Girls Aloud – Ten LP

Simon Cowell and his relentless television talent show juggernaut have certainly had a lot to answer for over the last ten years – let’s just start at alerting me to the existence of Cher Lloyd and work backwards from there – but in the form of the Popstars: The Rivals victors, there is proof that the format occasionally unveils a gem.  
Ok, it may not be cool to admit, but the fact that Girls Aloud are even releasing ‘Ten’, a singles collection celebrating a decade of the band’s chart successes, is surely proof that they’re a talented bunch. Yes, they’re success is in no small part a result of grey people in grey suits spending hours speaking about ‘target demographics’ and ‘impact dates’ and such things, but what ‘Ten’ demonstrates is that you have to confess, quite simply, that they’ve had some seriously good tunes over the years.
Debut single ‘Sound of the Underground’ still sounds like a boisterous statement of intent from a group going places, as does the tenacious ‘No Good Advice’, both songs statements that girl-bands didn’t have to portray sugar and spice sweethearts straight off the media conveyor belt. Alongside those tracks there is the burlesque-cheek of ‘The Promise’, the endless sugar rush of pop-joviality that is ‘Biology’ and the deliciously sardonic deadpan of ‘The Show’. All that before you remember about the soaring, brilliant ‘The Loving Kind’, and the one about when you’re stuck in Paris and want to communicate with the locals via interpretive dance, which still manages to be brilliant despite trying to shoehorn about six extra syllables into the words “wait” and “night”.

So, ‘that’s all very well and good’ I hear you say; ‘I should have been listening to Radio 1 this whole time’. Well… no, let’s not get carried away here because, while ‘Ten’ is certainly a reminder that Girls Aloud have made some very good pop-music, it also demonstrates that some of their releases have left plenty to be desired.
A good example is new single ‘Something New’, an attempt by the band to infiltrate the clubbing scene now that their fans are old enough to possess a valid ID. Politely put, it’s a disappointment. Less politely? It’s the musical equivalent of waking up to the sight of Louis Walsh shaving his testicles whilst lustfily gazing in your direction; confusing, unpleasant and more than a little upsetting. There is also the monstrous ‘Sexy! No No No…’, and the quite frankly lazy ‘Something Kinda Oooh’ – okay, you don’t anticipate much lyrical integrity in the charts in the 21st century, but rhyming ‘ooh’ with ‘tutu’? Make an effort!
And herein lies the problem with this collection; all the peaks brutally exposes the flaws in the troughs and what’s more, the few new songs included on here don’t point to another decade of successes for the band, with their status as chart trendsetters now diminished and them sounding rather like they’re desperately playing catch-up. Perhaps the upcoming reunion shows will provide a celebratory final chapter to the Girls Aloud story. After all, they each have their successful solo careers to fall back on. Ah…
Words by Lewis Parker.

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