The all-girl group, Girls Aloud, was created as a result of the TV reality show, Popstars: The Rivals. Screened in 2002, the talent show followed the progress of thousands of young hopefuls, who auditioned across the UK to achieve fame and fortune in one of two vocal groups.
The show was presented by Big Brother host Davina McCall, with the aim of producing a girl band and a boy band, who would be rivals in the music industry. The judges – music moghuls Louis Walsh and Pete Waterman and Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell – whittled the entrants down to 20 finalists, ten girls and ten boys.
The auditions weren’t without scandal! Irish recording artist Hazel Kaneswaran, 24, who famously auditioned when she was pregnant, won a place in the final line-up of Girls Aloud. However, she was sensationally fired before the band got off the ground when producers discovered she was ten days over the age limit.
Now a mother-of-four, the singer-songwriter found success in the entertainment industry, with Louis Walsh later commissioning her to write songs for boy band Jedward.
The girls who made the final cut for Girls Aloud were Cheryl Tweedy, Sarah Harding, Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts – Kimberley took Hazel’s place. The girl band enjoyed massive long-term success, while the boy band, One True Voice, vanished without a trace in 2003, one year after the show that shot them to fame.
Despite having a number two single at Christmas 2002 (called Sacred Trust), One True Voice lost out to Girls Aloud and their famous single, The Sound of the Underground. After four weeks at number one in the UK singles chart, it went platinum in March 2003.
As the girls went on to become one of the biggest girl bands ever, rivalling the Spice Girls’ success of the 1990s, the boys parted company acrimoniously in August 2003.
Girls Aloud’s debut single set them on the road to global fame and fortune, with the band completing six live tours and releasing five hit studio albums – all of which went platinum in the UK. They also released two hit compilation albums, two live albums, an album of remixes and a boxed set.
Out of 22 singles, 21 made the UK top ten. The girls enjoyed hits in Australia, Brazil, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland. They had their own range of personalised Barbie dolls that they helped to design, called Fashion Fever Barbies.
They wrote a best-selling autobiography called Dreams That Glitter – Our Story in 2008, and they also won a £1.25 million deal to endorse hair styling brand Sunsilk and a sponsorship deal in 2009 with Eyelure to release Girls Aloud false eyelashes.
Sound of the Underground
The song that set them on the road to stardom was written by the song writing team of Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper and Niara Scarlett. It combined an unusual mix of surf guitar with an electronic beat – a style credited as a defining moment that re-shaped the decade’s pop music.
The song received a positive response from the critics – the first time a “manufactured” pop group had received such high praise in the industry. It was described as a “fresh tune” without “schmaltz”. It was placed at number 15 on the Telegraph newspaper’s list of 100 songs that defined the 2000s, while even “cool” music publication the NME put it at number 39.
So, what was the song all about? Well, the lyrics relate to the underground music scene, rather than the London transport network. It’s about a youth who’s playing loud music at home, with “beats pumping on my stereo”, when the next-door neighbour starts banging on the wall – not telling them to turn it down, but saying, “Crank the bass, I gotta get some more!”
Life after Girls Aloud
After the band’s demise in 2013, some of the members enjoyed more individual success than others. Newcastle-born Cheryl, 34, is a singer, songwriter and TV personality in her own right, with hit pop singles and albums under her belt and a fortune estimated at £20 million. She has been a judge and mentor on talent show The X Factor and has won sponsorship deals with brands such as L’Oreal.
Nadine, 33, has appeared in two documentaries, Girls Aloud: Home Truths, and Girls Aloud: Off the Record. She also starred in a variety show, The Girls Aloud Party. The former model has been a judge on America’s Next Top Model and she has also launched her own record label, Black Pen Records.
Sarah, 36, has made guest appearances on ITV soap Coronation Street as the wife of Robert Preston. In 2016, she was a contestant on TV reality show The Jump, in which celebrities try to master winter sports. However, she withdrew after suffering ligament damage. She won Celebrity Big Brother in 2017.
Nicola, 32, has become a successful singer, songwriter and recording artist. She wrote four songs for her former band-mate Cheryl’s album, Only Human. She has also written two songs for girl group Little Mix’s album, Salute. As a result of her pale skin and painful tanning sessions to make herself feel “glamorous”, Nicola launched her own make-up range, Dainty Doll, for lighter skin tones.
Kimberley, 36, is a successful TV presenter, singer, songwriter, actress, dancer and model. She has co-hosted Suck My Pop – a pop programme on the Viva television channel. She took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2012 and was runner-up with her dance partner, Pasha Kovalev. She also sang on England’s official World Cup song in 2014. She has had several acting roles, such as playing Prissy Polly in Horrid Henry: The Movie.
Currently, there is much media speculation that Girls Aloud are planning a reunion tour. In April, it was reported that Cheryl had contacted Kimberley and Nicola to discuss the idea. They reportedly thought it was a great idea and subsequently contacted Sarah and Nadine, who were also in favour.
Cheryl and Sarah hadn’t been in regular contact since the band split and it was seen as a major step that they were back in touch and that all the band members appeared to be on board.
Although the song that set Girls Aloud on the road to success, The Sound of the Underground, was a massive hit, its theme would be highly unlikely in the real world. How often do you read of people playing loud music at home – only to have their neighbours banging on the wall and saying, “Turn it up, we love it!”?
On the contrary, loud music is one of a number of noise nuisance complaints and it’s something that is often reported to environmental health inspectors as being detrimental to residents’ health and wellbeing.
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