Release Date: July 24th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Forever Ain’t Enough
- Little Thing Called Love
- One Of a Kind (feat. Emeli Sande)
- Only Lovers
- Forever and Ever, Amen (feat. Shania Twain)
- Love Will Remain (feat. Clare Bowen)
- The One (feat. Nina Nesbitt)
- The Big Goodbye (feat. Robbie Williams)
- Lovin’ Each Day (2020 Version)
- When You Say Nothing at All (2020 Version) (feat. Allison Krauss)
- Life is a Rollercoaster (2020 Version)
- One of a Kind (Orchestral Version) (feat. Emeli Sande)
- Something Wonderful
‘…I was never a big fan, if a fan at all, of boy bands. Sure I’d know about them from time to time, and more recently there was this wee little band called One Direction but as a whole, boy bands weren’t at all that impacting to me when I was younger. Even now, they aren’t necessarily the most sought-out ‘genre’ of music that I’d listen to from the word ‘go’. Nevertheless, boy bands have shaped and moulded music and society as we know it- from Boyz II Men, Take That, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and Westlife, to Jonas Brothers, Jackson 5, Boyzone and One Direction; boy bands have been sprouting up throughout music history aplenty, and thus, it is no wonder that one such artist from my list of 100 would be of the boy-band variety. And so for me to prepare for this blog post, I was a little unprepared throughout the week, and even now, I’m trying to find the words to say about this artist- words that will do them justice and respect the amount of success they’ve had since being a part of their former boy-band group. For me, this ‘genre’ of music is as much needed in society as it was back then- but when music for lack of a better term, is consumed at a faster rate as years go by; boy bands can sometimes fly under the radar to become the ‘forgotten’ ‘genre’ of music. This week’s discussion leads from the front with singer-songwriter Ronan Keating; an Irish singer who was one of the founding members of boy-band BoyZone, a popular Irish group in the 1990s. With around 10 albums under his belt, Ronan has solidified himself as one such artist, whom has successfully broken off from their former boy-band group, to have a relatively successful career as a solo artist- other artists to achieve such a feat include Robbie Williams (of Take That), Michael Jackson (of The Jackson 5), Ricky Martin (of Menudo) and Justin Timberlake (of NSYNC), to name a few….’
With this paragraph quote above being the first paragraph I wrote for my Ronan Keating blog last year (of which I will link here), I’ve been reflecting a lot this last year. This whole ‘Top 100 Influential Artists’ list has really opened my eyes to music that I may not have discovered had I not ventured down this dauting yet equally rewarding journey. Ronan Keating is one such artist I’ve come to respect and admire for his own musical journey and craft all these years. From songs like ‘Life is a Rollercoaster’, ‘When You Say Nothing At All’, ‘She Believes (In Me)’ and ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’, to ‘This is Your Song’, ‘This I Promise You’, ‘Iris’, ‘This I Promise You’ and ‘Wasted Light’, to name a few; this is an artist that has used his music as a way of encouraging people over the years, myself included over this last year as well. As this Irish superstar has become an artist whose music, I’m sure, has been used by the Lord to bring about positive change in the hearts and lives of millions of people around the world, as the years’ve gone by; Ronan’s new album- part-new recordings, part-collaboration, part-re-recordings album Twenty Twenty, unveiled to the world at the end of July 2020. Standing at 13 tracks, this is an album full of celebration and heart, of joy and appreciation, of celebration of Ronan’s 20 years he’s been a solo artist. With collaborations between artists like Robbie Williams, Shania Twain, Emeli Sande, Alison Krauss and Clare Bowen, alongside new recordings of fan favourites ‘Lovin’ Each Day’, ‘When You Say Nothing at All’ and ‘Life is a Rollercoaster’, this is a must-have if you enjoy similar artists like Boyzone, Robbie Williams, Westlife and Guy Sebastian, to name a few.
‘One of a Kind’ was unveiled to us in February 2020- back when everything was semi-normal. When the expected release date for Twenty Twenty was May 2020, and the world wasn’t ridden with COVID-19 to the extent that we are now. Nevertheless, way back when, was when ‘One of a Kind’ was given to us all, and is a timely and great reminder for us all to connect with our loved ones, and find the love in our lives that is special to the point where we can declare that their connection and unconditional affection and love is as ‘one-of-a-kind’ as we know it to be. Collaborating with fellow British singer-songwriter Emeli Sande, the track itself speaks of the moments before the wedding, and what wedding life can actually be with that special someone. As Ronan himself declares, ‘…its all about the night before the wedding, the day of the wedding and spending the rest of your life together. I was just blown away by her [Emeli Sande’s] vocal. She’s obviously got a brilliant voice, and she’s a lovely, warm person, so the personality she’s brought to the song is just incredible…’ With the album also featuring an orchestral version of the track, alongside it’s pop-orientated single version, Ronan’s first collaboration of many, on the album, is one of hope, promise and anticipation, as such a song as this, encourages us all to hold dear the special someone in our lives, and to hopefully be in relationship with this person for a long while yet!
Throughout the rest of the album, we see Ronan deliver songs familiar as well as unfamiliar, songs sung by himself and songs sung with others, to present the album of Twenty Twenty as a celebration of the years he has spent in the industry thus far. ‘Little Thing Called Love’, the second radio single from the album, speaks of love and is especially timely during these uncertain times of COVID-19. Released with an accompinament music video where Ronan invited fans to film home-videos to submit to him, about things these people hold dear and what would keep them going during such a time as this; the music video debuted with Ronan singing in his backyard, alongside various picture frames featuring these submissions, digitally altered into the shots for the video itself. Ronan also gave to us another promotional single in ‘Love Will Remain’, an upbeat folksy country-style melody that is a collaboration with Nashville actress and up-and-coming singer-songwriter herself, Clare Bowen. The song ‘Love Wil Remain’ is a departure from the boy-band-pop Ronan has done throughout the years- country-folk, but somehow, this duet works. ‘Love Will Remain’ itself is a song that highlights the lasting character and nature of love, the true kind, when everything else fades away, and alongside ‘Little Thing Called Love’, is also one of the standouts on Twenty Twenty. ‘Lovin’ Each Day’, ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ and ‘Life is a Rollercoaster’, all originally from his album Ronan in 2000, are all re-recorded here by Ronan to create a 2020 version of all three- this time, altering the musical genre of the songs to create a retro dance song, an acoustically driven stripped-back duet (with singer-songwriter Allison Krauss), and an 1980s inspired EDM track, respectively. The songs themselves are classics in their own right, and so therefore, to see them here again on Twenty, Twenty, all rerecorded and presented in a unique way, but still having the same feel and structure of their original counterparts, remind us all of how timeless and classic a lot of Ronan’s earlier tracks are- who knows, maybe re-recordings of songs like ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’, ‘She Believes’, ‘I Love It When We Do’ or ‘Lost For Words’ next, in the future?
‘Forever Ain’t Enough’ is the first track on Twenty Twenty, and speaks of a genuine love between two people that lasts longer than forever, and reminds us all that we as individuals need to find a love as special as the one depicted in the song, while ‘Only Lovers’ speaks of unity and reconciliation between two lovers, running together after unifying, towards a goal where chasing the light and fighting the good fight is something that both these lovers can hopefully unify towards. ‘Something Wonderful’, the last of the Ronan Keating ‘solo’ songs, is track 13, and speaks of a relationship on the brink, and Ronan himself imploring the other not to give up, because ‘…we can make something wonderful, this could be something beautiful, why would you wanna give up when we can make something wonderful?…’ Ronan also collaborates with other fellow artists- Robbie Williams, Shania Twain and Nina Nesbitt on songs ‘The Big Goodbye’, ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ and ‘The One’, respectively. ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’, a powerful duet with country legend Shania Twain, is actually a cover- the original song was recorded by gospel/country singer-songwriter Randy Travis, way back in the day, and thus, to hear this revitalisation of a song by Ronan, is something unique and powerful. ‘The One’, a collaboration with upcoming singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt, is a reflective acoustically-driven love song about the notion of love, and what people often do when consumed by it- Ronan’s collaboration, is as much powerful as it is reflective and tranquil in the process as well. And yet it is the song ‘The Big Goodbye’ that is by far one of Ronan’s most emotional he’s ever done in recent memory. Collaborated with British powerhouse Robbie Williams, this duet that is an ode to Ronan’s ex-bandmate (from Boyzone) Stephen Gately (more than 10-years since his passing in 2009), as we see this emotive song speak of how hard it can be to say goodbye to a friend you have been in contact with for quite some time. Raw and unfiltered, emotive and hopefully a catalyst for positive change; Robbie and Ronan present a sense of vulnerability that makes this song one of Twenty Twenty’s best, and one of my favourite songs by Ronan since ‘Fires’ and ‘Wasted Light’, from Fires way back in 2012.
Twenty Twenty is a great celebration of a career of #1 radio hits and a conglomerate of albums released within the span of 20 years, that have impacted a lot of people in and amongst that time, inclusive of myself. Though I am a little late in listening to Ronan and his music, it’s been a powerful moment from last year onward to see the transformation in Ronan- from being in a boy band, to coming into his own and being a standout artist in the world of today. Though not as popular as other artists like Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Spice Girls, Adele and Coldplay, but still formidable enough to last this long in the industry, this album is a must-have if you enjoy Ronan’s earlier material, or if you are a fan of boy bands in general. Ronan’s songs have had the power to impact and influence way back then, but also now, with songs like ‘Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘The Big Goodbye’. Well done Ronan for this celebratory album, hoping these songs are used by the Lord to challenge us all during this COVID-19 season, now and into the future!
3 songs to listen to: Little Thing Called Love, Life is a Rollercoaster, One of a Kind
RIYL: Boyzone, Westlife, Matthew West, Robbie Williams, Guy Sebastian