It’s easy to forget just how impressive Westlife’s chart history is. Their tally of UK Number 1 singles – fourteen – is only surpassed by The Beatles and Elvis.
While they’re not short of hits, their banger to ballad ratio is weighted heavily – almost exclusively - towards the latter. And while stool perching torch songs are essential to the Westlife brand, they’re enormously difficult to pull off successfully in 2019. Plus, after eight years away, it’d be rude not to launch their comeback with a bang, right?
To be clear, the group’s first new track in eight years, called Hello My Love, is upbeat – for a Westlife single. We clock its bpm at around 128bpm, placing it between Uptown Girl and the criminally underappreciated Bop Bop Baby on the uptempo scale of their singles catalogue.
If we had to compare it to anything on the Top 40 of late, it’d be in realm of Jess Glynne’s All I Am meets Ed Sheeran’s Castle On The Hill - and we’re not just saying that because it’s co-written by Ed Sheeran and produced by Glynne collaborator Steve Mac. Steve has worked with Westlife from the very beginning, and on Hello My Love he manages to update their sound without sacrificing their essence.
Speaking of which, something else at the core of Westlife is pure and unadulterated schmaltz, making Ed Sheeran the ideal person to write the song. “I know that I’m punching way above, so lucky that we fell in love,” croons Shane on the opening verse, adding: “You could have someone without a belly or temper, perfect teeth, hair growing where it’s meant to – you know my lips are all I can hold against you.” Soppy? Yes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hello My Love is released on January 10, and Westlife are kick off their UK arena tour this May. Welcome back Westlife!