How I Escaped The Worst Band In The World
Early 1999 at the Cafe de Paris in Piccadilly and I am at a showcase/launch party for a new boy band on the BMG record label. I'm there largely as a spy but also as a guest of various pop journalists who are friends. The group, five Irish lads named Westside, are slick, ballad-heavy and awful. I know they will be huge.
Sadly, another band somewhere in America is already called Westside so the Irish crooners rename themselves Westlife. At the time, this noun was new to the English dictionary but very soon it became a byword for unimaginable torment.
I spent the next year telling anyone who would listen how Westlife were so atrocious that the longer they went on selling records, the more painful would be the slow decline of the music industry. Simultaneously, Westlife became one of the most successful bands in history and in dark rooms in SW6, I was the subject of discussions amongst the powerful.
Soon the call came from BMG. Would I come to a meeting? With the top people? I trudged to Fulham expecting a tongue-lashing. Instead, they offered me a job. At twice my then salary! One problem - I would be representing Westlife.
I said no thank you. Needless to say, another call came. And another. Until eventually I found mself sitting in the passenger seat of a top-of-the-range BMW, in a driveway in posh Barnes. It was the final attempt to persuade me to join the enemy and their weapon of choice? An exclusive play of the new Westlife album, at top volume.
BMG thought the album was so amazing that it would sway me to join the Dark Side even more than the untold riches being offered. To my bleeding ears, it was the biggest pile of aural tosh in the history of recorded sound. Obviously I politely declined. Again. A man has his principles, eh?