Flying Without Wings

Album: Flying Without Wings (1999)
Charted: 1
Play Video


  • This song was a huge hit for the Irish boy band Westlife. It was voted "Song Of The Year" 1999 in the ITV end of year phone music poll.
  • A monster hit in Europe, this song was little-known in America, so when Ruben Studdard sang it on the finale of American Idol Season 2 in 2003, it was the first time most of the viewers heard the song. With an uplifting message, the song suited the show perfectly, as Studdard was rising from obscurity to accomplish his dream.

    American Idol was created by Simon Fuller and Englishman, who started the show in the UK as Pop Idol. He was certainly familiar with the Westlife version, and likely steered the song to Studdard for the show.

    In the results show following the finale, Studdard was announced as the winner, defeating Clay Aiken, whose song "This Is The Night" was no match for "Flying Without Wings." Two weeks after the broadcast, both songs were released as singles, and both shot to the top of the Hot 100, with Aiken taking the top spot and Studdard following at #2. The catch: both songs were released with much more popular songs on the flip sides, which drove the sales. "Flying Without Wings" was issued as a single with Aiken's cover of the classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and "Flying Without Wings" was supported by Studdard's rendition of "Superstar." While "Flying Without Wings" sold about 750,000 copies, but only 42,000 were digital downloads without the B-side. The song did appear on Studdard's debut album, Soulful.
  • This was written by Steve Mac and Wayne Hector in about three hours. This song says that the happiness you get from children, friendship and being with your lover is like flying without wings.
  • In 2004 Westlife recorded a special live version of this song which had the honor of being the first ever official download #1 in the UK.
  • Irish politician Bertie Ahern revealed on the UTV documentary Westlife Back Home that this is his favorite Westlife song. Ahern is the father-in-law of Westlife member Nicky Byrne. In the same documentary Shane Filan of Westlife said that "Flying Without Wings" is probably the best song of their career.
  • Speaking about how he came up with the idea for this track, Hector recalled to Digital Spy: "I was in a hip-hop session in LA - the furthest thing you would think of from that song - and I went out for a break and just came up with the hook. I phoned my mum and left it on her answering machine and said, 'Do not delete this!'"

    "Then I came up with the first verse and chorus," he added, "played it to their producer Steve Mac, and finished the song in about 45 minutes. That's quick for me. There have been occasions where I've spent 45 weeks on a single song."

Comments: 3

  • Linda from Largo, FlThis is an awesome song! It will ever be treasured...for my new found love gave me the link to listen to this song for my first time, and while I was listening he spoke to me that I am that Special Dream, that place, that makes him complete..and proposed to me tonite. My heart is yours forever... Matteo.
  • Tony from Topeka, KsThis song was on the soundtrack for the film "Pokémon the Movie 2000."
  • Anna from Perthshire, NeI can't believe there is so litle comments on this song!!What an amazing song this is and not to mention they way westlife can sing it.
    It is one of the very few song's that I could play repeatidly all day long.

    This song is def in my top 10 of legendary hits
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Black Sabbath

Black SabbathFact or Fiction

Dwarfs on stage with an oversize Stonehenge set? Dabbling in Satanism? Find out which Spinal Tap-moments were true for Black Sabbath.

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie Combination

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie CombinationSong Writing

In 1986, a Stephen King novella was made into a movie, with a classic song serving as title, soundtrack and tone.

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's Songs

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsSong Writing

"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.

Michael Bolton

Michael BoltonSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for this talk with Bolton from the '80s when he was a focused on writing songs for other artists.

Little Big Town

Little Big TownSongwriter Interviews

"When seeds that you sow grow by the wicked moon/Be sure your sins will find you out/Your past will hunt you down and turn to tell on you."

Christmas Songs

Christmas SongsFact or Fiction

Rudolf, Bob Dylan and the Singing Dogs all show up in this Fact or Fiction for seasonal favorites.