In the ultra-fickle world of TV-generated pop, Girls Aloud have real staying power...
David Hooper 2003
Pop manager Louis Walsh has been struggling in the latest telly talent contest, X-Factor. He's had the indignity of having to vote out two of his own acts, and it's just possible that his remaining group, G4, might not enjoy chart longevity with their 'experimental' vocal renditions of pop classics.
But at least Louis can take comfort in the fact that one of his other groups, Girls Aloud, have done so well in the last two years that people are beginning to forget that they're 'those girls who won that TV show'. Seven top-three singles later, now is a good time for Cheryl, Nadine, Nicola, Sarah and Kimberley to release their second album, What Will The Neighbours Say?
Things start off extremely well with their summer hit "The Show", a feisty, thumping track with a positively rude bassline. Play it loud enough, and you'll probably feel like you're in an earthquake - in a good way. "The Show" is followed by the upbeat but not particularly tuneful "Love Machine", although it does contain the genius lyric 'I don't wanna change ya / Making you a stranger / I'll only re-arrange ya for now'.
"I'll Stand By You" is their latest chart-topper (buoyed by Children In Need) but it's arguable whether this cover adds much to the Pretenders' original. The album's other single is a cover of the Pointer Sisters' "Jump", featured in the film Love Actually. Twenty years on, this version updates the song nicely with a welcome return of those buzzy synth sounds and gnarly bass noises from "The Show". Good work.
Sadly, after leaving the singles territory, WWTNS? settles into afairly predictable mix of well-produced tunes covering the various pop styles and themes. "Deadlines & Diets" is reminiscent of All Saints' "Never Ever", and then there's the angry, 'rock' track "Wake Me Up" and the pleasant Spice Girls-esque ballad "I SayA Prayer For You".
Like all decent pop albums there are some killer tracks and songs to suit every mood, but it does seem this one's unlikely to go down as a classic. Nevertheless, Girls Aloud are currently British pop royalty, up there with Busted, Blue and the Bedingfields, and What Will the Neighbours Say? proves that in the ultra-fickle world of TV-generated pop, Girls Aloud have real staying power.