By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The phenomenally successful boy band Westlife made pop history last week when their latest record went to the top of the charts in Britain — the first time anyone has secured the No. 1 slot for their first five singles.
The success of the band, whose members are from Sligo and Dublin, eclipses chart achievements by music greats like Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Spice Girls.
Westlife’s latest No. 1, "Fool Again," beats the record set last year by Irish girl group B*Witched when they become the first to have each of their first four singles go straight to number one.
The quintet, Mark Feehily, 19, Kian Egan, 19, Shane Filan, 20, Bryan McFadden, 19, and Nicky Byrne, 21, are on a tour in the U.S. promoting their debut single, "Swear It Again."
Only a year ago, the new band first made it to the top of the charts in Ireland and were tipped for success in Britain. Now they also hope to hit the big time in America as well.
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Speaking from New York, a delighted Byrne said it had been an "amazing" year.
"We had four No. 1s, including record of the year and the Christmas No. 1," he said. " t has been an absolute roller-coaster year for us. We are also hoping for a top 10, maybe a top five over here."
Byrne said did everything they could last week to push their latest record to the top, including live TV and radio appearances and signings in London and Birmingham.
"We were nearly begging people on air to buy the single. We pulled everything out of the bag and it paid off," he said.
The band could now threaten the achievement of their joint manager and mentor, lead singer with Boyzone Ronan Keating. Boyzone achieved six No. 1 singles spread over six years.
The group’s 12-day U.S. tour also takes in Los Angeles and Boston before they go to France and Holland. Its then back to the U.S. again, followed by a short visit home before they do a 10-day concert tour in Asia in May.
A new album is due in November and a world tour is already planned for 2001.
"Its all looking up for us but its hard work," said Byrne.
Their number ones have been "Swear it again" (April 1999), "If I let You Go Again" (August 1999), "Flying Without Wings" (October 1999), "I Have A Dream/Seasons In The Sun" (December 1999) and now "Fool Again."