Westlife - I Have A Dream
Westlife’s first cover version single! ABBA songs are notoriously hard to sing, so let’s see how the Wezzas get on.
Aimed squarely (and successfully) at the Christmas #1 slot, the arrangement is dripping with sleigh bells and pixie tinkling (in the pattern set out from Day 1).
The structure is very similar to ABBA’s original in terms of verse/chorus/extra nyahw-nyahw noises/sappy kids’ choir coming in, but amazingly Westlife actually employ more a bit more variety in their backing than ABBA’s gentle but languid protest. After a barrelling intro, Lead Westlife hogs pretty much all of a (slightly) subdued first verse, stamping out his ground. Frida is slow and stately, a social worker giving sincere advice but maintaining an emotional distance. Lead Westlife’s conviction and power implies his particular dream is more that of a cackling Bond villain than a tree-hugging hippy.
Thankfully the other four are there to temper his plans for world domination. By verse 2 they’re all giving it full welly (‘crossing the streams’ - hehehe) to a surprisingly beefy Max Martin-esque hock-a-thwack beat. You know what? Once they’re all up to full speed I quite like it! The two Blonde Westlifes provide a lovely thick base for Bryan McCurtains and Lead Westlife to pick out the deceptively tricky notes. Mark does a trill over the top and you can feel the layers of voices wrapping themselves around you like fluffy blankets. It’s warm and welcoming - which for me equals Christmassy - and very unlike Frida and Agnetha’s steely defiance.
Unfortunately there are few songs that are improved by a choir of children (‘Another Brick In The Wall’ is the only one that springs to mind right now). The combination of adorable tots and clanging chimes of doom in the final verse taint my happy memories of the middle verse. The backing completely overloads the ‘Loife’s vocals and I find myself gritting my teeth.
Perhaps the video can redeem this?
The creepy kids from the ‘Flying Without Wings’ video are back, this time as homeless ruffians dotted around a dystopian Sesame Street set. Their Christmas is set to be a dark and miserable one, eating turkey entrails from Oscar The Grouch’s dustbin and pulling crackers made out of old syringes.
In a humanitarian Noel’s Christmas Presents-style gesture the boys have brought along Tinkerbell (so THAT’S where the bloody bells are coming from) to weave a bit of magic and make their shitty pound-shop presents slightly less shit. Look at the glorious transformation that occurs!
A pile of old crap
A pile of old crap with some fairy lights on it
Well, quite. After one too many Farepak-hampers the children have had enough of Westlife’s ‘upselling’ scammery. They encircle the boys in the time-honored occult fashion, chanting that they believe in angels but going WIDDERSHINS which in fact means they believe in DEVILS do you see.
Only Mark seems to have cottoned on to the fact that the time might be right for him to depart this earthly realm. Run, Mark! While you still can!
Conclusions: yes, I think the video narrowly justifies the singing children. I can’t imagine “I Have A Dream” is among many people’s favourite ABBA songs, but I could see it being among people’s favourite Westlife songs.