Girls Aloud – Late in the week before last, the news that every pop lover worth their salt had been waiting for finally revealed itself.
The news that any pop fan who is aware that Biology is one of the most successful songs of the 21st century and whose keen standom extends to the knowledge that the now-mononymous Cheryl has an intense dread of cotton wool has been dreaming about: Girls Aloud are getting back together, and tickets are now available for purchase.
In addition to the Shangri-Las and the Runaways, Girls Aloud is considered to be one of the most legendary girl bands in the history of music. As someone who was born in 1989, the Spice Girls were definitely the band that I ought to have been fascinated with throughout my life.
The collectible photo album was in my possession, and I was currently engaged in a brisk trade on eBay. Mel C, a fellow Scouser and a devoted admirer of Liverpool Football Club, does a leg kick that I could do. I was never able to get in touch with the Spice Girls.
At a time when I was a sullen mid-teen more accustomed to listening to Interpol’s Specialist for the fifteenth time in a row, Girls Aloud did something that is a tribute to a tempting blend of outstanding music and charismatic personality. Girls Aloud was founded from a music talent program that I did not watch.
Despite the fact that the band was supposed to be the breakout stars of Popstars: The Rivals, which was a spin on their previous show, Popstars, produced by ITV and Simon Cowell (whose underdogs would also go on to find surprise success in the form of Liberty X), they were never intended to be their.
Happy heavenly birthday Sarah, there’s not a day that goes by that we as a fandom don’t think about you.
You should be still here celebrating Girls Aloud’s successes, you would have loved it 💔
Shine bright tonight especially I’ll be looking out for you 💫 pic.twitter.com/YqnYVm5l4Q
— Girls Aloud Gallery (@GalleryAloud) November 17, 2023
The redesign of the format was straightforward: the boyband and girl band from the show would compete against each other for the number one spot on the Christmas chart in 2002.
At first, it appeared as though the one with the most distressing moniker, One True Voice, would emerge victorious. But when their insipid cover of a song from a late Bee Gees album that was not amazing to begin with was selected as the boys’ contender, Girls Aloud came bursting out of the gate with the surf riffs and drum’n’bass pulsating energy of Sound of the Underground (with a gritty video shot in a cavernous abandoned warehouse to boot), it seemed less likely that anything like that would happen.
The later song arrived at number one and remained there for a period of four weeks. The girls showed up.
The brilliant production team known as Xenomania was unquestionably responsible for a significant portion of the band’s incredible success and longevity, which included 21 songs that made it into the top ten, with four of them reaching number one. Xenomania, which was established by producer Brian Higgins, would go on to become regular collaborators.
They were responsible for Sound of the Underground, which was reportedly inspired by the late 1990s dance smash Addicted to Bass and the nursery rhyme The Wheels on the Bus.
In Higgins’ hit factory, which was actually a Grade II manor house in rural Kent, he, the band, and chief songwriter Miranda Cooper would secretly record songs that were both glorious and experimental.
Some of these songs include Biology, which begins with a sample of the Animals, does not follow the typical linear verse-chorus structure, and changes direction three times; Love Machine, which was recorded in 18 parts and combines rockabilly and synth sensibilities from the 1980s; and Sexy! No No No, which is an electro-punk track that features a sample from Nazareth.
On the other hand, the album cuts that are not as well-known are the ones that I cherish the most. On their final album, Out of Control, the barmy Miss You Bow Wow, or its stablemate Love Is the Key, which jumps from a scary hymn prelude to a line-dancing country swagger to a harmonica solo sung by Johnny Marr, are examples of songs that make use of a variety of musical styles.
Alternatively, there is Graffiti My Soul, which is a song that sounds like Run DMC and Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, and it was played by Willie Nelson in the Hacienda, and then the Prodigy would remix it.
However, my affection for the band was never limited to the recording booth; these five young ladies were incredibly personable and were navigating an era of tabloid misogyny and the growing snark that can be found on the internet.
Their feisty northern (or Northern Irish, in the case of Nadine Coyle) attitude, wit, and grounded sense of humor remained intact despite the ever-present risk of the paparazzi upskirt shot, as well as the fact that Roberts was subjected to such silly bullying because of her fair skin.
In 2009, when the band was awarded the Twenty Quid Music Prize by the cult music website Popjustice, which was a humorous but nonetheless genuine competition to the elitism of the Mercury, Roberts went to a pub to receive the prize.
Sarah Harding was the next person to appear. His rowdy reputation (“it’s about time!” she yelled upon a Brit awards win) was undermined by her delicate harmonies on, in particular, Whole Lotta History and The Promise.
The vivacious rebel with the cropped blond hair, who had always worked her arse off, whether she was a college student in Stockport, or a BT call-handler, or a Pizza Hut waitress, or writing a memoir, had always worked her arse off. Harding passed away at the age of 39 due to breast cancer, and the reunion tour that will take place in 2024 is dedicated to her memory.
The fact that Harding’s obituaries concentrated, in some cases almost solely, on the turbulent moments in her personal life was a terrible testimony to the contribution that she made to the magnificent, joyful, and exhilarating pop history of Girls Aloud. As of May of the following year, it is the present.