The Irish boyband Westlife are the only band in the history of the United Kingdom to have their first seven singles go straight to number one in the charts. They have now sold over 44 million records worldwide. They were originally signed by Simon Cowell of American Idol fame and are currently being managed by Louis Walsh.
In 2008 they were declared the ninth-richest celebrities under the age of 30. They are currently tied for the largest number of hits in the history of the United Kingdom with Cliff Richard, but behind both Elvis Presley and the Beatles. They are the second largest selling artists after Robbie Williams, and the best selling band of the decade, with 11 million album sales in the first years of the century, beating Coldplay by quite a margin. While they started out as a boy band catering for the teen audience, their music has matured somewhat over the years evolving into more of a pop sound with their more recent releases. Their 10th anniversary concert in Croke Park in 2008 sold over 83,000 Westlife tickets, making them one of the most popular acts in Ireland.
The band started out as a group of boys who called themselves IOYOU, managed by the choreographer, Mary McDonagh. They initially met with the manager of Boyzone, but the incarnation at the time didn't meet with Cowell’s approval, so the contract with BMG was cancelled, and they were told that auditions would be held for a new boy band. The only members of IOYOU to make the cut were Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden, along with three others not formally part of the band: Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan. The new incarnation was called Westlife. In 1998, they opened for Boyzone and Backstreet Boys in Dublin, going on to win the Best New Tour Act at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. Their first single was released in March of 99, and Swear It Again rocketed up the charts and sat there for two weeks. After that, they continued to release hit after hit, and have continued their domination of the United Kingdom pop market with each album they release. The Westlife Where We Are tour tickets in 2009 also carried over into 2010, and the album peaked at number two in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
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