Girls Aloud are a UK girl group that were created on the ITV1 talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. The group, consisting of Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts, and Kimberley Walsh, have been successful in achieving a string of 20 consecutive UK Top 10 singles (including four number ones), two UK number one albums, and having been nominated for four BRIT Awards, winning Best Single in 2009 for "The Promise".
Girls Aloud have become one of the few UK reality television acts to achieve continued success, amassing a fortune of £25 million by May 2009. 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. with 15 consecutive top tens from "Sound of the Underground" in 2002 through to "Walk This Way" in 2007.
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 girlband 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 men and ten women 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 whilst Nicola Ward refused to sign the contract, claiming the pay the group would receive was too poor. 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. The group were named Girls Aloud and were managed by Louis Walsh until 2005 when Hilary Shaw replaced him. The runners-up, a boy band called One True Voice, were managed by Pete Waterman.
The two groups competed for the number one position in the Christmas week UK singles chart. Girls Aloud won the battle with their single "Sound of the Underground" (produced by Brian Higgins and Xenomania) which stayed at number one for four weeks. Disney Channel viewers later voted this as best single of 2002–2003 at the Disney Channel Kids Awards. Originally tipped to be more successful than the girls, One True Voice released just two singles before disbanding in the summer of 2003.
2002–2003: Sound of the Underground
After the success of their first single "Sound of the Underground", the newly formed group took several months to record their debut album. Also entitled Sound of the Underground, this was released on 26 May 2003 and entered the charts at number two. 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 group's second single, the number two hit "No Good Advice", was also released in May 2003, and the third single, "Life Got Cold", charted at number three in August 2003.
In November 2003, the group released "Jump"—a cover of the Pointer Sisters' 1980s dance hit. The song featured on the soundtrack to the 2003 film Love Actually, and entered the chart at number two. The album went platinum after a re-issue was released on 1 December 2003. The new version of Sound of the Underground featured a new album cover and the replacement of three original songs with "Jump" (which was not included on the original version), "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 included on release schedules and was performed on CD:UK in early 2004, with presenter Cat Deeley stating that it would be their next single. However, the plans for this release were scrapped as work began on a second album. Sound of the Underground stayed on the top 75 chart for 20 non-consecutive weeks, over a period of more than three years (it re-entered in December 2006).
2004–2005: What Will the Neighbours Say?
After a brief break, the group returned in June 2004 to promote their new single "The Show", the first release from their 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. This single showed off a new look for the group and was backed by a pre-release promotional campaign featuring five empty chairs bearing the members' names. This built up excitement over the new look, and the image later featured on the single cover with the members in their seats. When released, the single entered the charts at number two. The follow-up release, "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. Their seventh single, a cover of The Pretenders' hit "I'll Stand by You", reached the number one position on the UK singles chart in November 2004, and stayed there for two weeks. This was 2004's single for the Children In Need appeal with its proceeds going towards the charity.
What Will the Neighbours Say? was released on 29 November 2004 and entered the album charts at number six. The album featured the production and song writing skills of Xenomania. The album's immediate success led to the girls announcing their first What Will the Neighbours Say? Live tour, which took place in May 2005. What Will the Neighbours Say? received excellent reviews; most critics deemed it an improvement on their debut release. The final single to be taken from this album was "Wake Me Up", released in February 2005. It charted at number four—their first to miss the top three, but their eighth top-five single. In early 2005, the group won Glamour Magazine's "Band of the Year" award, and were also nominated for a BRIT Award for Best Pop Act.
After a short break following their first tour, the group began work on their third studio album, Chemistry. The first single from the album, "Long Hot Summer", was released in August 2005 and charted at number seven, ending their consecutive top five run but continuing their unbroken run of top ten singles. The single that launched their third album was "Biology" which peaked at number four. Chemistry was released on 5 December 2005. The album peaked on the charts at number eleven, their lowest so far, despite overwhelming critical acclaim; it has also gone platinum.
Their cover of Dee C. Lee's "See the Day", released in the Christmas week of 2005, charted at number nine. "See the Day" became Girls Aloud's biggest hit in terms of radio airplay since "Sound of the Underground", peaking at number six due to its success on stations such as BBC Radio 2. Girls Aloud released their debut DVD Girls on Film in June 2005, featuring their first eight music videos and television performances. It peaked at number five on the DVD Music chart. This was followed by the What Will the Neighbours Say? Live DVD in November 2005, which reached number six. The group travelled to Australia and New Zealand in February 2006 to release the single "Biology" and the album Chemistry. Arriving on 23 February, the group undertook a one-week promotional tour, during which they appeared on many TV shows. "Biology" peaked at number twenty-six in the Australian singles chart, failing to break the group in the Australian market.
"Whole Lotta History" was the fourth and final single to be taken from Chemistry. Released in March 2006, it reached number six, the week's highest new entry. The single was accompanied by a video filmed in Paris, their first outside the UK. In May 2006 the group embarked on their second UK tour (and first arena tour), Chemistry Tour. During the tour, the girls performed at ten large arenas in the UK, playing to over 100,000 people in total. The tour received rave reviews, with the majority of tabloids awarding 4/5 marks. In the same month, Girls Aloud were moved to Fascination Records, a sub-label of Polydor Records; all future Girls Aloud releases will be published by Fascination Records. Girls Aloud also won the Heart Award for the single "See the Day" at the O2 Silver Clef Lunch.
2006–2007: The Sound of Girls Aloud
In September 2006, the official Girls Aloud web site confirmed the release of The Sound of Girls Aloud, a compilation that contains Girls Aloud's singles and some new and previously unreleased material. The album was released on 30 October 2006, and debuted at number one on the UK album chart. The album was also released on a limited edition double CD format containing live tracks such as "I Predict a Riot" and previously unavailable tracks such as "Singapore" and "Hanging on the Telephone", a cover of the Blondie single; this has now become a highly priced collectors' item.
The lead single from the album, "Something Kinda Ooooh", was released in October 2006. Girls Aloud became the first British act to reach the top five purely on download sales, with the song entering at number five; it peaked at number three following a physical release. The next single, "I Think We're Alone Now",— was dedicated to Jordan Duncan by Cheryl Cole, and was the official theme of the film It's a Boy Girl Thing,. It was previously a hit single for Tommy James and The Shondells (in 1967) and for Tiffany (in 1987)—was the third time the group have entered the Christmas chart battle. The single peaked at number four, making it Girls Aloud's fourteenth consecutive top ten and eleventh top five.
Girls Aloud collaborated with the Sugababes on 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, as "Sugababes vs. Girls Aloud". It became the group's third British number-one, and their fifteenth consecutive top-ten single. 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 15 arenas across the UK and Ireland. The supporting acts for this tour were Misha Williams, Natalia and Rogue Traders.
2007–2008: Tangled Up
The song "Sexy! No No No...", the first single from Girls Aloud's fourth studio album, was released in August 2007 and reached number five on the UK Singles Chart. The album, Tangled Up, was released on 19 November 2007, debuting on the UK Albums Chart at number four. Their seventeenth single, "Call the Shots", was released in the UK one week later, and rose to number three to give the band their tenth top three single. It spent nineteen weeks in the top fifty.
Girls Aloud received their second BRIT Award nomination in 2008, nominated for the Best British Group award. Tangled Up was also certified Platinum in January. The third and final single from Tangled Up was "Can't Speak French". The single was released in March 2008, with a French version and "Hoxton Heroes", a satirical track aimed towards indie bands, as B-sides. It entered the official UK charts at number nine, continuing their consecutive run of top ten singles. 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, including 24 arenas and 11 open air venues, making this tour their longest yet. They were scheduled to play 13 open air venues, but due to the bad weather, two of the concerts were cancelled. The girls also appeared as special guests at Kanye West's Glow in the Dark tour.
2008–2009: Out of Control
In May 2008, the group confirmed that they had begun working on their fifth studio album. The first single from the album, "The Promise", was released in October 2008, followed by the album, Out of Control, on 3 November. Girls Aloud said that it was their "most exciting and thrilling album yet". "The Promise" became their fourth number one on the UK Singles Chart, selling more than 77,000 singles in its first week of release—this made it the fastest selling single of 2008 up to that point. Out of Control followed suit when it entered at number one on the UK Albums Chart. The single returned the group to the top two on the Irish Singles Chart, while the album became their first top ten on the Irish Albums Chart since Sound of the Underground. "The Loving Kind" was released as the album's second single on 12 January 2009. The song, co-written by Pet Shop Boys, became the girls' twentieth consecutive top ten single., charting at number ten.
Girls Aloud also performed at the BRIT Awards for the first time in their careers in 2009. They were nominated for Best British Group and Best British Single ("The Promise"). They won the award for Best Single, their first ever BRIT Award but lost out to Elbow for Best British Group. The Out of Control Tour is scheduled to commence in April, and Girls Aloud will support Coldplay at Wembley Stadium on 18 September 2009.
In February 2009, it was announced that Girls Aloud had signed a new record deal with Fascination which will see the group release another three albums, with the next album being released in Autumn 2010. Girls Aloud are also set to release Out of Control in continental Europe in the near future, with a television advertisement tie-in in Germany.
In April 2009, it was announced that a singles boxset collection would be released. The boxset contains all 21 singles (making up 150 tracks and 13 hours of music), 16 videos, 8 games, an exclusive rarities disc and a 64 page booklet featuring the story behind the music. Sarah Harding announced in July 2009 on Alan Carr: Chatty Man that the girls are taking a break from music to concentrate on solo projects. She also announced the band aren't splitting and that they will release a new album in late 2010.
Despite many split rumours Girls Aloud have denied these allegations. They stated that although they are currently working on solo projects this will co-exist with being in the band and with the new record deal signed they will be recording a minimum of three more albums. In saying this they have assured the fans that they will be back in the studio and a new album will be released in 2010.
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". 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, 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. 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. It was reported that their mutual producer Brian Higgins didn't ask for permission, which upset Girls Aloud. 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." 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."
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.
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. 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. The premise of the show involves each member achieving something that they have always wanted to do. It was reported on the 13 November 2007 that Nadine would not be taking part, due to the programme's bosses refusing to let her undertake charity work.
Cheryl Cole became a judge on The X Factor during its fifth series, replacing Sharon Osborne. Cheryl said that "whilst we get started on the next album, it will be brilliant to be a judge on The X Factor." 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. 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. Girls Aloud performed hits and revealed their Christmas single, as well chatting to showbiz pals and performing comic sketches. Cilla Black and Julie Goodyear appeared as Nicola Roberts' grandmother and Sarah Harding's mother, respectively, in some of the sketches. Kimberley and Nicola also made a cameo appearance in the family drama show Britannia High. Sarah has starred in the television film Bad Day as Jade Jennings and starred in a BBC film called Freefall in 2009.
Girls Aloud have reportedly looked at film scripts. Kimberley Walsh said "We want it to be a Friends and Sex and the City kind of thing, all morphed into one," while Nicola Roberts added: "We'd really like the chance to do some more acting. We've been given a lot of dodgy scripts — they were all awful."
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 modeled 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. The book, named after a lyric in "Call the Shots", was published in October 2008 through the Transworld imprint Bantam Press. Before the release, OK! magazine bought the rights to preview and serialise the book.
In 2007, Girls Aloud signed a £1.25m one-year deal to endorse hair care brand Sunsilk. 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. The Samsung F210 Purple came with a 1GB memory card featuring Girls Aloud content. Girls Aloud appeared in television advertisements for Nintendo DS the following year. 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. The exact worth of the endorsement is unknown, but a figure of £500,000 each has been suggested. Sales increased 6.8% in the United Kingdom.
A landmark obscenity case was brought before the British courts in 2009, involving a story published online centering on the band. Believed to have been the first use of the Obscene Publications Act for written material since 1991, a guilty verdict could have had a significant impact on the future regulation of the Internet in the UK. In the fictional tale, all five of the female members of Girls Aloud are sexually abused and murdered. The case was dismissed on 29 June, 2009, as the prosecution offered no evidence.
- See main article: Girls Aloud Discography.
Awards and recognition
They have had their music covered by artists as varied as Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party. Chris Martin who is also a Girls Aloud fan has said that he wishes for his band Coldplay to do a rock version of one of the girl's pop tunes some time. Coldplay performed a portion of "Call the Shots" at a concert in Brixton.
|2003||Popjustice £20 Music Prize||Best Pop Single ("No Good Advice")||Won|
|National Music Awards||Best Newcomer||Nominated|
|UK Disney Channel Kids Awards||Best Newcomer||Nominated|
|Best Single ("Sound of the Underground")||Won|
|Smash Hits Poll Winners Awards||Hot New Talent||Won|
|2004||Popjustice £20 Music Prize||Best Pop Single ("The Show")||Nominated|
|UK Disney Channel Kids Awards||Best Single ("The Show")||Nominated|
|Record of the Year||"Love Machine"||Nominated|
|Capital FM Awards||Favourite UK Group||Nominated|
|Glamour Magazine||Band of the Year||Won|
|Digital Music Awards||Band Pop Artist||Won|
|2005||Popjustice £20 Music Prize||Best Pop Single ("Wake Me Up")||Won|
|Glamour Magazine||Band of the Year||Nominated|
|2005 BRIT Awards||Best Pop Act||Nominated|
|Capital FM Awards||Favourite UK Group||Nominated|
|Favourite UK Album (What Will the Neighbours Say?)||Nominated|
|Favourite Pop Act||Won|
|TMF Awards||Best UK Act||Won|
|2006||Popjustice £20 Music Prize||Best Pop Single ("Biology")||Won|
|O2 Silver Clef Lunch||Heart Award ("See the Day")||Won|
|Festival Awards||Favourite Pop Act at a Festival (V Festival)||Won|
|2007||Popjustice £20 Music Prize||Best Pop Single ("Something Kinda Ooooh")||Nominated|
|Zoo Magazine Awards||Best Female Singer (Nadine Coyle)||Nominated|
|Best Female Band||Won|
|Glamour Magazine||Band of the Year||Won|
|UK Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards||Best Band||Nominated|
|Best Female Singer (Cheryl Cole)||Nominated|
|Virgin Media Awards||Best UK Act||Nominated|
|Album of the Year (Tangled Up)||Won|
|Video of the Year ("Sexy! No No No...")||Won|
|Most Fanciable Female (Cheryl Cole)||Won|
|Most Fanciable Female (Sarah Harding)||Nominated|
|2008||2008 BRIT Awards||Best British Group||Nominated|
|Capital Awards||London's Favourite UK Group||Nominated|
|News of the World Fabulous Award||Won|
|Popjustice £20 Music Prize||Best Pop Single ("Call The Shots")||Won|
|UK Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards||Best Band||Nominated|
|Vodafone Live Music Awards||Tour of the Year||Nominated|
|UK Video Music Awards||"Sexy! No, No, No"||Nominated|
|UK Festival Awards||Best Pop Act||Nominated|
|Virgin Media Awards||Best Album||Nominated|
|Best UK Act||Nominated|
|Best Album Cover||Won|
|Legend of the Year||Nominated|
|Hottest Female (Cheryl Cole)||Nominated|
|Hottest Female (Sarah Harding)||Nominated|
|Heat Awards||Best Band of 2008||Won|
|Best Album of 2008||Won|
|Sexiest Female (Cheryl Cole)||Won|
|Best Reality TV Judge (Cheryl Cole)||Won|
|Best Single of 2008||Nominated|
|Bizarre Awards 2008||Best Pop Band||Won|
|2009||Producers Guild Awards||Best Live Album of the Year (Tangled Up)||Won|
|2009 BRIT Awards||Best British Group||Nominated|
|Best British Single ("The Promise")||Won|
|Glamour Magazine||Band of the Year||Won|
|TV personality (Cheryl Cole)||Won|
|Popjustice £20 Music Prize||Best Pop Single ("The Promise")||Won|
Biography from Wikipedia