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"Flying Without Wings"
3FlyingWithoutWings2.jpg
One of European artwork
Single by Westlife
from the album Westlife and Pokémon: The Movie 2000 soundtrack
Released 18 October 1999 (1999-10-18)
Recorded Rokstone Studios, London
Genre Pop
Length 3:36
Label BMG
Songwriter(s)
  • Wayne Hector
  • Steve Mac
Producer(s) Steve Mac
Westlife singles chronology
"If I Let You Go"
(1999)
"Flying Without Wings"
(1999)
"I Have a Dream" / "Seasons in the Sun"
(1999)

"Flying Without Wings" is a song by Irish boy band Westlife and it was released on 18 October 1999 as the third single from their self-titled debut studio album. It is the band's third most streamed song, and their fourth best selling single of all-time on both paid-for and combined sales categories in the United Kingdom as of January 2019.

Background

The song was written by Wayne Hector and Steve Mac. In an interview with HitQuarters, Hector said the basic idea for the song came to him while on a break from working on a hip hop session with Ezi Cut in Los Angeles:

I came up with a couple of lines for the first verse and then phoned my mama's house, left it on the answering machine, and said, “Don't get rid of this!”

Upon returning to England, Hector went into the studio to work on the idea with long-time songwriting partner and producer Steve Mac. When the two discussed what the song was about they agreed that "this is about our wives. This is about the things that make our lives complete." According to Hector the lyrics were completed in about half an hour. He added, "Flying Without Wings was a life-changing moment, and a song he says he is particularly proud of. A big moment for me was when Flying Without Wings came out, I’d had a few Number 1s at that point, but that convinced people I could write good pop songs. After that, I started working with bigger acts and over a more diverse range of genres, including country and rock, which helped me pick up some credibility." The band's manager later revealed the song had been planned as the first solo single for Boyzone's Stephen Gately. "Stephen did the demo and he thought it was going to be his song," Walsh recalls. "I'll be quite honest, I missed it, but as soon as Simon heard it he just went bananas. It was really difficult because Westlife were on tour with Boyzone, as the support act."

In a documentary aired on UTV called Westlife Back Home, band member Shane Filan said it is probably the best song of their career, while former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (band member Nicky Byrne's father-in-law) revealed it is his favourite tune from the chart-topping band. The song also won the band their first of four Record of the Year prizes on the annual televised ITV music awards on 11 December 1999, scoring a total of 159,590 votes to beat Boyzone's Ronan Keating to the title.

The Official Charts Company stated, "Flying Without Wings wasn't the first boyband ballad, nor is it the biggest selling, but it was certainly influential. After Flying Without Wings, what self-respecting boyband would dare stay seated on a stool for a key change? Stand, boys! Flying Without Wings has soundtracked births, proposals, marriages, funerals, and untold TV talent show montages over the last two decades."

Commercial performance

The song became the group's third UK number-one single, spending 13 weeks on charts. It is also one of Westlife's biggest selling singles. The song is the group's first single to received a Gold sales certification in the UK for over 400,000 copies sold. As of October 2019, Official Charts Company stated that the single have 316,000 physical sales, 171,000 downloads, and 16 million streams in the UK alone so far.

Track listing

  • United Kingdom
  1. "Flying Without Wings" - 3:35
  2. "Everybody Knows" - 3:45
  3. "Flying Without Wings" (Video) - 3:40
  1. "Flying Without Wings" - 3:35
  2. "That's What It's All About" - 3:20
  3. "Flying Without Wings" (Acappella) - 3:29
  • Australia
  1. "Flying Without Wings" - 3:35
  2. "I Have a Dream" (Remix) - 4:06
  3. "Seasons in the Sun" (Single Remix) - 4:10
  4. "Flying Without Wings" (Video) - 3:40

Charts and certifications

Duets

"Flying Without Wings"
Westlifeboa.jpg
Promotional single by Westlife featuring BoA
from the album Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1 (Asian edition), Shine We Are! and Next World
Released 2003 (2003) (Asia)
Recorded 2002
Genre Pop
Length 3:36
Label
Songwriter(s)
  • Wayne Hector
  • Steve Mac
Producer(s)
  • Lee Soo Man
  • Steve Mac
"Flying Without Wings"
Westlife feat. Cristian Castro - Flying Without Wings.jpg
Promotional single by Westlife featuring Cristian Castro
from the album Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1 (Spanish/Mexican edition)
Released 2002 (2002) (Mexico)
Genre Pop
Length 3:36
Songwriter(s)
  • Wayne Hector
  • Steve Mac

In 2002, as part of the promotion of their album Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1, the song was re-recorded as a duet with Mexican singer Cristian Castro and South Korean pop singer, BoA. Each duet was included on the Spanish & Asian editions of the album. Both duets were also released as singles in their two respective regions.

Track listing

  • Mexico
  1. "Flying Without Wings" (Duet with Cristian Castro) - 3:35
  2. "Never Knew I Was Losing You" - 4:09
  • Asia
  1. "Flying Without Wings" (Duet with BoA) - 3:35
  2. "Never Knew I Was Losing You" - 4:09

Live version

In 2004, as part of the promotion for their Turnaround Tour, the band released the live version of the song. It was recorded during their tour in Stockholm Globe Arena. Their live version peaked at number one in UK Singles Chart and was the first ever number one in the UK downloads chart.

Track listing

  • UK
  1. "Flying Without Wings" (Live)

Charts

Charts (2004) Peak
position
UK Download (OCC) 1

Video album

A karaoke version of "Flying Without Wings" was released on DVD in 2000 and debuted at number one. It includes easy to read lyrics, photographs & interactive menus, picture sleeve. It has a running time of 45 minutes.

Track listing

  1. "Swear It Again"
  2. "If I Let You Go"
  3. "Flying Without Wings"
  4. "Fool Again"
  5. "Seasons in the Sun"
  6. "I Have a Dream"
  7. "More Than Words"
  8. "Against All Odds"

CD production

Arranged by (strings) : Richard Niles
Arranged by (vocals) : Steve Mac, Wayne Hector
Arranged by, mixed by : Steve Mac
Artwork by (design) : Root
Photography : Brian Aris
Bass guitar : Steve Pearce
Guitar : Paul Gendler
Performer (Choir Md) : Benny Diggs
Engineer (Mix) : Matt Howe
Engineer, Programmed by : Chris Laws
Other (management) : Louis Walsh, Ronan Keating

Tours performed at

  • Where Dreams Come True Tour (2001)
  • World of Our Own Tour (2002)
  • Unbreakable Tour (2003)
  • Turnaround Tour (2004)
  • The Number Ones Tour (2005)
  • Face to Face Tour (2006)
  • The Love Tour (2007)
  • Back Home Tour (2008)
  • Where We Are Tour (2010)
  • Gravity Tour (2011)
  • Greatest Hits Tour (2012)
  • You and Me Tour (Shane Filan) (2014)
  • Boyzlife Tour (Boyzlife) (2017)
  • The Twenty Tour (2019)

Other appearances

The Westlife song has appeared in the 2000 Warner Bros. Pictures film Pokémon: The Movie 2000 as the final song of the credits in the film and on the official movie soundtrack. It is also the only Westlife song that coincidentally coincided with the original Japanese release date of the Pokémon movie sequel. It also featured in the 2000 Australian film The Magic Pudding and 2000 French film Archibald the Koala: The Movie. It also appeared in the Korean drama I'm Sorry, I Love You and its soundtrack as well.

On 12 May 2018, the song was performed on Korean music programme 'Immortal Songs 2' by Ali who placed second place that night. Band member Shane Filan was the featured 'Legend' and judged the participants.

Ruben Studdard version

"Flying Without Wings"
FlyingWithoutWings.jpg
Single by Ruben Studdard
Released 10 June 2003 (2003-06-10)
Recorded 2003
Genre
Label J
Songwriter(s)
  • Wayne Hector
  • Steve Mac
Producer(s)
  • The Underdogs
  • Face
Ruben Studdard singles chronology
"Flying Without Wings"
(2003)
"Superstar"
(2003)

"Flying Without Wings" was covered by American Idol winner Ruben Studdard as his debut single in 2003. The single was released on June 10 and charted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 28, behind "This Is the Night" by Clay Aiken. "Flying Without Wings" also gained attention on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, peaking at number thirteen, while it reached number 27 on the adult contemporary chart. It was also released in New Zealand and reached number two behind Clay Aiken. The single had sold 751,000 copies through December 2006. This version of the song also appears on the game Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol.

Track listing

  1. "Flying Without Wings"
  2. "Superstar"
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