The new group, formed on 3 July 1998, was renamed Westside but that name was already in use by another band, so it was changed to Westlife. In Westlife – Our Story, Byrne revealed that, unlike the others in the group, he was keen to change the name to West High.
McFadden also changed the spelling of his name to Bryan to make it easier to sign autographs. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating was brought in to co-manage the group with Walsh. The band then released an EP titled Swear It Again.
Westlife’s début album and single coincided with the apogee of boy band popularity, and their success was most apparent in their homeland and the UK. They had 12 worldwide concert tours over their 14-year career.
Westlife performed for the Sultan of Brunei, an occasion on which they were paid £2.5 million to play a private concert of seven songs.
They also performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2000, and in 2005 with the songs “World of Our Own” and “You Raise Me Up” with Rolf Løvland and Fionnuala Sherry, and in 2009 with “What About Now” and “You Raise Me Up”.
Despite their success worldwide, Westlife were unable to break into the U.S. market. They had only one hit single in the United States, “Swear It Again”, which peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2000.
The band made an appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live and the U.S. edition of their debut album, Westlife was released, but it didn’t meet with success.
In 2002, with the two most prominent boy bands in the US, the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, going on hiatus that year, an attempt was made to promote and release a US version of World of Our Own, but was never successful.
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