Boyzone originally formed back in 1994 and had a hugely successful career - they had an incredible 16 consecutive Top 5 hits including 6 No. 1s... Ronan, Stephen, Shane, Mikey and Keith returned to the UK chart in October 2008 with the up-tempo, catchy 'Love You Anyway', chalking up yet another Top 5 hit.Top 5 hit it was indeed, although a peak of 5 meant it was actually their lowest-charting single at the time; however, subsequent singles have all done even worse and at time of writing, they look like missing the Top 40 entirely with their new single this week. Of course their chart positions were greatly bolstered by the fact that their original career took place almost entirely in the second half of the 1990s, a time of frontloaded multi-format sales when release dates could be cleverly stage-managed to ensure the best chance of a high debut, something Louis Walsh took even further with his next charges Westlife. Of course, an act still needs a certain degree of underlying popularity to manage that but it's a factor you need to account for when you're impressed by that run of success.
'Love You Anyway' was very much a comeback single for the group - though unlike Take That they'd never officially announced a split, Ronan Keating departed for a solo career in 1999 (launched by a solo track featured on a Boyzone best-of!) and with the second most popular member Stephen Gately also releasing solo material in 2000 the others eventually had to accept the inevitable and get on with their lives. There was reportedly some bitterness between Keating and the less famous members, and between him and former manager Louis Walsh, but the sight of sales figures for Take That's comeback seem to have healed all wounds and the band reunited for a performance at Children In Need in 2007, then a full-on tour the following year. Like Take That, they smartly tested the waters with the tour of old songs and the greatest hits album before they tried to sell new material, though they compromised slightly by releasing two new singles from the hits collection. This was the first one, and fortunately considering the circumstances it proved to be one of the best things they ever did. Far from the balladry we might have expected, it's an upbeat track with what's apparently supposed to be a Spector-style wall of sound, though to me it sounds more like a pastiche of a Seventies glam-era pastiche of that sound, something like Roy Wood's Wizzard maybe? It also reminds me slightly of the Lightning Seeds, I'm not totally sure why. It definitely has quite a "busy" production, with a lot of percussion and some sort of synthesised theremin wobbling over it at times. It's no masterpiece - this is Boyzone after all - and the chorus does let the side down a bit, endlessly rephrasing the conceit "it's hard to love you but I love you anyway" like a confused Just A Minute contestant. Still, it could have been much worse and with Boyzone, it usually was.
Unfortunately, the album title "Back Together... No Matter What" was prophetic in more ways than they expected, with the death of Stephen Gately in 2009 postponing plans for new material. The did finally release the comeback studio album in 2010, with another to follow in a couple of days' time. I shan't be at the front of the queue.
Also appearing on: Now 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45,
Available on: Back Again... No Matter What - The Greatest Hits (UK comm CD)