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Westlife look was ‘too clean-cut’, admits Mark Feehily

WESTLIFE’S Mark Feehily has said the band’s look was ‘too clean-cut’ and pop stars today present a more realistic image for fans.

The Flying Without Wings hitmakers shot to fame in the late 1990s, and Feehily believes the public images of the era created expectations that were not ‘possible or real’.

Feehily said tastes had moved on since the rise of the boy band, and pop stars today showed imperfections fans could relate to.

‘Make it real’: Westlife’s Mark Feehily PICTURES: REX

The singer has welcomed the changes in the industry as Westlife return to the road with new material and a tour next month following their reunion last year.

He said: ‘In some ways, the original Westlife image was so clean-cut, and maybe a bit unrealistic. It’s better that everyone is just themselves.’

He added: ‘Back in the early 2000s, pop stars put out this non-realistic, perfect, clean-cut thing, that created an expectation that maybe wasn’t possible, or real.

Back in the day: The boys in 2007 on The Westlife Show Live

‘It’s important for kids to have pop stars out there that they can relate to. It’s not just this one type of person who ticks these kind of, I suppose, perfect boxes.

‘For a kid out there who maybe isn’t perfect, they’re going, “Well, I’m never going to be like that, I’m never going to be successful, I’m never going to be popular”.

‘Things have progressed in big ways since we started off.’

He said social media presented a new problem for the latest pop stars: ‘Instagram is such a perfect world and that is a problem. They’re comparing themselves to this fantasy that it’s impossible to keep up with.’

The band believe musical tastes may be swinging back towards those of the 1990s and 2000s, citing the ballad success of A Star Is Born and The Greatest Showman soundtracks, and the performance of their new releases Hello My Love and Better Man.

Feehily said: ‘We could be starting to see the end of this EDM, DJ-based, vocal feature era.’

Band member Shane Filan admitted: ‘The whole comeback has been kind of daunting. We didn’t know exactly how the reaction was going to be. It’s a very different landscape for Westlife to come back into.’

He added: ‘There is always going to be a time and a place for an amazing ballad. People love a love song.’

Kian Egan, Nicky Byrne, Feehily and Filan embark on Westlife’s new UK and international tour on May 22 in Belfast.