Belfast Telegraph

Mark Feehily says Westlife image was ‘too clean-cut’

The boy band founded in 1998 is returning to touring.

(left to right) Kian Egan, Shane Filan, Mark Feehily and Nicky Byrne of Westlife are set to embark on a new tour following their reunion (Ian West/PA)
(left to right) Kian Egan, Shane Filan, Mark Feehily and Nicky Byrne of Westlife are set to embark on a new tour following their reunion (Ian West/PA)

Mark Feehily has said the image of Westlife was “too clean-cut” and pop stars today present a more realistic image for fans.

The Flying Without Wings hitmakers shot to fame in the late 1990s, and Feehily believes the public images of the era created expectations that were not “possible or real”.

Feehily said that tastes have progressed since the rise of the boy band, and pop stars today show imperfections fans can relate to.

The singer has welcomed the changes in the industry as Westlife return to the road with new material and a tour planned for 2019 following their reunion last year.

Speaking to the Press Association, Feehily said: “In some ways, the original Westlife image was so clean-cut, and maybe bit unrealistic.

“It’s better that everyone is just themselves.”

He added: “Back in the early 2000s, pop stars put out this non-realistic, perfect, clean-cut thing, that created an expectation that maybe wasn’t possible, or real.

“It’s important for kids to have pop stars out there that they can relate to. It’s not just this one type of person who ticks these kind of, I suppose, perfect boxes.

“For a kid out there who maybe isn’t perfect, they’re going: ‘well, I’m never going to be like that, I’m never going to be successful, I’m never going to be popular’.

“Things have progressed in big ways since we started off.”

He said that social media presents a new problem for contemporary pop stars, who have to juggle with their image across various platforms, which present a new image of perfection.

Feehily said: “Instagram is such a perfect world and that is a problem. They’re comparing themselves to this fantasy that it’s impossible to keep up with.”

Westlife have returned to pop music with a reunion in 2018, and a tour of new material beginning in May of this year.

The band believe that musical tastes may be swinging back towards those of the 1990s and 2000s, citing the balladic success of A Star Is Born and The Greatest Showman soundtracks, and the performance of their new releases Hello My Love and Better Man.

Feehily said: “We could be starting to see the end of this EDM, DJ-based, vocal feature era.”

Shane Filan said: “The whole comeback has been kind of daunting. We didn’t know exactly how the reaction was going to be. It’s a very different landscape for Westlife to come back into.”

He added: “There is always going to be a time and a place for an amazing ballad. People love a love song.”

Kian Egan, Nicky Byrne, Feehily and Filan will embark on Westlife’s new UK and international tour, which will begins in Belfast on May 22. Tickets available through Live Nation.

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