I’m sure everyone remembers the popular song Uptown Girl by Billy Joel, but how many remember the cover done by Irish pop band Westlife? Any takers for that spunky video they made with Claudia Schiffer? Back in school, I was a die hard fan of Westlife, if there ever was one. A friend and I would often bicker over the ones we liked best, and stare endlessly at their pictures pasted on the inside of my geometry box.
And even in college, my friendship with a very close friend began thanks to Westlife’s Queen of my heart. We were listing our favourites when we struck upon this boy band, and we ended up singing their songs till late that night. I am a horrible singer, but R is basically a very nice person. She suffered my throat and my croak. And like the passions of college, singing balefully to their renditions of famous songs, listening to them during heartbreaks, and immersing myself in Mark Feehily, who by the way is very cute and totally out of my league. Plus, he’s gay. The good ones always are. Every step of the way through college, some song of theirs played in the background for me. But it all changed when we entered the real world.
It was like a rude awakening, being thrust into this world that is nothing like what they prepare for you in college. Before graduation, one can hope to cling on to some semblance of idealism. But realism hits home hard when you start working. Clients, deadlines, unrealistic expectations, mastering the fine art of manipulation and evading office politics… the ‘innocence’ we had in college vapourised into thin air. In 2012, the band broke up. Mark’s fiancé left him and this change of events hurt him the most. He’s put on weight, and probably after the longest time, has only recently released his own songs. While the others in the band have leap-frogged way over and above him, sadly, it seemed like he was stuck in limbo. And sometimes, the crushes and passions of our younger selves undergo a similar fate.
We no longer cling to our boy bands with the same effervescence as we once did, we do not cling on to those things we used to hold dear. Our ideas of the world, of others around us and even of ourselves have undergone a paradigm shift, and I often look back to the person I used to be. She’s definitely a different person. She’s learnt so much in life now. She’s gone through so much. She’s been forced to come to terms to the end of those flighty ideas of youth, but ground herself in the practical realism that envelopes her today. As disheartening it may seem for the ideas of that person flit away, another takes her place. She’s more confident, more in sync with her surroundings. She knows from where she came, she knows where she must go. At least, where she yearns to go and chart her own course. She must let go of her love of her youth, her love for the many things that shaped her childhood. These were critical in shaping her past, but there is no need of them in her present.
And even though I still enjoy the songs of this fabulous boy band, I know that like them, I too have moved on; to the DNCE’s and the Beiber’s, Coldplay’s and the Maroon 5’s of the world, just like the multitude of friends we had in school and college, and the multitude of friends we’ve lost touch with, even if we used to be the best of friends at some time.
In life, inevitably, there comes a point when the track must be changed. But when I hear their music again, it’s like meeting an old friend.