Just like his mega hit single, life has indeed been a bit of a rollercoaster for singer Ronan Keating.
Since being propelled to global fame as one fifth of Irish pop group Boyzone aged just 16, he’s enjoyed the accelerating highs that the music industry has allowed him to ride.
That’s everything from selling millions of records and touring the world, to taking the West End stage by storm in musical Once, and being a talent show judge in Australia on shows like The X Factor and The Voice.
But this year brings about the 43-year-old’s biggest milestone yet – 20 years since the release of his debut self-titled solo album, which went straight to number one back in 2000, following the success of his single When You Say Nothing At All. Something he still counts his lucky stars for today, two decades on.
‘I was 16 at the beginning of all of this, so I had absolutely no idea I’d still be here singing. I was just riding the train and having a good time with my mates,’ he tells us.
‘It’s really mad and I feel really grateful. Longevity, for me, is what I’m most proud of. I have a lot of friends who have come and gone, but I’m still here, getting away with it.’
To mark it in style, Ronan’s released a brand new album aptly titled Twenty Twenty, which features reimagined versions of some of his greatest hits, alongside never heard before material.
‘And he’s gone all out, even roping in some of the biggest names in the industry for some memorable collaborations, including Emeli Sandé, Shania Twain and Ed Sheeran, who makes an appearance playing acoustic guitar.
‘I finished Boyzone’s farewell tour and wanted to make a solo record. I was thinking I’d go to Nashville and write a country record. Then I saw the dates somewhere and thought, ‘It’s 20 years. I should really be doing something!’
I went into the studio and started reworking When You Say Nothing At All and Life Is A Rollercoaster and I was also writing a bunch of songs at the same time. So it happened by accident. And it’s been a really nice accident,’ Ronan continues.
‘I’m so proud of this record. When I look at the artists who are on the album with me, it’s amazing. I’m honoured they said yes. That’s the greatest achievement – to have the recognition from these legends.’
The 13-track record is a real celebration of everything he’s achieved, both with Boyzone and on his own, in a career that’s had more pinch-me moments than most and ensured he has a diehard, dedicated following.
‘I get people coming up to me all the time and talking to me about my songs. A few of my songs turn up at weddings which is nice, but you do have to ask if they’re still together!’ he laughs.
‘When we played the Palladium as part of Boyzone’s last shows last year, the front five or six rows were fans we know really well and have watched grow up.
‘There are two girls in particular who met us when we got off our first Air Lingus flight in Heathrow Airport back in 1994. There they were sitting in front of us, and I was pretty emotional. They’ve been around every year and now they bring their kids to our shows. It’s crazy and brilliant.’
However, Ronan is the first to admit that the dizzying heights he and the boys enjoyed have also been accompanied by some devastating lows, including the heartbreaking death of his former bandmate and close friend Stephen Gately, who passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2009, aged just 33.
It’s a tragic memory that the new record doesn’t shy away from, with the inclusion of a powerful new song called The Big Goodbye, a duet with another familiar face, Robbie Williams.
Ronan explains, ‘It was the 10 year anniversary of Stephen’s death last October and the boys and I did some TV appearances. We always try to be around each other on Stevo’s anniversary. It’s very important to us.
‘I came home that night and was in my kitchen talking to Storm. My email went off and it was Rob saying, “Hey Ro. I wrote this song the week Stevo died 10 years ago and I’ve been sitting on it and totally forgot about it until I saw you lads on TV.’’
‘He sent it to me and I listened with tears in my eyes. I knew we had to do it together. I’m so proud of it. It’s beautiful. It’s going to be tough to perform it when we can.’
But it’s something Ronan would love to do when he gets the chance, as he always strives to keep Stephen’s legacy alive.
‘Everything I do, every performance, I involve Stephen somehow. He’s an important part of my life and I miss him all the time, we grew up together,’ Ronan says.
However, it’s not just this new material and album that have made 2020 particularly noteworthy for Ronan. Earlier this month the star and his wife Storm celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in Istanbul, and in March they welcomed their second child, daughter Coco, a little sister for their three-year-old son Cooper.
Beaming as he talks about his Coco, Ronan – who is also dad to Jack, 21, Missy, 19 and Ali, 15, from his first marriage to Yvonne Connolly – says, ‘Coces has been an absolute dream. She’s just a bright shining light in all of this madness. I feel blessed.’
That’s not to say welcoming a new bundle of joy in the middle of a pandemic hasn’t been without its challenges, especially when it comes to introducing her to the rest of the family.
‘Jack and Missy have seen her, but Ali hasn’t, as well as the rest of my brothers and sisters, and dad. It’s heartbreaking,’ he says. ‘I cannot wait for them to. Soon, please God. When the travel corridors open and there’s no quarantining for people, they will be able to meet her.’
But as he counts down the days until their happy family reunion, Ronan has been continuing to work on his daily Magic FM radio show while enjoying family time at home in Barnes, south London. In fact, as we’re chatting over Zoom, little Cooper comes into the room dressed as a fireman beaming at his dad.
‘I haven’t been at home this much since I was 16. Usually I’d be at Heathrow every week. So it’s been wonderful being a husband and dad at home.
‘I’m a good cook, but a terrible baker. I have a Big Green Egg BBQ that Storm bought me for my birthday, so I’ve been cooking on it every day and drinking red wine! But I’ve also been training, I like to stay in shape.’
Ronan’s looking to the future and eyeing up other projects he’d like to take on when the time allows, including extending his acting CV after roles in projects such as 2017 British war drama Another Mother’s Son.
‘I have an agent and I read scripts as they come through,’ he explains. ‘So I will do more, it’s just getting the right thing.’
And there’s another big adventure he’s busy planning behind the scenes, one which would once again take him to dizzying new heights.
‘I’d love to climb Mount Everest,’ he smiles. ‘I’ve had a few challenges in the past – I’ve walked Ireland twice, top to bottom, swam across the Irish sea and I climbed Kilimanjaro and really enjoyed it.
‘I know Everest is a whole other level, but with the right training and team I think it would be an amazing experience.’
Well, the sky has always been the limit for Ronan. Good luck!
How does Ronan Keating spend his Sundays?
Lazy lie-in or up with the lark?
Lying in? Not with a baby!
Gym or yoga?
I’m at the gym every day. It takes determination but I see the difference.
Chores or chill out?
Chill. I don’t know how to use a washing machine.
Favourite Sunday meal?
My mam’s Irish stews and coddles. A coddle is sausage, bacon and potatoes boiled in water with some herbs. It’s pretty basic and very much a working-class family stew.
Tipple you can’t resist?
The perfect Sunday night would be…
On the couch with Storm, a movie and a glass of wine.
– Ronan Keating’s new album Twenty Twenty is out now on Decca Records