A tradition had developed whereby every November since they first broke onto the scene, Westlife, one of the most successful boy bands ever, would release a new album and it would stay on the market, selling well though December, the most profitable time of year. Indeed, they sold well enough in most years to have the number one album, an achievement they had accomplished in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005, only missing out in 2004 with the Allow Us to Be Frank swing album, which had probably been too similar to the Robbie Williams Swing When You're Winning project, even for them. They had also missed out with their first album, Westlife, in their breakthrough year of 1999. Now in 2006, Westlife released their seventh album, playing it safe again with a collection of standard well-known love songs and ballads (they rarely did anything else) called The Love Album, which went on to become their fifth number one. There was a swagger and a confidence about Westlife, and also their record company, regarding the timing of their releases. Nobody was going to stand in their way. Having beaten off the Spice Girls' comeback album in 2000 for first-week sales, they were not frightened of any other label or artist stopping them from easily achieving a number one. In 2006, the competition was easily the strongest yet with albums by Oasis, U2, and even the Beatles, all released in the same week. No problem. With a fan base as loyal as theirs, they knew they had the number one position sewn up, and so it proved to be the case, admittedly only for one week, when the group that preceded them in teenage girls hearts, Take That, took over at the top with Beautiful World, their comeback masterpiece.
There were millions of songs that could have been chosen for an album project with two criteria -- they had to be love songs and ballads -- and Westlife, their management, and record company should be commended for not choosing the most obvious. Sure, there were versions of "All Out of Love" (which they performed with Delta Goodrem), "Have You Ever Been in Love," and "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" (a welcome change from the overused "Unchained Melody," which almost all of the Pop Idol and X Factor wannabes chose to perform). They also included Bette Midler's "The Rose," Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and the Commodores' "Easy," all sung with not too much variation from the originals, but just enough to stamp that Westlife sound onto them. They also chose more unusual tracks: Garth Brooks' "The Dance"; "Love Can Build a Bridge," which had been a Comic Relief charity number one single in 1995; and Joe Cocker's mid-'70s hit "You Are So Beautiful (To Me)." If their fans stay loyal, Westlife could probably keep this level of success up for a long time to come.