayakan 10th anniversary sejak pertama mereka debut di dunia musik, Westlife mengadakan sebuah konser spesial “10 Years of Westlife” dengan tiket yang habis terjual, pada tanggal 1 Juni 2008 di Croke Park, Irlandia, stadion keempat terbesar di Eropa. Setahun kemudian, tepatnya pada tanggal 30 November 2009, mereka merilis album kesepuluh, “Where We Are”. Dari album ini mereka mengeluarkan single andalan “What About Now” yang langsung menduduki peringkat puncak di berbagai tangga lagu di United Kingdom. The tour in support of this album is called “The Where We Are Tour”.
Sebagai spoiler dari album terbaru Westlife, pada tanggal 19 September 2010, lagu berjudul “Safe” pertama kali diperdengarkan dalam acara “The X Factor”, menyusul penampilan Westlife menyanyikan lagu ini untuk pertama kalinya pada tanggal 14 November 2010. The single was released on the same date. It debuted on the United Kingdom Singles Chart on 21 November 2010 at number 10, giving the group their 25th Top 10 single in the United Kingdom. Akhirnya pada tanggal 22 November 2010, album terbaru mereka, “Gravity”, dirilis ke pasaran. It went to number 1 on Ireland and number 3 on United Kingdom. On March 2011, they started their eleventh major concert tour, “Gravity Tour”. On this tour marked the first time that the group traveled to Oman, Namibia, Guangzhou and Vietnam for concerts.
A “United Kingdom Tour” was first officially announced on October 18 with dates confirmed for May 2012 and it was titled as “The Greatest Hits Tour” or “The Farewell Tour”. The said tour was having sold-out in minutes. Stereoboard.com added: “After a massive rush, tickets for Westlife’s May 2012 tour were snapped-up almost immediately as fans flocked to the Internet to try and get their hands on tickets for the final performances of the legendary Irish boy band.On 19 October 2011, Westlife officially announced they were splitting after a greatest hits album and a farewell tour. Meskipun sempat merebak kabar bahwa Brian McFadden akan kembali bergabung dengan Westlife, para anggota lainnya menepis kabar burung tersebut. “Gratest Hits”, album kumpulan lagu-lagu terbaik Westlife yang kedua ini dirilis pada tanggal 21 November 2011, dengan lead single berjudul “Lighthouse” yang telah dirilis sebelumnya pada tanggal 14 November 2011. Setelah peluncuran album tersebut, mereka memastikan pernyatakan bahwa itu merupakan album terakhir mereka dan mereka akan segera melakukan tur konser perpisahan, sebelum akhirnya membubarkan diri dan mengundurkan diri dari industri musik dunia sebagai sebuah grup bernama Westlife.
Untuk berpisah setelah 14 tahun berjuang bersama memang tidak mudah, tetapi Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Nicky Byrne dan Kian Egan mengatakan bahwa mereka menginginkan sebuah akhir yang damai dan penuh kesan, dan mereka merasa bahwa waktu yang tepat adalah sekarang. The Irish Times menyatakan: “Westlife remain one of Ireland’s best-selling musical acts. They set a new chart record for having their first seven singles go to number one and had massive merchandising sales. The boyband genre is one of the most difficult and demanding areas in the music industry, with many casualties who have been unable to keep up with the workload, the clean-cut image and the derision from serious music fans. Within the parameters of the genre, Westlife achieved excellence. Having a 14-year career in boy-band circles would be the equivalent of a rock band having a 35-year career.
Westlife is a legend. Whether they will reunite or not, they will be always remembered in mind. Farewell, Westlife! Thanks for these amazing 14 years. So long and goodbye. :’)

Our music is timeless, like the Beach Boys or Bee Gees.” –Kian Egan

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