Our second trip down memory lane and we’re visiting another Irish band, Boyzone, with the stirring, “No Matter What”. The song comes from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Whistle Down the Wind”, and features the beautiful voices of Stephen Gately and Ronan Keating. I was listening to the “No Matter What” (CD 1) version (1998), which also includes the songs, “All That I Need” (Phil Da Costas Oxygen Edit), and “Where Have You Been”. “No Matter What” is Boyzone’s biggest selling single, having sold over 4 million copies worldwide. It’s also the best performing single of any boyband.
Boyzone’s most famous lineup comprised Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, and Shane Lynch. The group were initially formed in 1993 in response to an advertisement for a new boy band – with the aim to find an “Irish Take That”. Keating put all his Olympics dreams aside (he was due to go to New York on an athletics college scholarship) to join. Likewise Duffy signed up, much to his family’s dismay, as he was in a good job. But sign up they did, and with the rest of the band, went on to be ranked in 2012 by The Official Charts Company, as the 29th best selling singles artists in UK music chart history – and the second highest placed boyband, after Take That.
“No Matter What” is haunting. Keating’s vocals are rich and resonating, and perfectly complemented by Gately’s rising harmonies. If I had to choose between Westlife and Boyzone, it’d be Boyzone for me every time. Written by Jim Steinman for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical take on Mary Bell’s classic, “Whistle Down the Wind” (the film of which starred her daughter Hayley Mills), Boyzone’s version was as part of a concept album of songs from the show, and also featured Bonnie Tyler, Boy George, and Tom Jones, among others. The single also appears on Boyzone’s album, “Where We Belong”, released in 1998.
It’s certainly been no bed of roses for Boyzone. At the end of 1999 they decided to take time out to pursue solo careers, with varying degrees of success. In 2007 they reunited for a special appearance on BBC’s Children in Need, and announced a UK/Ireland tour for 2008. Keating had officially left the band, but returned for several concerts of the tour. In 2009 however they were rocked by the death of Gately, which especially affected Keating, as the pair were close friends. They toured in 2011, dedicating it to their “brother Steo”, but again took a hiatus at the conclusion of the tour. In 2013 they reunited once more for their 20 year anniversary, having apparently been inspired by Take That’s return. That year they released 5th studio album, “BZ20” and in 2014 released “From Dublin to Detroit”, a celebration of Motown classics, which debuted at number 6 on the UK albums chart.
It certainly seems that Boyzone are back and have no intentions of going away again anytime soon. No matter what.