Now, I’ve always been a big Girls Aloud fan, but it took my lengthy commutes to work this Summer with nothing but my big-ass iPod for company to appreciate the full genius of their song lyrics, rather than just view them as a fun girl-band. In fact, I used to only ever notice Cheryl's beauty and Nadine's t'riffic voice, but recently I've got a whole lotta love for Kimberley, and acknowledge that Sarah and Nicola both have their moments too. As an ensemble, I just can't get enough of 'em, and so wish they'd get back together. Thus, as I did with Regina Spektor ages back (and by ages I do mean ages, 2 years ago, Jesus), I thought I’d do my top 10 of their songs. I’ve given this a fair bit of thought, and it’s not been easy to leave out some songs, but, finally, I think I’m ready to unleash it!
Because ten just isn’t enough for this insanely wonderful five-some: The Loving Kind, Watch Me Go, Graffiti My Soul, Here We Go, The Promise are runners-up
09. No Good Advice
“Shut your mouth, because your shit might show” is one of Girls Aloud’s feistiest lyrics, but it suits No Good Advice, a song which showed that they aren’t just like every other goody-goody girlband on the scene, and that they have more of an edge to them, an edge which brings out the inner rockstars in them. The delivery of the spirited lyrics are especially so from Nadine and Cheryl, who do some ballsy voice work here, and the funky guitar and drums in the background complement the lively tone of the song. Essentially, it’s a song about rebelling about the (well-intentioned) things your parents say to you, and do your own thing instead (the part of the song wherein the girls say a litany of things they can do without – absolute genius). Which, to be quite honest, I complete connect to.
08. Sound of the Underground
07. Fix Me Up
For a long, long time, this was my mobile ringtone, and certainly one of their catchiest (and bawdiest) songs. Essentially, it’s about being horny and wanting to bung your man, but such is the cheekiness of the lyrics and the band’s delivery of them (Sarah Harding, perhaps construed as the most fun-loving of the band, unsurprisingly takes centre stage here) that the song remains on just the right side of seediness. It’s a funky, funny, enjoyable choon.
06. Control of the Knife
My favourite rendition of this is easily from the Tangled Up tour, wherein Cheryl puts her exquisite dancing talent to good use by taking centre stage. The “trick me” part, which doesn’t feature in the single, is a very ingenious use of Kelis (see also: integrating Rihanna’s Disturbia in Sexy! No No No… in the Out of Control tour). With an intrepid move into the world of reggae and ska, Control of the Knife is a mish-mash of musical flavours, topped off with a great horn solo, showing that, it’s often just as much about the instruments and producers as it is about Girls Aloud themselves.
05. Something Kinda Ooh
04. Call the Shots
One of my favourite songs to listen to whenever I’m irked with men, I really dig the message of being strong and not giving into men and their damn petty games. The ooh-ing and aah-ing give the song a little added spice, and the backing track wouldn’t be out of place in a 90s disco, which gives the whole thing a wonderfully nostalgic feel. The line “I won’t cry because I’ve stumbled through this far” shows the mature, sensitive side to the band that may not have been as well-exhibited in the past, and the whole package is just a wonderfully bittersweet and elegant affair.
03. Can’t Speak French
“Not that one!” my workmate exclaimed when I revealed my list to her after finally constructed it, for, whilst extremely re-playable and featuring a music video that makes a playful nod to the Marie-Antoinette lifestyle of gorgeous costumes and hedonistic lifestyles, Can’t Speak French is far from being one of the deepest songs ever written. But by keeping it simple, I find Can’t Speak French easy to bop along to and connect with, especially the underlying message that often, it is difficult to convey the depth of our emotions through words, so we let our actions do the talking. Plus Cheryl’s “I gotta let you know” refrain contains what is quite possibly her strongest vocal work; I think it’s absolutely lovely.
When I think about how my initial reaction to hearing this song was “yawn”, I cannot help but cringe. Thankfully, I came to my senses, and saw this song for what it really was: pure poetry. Lyrics-wise, I feel this is Girls Aloud’s most beautiful song. Clocking in at just under seven minutes long, the band take their sweet time with this one, and texturally, it happens to be one of their most ambitious songs as well. But the gamble pays off. Moving, deep, and very, very classy, Untouchable shows that Girls Aloud don’t have to be loud to be brilliant. The tone of the song can be interpreted as sad, but I also get a strange sense of uplift whenever I hear it too, which is the mark of a good piece of art. Plus there is one line in it that never fails to give me shivers – Nadine’s stunning “Without any meaning, we’re just skin and bone, like beautiful robots dancing alone”, which, to me, is like Keats for the 21st century. Sublime.
01. Sexy! No No No…