Perhaps it's the target market or it may well be the softly lit sound that they create but every Boy Band worth its salt records at least one Christmas song over their career. In Westlife's case, who in the early part of 21st century were undoubtedly the biggest acts in the world doing what they did, it is slightly odd that their grand effort at the festive celebrations was a mere b-side. In choosing 'White Christmas' the Irish lads weren't taking any risks but then a 2005 single package that included their megahit 'When You Tell Me That You Love Me' (from their 'Face To Face album) was always going to ring the bells of plenty of their fans. With Shane Filan in serious crooner mode this version of ‘White Christmas’ is distinguished by the elaborate orchestral arrangements which give the piece a timeless feel.
For all the majesty of their ‘White Christmas’ what Westlife truly excelled at over the holidays was their live performances of Christmas standards. The first of these appeared on an episode of the Frank Skinner show in 2001. As per that shows raison d'être Skinner joined Nicky Byrne and Bryan McFadden of the band for a skit on Wham's 1984 classic 'Last Christmas'. In what was a packed December 2001 Westlife also sang at the 9th Vatican Christmas concert performing 'Little Drummer Boy' with fellow Irish singer Dolores O'Riordan (of the Cranberries). Their performance was broadcast to TV stations around the globe to an audience of millions. If that wasn't enough the Westlife boys also performed several Christmas songs at their 'Westlife and Friends: Christmas Special' concert in Dublin which was alos given a DVD release. The highlights included a solo version of 'Oh Holy Night' sung solo by Mark Feehily and a stunning version of 'Silent Night' with Sinead O'Connor adding the requisite haunting vocals.
In 2003 Westlife performed at the Popworld's Christmas extravaganza which broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. With the cream of the British pop charts performing the lads gave it their all on Wizzard's 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' along with the assembled masses that included Busted, Gareth Gates and Blazin' Squad. The following Christmas they made another appearance at Pop World 2004 along with McFly, Natasha Bedingfield and half a dozen other purveyors of teeny pop. This time Westlife sang a version of Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody' which might have Noddy Holder himself screaming in Christmas horror.
On Christmas Eve 2006 Westlife were again making festive on the UK TV show 'Night Before Christmas' where they could be heard and seen giving it Christmas socks on 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'. For Christmas 2007 they returned home to Dublin for a delightful performance of Aled Jones 'Walking In The Air' on the Late Late Show. Singing with them was one of Ireland's leading female singers Mary Black.Author: Kevin