This weekend, one of the most successful and beloved Irish music acts of all time make their long awaited return with two sold out shows in Croke Park, and it is a weekend that the fans of Westlife have been waiting a long time for.

They are bound to be amazing nights.

Since their formation in July 1998 the group, comprising of Nicky ByrneKian EganMark FeehilyShane Filan, and Brian McFadden (who would leave the band in March 2004), have remained one of the giants of the Irish music industry. The band have released ten studio albums, and close to forty official single releases, their debut self-titled album was number one in several different countries and was only the beginning of the global success that the band would go on to enjoy. Managed by famous entertainment manager, Louis Walsh, the band also went on to achieve sixteen number one singles. On 19 October, the band would announce that they would call it a day at the end of the tour that they were currently on, The Greatest Hits Tour or The Farewell Tour, as it would later become known as. It would culminate in highly emotional finale shows in Croke Park over two nights in June 2002 (with the second date being added after the first one sold out in a phenomenal four minutes), and thus would bring an end to the time of one of the most loved acts ever to come out of this country.

After 14 years, 26 top ten hits including 14 number one singles, 11 top 5 albums, 7 of which hit the top spot and have collectively sold over 44 million copies around the world, 10 sell out tours and countless memories that we will forever cherish, we today announce our plan to go our separate ways after a greatest hits collection this Christmas and a farewell tour next year. The decision is entirely amicable and after spending all of our adult life together so far, we want to have a well-earned break and look at new ventures. We see the greatest hits collection and the farewell tour as the perfect way to celebrate our incredible career along with our fans. We are really looking forward to getting out on the tour and seeing our fans one last time.

Over the years Westlife has become so much more to us than just a band. Westlife are a family. We would like to thank our fans who have been with us on this amazing journey and are part of our family too. We never imagined when we started out in 1998 that 14 years later we would still be recording, touring and having hits together. It has been a dream come true for all of us.”

And so that that… But then in early October 2018…

As tends to happen when a band like this makes their return, music writers start to work through their discography and select their best songs and create a countdown of their best. These lists always cause debate and argument among fans of the band, and in some cases, outright anger. I asked around the office, and I felt that it was time to do our own definitive selection of the top five songs – unfortunate we couldn’t reach a consensus so here’s a selection of my favourites.

These are in no particular order, let the debate commence…

World of Our Own (World of Our Own, 2002)

One of, if not the best, song by the Irish group. Instantly catchy, and singalong-able (is that a word, who knows?), it is a key feature in Westlife live shows. It is prime example of the ability of the band to express heartfelt and emotional themes such as dealing with a breakup through an upbeat pop song. It is also a killer Singstar song.

If I Let You Go (Westlife, 1999)

Quite simply a song about thinking about how you’re life would be without that special someone in it… We’ve all been there.

Bop Bop Baby (World of Our Own, 2002)

Another one of the most popular songs by the group and another from the 2002 World of Our Own album. This is another example of the group masking a sad story about lost love into a catchy and upbeat pop song.

What Makes A Man (Coast to Coast, 2000)

What Makes A Man is one of the ballads included on this list and it is another song that deals with romantic complications in a way that will be relatable to most listeners. The song asks the question about what makes a romantic interest seem so irresistible to us, something that can seem to make no sense and have no proper explanation, and ultimately this song doesn’t provide us with an answer. Something that will have resonated with many listeners.

Hello My Love (Spectrum, 2019)

This Ed Sheeran penned track was the song chosen to act as the comeback single for the band. Released in January of this year (2019) it immediately reminded music fans of the ability that Westlife have for upbeat pop songs with a warm message at their heart. One of my favourite releases by the band.

So… They’re back.