Stephen proved this year that he's not just a member of the UK's premier boy-band, Boyzone, but that he's also a mega-popular star in his own right... Last year, Stephen was named "Irish Personality Of The Year" and voted "Hero Of 1999" by readers of top pop mag Smash Hits. His debut solo single, 'New Beginning', furthered his independent success in May this year.The second member of Boyzone to go solo, Gately always seemed doomed to play second fiddle to Ronan Keating. Though both were officially lead singers in the group, Keating's vocals seemed to dominate most of the hits, and it was probably for this reason that solo Keating got the most prominent launch, with his debut 'When You Say Nothing At All' not only being placed in a major motion picture but being included on Boyzone's greatest hits compilation; ostensibly because it was only supposed to be a temporary break from the band rather than a permanent split.
By the summer of 2000, though, some people may have started to realise the game was up for "the UK's premier boy-band". In what was presumably an attempt to provoke a high-profile battle for the top of the chart, Gately's solo debut was released on the same day as a single by his now ex-bandmate Mikey Graham, though in the event it was rather a damp squib, with Gately getting no higher than 3 (behind non-movers Sonique and S Club 7) and Graham dribbling in at 13 for his only solo Top 30 week. In truth, this was somewhat inevitable in that Gately, though a likable man with a decent voice, was not a distinctive presence even to the extent that Keating is. The title 'New Beginning' is rather an apt one, for not only was this the start of a solo career it also arrived only a few months after Gately had become one of the first active boy-band members to come out as gay: he was admittedly smoked out of the closet as they say but nonetheless his image was rather improved by his dignified behaviour. In his quiet way, he seems to have helped advance gay rights in Ireland (he also became a cause celebre again in death, of course). Unfortunately, whilst the title was almost certainly chosen with an eye to events in his personal life, it seems to have gone no further than a marketing idea and the song itself is a non-event, an unmemorable string of cliches that seems to lose interest in its own chorus half-way through. Within a year he no longer had a record deal.
Available on: New Beginning