Girls Aloud

Girls Aloud
Girls Aloud

Girls Aloud performing live.
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Pop, electropop, dance-pop
Years active 2002–present
(on hiatus as of late 2009)
Labels Polydor, Fascination
Cheryl Cole
Nadine Coyle
Sarah Harding
Nicola Roberts
Kimberley Walsh

Girls Aloud are a British and Irish[1] pop girl group based in London. They were created through the ITV1 talent show Popstars The Rivals in 2002. The group consists of Cheryl Cole (née Tweedy), Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh. They are signed to Fascination Records, a Polydor imprint. The group achieved a string of twenty consecutive top ten singles, including four number ones, and two number one albums in the United Kingdom. All of their albums have been certified platinum, with their albums The Sound of Girls Aloud, and Out of Control both selling over one million copies. They have been nominated for five Brit Awards, winning the 2009 Best Single for "The Promise".

Girls Aloud's collaborations with Brian Higgins and his songwriting and production team Xenomania have earned the group critical acclaim, due to an innovative approach to mainstream pop music. The group has become one of the few UK reality television acts to achieve continued success, amassing a fortune of £25 million by May 2010. Guinness World Records lists them as "Most Successful Reality TV Group" in the 2007 edition. They also hold the record for "Most Consecutive Top Ten Entries in the UK by a Female Group" in the 2008 edition, and are credited again for "Most Successful Reality TV Group" in the 2011 edition.

The band went on hiatus in 2009. During their break, all five members have taken part in a variety of projects, although Roberts stated in an interview on 2 June 2011 that all five members are "up for a reunion for their 10th anniversary (in 2012)".



2002: Formation and Popstars The Rivals

Girls Aloud were formed on 30 November 2002, in front of millions of viewers on the ITV1 programme Popstars: The Rivals. The concept of the programme, hosted by Big Brother presenter Davina McCall was to produce a boyband and a girlgroup who would be "rivals" and compete for the 2002 Christmas number one single. Following the initial success of Hear'Say (winners of the original Popstars show), several thousand applicants attended auditions across the UK in hope of being selected. Ten girls and ten boys were chosen as finalists by judges Pete Waterman, Louis Walsh and Geri Halliwell. However, two of these were disqualified before the live shows began: Hazel Kaneswaren was found to be too old to participate[2] whilst Nicola Ward refused to sign the contract, claiming the pay the group would receive was too low.[3] Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts, who had made it into the final fifteen but not the final ten, were chosen as their replacements.

During October and November, the finalists took to the stage participating in weekly Saturday night live performances (alternating week-by-week between the girls and boys). Each week the contestant polling the fewest phone votes was eliminated, until the final line-ups of the groups emerged. The five girls who made it into the group were (in the order announced by the host) Cheryl, Nicola, Nadine, Kimberley and Sarah; Javine Hylton missed out on a place in the group, despite previous expectations that she would be placed in the line-up.[4] The group were named Girls Aloud and were managed by Louis Walsh until 2005 when Hilary Shaw replaced him.[5]

The two groups competed to become 2002's Christmas number one single. Girls Aloud won the battle with their single "Sound of the Underground", produced by Brian Higgins and Xenomania. The song spent four consecutive weeks at number one and was certified platinum in March 2003.[6][7] "Sound of the Underground" received critical acclaim; Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote that it "proved a first: it was a reality pop record that didn't make you want to do physical harm to everyone involved in its manufacture."[8]

2002–2005: Sound of the Underground and What Will the Neighbours Say?

After the success of their first single "Sound of the Underground", Girls Aloud spent five months recording the follow-up single and their debut album. Sound of the Underground was completed in April 2003 and released the following month, described as a mix of "Blondie and Bananarama, with a smattering of the Spice Girls at their best thrown in."[9] The album entered the charts at number two and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry.[10] One of the tracks, "Girls Allowed", was written for the group by ex-Westlife star Bryan McFadden, while "Some Kind of Miracle" was co-written by former B*Witched member Edele Lynch. The second single, "No Good Advice", was also released in May 2003 to similar success. Nadine Coyle said, "We waited from December to May before releasing a second single because we knew it had to be our strong point or we might as well kiss our careers goodbye."[11] Kimberley Walsh further exclaimed, "We knew it was strong enough to come back with."[11] Girls Aloud's third single, "Life Got Cold", charted at number three in August 2003. The song features a guitar riff similar to that of the 1995 Oasis hit "Wonderwall",[12][13] for which Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher has been credited.[14]

In November 2003, Girls Aloud released a cover version of the Pointer Sisters' 1980s dance hit "Jump". The song appeared on the to the 2003 film Love Actually, recorded at the request of director Richard Curtis.[15] According to Cheryl Cole in Girls Aloud's 2008 autobiography Dreams That Glitter - Our Story, the single "was the point when we realised everything we'd been doing was quite down and moody [...] and that's not what people wanted." Nicola Roberts further stated it "was meant to be. It was a turning point and everyone loved it." The single, which charted at number two, accompanied a new edition of Sound of the Underground. The reissue featured a new album cover and the replacement of three original songs with "Jump", "You Freak Me Out" (which appeared on the soundtrack of Freaky Friday) and "Girls on Film" (a cover of a Duran Duran song originally a B-side to "Life Got Cold"). "You Freak Me Out" was planned as the group's fifth single; however, the plans for this release were scrapped as work began on a second album.

After a brief hiatus, Girls Aloud released "The Show" in June 2004, the first single from What Will the Neighbours Say?, the group's second album. It had an unusual structure for a pop song, consisting of a number of interchanged sections rather than the more typical verse-chorus form. Polydor built excitement for the release and the group's new look with a promotional campaign featuring five empty director's chairs with each of the girls' names on. "The Show" entered the charts at number two. The next single, "Love Machine", also peaked at number two in September 2004. "Love Machine" was nominated for ITV's The Record of the Year and finished in sixth place. Girls Aloud recorded a cover of The Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You" as the official Children In Need charity single. The song was not well received by critics;[16][17][18] however, the cover became Girls Aloud's second number one single, holding the position for two weeks.[19][20]

What Will the Neighbours Say? was entirely written and produced by Xenomania. Higgins said, "The pressure to come up with singles was, as always, immense. But [...] we were able to have a lot of fun working on ideas that were maybe a little too odd to be on the radio." The album received favourable reviews from music critics and was a commercial success, a feat in itself considering Girls Aloud's reality television background. A review by's Andrew Lynch said, "Girls Aloud really shouldn't have made it as far as a second album. [...] There's just one problem – the girls have a knack of coming up with utterly infectious pop songs".[21] The Guardian hailed Neighbours as "a great album: funny, clever, immediate, richly inventive."[16] Stylus Magazine declared, "There is no pop in the world like Girls Aloud today."[22] Upon its release on 29 November 2004, the album charted just outside of the top five and was quickly certified platinum.

The final single from the album, "Wake Me Up", was released in February 2005. It charted at number four, making it their first to miss the top three but still their eighth top-five single. In early 2005, the group won Glamour Magazine's "Band of the Year" award, and was also nominated for a BRIT Award for Best Pop Act. Following the album's success, Girls Aloud announced their first tour What Will the Neighbours Say? Live, which took place in May 2005. The group also released its first DVD, Girls on Film.

2005–2007: Chemistry and The Sound of Girls Aloud

Following their first tour, Girls Aloud began work on their third studio album, Chemistry. The album was described as "a concept album which relates to the girls and what it's like to be a twentysomething girl in London".[23] The Guardian said that the album's "lyrics sound like Blur's Parklife rewritten by the editorial staff of Heat magazine" and "holds a distinctly ambiguous mirror up to noughties celebrity."[24] The album peaked on the charts at number eleven, their lowest so far, despite overwhelming critical acclaim. It was their third consecutive album to be certified platinum.

The first single from the album was "Long Hot Summer", recorded for inclusion on the soundtrack to the 2005 Walt Disney reboot of the Herbie franchise, Herbie: Fully Loaded, although plans fell through.[25] Released in August 2005, the single ended Girls Aloud's run of top five singles when it charted at number seven.[26] Brian Higgins has expressed his disdain with the song, saying that "chasing the soundtrack [...] disrupted us creatively. It was making us miserable. Something had to come out and that was Long Hot Summer. It was made in a panic. It was a disaster record. I can't stand it."[27] In reaction to the single's disappointment, Higgins and Xenomania crafted "Biology". Higgins continued, "I think that it is a wonderful record – so uplifting. It meant so much to us and it really set Chemistry up well."[27] The track is made up of distinct sections. The single saw a return to the top five for Girls Aloud, peaking at number four.[28] The song was critically acclaimed; Peter Cashmore of The Guardian labelled it "the best pop single of the last decade".[29] Despite Girls Aloud's near total obscurity in the United States, the song was listed at number 245 on Pitchfork Media's "The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s" list in 2009.[30]

The release was followed by a cover of Dee C. Lee's "See the Day", released in the Christmas week of 2005.[31][32] "See the Day" became Girls Aloud's biggest hit in terms of radio airplay since "Sound of the Underground", but became their lowest-charting single at the time when it peaked at number nine.[33] Girls Aloud won the Heart Award for the single at the O2 Silver Clef Lunch. The group travelled to Australia and New Zealand in February 2006 to release "Biology" and Chemistry. Despite, a one-week promotional tour, "Biology" peaked at number twenty-six on the ARIA Singles Chart, failing to break the group in the Australian market.[34] "Whole Lotta History", the fourth and final single to be taken from Chemistry, was released in March 2006. Despite sounding more traditional than most Girls Aloud songs, "Whole Lotta History" is made up of seven different parts rather than following a verse-chorus formula.[35] The music video for "Whole Lotta History" was filmed in Paris, France. The single charted at number six.[36] Girls Aloud starred in their first television series, Girls Aloud: Off the Record, which followed the girls as they promoted Chemistry and travelled overseas. In May 2006, Girls Aloud embarked on their second UK tour (and first arena tour), the Chemistry Tour. The group performed for over 100,000 people across ten UK arenas, receiving critical acclaim. In the same month, Girls Aloud were moved to Fascination Records, a sub-label of Polydor Records.

In October 2006, Girls Aloud released their first greatest hits collection, The Sound of Girls Aloud. It debuted at number one on the UK album chart and went on to sell over one million copies.[37][38] A limited edition was also available, featuring a bonus disc containing previously unreleased tracks. The album was accompanied by the single "Something Kinda Ooooh". Girls Aloud became the first British act to reach the top five purely on download sales;[39] the single peaked at number three following its physical release.[40] The next single was a cover of "I Think We're Alone Now", previously a hit single for Tommy James and The Shondells (in 1967) and for Tiffany (in 1987). The release marked the third time Girls Aloud had entered the Christmas chart battle; it peaked at number four.[41] The song was also the official theme to the film It's a Boy Girl Thing. Girls Aloud collaborated with fellow British girl group Sugababes for their fifteenth single, a cover of the song "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith. The track was released in March 2007 as the official single for Comic Relief, billed as "Sugababes vs. Girls Aloud". It became the group's third number one and their fifteenth consecutive top ten single.[42] In May 2007, Girls Aloud went on their third tour, The Sound of Girls Aloud: The Greatest Hits Tour. During the tour, the group appeared at fifteen arenas across the UK and Ireland.

At a concert in Glasgow.

2007–2009: Tangled Up and Out of Control

Girls Aloud released their fourth studio album, Tangled Up, in November 2007. Called "yet another unrelenting pop masterpiece" by BBC,[43] the album received was another commercial and critical success. It continued their streak of platinum albums.[44]

The first single, "Sexy! No No No...", was another top five single. It was described as "one of the most daring songs they've yet released" and "yet another sample of their [Girls Aloud's] perfect pop: bold, sassy, slightly loopy and unbelievably catchy."[45][46] "Sexy! No No No…" is actually three songs welded together: one with a samba rhythm, one with a sped-up sample and a breakbeat, and an intro from elsewhere.[47] The guitar riff is sampled from Scottish rock band Nazareth's 1975 track "Hair of the Dog." "Call the Shots", which entered the top three, welcomed even more critical acclaim, with pop music journalist Peter Robinson calling it the "greatest pop song of the 21st century."[48] It was described as "an elegant electro-pop ballad delivered with a restraint and maturity to rival groups of twice their age".[45] The song was almost put forward as a single for the greatest hits compilation The Sound of Girls Aloud, but the song was deemed "too downbeat, when a greatest hits single needs to be a celebration."[48] Cheryl Cole cited the song is her favourite from Tangled Up, and that it "gives me goosebumps".[49] The third and final single from the album, "Can't Speak French", continued Girls Aloud's top ten streak.[50] A French version and "Hoxton Heroes", a satirical track aimed towards indie bands, were included as B-sides. The release coincided with Girls Aloud's second television series, The Passions of Girls Aloud.[51] The show revolved around each member achieving aspirations outside of the group.[52] Girls Aloud also received their second BRIT Award nomination in 2008, nominated for the Best British Group award.[53] In May and June 2008, Girls Aloud embarked on the Tangled Up Tour – their third arena tour and fourth overall. They played a total of 34 concerts around the UK.

In 2008, Girls Aloud released their fifth studio album Out of Control. The group called it their "most exciting and thrilling album yet".[54] It entered the UK Albums Chart at number one.[55] It became their most successful studio album to date, being certified double platinum.[56] Out of Control has described as "their most melancholy album to date",[57] a "break-up album [...] atop a mix of ’80s electro-pop",[58] and "chock-full of those trademark, otherworldy electro-synth songs".[59] The album's lead single, "The Promise", became their fourth number one on the UK Singles Chart, selling more than 77,000 singles in its first week of release—making it the fastest-selling single of 2008 up to that point.[60] The single returned the group to the top two on the Irish Singles Chart.[61] Brian Higgins said, "We knew that was the piece of music Girls Aloud needed to announce them as a supergroup in this country, so we knew we couldn't drop the ball melodically or lyrically."[62] He described it as "the theme tune to the biggest girl group on the planet".[63] Girls Aloud also performed at the BRIT Awards for the first time in their careers, with "The Promise" being awarded Best British Single.[64] They were also nominated for Best British Group, but lost to Elbow.

"The Loving Kind" was released as the album's second single. Xenomania and Pet Shop Boys wrote the song in sessions for the latter's album Yes. Both parties had previously agreed there would be just three co-written songs on the album, and having noticed Chris Lowe's "slight reticence" towards the song, Higgins suggested that Girls Aloud record "The Loving Kind".[65] "The Loving Kind" peaked at number ten, becoming Girls Aloud's twentieth consecutive top ten single.[66] "Untouchable", a trance-inspired "rave ballad" which marries "Balearic guitar lines with a pulsating techno throb," was released as the third single from the album.[67][68] The song became Girls Aloud's first single to chart outside of the top ten, peaking at number eleven.[69] Girls Aloud embarked on the Out of Control Tour, which ran from April to June 2009. Fascination Records released a singles boxset collection to coincide with the tour.[70]

2009–present: Hiatus

Girls Aloud signed a new record deal with Fascination that would see the group release another three albums.[71] In July 2009 Girls Aloud announced that they were taking a year-long hiatus to pursue solo projects, but would reunite for a new studio album in 2010.[72] Two months later, Girls Aloud briefly interrupted the hiatus to do two shows supporting Coldplay along with Jay-Z at Wembley Stadium.[73] In June 2010, Kimberley Walsh said she expected a tour in 2011.[74] The hiatus has however continued well past the twelve-month mark, with no sign of any specific plans for a reunion. In August 2010, Nicola Roberts told the media that she did not expect a reunion before 2012.[75] Cheryl Cole confirmed that Girls Aloud would mark their tenth anniversary together in 2012, a reiteration made by Nadine Coyle in an earlier interview.[76] Nadine Coyle later stated that the time of the reunion would be dictated by Cole due to Cole's successful solo career.[77] On 24 April 2011, Hilary Shaw confirmed that the group would perform together in 2012, marking their tenth anniversary together.[78] On 2 June 2011, Nicola Roberts confirmed in an interview with Scott Mills on BBC Radio 1 that "all 5 members are up for a reunion for their 10th anniversary (in 2012)" stating that even if she "has to drag the girls by their hair, it'll happen". In July 2011, Nadine Coyle openly spoke about the Girls Aloud reunion in NME Magazine. In the interview, Coyle stated that it was "a milestone that the girls are all going to celebrate" by doing "something". In August 2011, Coyle spoke about the reunion during an online skype video call with blogger, Perez Hilton, where she states that, "the offers for us to do stadium tours, and open the Olympics are there.. it's just now whether all 5 of us want to do it". She also continues saying that, "If it'll be like our last tour, we may have to put tour tickets on sale soon, so fingers crossed!"[79]

Other musical projects

Girls Aloud also appeared on the 2007 compilation Radio 1: Established 1967, celebrating the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio 1, with a cover of Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag", as well as singing backing vocals on Franz Ferdinand's cover of David Bowie's "Sound and Vision".[80] In addition to these appearances, Girls Aloud recorded two tracks for the soundtrack to the new St Trinian's movie ("Theme to St. Trinian's" and "On My Way to Satisfaction"). They also make a cameo appearance in the film as the school band. The soundtrack was released on 10 December 2007,[81] and the video for "Theme to St. Trinian's" premiered in mid December 2007. On 6 January 2008, "Theme to St. Trinian's" became the first Girls Aloud song to enter the UK Singles Chart without any plans of a physical release, peaking at number fifty-one.[82] Additionally, the girls also performed covers of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab", Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat", and Timbaland & OneRepublic's "Apologize" for Jo Whiley's Live Lounge programme on BBC Radio 1.

Girls Aloud recorded backing vocals for "My Love Is Better" from Norwegian pop singer Annie's second album Don't Stop.[83] It was reported that their mutual producer Brian Higgins didn't ask for permission, which upset Girls Aloud.[84] However, Annie herself revealed in an interview that "Brian asked them if they'd like to help out. They were really up for it and came into my studio and it was really fun."[85] She continued, "of course their record company said no and they ended up not singing on the song after all. I thought it was a little bit stupid but what can you say? It wasn't my choice. They were really nice, very sweet."[86]

Other endeavours

Film and television

In 2005, Girls Aloud filmed a one-off documentary entitled Girls Aloud: Home Truths for ITV2. The group witnessed the group's first tour, the release of their single "Long Hot Summer", and recording sessions for the group's third studio album Chemistry. The success of the show later made way for Off the Record, a six-part fly on the wall documentary series for E4. The program started its run on 11 April 2006. The series was filmed during the Chemistry era and focused on the band's promotional activities, including the shooting of the "Biology" video and the lead-up to and aftermath of the release of "Whole Lotta History". It also showed the band travelling abroad, to places such as Greece, Paris, Shanghai and Australia. A DVD of the series, which included an unaired episode, was released on 4 September 2006. Girls Aloud then appeared in an episode of Ghosthunting with... (without Nadine) towards the end of 2006, in which Yvette Fielding guided them through haunted locations.[87]

In April 2007, Girls Aloud filmed a cameo appearance in the new St. Trinian's movie, playing the school band. The film was released in the UK on 21 December 2007, with Girls Aloud providing two songs for the movie's original soundtrack, including its theme song. The Girls also make a cameo appearance in the Oasis documentary, Lord Don't Slow Me Down. The girl group starred in a new television series on ITV2, Passions of Girls Aloud, broadcast from 14 March to 4 April 2008.[51][88] The premise of the show involves each member achieving something that they have always wanted to do.[89] It was reported on 13 November 2007 that Nadine would not be taking part, due to the programme's bosses refusing to let her undertake charity work.[90]

Cheryl Cole became a judge on The X Factor during its fifth series, replacing Sharon Osborne.[91] Cheryl said that "whilst we get started on the next album, it will be brilliant to be a judge on The X Factor."[92] Her fellow judge Louis Walsh was a judge on Popstars: The Rivals and formerly managed Girls Aloud. Cheryl's category on the X Factor was the 14 to 24 Girls, and her act Alexandra Burke made it to the final, and eventually won. The following year she returned as a judge and mentored the boys category; her act Joe McElderry won. Girls Aloud appeared in a variety show entitled The Girls Aloud Party. The show aired on 13 December 2008 on ITV, between The X Factor finale and its results show.[93] Girls Aloud performed hits and revealed their Christmas single, as well chatting to showbiz pals and performing comic sketches.[93] Cilla Black and Julie Goodyear appeared as Nicola Roberts' grandmother and Sarah Harding's mother, respectively, in some of the sketches.[94] Kimberley and Nicola also made a cameo appearance in the family drama show Britannia High.[95] Sarah has starred in the direct-to-DVD feature film Bad Day as Jade Jennings, starred in a BBC film called Freefall in 2009 and also starred in St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, reprising her character from the first film.[95] The band's "St. Trinian's" theme song is reprised during the film, including once in an a capella version by the cast (including Harding).

Merchandise and sponsorship deals

Girls Aloud came together with Mattel in 2005 to produce Fashion Fever Barbies. Each member designed the outfit and look of a doll modelled after themselves. In addition to live DVDs of their tours and both of Girls Aloud's television series, the group has also released Girls on Film and Style. Official calendars have also been issued annually from 2004 to 2009, the only exception being 2005. Girls Aloud co-wrote an autobiography titled Dreams That Glitter – Our Story.[96] The book, named after a lyric in "Call the Shots", was published in October 2008 through the Transworld imprint Bantam Press.[97][98] Before the release, OK! magazine bought the rights to preview and serialise the book.[99][100]

In 2007, Girls Aloud signed a £1.25m one-year deal to endorse hair care brand Sunsilk.[101] The girls filmed a television advertisement and appeared in and magazine advertisements, with each of the five members being the face of a different shampoo. The same year, Girls Aloud also sealed a deal with the UK division of Samsung. They endorsed mobile phones and MP3 players, made personal appearances and sang at Samsung events, and contributed to competition prizes, among other activities.[102] The Samsung F210 Purple came with a 1GB memory card featuring Girls Aloud content.[103] Girls Aloud appeared in television advertisements for Nintendo DS the following year.[104] The girl group signed a deal to front a promotional campaign for a new low-calorie KitKat bar called "Senses" in March 2008. The chocolate bar manufacturer also sponsored Girls Aloud's Tangled Up Tour.[105] The exact worth of the endorsement is unknown, but a figure of £500,000 each has been suggested.[106] Sales increased 6.8% in the United Kingdom.[107]


All five members of the group have been involved in charity work. Girls Aloud's cover of The Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You" was released as the official 2004 Children in Need single, with proceeds going to the charity.[108] Nicola Roberts said, "Hopefully if our single does well it's a lot of money going to the charity."[108] Their cover Aerosmith and Run DMC's "Walk This Way", a collaboration with the Sugababes, was the official charity single for Comic Relief in 2007, recorded at Comic Relief co-founder and trustee Richard Curtis' request.[109][110] Kimberley Walsh said, ""It's a fantastic song and hopefully will raise tons of money for people living in really difficult situations here and in Africa."[109] In March 2009, Cheryl Cole, Kimberley Walsh, and various other celebrities climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Comic Relief.[111] The trek raised £3.4 million for the charity.[112] Between 3 February and 23 March 2009, Cole, Walsh, and other celebrities also raised money for Comic Relief by providing the voice for the BT Speaking Clock.[111] Walsh is also a charity ambassador for Breast Cancer Haven. She helped open a £2.2 million breast cancer centre in 2008 and participated in a "heel-a-thon" in 2009.[113][114] In February 2011, Cheryl Cole launched her own charitable foundation with The Prince’s Trust following a meeting with The Trust’s President, HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. The Cheryl Cole Foundation will provide vital funds for The Trust in the North East, helping disadvantaged young people from Cheryl’s own region.[115]

Musical style

Girls Aloud have worked closely with Brian Higgins and his songwriting and production team Xenomania since the beginning of their careers. Xenomania have produced all of Girls Aloud's albums and singles, excluding their debut album Sound of the Underground and the charity single "Walk This Way". Of Higgins and Xenomania, Girls Aloud's former manager Louis Walsh says, "He just makes great songs for radio. They just jump out at you and stay in your brain."[116] In a review of the group's debut single "Sound of the Underground", The Guardian's Alexis Petridis exclaimed it "proved a first: it was a reality pop record that didn't make you want to do physical harm to everyone involved in its manufacture."[117] In response to Girls Aloud's debut album, Jacqueline Hodges of BBC Music said that "Higgins injects an element of instant-catchy-cool to the songs without going overboard in trying to shape uber-chic dance floor hits."[118]

Petridis of The Guardian described What Will the Neighbours Say? as "a great album: funny, clever, immediate, richly inventive."[119] He later wrote that Chemistry is "a record that dispenses with the tiresome business of verses and instead opts for songs apparently constructed by stitching eight different choruses together."[120] Talia Kraines of BBC Music exclaimed that Girls Aloud "have resuscitated its corpse by wedding chart-friendly melodies to experimental avant-garde sounds".[121] "Biology" was described as "about as far from tired formula as you can possibly get. It sounds like three separate melodies condensed into one."[122] Popjustice referred to the song as "pop music which redefines the supposed boundaries of pop music."[123] In a review for 2007's "Sexy! No No No...", Nick Levine of Digital Spy complimented Xenomania's work on the song: sacrificing "conventional song structure in the name of keeping [...] hooks coming thick and fast – and quite right too."[124]


The group's debut album Sound of the Underground takes influence from a number of 1980s genres, such as synthpop, power pop, and New Wave, and 1990s styles like big beat, drum and bass, and garage.[125] The album received comparisons to girl groups such as Bananarama, The Bangles, and the Spice Girls.[126][127][128] Similarities to Kylie Minogue and Madonna were also noted.[128][129] A majority of the songs make use of guitars and electronic beats. The rise of indie rock also inspired Brian Higgins to "blur the edges between commercial music and so-called 'indie' music."[130] He continued, "pop music was on its backside and indie music was about to rise, through The Strokes and everything else. We were an independent company and we were as indie as the other bands around us. The guitar riff on No Good Advice is very very similar to the riff on the track Michael by Franz Ferdinand."[130] What Will the Neighbours Say? further explores different subgenres of pop, especially electropop. Synthesizers are more prominent on the album, although the usage of guitar remains prominent in several songs. The backing track to "Love Machine", composed by Xenomania musicians Tim Powell and Nick Coler, was inspired by The Smiths,[131] while "Wake Me Up" includes a guitar riff inspired by garage rock.[119][122]

Chemistry takes influences from a wide variety of sources, including "everything from French chanson to piano-pounding blues to the clipped R&B of the Small Faces".[120] Rapping in the same vein as artists like Betty Boo and Neneh Cherry is prominent.[132][133] Yahoo! Music says "there's nary a 'formula' in sight. There are as many sudden tonal and tempo switches as the tricksiest Chicago art rock band. And all but one song here gives guitars a starring role."[132] The songs are noticeably less rooted in electronic music, although "Swinging London Town" is "a dark, squiggly synth pop epic a la Pet Shop Boys" and "It's Magic" is composed of "little Royksopp-like keyboard riffs".[122] Alternatively, Tangled Up features a dancier, more electronic sound, inspired by the success of their 2006 single "Something Kinda Ooooh". "Call the Shots", "Close to Love", and "Girl Overboard" are all electropop numbers reminiscent of 1980s music. However, "Control of the Knife" is more inspired by reggae and ska,[134] while "Can't Speak French" employs "jazzy guitar changes" and "Black Jacks" recalls "sixties psychedelica".[126][135] Out of Control features a number of songs inspired by 1980s electro pop, while also exploring retro styles.[136][137] "The Promise" is a 1960s Spector-influenced number, while "Rolling Back the Rivers in Time" was compared to Burt Bacharach.[67]

There are a number of influences present in Xenomania's productions, including electronic, glam rock, Motown soul, punk rock, and more traditional pop music.[116] Higgins is a fan of punk rock groups such as the Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols, as well as more electronic groups such as Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Japan, and New Order.[63][116] The band themselves are known to be fans of artists such as Ne-Yo,[138] Oasis,[139] and Michael Jackson.[140]

Cultural impact

Girls Aloud's debut single "Sound of the Underground" and another Xenomania production, Sugababes' "Round Round", have been called "two huge groundbreaking hits",[62] credited with reshaping British pop music for the 2000s.[141] The Telegraph placed the song at number 15 on a list of 100 songs that defined the noughties, while NME included it at number 39.[142] named "Sound of the Underground" the eighth best British song of the 2000s.[143] In 2009, The Times included 2007's Tangled Up at number 62 on a list of the decade's best pop albums,[144] while the Daily Mail listed it as the twentieth best album of the decade.[145] MSN listed 2005's Chemistry as one of the decade's best albums.[146] Girls Aloud were one of the few pop acts to achieve continued success and longevity throughout the mid-2000s while R&B and rock music became more popular. In a review for the group's 2008 Tangled Up Tour, David Pollock of The Independent noted that "Girls Aloud remain confidently the only pop show in town."[147] The Times stated, "Not since Abba and Michael Jackson has pure pop been so unanimously praised."[144]

Girls Aloud are also notably one of the few British reality television acts to achieve continued success and longevity. According to The Times, Girls Aloud are the highest-earning UK reality television stars, having amassed a fortune of £25 million by May 2009.[148] The figure was increased to £30 million the following year, following Cheryl Cole's appearance on The X Factor.[149] All five members were included in a 2010 list of Britain's richest stars under 30.[150] Reviews of Girls Aloud's debut album noted the high quality of the album compared to output from other reality show contestants.[128][151] In 2004, David Hooper of BBC Music exclaimed that "Girls Aloud are currently British pop royalty [...] in the ultra-fickle world of TV-generated pop, Girls Aloud have real staying power."[152] Andrew Lynch of said, "Girls Aloud really shouldn't have made it as far as a second album. [...] There's just one problem – the girls have a knack of coming up with utterly infectious pop songs".[153]

The group has found themselves a number of celebrity fans such as the Jonas Brothers, Aggro Santos, Arctic Monkeys' Matt Helders, Guns N' Roses member Duff McKagan, Gabriella Cilmi, Oasis' Noel Gallagher, and Neil Tennant.[154][155][156][157][158][159][160] U2 frontman Bono said that he is a fan of the band, saying "I think Girls Aloud are at the cutting edge of pop music. They are a great band and they deserve to be centre stage".[161][162][163] Chris Martin of alternative rock band Coldplay also said that he is a fan of Girls Aloud, referring to them as "the ultimate form of life".[164] Former Spice Girls members Emma Bunton and Geri Halliwell are also reported to be fans.[165] Julie Burchill has also stated that she is a fan of Girls Aloud. She has stated that they are "simply the most perfect pop group since The Monkees."[166] Girls Aloud have had their music covered by artists as varied as Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, and Coldplay, among others.[167][168][169]

Solo careers

In 2008, Cheryl Cole replaced Sharon Osbourne as a judge on The X Factor. Despite facing assault charges in 2003, Cole's marriage and divorce to footballer Ashley Cole and appearance on The X Factor notably increased her presence in the media, who began to refer to her as "the nation's new sweetheart"[170][171][172] She was the winning judge on The X Factor for two consecutive years: in her debut year with Alexandra Burke and in 2009 with Joe McElderry.[173][174] Since the group's hiatus, Cole has released two solo albums, her triple-platinum debut 3 Words (2009) and its follow-up Messy Little Raindrops (2010).[175][176][177] Both releases went to number one on the UK Albums Chart. She has also scored two UK number one singles, "Fight for This Love" and "Promise This", the former being nominated for a BRIT Award.[178][179] Cole has also been recognised as a style icon, appearing on the cover of British Vogue and working as a brand ambassador for L'Oréal.[180][181][182][183] She was a judge on the U.S. edition of The X Factor.[184] Reports surfaced in the second week of filming the auditions of the U.S. edition of The X Factor that Cole was to be dropped as a judge and replaced by the singer Nicole Scherzinger.[185] This was later confirmed by Cowell and Fox executives. It has since been confirmed that Cole is working on her 3rd solo album, due for release in late 2011. Far East Movement and David Guetta are among the producers working on songs for her, as well as possible collaborations with Usher and Christina Aguilera.[186][187][188] Cole is also branching out into other aspects of her career other than music and television, she is also starting to break into the film industry, by getting her first film role alongside Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez, in What To Expect When You're Expecting due for release in 2012.[189]

Nadine Coyle, who previously took part in the Irish version of Popstars, also released music as a solo artist.[190][191] In August 2010, Coyle officially signed a deal with grocery store chain Tesco's new record label, releasing the album through her own Black Pen Records imprint.[192][193] In September 2010, Coyle announced the release of her debut album Insatiable on 8 November, which she had been working on for over a year.[193][194] It was preceded by the single, also called "Insatiable", which charted at number 26.[177] The album sold around 5,000 copies in its first week of sale, failing to make the top forty.[195] In 2011, she released her debut single in the U.S., "Sweetest High".

Kimberley Walsh found success with a number of television jobs. She was a judge on the charity special Let's Dance for Sport Relief. She also presented a special BAFTA red carpet show for MTV, The 5 O'Clock Show for Channel 4, and Suck my pop for Viva. Walsh also filmed a documentary entitled Blue Jean Girl for Sky. She also writes a weekly column for OK! magazine. Kimberley Walsh also modelled for the clothing retailer New Look and hair product Schwarzkopf.[196][197] In 2011, Walsh featured on Aggro Santos's track "Like U Like", which entered the top ten in the UK and the top twenty in Ireland.In late 2010, Walsh landed a role in the live-action 3D family comedy film Horrid Henry: The Movie as the titular character's overactive cousin Prissy Polly, with the film being released on 29 July 2011. As of 5 October 2011, Kimberley has been starring in Shrek The Musical in the West End, playing Princess Fiona. She will continue to play the role until 27 February 2012.

Nicola Roberts turned her attention to her make-up range Dainty Doll, targeted towards people with pale skin tones. The cosmetics line was originally created for Passions of Girls Aloud in 2008.[198] In August 2010, Roberts relaunched Dainty Doll at London's famous Harrods store with an in-store signing.[199][200] The brand now includes a new logo, as well as new products, including concealer, lipstick, eyeliner and foundation.[199][201] Roberts also worked on an investigative documentary television programme for BBC Three, entitled Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning.[202] The documentary highlighted the dangers of sun tanning and sunbed use.[202][203] Roberts has publicly advocated legislation that would outlaw unmanned sunbeds and ban the use of sunbeds for minors.[204][205] Roberts signed a record deal with Universal Music.[206] Her debut solo album, Cinderella's Eyes (2011), reached the top twenty on the UK Albums Chart and produced two top forty singles: "Beat of My Drum" and "Lucky Day".

Sarah Harding chose to foray into acting during Girls Aloud's hiatus. She starred in the film Bad Day as Jade Jennings and the BBC television movie Freefall as Sam.[207] Harding had a leading role in the major motion picture St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, portraying the character Roxy.[208] She recorded three solo songs for the film's soundtrack.[209] It has been reported that Harding will release a solo album in 2011.[210] Harding will present the third series of the Living TV show Dating in the Dark.[211]


See also


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External links

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