For the David Bowie song, see Heathen (David Bowie album).
Background information
Artist Westlife
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:52
Released November 14, 2010
Recorded August 2010;
Henson Recording Studios
(Hollywood, California)
RAK Studios
(London, England)
Label Syco Music, Sony Music, RCA
Format CD single, digital download
Writer John Shanks, James Grundler
Producer John Shanks, Richard "Biff" Stannard, Ash Howes
Last single "What About Now"
This single "Safe"
Next single "Lighthouse"
Misc Script error

"Safe" is a song by Irish pop group Westlife from their tenth and final studio album Gravity (2010) and this pop rock ballad was released on 14 November 2010 as the album's lead and only single in the United Kingdom.[1] It was written by John Shanks and James Grundler, and the single version was produced by Shanks, Richard "Biff" Stannard, and Ash Howes. "Safe" debuted at number four in Ireland, becoming their twenty-fifth top ten single. It charted at number ten in the UK, becoming their second-lowest-charting single to date. The song was featured in the 2010 movie Dolphin Tale starring Morgan Freeman.[2]


The decision to release 'Safe' as the first and only single from the group's new album came from executive producer, Simon Cowell. When interviewed about his choice, Cowell claimed "It's such a fabulous track, and I wouldn't be surprised if it became a smash song". The track was written by album producer John Shanks and James Grundler, frontman of American rock group Golden State.[3] In an interview for the band's official website, Grundler revealed the process of writing such a track:

"We sat down at the piano, and John started banging some chords out. We just start tapping into the music until it struck a feeling. I left town shortly after because my father was being inducted into his universities athletic hall of fame in Pennsylvania. I kept writing ideas down on the computer every chance I could. I remember sitting on a chair at my aunt's house, in her basement, when it all clicked. I sang a rough idea into the computer and sent it to John. We were so ecstatic about the track and knew we had something beautiful, a timeless classic. The lyrics are from an outside perspective, for example, if you were looking at someone from afar, and maybe you have an interest in them, but every time you see them, they look as though they are going through a real rough moment in their life. And, if for that single moment, you wish you could just reach out and make it all better. Inspiration for the track came from a real life experience. There is a cafe that I used to visit when I was meeting my father in Pennsylvania - and every time we were there, I saw this attractive girl sitting at a table in the back. She had this look on her face, as though something terrible had happened, and all I wanted to do was reach out and comfort her. For me it tells the story of courage, spirit, and desire.".[4][5]
On September 30, 2010, the band officially revealed the release date for the single.[6] On October 22, 2010, the single's artwork was revealed by band member Mark Feehily.[7] The single's release date was changed from 7 November 2010 to 14 November 2010 on 27 October 2010.[8] The single was first performed live on BBC Radio 2 Weekend Wogan Show. They held it on the world famous BBC Maida Vale Studios in London.[9] Press releases stated,
Westlife return with their most heart-stirring offering to date. New single Safe showcases the awesome emotional weight of an outfit at the height of their powers. Recorded in Los Angeles, with legendary producer John Shanks, the soaring ballad features the quartet in their most nakedly raw form. 'I'm crawling on the floor to reach you/I'm a wreck you see' sings band member Mark Feehily as strings swell to head-spinning effect. More than a decade into their career, and ten albums down the line, any competition has long ago fallen by the wayside for an outfit whose ability to chime so skillfully with the emotional landscape of their audience remains undimmed.[10]
While Shane said in an interview in Philippine Star: "I think that lyrically, Safe is a very positive song, it's very strong, it's about keeping somebody safe and protecting people. I think everybody anywhere in the world can relate to it. I think everybody wants to feel safe; everybody wants to feel protected. We made the video for that song in that context. We feel that lyrically, Safe is one of the best songs that we have in a very long time."[11]


Band member Mark Feehily first confirmed via his Twitter account that copies of the single will be made available in Ireland on 12 November 2010, three days earlier than the rest of the world.[6] The single's b-side, a cover version of "Please Stay", was recorded in 2009, and was promised to be included on the next single released following "What About Now".[12]


The song was featured in the end credits of the 2010 American film Dolphin Tale. On 11 October 2011, the soundtrack album was released.[2]

Other versionsEdit

The song was also featured on the debut season of US X Factor. When a part of studio version of "Safe" was played on the reality television show X Factor, two different versions were played on different episodes. The first version was the version that was released as a single and included on the album while the second unreleased version was that it included the lyric "unlock the door" in the middle part of the song between the second verse chorus and the bridge.

Critical receptionEdit

The single received general positive reviews from fans and critics. stated, "it's a bit like on Derren Brown when he spends days, weeks or months programming someone so that one day, when he comes along and prods them on the shoulder, it all comes flooding back and they can do something amazing like fly a kite or do the ironing with their eyes shut etc. It is as if the last eight or however many years of The X Factor, with the Inspirational Blub Tunes blasting out every time someone does something happy or sad or notable, has programmed us so that a prod from this Westlife tune makes us feel like we're through the boot camp. It feels good being Through To Boot Camp. It feels very good indeed. While emphasized on a part of the lyrics saying, "It includes such gems as 'Pulling at me like the stars do / You're like gravity.' Who'd have thought that physics could have such an influence in pop music."[13] Music All Stars said "Safe" is good, it has Westlife's typical moving/heart-warming lyrics but I just think the Irish lads have made way better first singles in the past." [14] Entertainment Focus said: "Westlife are hardly considered to be cool are they in the industry? We aren’t going to do that. Whilst we wouldn’t choose to go out and buy a Westlife single we can understand why people would. There's something so familiar about a Westlife track that the minute it starts you feel like you’re sat with an old friend you hold very dear. Safe sticks to the usual formula, and therefore guarantees that the band will be once again battling for the top spot in the charts the week of release. Soaring melodies, harmony-filled vocals and dramatic instrumentation all combine for another classic slice of Westlife. You can say many things about Westlife but one thing you can’t say is that the lads can’t sing. Each of the boys can hold their own and whilst Safe doesn’t exactly set our world on fire it’ll be held dearly to the hearts of every Westlife fan in the world. After 11 years you’ve got to admire the fact that the band are sticking with the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ formula don’t you?"[15]
Tina Hart of MSN UK quoted, Admittedly, I was kind of over Westlife when I got over Boyzone the first time around – sorry guys, I was a fickle teenager. The Irish quartet is still churning out the tunes though as the lead single Safe from forthcoming (eleventh!) album Gravity, is a suitably nice, sentimental ballad that will undoubtedly please hardcore fans and I’m sure I’ll now end up singing ‘I will keeep you sa-a-aafe’ all day after a few plays. With an accompanying dramatic multi-storyline video featuring a fiery car crash and domestic violence, it's not definitely not your less-interesting visual Flying Without Wings but Safe doesn’t quite reach the audio-epicness of FOW either.[16]
Robert Copsey of Digital Spy said: "Let's just get this out the way: Westlife's new single is called 'Safe' and it's a ballad. While the jokes write themselves, anyone who remembers their dodgy Rat Pack covers record from 2004 knows that we, and they, are in a much better place now. Back then we were certain the lads were about to call time, but a further five albums down the line, it's obvious they're doing something right. Of course, their eleven years in the game has given them a knack for spotting a good ballad, but truth be told, it's difficult to drum up much excitement for this kind of thing tenth album around. Nonetheless, the pounding piano riff, fist-clenching lyrics and that key change are, as ever, all present and correct. The real test? Whether it's used during those teary moments on next year's X Factor."[17]
Daily Star added: "YES, it's a ballad. But, hang on? This is not slushier than a smashed-up punnet of out-of-season Sainsbury's strawberries. In fact – gasp! - it's kind of cool in a key change-tastic boyband ballady way. Fans are going to have a right job deciding between buying this and the JLS and Take That offerings. In fact, the ‘Loife might just mop up the Take That fans who aren’t so keen on the lads’ new Muse-esque direction.[18]
IndieLondon informed, "How you going to live your life like the dream you have is real?… I will keep you safe…" So sing Westlife during the chorus to their epic new power ballad, Safe. And that title tells you just about everything you need to know about the track… it's safe, conventional and passionately heartfelt in the way that you’d expect a power pop ballad to be from one of the boy bands of the moment. That is to say, a moody piano score, belated swirling string arrangements and a layered chorus that delivers each question – "How you gonna love? How you gonna feel?" – with passion and meaning. It's destined to sweep the hopeless romantics off their feet, and to provide the backing for several movie and/or TV scenes… but it is formulaic no matter how well done for this kind of thing (and therefore kind of average)."[19]


A 30-second snippet of the song was first heard on September 19, on the final audition show of ITV1 talent competition The X Factor. On September 26 and October 2, the song received a 60-second preview with different parts, becoming the theme for the Boys' Boot Camp results, once again on X Factor. On October 3, a 40-second official snippet was posted on the band's website.[20] was the first to have the pre-order link of the single on October 4.[21] On October 5, the full version was released on their official YouTube site. On October 6, the official lyrics were released.[22]

They sent the single to UK and Irish radio stations on 4 October.[23] The single debuted on B-List of BBC Radio 2 on the week commencing 2010 October 16.[24] They had a radio tour confirmed first on Real Radio Scotland, Northwest.[25][26] On 22 October 2010, they announced their UK regional radio tour with schedule of complete date, time, and venue.[27] HR3 radio station first confirmed the airplay of the single on Germany on 16 October 2010.[28] They performed this single in The Dome 56, Germany on 26 November 2010 and broadcast on RTL II Germany on 4, 18 December 2010 but was later cancelled.[29] Afterwards, they are opt to promote on international market as they had meetings about it.[30] They had interviews with RTHK Radio 2 in Hong Kong, Kawanku Magazine and Tabloid Nova in Indonesia, Daily Joong-ang in South Korea, and Sayidaty in Middle East on 5 November 2010.[31][32] At the same day, Nicky tweeted he will do a lot of phone call interviews on other countries not mentioned above such as Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan, Sweden, Switzerland, and South Africa.[33] After the radio tour comes the promo tour in television shows.[34] One of it was their performance live on X Factor on 14 November 2010 that coincides the promotion of Gravity and the face-off with other boybands, Take That and JLS.[35][36] (See Schedule)

Music videoEdit

Background and releaseEdit

When they were asked about the music video, band member Shane Filan said "There's a bit of acting for us to be doing and we’re getting involved in all different scenes. We’re kind of flipping the word safe and making it ‘unsafe’ – trying to stop people from being ‘unsafe’. We’re the heroes - although we don’t have cloaks (laughs). It's real-life stories put into a video." They said they filmed it on 21 October 2010 and the location is on London. The video was supposed to be filmed in September but there was a delay. The full video premiere is expected two weeks after 20 October 2010.[37] The set needed three more actors aside from Westlife for it.[38] Some of other cast were Richard Carroll.[39][40] Byrne commented first about him in the set of the video, "The scene spent all morning running down corridors bursting thru doors up staircases! Felt like Brad Pitt...looked more like arm pit".[41] Right after, pictures and the exact location where they about to shoot was revealed by Egan and Feehily.[42] The Daily Star newspaper printed photos featuring Egan and Feehily in a video scene of the aftermath of a car crash.[43] The music video is directed by Sean De Sparengo and produced by Scott Clark.[39][44] While, the other music video personnel: Production Company: Coy Films, DP: Will Bex, Art Director: Ed Butcher, Editor: James Rosen @ Final Cut, TK: Simone @ Rushes, Representation: FreeAgent UK, and Commissioner: Dan Millar.[45] The full video premiered on 4 November 2010 on both their official site and UK music channels.[46] On 10 November 2010, Virgin Red Room released an exclusive video of the making of Safe which features sprinting, slaps, rooftop drama, car crashes and some classic Westlife balladry.[47]


The video was filmed in different settings, all happened in London: Wimbledon Road, The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, and an unnamed bar. As pictured out, "While Kian Egan comes to Mark Feehily's rescue, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne save women from getting beaten and committing suicide. Westlife save people in a music video. Shane Filan stands up for a woman when her boyfriend is about to lay a hand on her, Nicky Byrne prevents another female from jumping off the rooftop, and Kian Egan helps Mark Feehily in a car accident. All the scenes in the "Safe" music video, including the car accident, were done without any stuntman. "It was the most fun we have had shooting a video", Mark shared. "We wanted to do the stunts ourselves and management let us."[48]
The press titled the band for the video that turned into superheroes. OK Magazine added, "And just like they said, the clip sees the dreamy Shane, Mark, Nicky and Kian stepping in to save the day (and we thought we couldn't fancy them anymore!). The scene is set by a mystery brunette in a floaty dress looking out over London, contemplating jumping off a wall. We then see flashbacks to an argument with her boyfriend, a man in a hospital waiting room and a burning car. As the song builds, Westlife use their super skills - with Shane stepping in to break up the fight in the bar, Kian pulling Mark out from underneath the car and Nicky stopping the girl jumping. The song ends with Nicky and the brunette tenderly hugging (and us wiping away our tears!)."[49]
De Sparengo, the director, lays on a cinematic sheen to enhance this big sounding ballad said:

"I wanted to create a video for this track that a had strong emotional connect as well as the expected performance aspect, so it just seemed right to develop key scenes that featured each of the guys in dramatic and hopefully moving situations. "Big American TV dramas often tie up a season finale by cutting together the most emotive storylines and then laying it against a powerful pop track to really tug on the old heartstrings and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to push in that direction. "Luckily the boys are true promo veterans and didn’t take much persuading at all to get stuck in and bring each little story alive".[45]


The music video was positively received by fans and critics. Music All Stars said: "The new single "Safe" sounds similar to Westlife's previous ballads (nothing really can change if you rush CDs – a release per year? – and you don’t take your time to explore new ideas and bring original stuff. I know Westlife has a trademark sound but still), with their typical moving/heart-warming lyrics. Not a bad song but it's just more of the same really. The videoclip however was awesome! I like the "we are all heroes" concept."[50] 4music added: "ing! We realise that the boys' formula has moved on a bit since they arrived on the music scene more than a decade ago. Admittedly they haven't gone all Marilyn Manson on us; Safe is an anthemic ballad that wouldn't sound out of place on a Take That album, which might have something to do with the fact that it was produced by John Shanks (he 'pushed the buttons' on The Circus). The Safe video is certainly worth a look too - who knew you could call on the Westlife boys in a crisis?"[51]

Track listingEdit

  1. "Safe" (Single Mix) – 3:52
  2. "Please Stay" – 3:45

Credits and personnelEdit

  • John Shanks – songwriter, producer, guitar, bass
  • James Grundler – songwriter
  • Richard "Biff" Stannard – additional production and mixing
  • Ash Howes – additional production and mixing
  • Lars Fox – Pro Tools editing
  • Helen Atkinson – assistant engineer
  • Nicolas Essig – assistant engineer
  • Jeff Rothschild – recording and drums
  • Charles Judge – keyboards
  • Jamie Muhoberac – keyboards
  • John Shanks – keyboards
  • Seton Daunt – additional guitar
  • Wil Malone – strings arrangement
  • Richard Woodcraft – strings recording
  • Shari Sutcliffe – musician contractor and production coordination



Safe peaked #40 on UK Radio airplay, and #34 on UK TV Airplay Chart or Digital Subscription Plays Chart.[53][54]

Chart (2010) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[55] 4
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[55] 7
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[55] 10

Release HistoryEdit

Region Date Format Label
United Kingdom, Ireland 4 October 2010 Radio Airplay Syco Music,
Sony Music,
RCA Records
4 November 2010 TV Airplay
South Korea[56] 9 November 2010 Digital Download, CD Single
Austria[57] 12 November 2010
New Zealand[62]
United Kingdom 14 November 2010 Digital Download
15 November 2010 CD Single
Japan[66] CD Single, Digital Download
Belgium[67] 26 November 2010


  • Gravity Tour (2011)
  • The Farewell Tour (2012)


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Template:Westlife singles