Dublin-born Ronan Keating found fame with the band Boyzone and has gone on to sell more than 20 million records as a solo artist. His latest album, Time of My Life, went Top 5 in the UK upon its release in February. He met his wife, Storm, while working as a judge on The X Factor in Australia and the couple now divide their time among London, Dublin and Sydney, where Ronan has just debuted as a judge on The Voice.
1. ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’—Simple Minds
Ronan Keating: I clearly remember going on summer holidays as a kid to Killarney in County Kerry and playing this song in the guesthouse we stayed in every year. We weren’t a very well-off family, so we didn’t go to places like France like my friends, but it didn’t matter to me. The days seemed so long and it always seemed to be hot so we’d go horse riding, row boats on the lake in Killarney and go see a singer called Joe Dolan whom my mum loved at the Gleneagle Hotel.
2. ‘You Can Call Me Al’—Paul Simon
Storm Keating: I lived in Papua New Guinea until I was seven, in a tiny jungle village with two shops and a post office. My parents also had a holiday house on an island called Salamaua, which was off the coast of Lae. There were five other families with houses there so we’d get together and have big barbecues under the stars. I remember running along the jetty with my brothers, and this song always seemed to be playing and would get everyone dancing at these parties we had. Then we’d go fishing for squid off the end of the jetty, using spotlights to attract the squid in the middle of the night with lots of shooting stars above.
3. ‘Could You Be Loved’—Bob Marley
RK: I have a very clear memory of Shane [Lynch] playing this Bob Marley song in the dressing room before Boyzone went on stage on our first tour of Southeast Asia in the ’90s. We were these young lads from the north side of Dublin, I’d barely traveled and then all of a sudden we were catapulted into fame. Life was so dramatically different in those countries from anything we were used to and yet suddenly these people knew our faces and names and could sing our songs. That tour went to Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Seoul and I really fell in love with Asia during that trip.
4. ‘Raining On The Rock’—John Williamson
SK: We moved to a cattle station in North Queensland in 1988 where we had a tropical rare fruit orchard and all us kids would muster the cattle at the weekend. Mum and dad had this old record player and they would listen to the John Williamson record over and over again. To me, he was the sound of Australia. The move was quite a culture shock. In PNG, we were always out fishing, running around with the local village kids, getting muddy and doing crazy, outdoors stuff. When we moved to Australia, there was a sense of having to rein all that in a little bit.
5. ‘Club Can’t Handle Me’—Flo Rida
RK: When I went down to Sydney to be a judge on the first season of The X Factor, this song was all over the radio. I had a dressing room we used to call Club K because after the show, everyone used to come in and hang out and that song was always playing. I really fell in love with Australia at that time. I love the country, the people, the food, the atmosphere and the climate—and the Australian people welcomed me as one of their own. It’s such an epic tune and it really takes me back to that time on The X Factor and those years when Storm and I first met.
6. ‘Down Under’—Men at Work
SK: You would expect me to associate this with Australia but actually it reminds me of the very first time I visited London to be with Ro in 2012. My girlfriends took me to an Australian bar called The Walkabout and this was playing, so I felt completely at home on the other side of the world. I think that’s when I realized I wanted to move to London. We actually played this song at our wedding last year. I was wearing a cork hat, carrying a blow-up kangaroo and had the Australian flag draped around my wedding dress. I went bananas.
7. ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’—Coldplay
SK: We take the kids [Ronan’s children Jack, Missy and Ali] to Switzerland skiing once a year. The very first time we took them, this song had just come out and we listened to it over and over in the hire car from the airport up to Verbier. It became the anthem of the trip. We filmed lots on the GoPro and at the end of the trip, I edited together a movie with all of us skiing and this was the soundtrack. It’s so perfect for people skiing and jumping and falling because it has that real movement within the song.
8. ‘The Blower’s Daughter’—Damien Rice
RK: We went on safari for our honeymoon to this beautiful lodge called Ulusaba in [South Africa’s] Kruger National Park as guests of Richard Branson. I always bring a speaker everywhere I go and I remember this song playing one evening when the sun was setting. It felt like we were the only two people on earth. It was so magical and this song just resonates with that moment, being so close to the earth and the magnificent animals.
9. ‘What A Wonderful World’—Louis Armstrong
RK: About 10 months before we got married, I went up to the farm where Storm was raised to be introduced to all the family. It used to be her grandpa’s farm and when he passed away it became her dad’s. This song was very important to their family because Storm’s grandpa loved it. Her uncle played it in the house when I was there and it felt like I was being welcomed into the family. I’d heard all these stories from when she was a kid about river rafting and snakes and all these crazy fruits they used to eat. There I was, a million miles away from where I grew up, in this magnificent place with streams, banana plantations and incredible countryside—and this was the perfect song for that moment.
10. ‘Jolene’—Ray LaMontagne
RK: We recently went on a road trip to Margaret River near Perth in Western Australia and played this track looking over the ocean with the sun setting. I’d put the iPod on random and this was the first song that came up. It’s so mellow and chilled out. The sunsets there are the best in the world and we sat there watching it, sipping red wine from a mile down the road and eating organic cheese from the area. It’s very unique to have red wines produced that close to the water. Margaret River had been on our bucket list and everyone should visit if they can.