The Story of Pop: 2002 (Chapter 8)

Offering up the sights and sounds of the UK singles charts from the year it reached its 50th anniversary, this is The Story of Pop: 2002. This week: more record breaking shenanigans abound for Ireland’s premier boys of 21st century pop…

  • Artist: Westlife
  • Song: World Of Our Own
  • Released: 18/02/2002
  • Writers / Producers: Steve Mac / Wayne Hector / Dennis Morgan / Simon Climie
  • Highest UK Chart Position: #1
  • Weeks On Chart: 18

Come the start of 2002, it’s fair to say that – save for a largely failed attempt at cracking America, and that Christmas 2000 chart defeat at the hands of Bob the BuilderWestlife were continuing to occupy another realm where boybands and pop groups generally were concerned.

But something new was in the water musically with the arrival of their third album in the winter of 2001. Its first single, and their first venture into uptempo efforts, was a cover of Billy Joel’sUptown Girl“, and had been their biggest seller to date, taking them back to the top of the UK chart earlier that year in March – of course, thanks in part to being chosen as the official Comic Relief record for Red Nose Day.

It marked a sea change of sorts; no longer were they content to solely be on their stools and getting off them for the obligatory epic key change. Those with a keen ear on their moves will have then witnessed the release (unfortunately not officially in this country) of what is not only one of the best things they’ve recorded, but a boyband generally has recorded: “When You’re Looking Like That“.

A thumping, part 80s hair pop anthem that was like the union between a Max Martin stomper and the theme from Saturday morning cartoon The Raccoons, with the most soaring earworm of a chorus, it was only South East Asian territories that got to fully witness its release as a single. Here in the UK, it was shunted almost unseen onto the B-side of “Queen Of My Heart”, which had been their ninth number one for them the previous November.

However, the release of “World Of Our Own”, the title track and third single from the album, 20 years ago this week, would leave people in no doubt that Westlife were maturing musically and moving forward, occupying, well, a world of their own. Produced and written by their longtime collaborators Steve Mac and Wayne Hector, this took many people by surprise, me included – especially coming so soon after the surprise of “When You’re Looking Like That”.

The midtempo number works on many of the same levels that their former co-manager Ronan Keating’s “Life Is A Rollercoaster” works; it is one of those records that is simply that good, regardless of who is singing it. It perhaps goes some distance to explaining why, in terms of airplay, this flew far greater at radio than some of their other releases ever had.

Three albums into their career, and having been dismissed as a ballad and cover heavy pop band, with this single Westlife confidently answered back to those critics and shone just by releasing a really solid pop single; nothing more, nothing less. It’s only with their comeback since 2019 that people have been able to fully appreciate what they were capable of when they weren’t being boxed in musically speaking.

And commercially it continued their record breaking run of success; “World Of Our Own” entered straight in at the top upon its release to secure them their tenth UK number one single, putting them into chart legend status by joining an exclusive double digit club that was hitherto only occupied by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Madonna and The Beatles of artists with the most UK number ones. But, as in common with a lot of their chart toppers, their stay at the summit was to only be a week, as in a huge turn of events, they were about to be knocked off by a song that they only had just recently recorded and released on their then new album. More on that, of course, next week…

Don’t forget to follow our brand new playlist on Spotify – updated weekly so you never miss a song from the story of pop in 2002. And you can leave your memories of the songs below in the comments, Tweet us or message us on Instagram, using the hashtag #StoryofPop2002.

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