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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 11:12 GMT
Westlife: Better than The Beatles?

Westlife have made pop history by becoming the second act to have seven consecutive singles at the top of the UK chart.

This feat has only been equalled by The Beatles during their Beatlemania heyday in the 60s.

The Irish boy band, who also toppled the Spice Girls from the number one slot, have only been together for 19 months. "Being in the same sentence as The Beatles is an honour for us," they said.

Is it too early or even fair to make a comparison with The Beatles, said to be the greatest band of all time? Or is it time new kings of pop took over from The Beatles and their long-standing reign?

Westlife are to intelligent pop what George W. Bush is to sensible politics

Mark Saunders, London, UK
Westlife are to intelligent pop what George W. Bush is to sensible politics - a parody. Long live the Beatles - purely and simply the most influential and best band ever to have existed.
Mark Saunders, London, UK

Remember when that load of no-hopers called Oasis told us they were bigger than the Beatles? Where are they now?
Tam, Scotland

Are they capable of producing anything remotely haunting as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"?
Dilawar, Pakistan

I can guarantee that every individual in my family knows who the Beatles are, young or old. As for Westlife I doubt that even the English living in Kuwait know who they are. Comparison, I don't think so.
Nader, Kuwait

Didn't the Beatles have the audacity to write their own songs?

John S, Netherlands
Aren't we forgetting that the current singles chart has become little more than a tool of the record companies, manipulated by them to hype up whatever synthetic pap they have created? The number of sales needed to get a number one single is a fraction of what was needed in the 60's, 70's or 80's, so making comparisons with artists from those eras is a distortion. And anyway, didn't the Beatles have the audacity to write their own songs?
John S, Netherlands

Ho ho ho! Joke right?
Tom, UK

Westlife are a great bunch of lads and to compare them to the Beatles is crazy. The Beatles wore moustaches for goodness sake. And any of the Westlifers could drum better than Ringo.
Dougal McIntyre, Ireland

What a stupid "Talking Point" item. What comparison can there be? It's like asking, is "The Birdie Song" a better tune than "Land of Open Glory". So, the BBC Internet site is now "dumbing down", just like its broadcasting brother.
Jon Buck, UK

We want the OSMONDS

Pam Nassau, UK
Westlife will not survive 3 years. Now compare the best band of the early seventies, some members still performing, their songs currently being used as advert themes in the UK (Virgin and Lycos). Two members, until a few months ago, having their own top ranking chat show in the States. The re-release of their classic single, Crazy Horses, reaching the top 40 last year with NO airplay on radio (shame!) Who? The OSMONDS! A number one band of the 70s, 80s,90s and now the 21st century. So come on BBC show the Xmas special and stop being so biased and stop discriminating against all the British fans they have. To coin a phase..We want the OSMONDS!
Pam Nassau, UK

It is a travesty of the BBC's entire history that it asks a stupid nonsensical question like this. The only two groups of people it drags out of the woodwork are prematurely middle-aged young girls (they'd have to be to like a boy-band which only ever records ballads!) and deluded 60s nostalgics. Both are as sentimental as each other. The BBC has no business whatsoever encouraging either.
Robin Carmody, UK

Ronan and Westlife are raking it in and who can blame them? But I'm sure even they would say that they are not on par with The Beatles. The Beatles created their own image and music in an arena of superb competition and variety which was Sixties music. Their genius and influence won't ever be repeated.
Tim, France

I became a resident here over a year ago and the constant barrage of bubblegum "tweeny" pop that assaults my sensibilities and my eardrums is incredible, considering the heights that the British music industry has reached in the past.
Martin Smith, Australia

I think the Pet Shop Boys are the greatest band ever

Personally I think the Pet Shop Boys are the greatest band ever but surely it's all a matter of individual taste.

Westlife are a couple of cute guys, but comparing them to the Beatles? You have to be kidding. The Beatles were groundbreaking, Westlife are nice to look at.
Monique, Netherlands

The Beatles did not change the face of international music! If it hadn't been for a certain hip-swiveller 10 years previously they wouldn't have been heard at all. The Beatles did some great pop and then they got all thoughtful and ruined it. Westlife are a boy band, they do lovely ballads. God save us that they ever become thoughtful but good luck to them while they make money from 14 year old girl fantasies.... hmmm sounds a bit like the Beatles!
Julie, UK

The Beatles were musicians. Westlife are puppets. I rest my case.
Kate Prior, Wales

Like comparing a Skoda to a Ferrari

Brett, England
Comparing Westlife to the Beatles is like comparing a Skoda to a Ferrari - they do the same thing but there the similarity ends!
Brett, England

OK, so maybe the Beatles have had an influence on modern music, but who's to say the 'Fab Five' won't? And they're gorgeous as well!
Declan Roche, Ireland

While my personal opinion would be the Beatles, I realise that perhaps it is time to pass the title to another generation. The Beatles will always be remembered for the effect they had on the world. But of course to people like me they will always have a special place in my heart, life and memories. It would be nice to think that someone else could musically bring that kind of spirit and joy into people's lives. I wish them well.
C. S. White, USA

Westlife Rules! The number one boy-band in my country with hit breaking songs on Manila's top chart.
Noel G, Philippines

When I listened to pop music in the 60's my father called it rubbish

Gill, UK
When I listened to pop music in the 60's my father called it 'rubbish'. I continued to like chart music until the early 90's and the rise of the girl/ boy bands and now I think of most of it as rubbish! The difference between us is I am correct!
Gill, UK

Westlife have matched the Beatles' success in Britain, and I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time before they have success in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, even though I am a big Westlife fan, I do concede that they are nowhere near the Beatles when it comes to creativity!
Joanna, UK

I left England 2 years ago and have seen the UK music scene slowly sink to new lows but to mention Westlife (not even heard of in the US) in the same breath as the Beatles is a crime.
Nick Scotting, USA

Back in the Beatles' time, artists actually made music and had musical talent

Paul Charters, England
Back in the Beatles' time, artists actually made music and had musical talent. Today the market is purely dictated by how well a sweet-faced boy/ girl can manipulate the hormones of teenagers. The only person related to Westlife who has any real talent is Ronan Keating, simply because he writes songs and manages Westlife whilst still keeping his own music career on the go. Well done to Ronan, but Westlife - pah!
Paul Charters, England

I wish Westlife success but feel that they do lack the inspiration and originality of The Beatles. Let us hope in 30 years time that Westlife will be as popular and loved as The Beatles were and are! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!!!!
Linda Dowdall, Australia

It is really absurd to compare mediocre contemporary bands to such a legendary group as The Beatles. Besides redefining the global culture of youth, their music has left an indelible imprint on contemporary rock music.
Emdor Yeiman Shen, India

People seem to forget that today's cheesy pap is tomorrow's classic. There is more chance that bands like Westlife will be remembered in 30 years time than groups/ individuals who are admired for their musical ability - like the Mercury award winners for instance. The Beatles were a 'popular' band but there was little in their music that was innovative. They were marketed well, just like a certain Irish boyband.
Ed, UK

Let the teenyboppers have their fun

Mandy, UK
Obviously talent-wise you can't even begin to compare Westlife with The Beatles, but the music industry today is so different to how it was in the 60's, and kids will always need pop idols. Let's face it, the singles chart hardly holds the importance that it once did and no doubt plenty of bands, manufactured or not, will continue to break records like this in the future. I love The Beatles and they'll always be considered the greatest, but let the teenyboppers have their fun. They are the ones who buy the singles after all.
Mandy, UK

Sadly, the British Top 40 charts that are so trumpeted by Radio 1 and Top of the Pops no longer have the finger on the pulse of the nation. Music is very polarised now and I find it sad that the music business is so blatantly corrupt. I agree with George Michael's comments the other day about "malleable young things". Talent and originality is no longer at the fore - only the desire for profit and image.
Eddie Talbot, UK

I seem to recall similar high praise being heaped upon Right Said Fred. Come back and ask the question in 10 years time.
David, UK

What about the other boy bands like N'Sync or Backstreet Boys?

Nicholas A.L. Hoskins, USA
If you were to compare the bands on sales volume then what about the other "boy bands" like N'Sync or Backstreet Boys, whose sales volumes are greater because of the American consumer market?
Nicholas A.L. Hoskins, USA

Times and people have changed and there have also been many excellent bands since The Beatles. You can't really compare the two of them. Why not ask if U2 are better than The Beatles? They may not have had as many number ones, but they have been together with the same group members for over 20 years (unlike the Beatles who split up). It's all a matter of individual taste.
Kerri, UK

This whole argument is irrelevant because of the time difference. The Beatles were one of the first bands to write and perform their own songs - previous stars such as Louis Armstrong gained fame only by performing classic versions of jazz standards. Everything about The Beatles was NEW - breaking the mould of early 60's Beat music, they managed to lead a revolution of songwriters who performed their own music and loved doing it. Westlife, however, exemplify a new wave of money-making machines performing whatever music is thrown at them.
James Thurston, UK

The Beatles looked like hairy fools most of the time

Conal Presho, England
I think Westlife are far better than the Beatles. They wear nicer shirts and all of them have had their teeth fixed. The Beatles looked like hairy fools most of the time. It is about time that people realised that being a great band is not about the groundbreaking music you create, it is all about who has the latest designer gear and well-cut hair. And Take That are better than the Rolling Stones as well...
Conal Presho, England

Personally, I'd take "Flying without Wings" over "Strawberry Fields" any day of the week. Lennon has nothing on errr... that blonde one who looks a bit like David Beckham.
Sam, UK

This must be a joke matching Westlife to the Beatles. I have nothing against Westlife and their music, but everything about Beatles stands on a level that Westlife can only dream to archive.
David Scherer, Norway

Give Weslife a chance, they have only been on the scene for a year and half

A. Parks, UK
Although I am not a fan of Westlife, I must put the record straight here to those who claim that the Beatles created/ invented a music revolution. No way! They themselves were created at that time to compete with the American music revolution. The UK had to have a band, thus the Beatles came to life. And yes they used all the marketing and hype of that time to sell themselves. Give Weslife a chance, they have only been on the scene for a year and half.
A. Parks, UK

Ha Ha Ha !!!! Westlife! yeah right. The Beatles, Yesterday and Forever
Alex la Volpicella, Australia

I agree with the vast majority of those who have written in saying that there is no basis for comparison between these two groups. I have never even heard of Westlife. I grew up with the Beatles and in my opinion they were quite simply the best pop group ever and their music has lasted and will be listened to long after I have departed this life.
Stephen, Hong Kong

I can't stand either of them

I can't stand either of them. One group of fans are screaming 14 year olds and the other bunch are people who are stuck in the past. However, even I admit that I'd rather listen to the entire Beatles back-catalogue than listen to one Westlife single!

Ah now, come on. This is a joke, right?
Liz, Ireland

There's pure pop and there's pure pap. I think it's obvious in which categories the Beatles and the Monkees... err, Westlife belong.
Stijn de Jong, Netherlands

Westlife don't even compare to Pinky and Perky.
Garry, England

Wait 30 years, then see how many Westlife tribute bands there are - bet there won't even be one!!!!
Wez, UK

Well, I've never heard of this band ... which just about says it all, I guess. Still, whoever they are, I wish them every success!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/ UK

West Life are the bestest ever! WL are the coolest!
Ian Floyd, UK

Westlife are self-confessed SINGERS, not musicians

Laura Porter, UK
Westlife are self-confessed SINGERS, not musicians. They have stated time and time again that they are not songwriters or musicians. There's no comparison - Weslife may be good at singing, but the Beatles were artists, musicians, singers, icons.... and far superior.
Laura Porter, UK

A boy band versus The Beatles? You're kidding right?
Micah, UK

Back in the 60's and 70's to get to number one, an act needed to sell around 300,000 copies. Now, some acts have got to number 1 selling less than 40,000. Furthermore, back then there were generally only around a dozen chart toppers a year. Now, there's almost one a week, which have probably mainly got there through chart manipulation and record company execs buying up their own stuff by the container load. Something tells me that 10, 20, 30 years down the line people won't be talking of Westlife in revered and hushed tones.
Alex B, UK

Sacrilege! How can anyone even think of comparing a teenybopper boyband who very few people have even heard of, let alone sing, to the Princes of the Universe? You have the opportunity to recant this blasphemy!
Natalia, Italy

Westlife are nowhere near the Wombles, let alone the Beatles in talent.
Stuart Goodacre, UK

Four years ago Westlife did not exist

Tanya Smithson, England
Four years ago Westlife did not exist. I predict that within four years they will be gone and forgotten. Although I personally don't like the Beatles' music much, it has stood the test of time better than any of the current genre of boy bands and girl bands, all of whom sound much the same.
Tanya Smithson, England

Westllife may not be in the same league as the Beatles, but they do bear comparison with other great bands of that era, like the Bay City Rollers.
Michael, UK

What a silly question!
Jon, UK

John Lennon sang, played guitar and piano, Paul McCartney sang and played bass, George Harrison played guitar and sang, Ringo played drums and sang. They were all heavily involved in the writing and recording process, each new album was a natural progression from the last and were all, without exception totally original. Now I am quite happy for someone to correct me here but I can't really imagine that Westlife or any other manufactured band are even in the same creative category as the Beatles. I can't believe you've even asked us the question.
Simon, England

I have yet to hear one Westlife song on the radio here in the States.
Naveen Yalamanchi, USA

Being an ex-pat, a music lover, and a DJ who has lived here in Oz for four years, I find it totally inconceivable that you even mention Westlife in the same sentence as The Beatles, never mind raise a Talking Point (Are you really that bored?) and try and put them in the same league. At best, Westlife are a post-pubescent karaoke act whose present fans will be too embarrassed to mention them in five years time once they grow out of their training bra's.
Pete Forster, Australia.

I don't like anything the Beatles did...and I don't like anything that Westlife have to me they are pretty much the same - not worth listening to either of them!
Jenny, England

The Beatles were one of the original boy bands

Laura, UK
Clearly record sales give no real indication of talent or innovation, but we have to remember that the Beatles were one of the original boy bands playing repetitive tunes that were completely drowned out by "hormonally frenzied teenage girls". The Beatles went on to become absolutely amazing, but I think it's dangerous to insist that nothing else could ever compare. New musicians with real talent need to be encouraged, not beaten down with nostalgia.
Laura, UK

Westlife are great. Sorry but someone has got to stick up for these poor guys!
Adam Pridmore, UK

You have got to be kidding!
Dave Gillman, UK

With so much to discuss in the world, you really must be desperate to even think of asking such a question. I expect (and pay for) better from the BBC.
Bob, UK

Don't start saying bad things about my favourite band (Westlife)! Westlife are brilliant. If you don't know who they are then where have you been? The Beatles are rubbish
Paul Grubb, UK

I've never been a great fan of The Beatles' music, but even so the comparison is ridiculous. The Beatles were totally original and became the driving force in a movement that changed the face of 'popular' music. They played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. Westlife on the other hand answered adverts in a newspaper.....
Andy D, UK

That this question has appeared at all in Talking Point demonstrates the extent to which the media distort reality.
Tony Hague, England

This is such a silly argument. There is no comparison between a group, cynically manufactured by money obsessed be-suited music industry who have had no real effect on the industry outside the teeny-bop market, and a group formed through hard slog and determination whose music has touched and moved generations, coupled with an intrinsic song-writing ability.
Chris Merriman, UK

Who? Never heard of them, and they've never MADE the charts in the US. When they top the charts more than Beatles in the US, then we'll care.
Tom, USA

The Beatles had better competition
Gwynfryn Williams, Australia

The comparison is between flash and substance

Erle Craven, US
Westlife is a fun band...positive and great for the moment, like a young wine that is drunk and enjoyed. The Beatles are powerful and impressive like vintage wine that improves with age. The comparison is between flash and substance.
Erle Craven, United States

It's probably too early to tell who is the better band, but the Beatles are now a relic from the '60s--they were a great band, but their time has come and gone.
Jeff, USA

I agree thoroughly with Edward. The comparison is not worth thinking about. The Beatles may have been one of the first boy-bands. However when Westlife turn out an original classic comparable to Yesterday, Day in the Life, Hey Jude, Get Back or Let it Be then I might take the question seriously. However as Edward pointed out, the whole singles chart these days has become hopelessly superficial and predictable. There is simply nothing to tell between the bands anymore. Perhaps moving towards a chart based on airplay as well as sales might improve the situation.
Richard Medlycott, UK

I've always thought the Beatles were grossly over-rated, and in view of Lennon/McCartney's post-Beatles work have wondered how much of their so-called song-writing "genius" was actually down to George Martin. However, if you compare the two groups at the same point in their careers (i.e. early on), you'll find that the Beatles were also producing mindless pop music, which for some reason musical snobs everywhere are prepared to defend!
Steve, UK

Anyone can see that the singles charts are rigged

Edward, UK
This whole comparison is ridiculous. Anyone can see that the singles charts are rigged; for a start, records are coming in at number one week after week (it used to be extremely rare) and disappearing without trace two weeks later. Secondly, the baseline sales to achieve a number one (excluding all the buying in at chart return shops) are now a fraction of what they were in the Beatles heyday. Finally, to mention the incomparable Beatles with the sanitised, manufactured tedium of Boyzone (sorry Westlife) or the Spice Women is laughable and insulting.
Edward, UK

If I read the question correctly, you're asking if Westlife are better than the Beatles. Exactly what kind of musical revolution have Westlife or any other boy band of recent times, had to offer the world? None. Westlife may be selling large amounts of records but there is nothing they can do to actually change the music scene forever, the Beatles did that and they are still revered for it nearly forty years later. Westlife will hardly be remembered in ten. Sorry boys it's just the way the music industry seems to be these days.
Adrian Brett, UK

The Beatles were original. Enough said.
Richard N, UK

West who?

John W, Holland
West who? I don't know the name of any of their songs or how they go. I can't remember what they look like or what their names are or if I have seen them. And I listen to the radio and watch shows like Top of the Pops. If they are supposed to be superstars then their creed must be Anonymity, Banality and Mediocrity.
John W, Holland

Get real! Westlife will be forgotten by next Christmas, just like Take This.....Who?
Alex, NZ

Does anyone seriously expect to remember Westlife in 30 months let alone 30 years like the Beatles
John, USA

The Beatles were simply superb. We can't compare them with any other band. It is too early to compare them to Westlife. In the history of pop music those who have success at the initial stage do not last long. I can't say the same about the Westlife but let's start comparing them with other bands after a year or two. We can't compare Elvis Presley or Jim Reeves with anyone. They are unique in their one way. People's tastes change quite often. I can consider someone or something the best today and tomorrow I can change my mind.
Albert P'Rayan, India/Rwanda

When Westlife have written music to compare with the Fab Four or sold the same number of singles and LP's they may be called musicians. Until then they are just the 'best' of a current very poor crop of pop groups. The Beatles led pop music forward, they did not follow fashion to be successful
Bob Spicer, UK

The Beatles were REAL music

Darren Hayden , UK
In this day and age of pop music, the number one position is probably more of an indication how much money has been pumped into marketing talentless, dimwit pretty boys who have no musical ability yet still manage to appeal to hormonally frenzied teenage girls who are conned into believing that they actually write their own songs. The Beatles were REAL music, which influenced generations and spanned across many albums and songs, Westlife are just "another boy band" who will be cast to the annuls of time like all the rest.
Darren Hayden , UK

Who are Westlife?
Colin, Netherlands

Westlife are nowhere near the Beatles. They don't have the personality, the popularity or even the range of songs. Perhaps in a few years from now they have matured into a more adult orientated band, maybe then they could be compared but at the moment they are just another band in a long line of flash in the pan pop stars. Look at New Kids or Take That. Of all the boy bands only Five seem to be doing something different. Let's face it most of their peers wouldn't even consider making a record with an older band let alone appearing on stage with them. By working with Queen they've bridged the gap between pop and rock and also between audiences. Westlife have a lot of work to do.
Sarah, UK

Although quite talented singers, they are no way near the same level as The Beatles. The Beatles stood for a new beginning and a new idea of musical groups in the popular music genre.
Dave Porter, UK

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