Over the last number of years, we have seen a frightening resurgence of conservative ideals in politics. The reawakening of a type of populism that demands a return to an idyllic past, that idolises and celebrates the ideals and culture of a bygone era and demands its return.
For the majority of populist movements, this warped nostalgia has no real particular focus on a specific point in time, they emphasise and fetish different aspects of different eras without being able to offer a cohesive whole. However, it can only be reasonably assumed that for at least some of these people, their idealised time - the one epoch they hope to drag society back to - is approximately 2003. It is surely these people that Westlife are hoping to appeal to with their reunion tour and new music video that warrants further discussion.
Firstly the title of the song, 'Hello My Love', is astounding in that it beggars belief that there is not already a Westlife song by this name. In the course of Westlife's career thusfar it is simply too difficult a concept to grasp that the RRTM (Randomised Romantic Title Generator) they use to pen their songs hasn't yet churned out that name. Yet here we are.
Given that it's a typically sentimental ballad about some fictive person, the normal conventions of creating a music video would suggest that it would centre around, or at least feature, a representation of this fictive person. But, no. They have gone down a different route. Westlife and the producers have decided that the only obvious direction for a group of near middle-aged men singing plaintively about someone they love is to have them strolling aimlessly through a vast desert expanse.
At this point you might ask yourself, "Nothing in Weslife's back catalogue suggests to me that they are in anyway coped to deal with the unique trials and rigours of desert survival. Have they at least attained suitable equipment to see them through the hot days and freezing nights?" Have they hell. There is not a single water bottle in sight. If Bear Grylls were to stumble across this sorry quartet staggering through a sandy vista, parched and begging for hydration, he would turn his back on them, saying "It's too late for you lads, you aren't cut out for this. There's no saving you now, no matter how much piss you drink - be it mine or your own."
This naturally begs us to ask that, within this world of the music video, why are they in a desert in the first place? Well some hint as to the causes of their current plight are alluded to later, around the half-way point of the song. After a minute or so of them flouncing around the desert, making absolutely no effort to deal with their current predicament - there is not a single shot of Kian Egan collecting pebbles and arranging them into a large 'HELP' sign on the desert floor, or of Shane Fillan soiling himself so as to ward off attack from coyotes - we are suddenly introduced to a shot of the boys flouncing about inside a giant hot air balloon. This provides us perhaps with a grim insight into what transpired to leave them stranded in the desert.
We can only surmise that Westlife, the band of near middle-aged men, were out on some group bonding trip in a hot air balloon when they encountered trouble and crashed on the desert floor. Stranded and aware that, given their collective skill sets mainly only covered choreography, singing and pointing toward a panning camera, they were in danger. This brings us to the real reason as to why there are only four members participating in this current reunion. In their distress, abandoned in the desert as the days drew on, they had to resort to desperate measures. To survive, they knew that cannibalism would be their only recourse. After drawing straws, they were forced to eat Brian McFadden for sustenance. Buy not into the hype that he simply didn't want to participate in this reunion. He drew the short straw and Nicky, Kian, Markus and Shane did what was necessary and, gladly and gleefully, picked his bones clean of flesh.
However, as the video goes on, it seems that they somehow managed to pool their meagre resources and repair the damaged hot air balloon. As the video concludes we see them rising toward the clouds, to join a fleet of other hot air balloons, gliding serenely over the desert. We can only conclude that these were other boybands out on similar bonding expeditions. A grand voyage of early noughties boybands. We can imagine the members of 5ive, - in an adjacent balloon, taking turns to work the burner, based on a pre-agreed rota to avoid accusations of anyone hogging it - waving eagerly to the remaining members of Westlife, their clothes frayed and dirty, as they ascended to join the fleet.
Why a desert? Why a hot air ballon? Why Westlife, what does it all mean?