Spectrum (Westlife album)

Spectrum is the twelfth studio album by Irish pop vocal band Westlife, released on 15 November 2019 through Virgin EMI Records.[3] It includes the singles "Hello My Love", "Better Man", "Dynamite" and "My Blood", and features songs co-written by Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac, Ryan Tedder, Camille Purcell, and James Bay.[4] It is the band's first major album in eight years, and their first album under Universal Music Group and Virgin EMI.[5] The album debuted atop the Irish Albums Chart and UK Albums Chart.

Spectrum
Westlife - Spectrum.png
Studio album by
Released15 November 2019 (2019-11-15)
Recorded2018–2019
Length36:15
LabelVirgin EMI
ProducerSteve Mac (exec.), Zach Skelton, Jamie Scott, Alex Charles
Westlife chronology
The Farewell Tour: Live at Croke Park
(2012)
Spectrum
(2019)
Westlife studio album chronology
Gravity
(2010)
Spectrum
(2019)
Singles from Spectrum
  1. "Hello My Love"
    Released: 10 January 2019
  2. "Better Man"
    Released: 29 March 2019
  3. "Dynamite"
    Released: 5 July 2019
  4. "My Blood"
    Released: 25 October 2019
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Evening Standard3/5 stars[1]
Hot Press6/10[2]

Background, concept and developmentEdit

After releasing their second Greatest Hits album and tour dates and announcing their breakup in 2011 and their last appearance together in 2012, several rumours about Westlife reuniting and making new music surfaced. On 23 September 2018, several Irish news outlets reported that the group has been signed to Universal Music Group and Virgin EMI Records for a new record deal. On 3 October 2018, the group formally announced on their official social media accounts that there would be new music coming soon.[6] According to reports they had been preparing for the comeback for the previous twelve months. Group member Mark Feehily also said in 2017 that he hoped to get them all together for a proper catch-up.[7] Band members Nicky Byrne and Shane Filan stated about their reunion, "We still have a lot that we want to achieve as a band and we want to bring our new music to fans all over the world" and "While we were away, we realised what Westlife really meant to the fans — and to us."[8]

Byrne expressed in one of his Instagram post, "...it’s an album we thought out in great detail, as grown up men we approached everything very differently. We as individuals brought our own experiences back to a band to try make it great again. We listened and watched and worked our asses off to try make it relevant.[...] It’s actually the proudest I have ever been about a @westlife album." They also confirmed that they’ve probably had more input into this album than any other albums in their careers.[9]

Music, writing and recordingEdit

The album was recorded in Dublin, London, and Los Angeles with the band saying it "has everything that we love in music, heartfelt emotional songs and also great uptempos that are designed for our stadium performances". They also explained that they "couldn't be happier with how the last few months in the studio have gone".[4] The title, Spectrum, was chosen because the band said that it is a metaphor for "the various shades and colours of our personalities, vocals and general perspectives" that they feel "somehow join to work perfectly", "it came from us talking about how we feel younger, happier and more energetic than we ever have in our career."[10] On 24 May 2019, they revealed their new Spectrum, "is a mix of old and new sound".

Band manager Louis Walsh also said in separate interviews that the most important things now are the songs, and that it will function as an introduction to their new sound, adding: "I was just waiting for them to decide when. There were record deals on the table, but the icing on the cake was Ed Sheeran writing these amazing songs for them, as well as having Steve Mac, who produced their early songs, on track too." [...] "Sheeran's input adds a contemporary edge", "I've heard the first two songs and they are just incredible."[11] The band added, "The first two songs we’ve done are just incredible songs, with incredible lyrics and melodies. Steve Mac is one of our longest and most influential producers we’ve had throughout our entire career. He’s done most of our biggest hits and has worked previously with Ed on "Shape of You". One day Ed went in the studio and said ‘I just want to write Westlife songs’. It’s been a truly organic coupling. He also played the guitar to Westlife's Greatest hits album and the band's single "Flying Without Wings" when he was ten.” Mac stated that the band's "signature sound" would return,[12]

Feehily and Filan added: "We're not trying to change Westlife's sound, we're trying to evolve [...] We need to be a Westlife 2.0, a better version of ourselves. We wanted to come back and recreate Westlife's sound, but better, and be a better band, and the most important thing about any band is music."[13] Filan said they have been recording new songs since July 2018. Walsh stated that the band would be back in recording studios in January 2019 but in December 2018, social media posts surfaced that showed the group was working with Daniel Davidsen and Peter Wallevik.[14] Wallevik also posted names of people the band were working with, including JC Stewart, Jordan Thomas, and Ed Drewett.[15] The band also worked with Carl Falk and James Bay.

As of January 2019, Filan said: "We've only got three songs recorded, so we have to get another probably ten [recorded]." On 13 April 2019, Walsh said that he believes there is at least half a dozen hits on the new album to the Irish Independent. The group added, "Hello My Love" has been so popular, it's even affecting our potential single choice for the third single, the fourth single..." In April 2019, they said nine songs had been recorded. One song, "Anywhere", a three-minute "feel-good love song" written by Sheeran and produced by Mac, was slated to be included on the album but was later confirmed not to be included in the actual track listing. In May 2019, Egan told in an interview that eight to nine songs they recorded where Sheeran all co-wrote. On their 7 June 2019 interview on This Morning, Filan said they recorded six songs co-written by Sheeran. In 29 July 2019 interview by the Official Charts Company of Feehily, he added: "One of them is just a very cool tip of the hat to Celtic music. It's very contemporary but it's got a Celtic fusion side to it. I had a song on my album Fire called 'Sanctuary' which sampled Clannad but it had more a pop/hip-hop beat to it. It's kind of in the same world as that. It's cool, edgy and contemporary."

Band member Kian Egan said the album is already "done" and "in the bag" in 24 September 2019. They added in an exclusive interview by Smooth Radio in 10 October 2019: "We spent 14 months making this album, which is the longest we've ever spent making an album", and said that the band plans "to release more singles, obviously, off this album, even after Christmas next year, running up into Wembley Stadium. So there's probably going to be more singles released off this album than we've ever released off an album, hence the quality that we feel is the strongest".[16] When Byrne was asked in another interview by HMV if they recorded many songs for the album, he answered: “Not really, no. We worked on the album a lot and over a long time and we were still working on it up until about two months ago. We ended up recording 13 or 14. We thought we might record 30 or 40 and then work it down, but we were so confident about the songs we didn’t need to."[17] On 12 November 2019, they confirmed in a Facebook live video that the album contains three ballads and the song "Take Me There" is uptempo. Their first recorded song for the album was "Better Man" and the last one was recorded just a week in Dublin before the video interview was done.[18]

The said collaborations above did not made the cut in the album tracklist except for Bay ("Repair", "Without You"), McCutcheon ("Better Man", "Dynamite", "Hello My Love", "L.O.V.E", "My Blood", "One Last Time", "Repair", "Take Me There", "Without You"), and Sheeran ("Better Man", "Dynamite", "Hello My Love", "My Blood", "One Last Time"). There are songwriting appearances from Alex Charles ("Another Life"), Luka Kloser ("Dance"), Camille Purcell ("L.O.V.E", "Take Me There"), Zach Skelton, Casey Smith, Ryan Tedder ("Dance"), and Tom Williams ("Another Life").

Release and promotionEdit

The album pre-order became available on October 2018.[4] The full-length album was released on 15 November 2019, after being moved from its initial planned release date of 6 September, 8 November, 1 January 2020, and 25 December 2020.[5] It was released on CD, and vinyl, as well as a digital download, and for streaming. It is the band's first studio album to be released on vinyl and streaming for its album premiere. On 2 October 2019, it was also announced that they would release a limited box set edition of the album. There are two versions of the album, standard and deluxe, and two bonus tracks on the Japanese version of the album. The album is also bundled with some of their official merchandise.

The band's guest appearances during the album release are on BBC Breakfast on 14 November 2019,[19] BBC Children in Need on 15 November 2019,[20] Strictly Come Dancing on 17 November 2019,[21] This Morning on 18 November 2019, The Late Late Show on 22 November 2019, Lorraine on 25 November 2019, Idol on 6 December 2019, and on Michael McIntyre's Big Show on 7 December 2019. This is their first live promotional appearance in Sweden since 2009.[citation needed] It is also their first live television performances in the said UK and Ireland television shows since 2011.[citation needed]

Spectrum was the "Album of the Week" on BBC Radio 2 for the week of 9 November 2019.[22] The first two singles released have gained 200 million streams globally so far as of July 2019. The tracks have also been the band's most successful radio records. "Hello My Love" has had over 30,000 plays at UK radio to an audience of 275 million, and is one of the most played songs of 2019 on BBC Radio 2.[23] One day before the album release, they published "Without You".[24]

SinglesEdit

The album's lead single, "Hello My Love", was released on 10 January 2019 with its music video on 11 January 2019. It reached number two in Ireland and Scotland, and is their highest charting on their official singles charts since "What About Now" in 2009, ten years ago. The single stayed at number one for two weeks on the UK Physical Chart, the group's highest charting since their 2006 single, "The Rose".

The second single, "Better Man", was released on 29 March 2019 alongside its music video. It became the band's second number-one on the UK Physical Singles Chart and reached number two on the UK Singles Sales Chart and Scottish Singles Chart.

The third single, "Dynamite", was released on 5 July 2019. The music video was shot in Arena Birmingham in the United Kingdom and in Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland where they performed the song live for the first time.

The fourth single, "My Blood", was announced on 14 September 2019 and released on 25 October 2019. It is was written by Mac and Sheeran; Mac previously wrote the band's number-one hits "Swear It Again" and "World of Our Own", while it is the fourth song released by the band written by Sheeran. In an interview with Daily Star on 13 September 2019, Byrne explained: "It's about growing up, it's a love song. You can see Ed is talking about being a parent and watching your child grow up and giving them the best tools to deal with life like bullying."On the same day, BBC Radio 2 have released its playlist for the week and the single premiered as B-List and as the Record of the Week.[25] It was released on 25 October 2019 after being pushed back from 18 October, according to the Daily Mirror.[26] Filming for the music video began on 14 September 2019 in Bray, Ireland and it features the band members' children. The full music video was published on the band's YouTube page on the day of the song's release. "My Blood" ended up peaking at number ninety-six on the UK Singles Chart and becoming their 30th top 100 hit. It also peaked at number six on the Scottish Singles Chart and number forty-six on the Irish Singles Chart. It also peaked at number four in the Irish Digital Songs Sales Chart and number twenty in the Euro Digital Sales Chart.[27]

TouringEdit

Westlife embarked on their thirteenth concert tour titled The Twenty Tour, which began in May and will conclude in September 2019. The first leg started in Belfast on 22 May 2019 at the SSE Arena before moving throughout mainland Europe and concluding in Dublin at Croke Park on 6 July 2019. The second leg began on 24 July at the IMPACT Arena in Bangkok, Thailand and continues throughout the Asia with multiple dates at each venue. A new concert tour was released and was called, "Stadiums in the Summer", their fourteenth one. The tour will conclude on 29 August 2020 in Cork, Ireland.

Commercial performanceEdit

On 22 November 2019, Spectrum debuted atop the UK Albums Chart, becoming Westlife's eighth UK number-one album as well as their first in 12 years and achieving 63,000 total chart sales.[28] The Official Charts Company previously announced that the album had shifted more than 50,000 equivalent units in the United Kingdom after three days of release and predicted that it would debut atop the album chart.[29] According to Music Week, this was the 2019 fifth-highest sale achieved by a number-one album in the UK at that time. Spectrum sold almost as many copies last week as the rest of the top five combined, and more than three times as many copies sold as the No.2 of the said week.[30] The album was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry on its opening week and Gold on its fourth week.[31]

In Ireland, Spectrum also became the fastest-selling album of the year and was predicted to debut atop the album chart.[32] The album debuted at number one on the Irish Albums Chart, selling 8,900 units in its first week and becoming the band's eleventh number-one album in the country.[33] It has been certified Platinum by the Irish Recording Music Association.[34]

Track listingEdit

Adapted from Apple Music.[3]

Standard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Hello My Love"3:36
2."Better Man"3:17
3."My Blood"
  • Sheeran
  • McCutcheon
  • Hector
3:18
4."Dynamite"
3:32
5."Dance"
2:45
6."One Last Time"
  • Sheeran
  • McCutcheon
2:55
7."Take Me There"3:25
8."Repair"
3:07
9."Without You"
  • Bay
  • McCutcheon
3:39
10."L.O.V.E."
  • Feehily
  • Filan
  • Purcell
  • McCutcheon
2:53
11."Another Life"
  • Alexander Charles
  • Thomas Williams
3:49
Total length:36:15

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Gold 137,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[47] Platinum 15,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release historyEdit

Region Release date Format Label
Various 15 November 2019 Universal Music Group,
Virgin EMI

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/music/westlife-spectrum-album-review-new-a4288201.html
  2. ^ https://www.hotpress.com/music/album-review-westlife-spectrum-22794764
  3. ^ a b "Spectrum by Westlife". iTunes Store. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Westlife announce brand new album 'Spectrum': 'It's our best ever'". Smooth Radio. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Here we go again. Having just announced two Cardiff dates, that brings the Twenty Tour to 32 shows so far across Ireland & Uk, A brand new album coming after 8years in 2019! But.. it all kicks off on The Graham Norton Show on January 11th @thgnshow @grahnort". Twitter.
  6. ^ "Westlife Official Instagram of Westlife" – via Instagram.
  7. ^ "Westlife star Mark says the band is set for a reunion... down at the pub". herald.ie.
  8. ^ "CONFIRMED: Westlife are officially getting back together and going on tour". joe.ie.
  9. ^ "Westlife released new album 'Spectrum'". independent.ie.
  10. ^ "Westlife announce new album Spectrum for September release". Arizona Daily Star. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Louis Walsh on Westlife, Boyzone, The X Factor and Elf on the Shelf". Irish News.
  12. ^ "Steve Mac: Westlife back with signature sound". Retrieved 26 October 2018 – via Twitter.
  13. ^ "Ed Sheeran wrote Westlife songs two years BEFORE the band decided to reunite". evoke.ie.
  14. ^ "daniel.h.davidsen Prince Of Wales The right way to end a session :) #westlife" – via Instagram.
  15. ^ "peterwallevik Epic moment writing with these guys and #shanefilan #markusfeehily #westlife 💫" – via Instagram.
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  17. ^ "Westlife Spectrum interview". hmv.com.
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  19. ^ Daly, Helen (11 November 2019). "BBC News: Carol Kirkwood slams Charlie and Naga over demand 'Can't believe you did that'". express.co.uk. Daily Express. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  20. ^ "BBC Children in Need appeal raises nearly £48m". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 16 November 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
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  34. ^ "shanefilanofficial Our 1st platinum disc for Spectrum has arrived .. Always a special feeling to get one of these from your home country 🇮🇪.. Thankyou". 27 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019 – via Instagram.
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