This weekend, I went to London for the first time ever — all in the name of Girls Aloud.
I don’t think I’ve ever ‘properly’ explained my Aloud fandom, so it makes sense to do so now.
My obsession with the group started around 2005 or so, when I was prowling one of the now defunct Britney forums and came across a thread celebrating the video for “The Show” and touting them as the new Spice Girls. At first, I was unimpressed. No one beats Spice, I thought to myself. But then I kept on watching.
I quickly fell in love with what’s become the signature Aloud sound, carefully constructed by their longtime collaborators, Xenomania: The endlessly catchy hooks, mile-a-minute rhythms, the cheeky, nonsensical references to bad behavio(u)r, disco dancing, deadlines, diets and hanging ’round the kitchen in one’s underwear.
I lived for their photo shoots, full of stilettos and fierce poses. I devoured the documentaries and behind-the-scenes clips, as well as their individual runs on Popstars: The Rivals. I fell in love with their individual personalities–baby Nicola, boozy Sarah (at the time), ‘street’ Cheryl (at the time), lovable Kimba and the true diva (forever and always), Queen Nadine. As the music evolved, I only fell harder: Biology”–perhaps their most game-changing, sonically challenging record ever–was the revelation to turn me into a hardcore stan.
Girls Aloud became my unofficial gateway drug to all of Xenomania’s productions, and to a greater extent, all the music that I now love: From Kylie and Dannii Minogue to Annie to Rachel Stevens to Alexis Strum (remember her?) and beyond. The group isn’t just one of the primary catalysts that forever sparked my love for British pop music, but the major reason for some of my best friendships with my similarly Brit pop-minded friends in America–including several people who journeyed overseas with me.
Basically, if you know what Tangled Up is, you can sit with us.
When Girls Aloud announced their hiatus in 2009 and life got cold (REFERENCE), I took a vow that I would fly across the world just to see them if they ever reunited for another tour in my lifetime. And so, when the Ten Tour was announced late last year, that flight was officially booked.
As I boarded the flight to London on Thursday night, I knew as soon as I stepped onto the plane that my head wouldn’t touch a pillow until the next night after the concert. (And sure enough, I was right.) I didn’t bother investing in a map, or even, say, figuring out the currency system where I was heading. Why bother? I was too busy listening to “Untouchable” on repeat, preparing to see the Almighty Aloud in the flesh.
I did, roughly, ten billion things in the 48 hours I had to stay in London. (And yes, I realize it was an insanely short trip. I didn’t have a choice.) Here’s, more or less, what happened.
She’s making a list, she’s calling your name twice…
‘Tis the eve of Christmas! And so, what better way to celebrate the merriest of holidays than to watch Cheryl Cole–sorry, Chezza Claus–smoldering and gyrating for fashion photographer Rankin‘s Hunger TV?
And not to just any song: Her own song! Specifically, it’s her Lana Del Rey-penned A Million Lights track, “Ghetto Baby.” SURPRISE!
WARNING: CUTE OVERLOAD.
“I’m sorry, what?” you might have been wondering to yourself as you read that post title. “Cheryl Cole and puppies in a single video? Surely that just can’t be. That’s too cute. That’s way too cute. That’s an irresponsible amount of cute.”
Well, clearly Chezza’s out to slay every single one of us, because earlier this morning the Girls Aloud songstress and swan-dive enthusiast has rudely uploaded this heart-stoppingly adorable video to her new-and-improved official website, which features all sorts of hi-res images, discography notes and dozens of videos.
Seriously, y’all: This is some heavy duty squee-ness. A million lights wouldn’t do as much damage to your eyes/central nervous system as the above video could potentially do, so please…watch with discretion.
Oh no. Oh God. IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!
A Million Lights was released on June 18. (iTunes)
How do you think Cheryl feels when you call her name? Well, for one thing: She’d like you to get it right.
To the bemusement of most media outlets (and the annoyance of OCD iTunes organizers everywhere), the Girls Aloud songstress has undergone a slight image revamp: A Million Lights is by Cheryl. Just Cheryl. After two solo albums, she’s no longer going by Cheryl Cole (her former married name) nor Cheryl Tweedy (her maiden name), but singularly Cheryl, like Madonna. Or Cher. Except, you know, nothing like them at all.
And apart from (or perhaps inspired by) the name change, there’s also been a change in her sound since her last effort in 2010: It’s (mostly) good again!
When Cheryl became the first of the almighty Girls Aloud to venture into solo territory with her debut in 2009, she came swinging: The 3 Words campaign was a solid collection of R&B-laced pop (“Fight For This Love”), throbbing dance (“3 Words”) and dramatic, waltzing midtempos (“Parachute”). Accompanied by some truly stunning videos and spotlight-stealing live performances (literally–she shut down the X Factor UK stage with her million soldier performance of “Fight For This Love,” on which she was judging at the time), Queen Cheryl utterly slayed with her first solo effort.
Then, the misfire: Only a year later, Cheryl released Messy Little Raindrops, an appallingly weak follow-up record wrought with terrible balladry, tired uptempos and way, way, way too many introspective “moments.” Sure, there was “Promise This,” another stormer of a lead single (and an equally amazing live performance on X Factor in 2010), but the album itself was a complete dud. (Musically speaking, anyway–it still managed to hit #1.) Whether a case of poor A&R or the result of a life-threatening bout with malaria (that happened), Cheryl, one-fifth of the greatest British girl group since the Spice Girls, was getting it so thoroughly wrong.
Mercifully, someone’s handed Cheryl a few tissues (and a few strobe lights) for her third go-around.
And now, a video that more or less captures the very essence of my being.
Yesterday, dozens of performers took to the stage at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert, where the royal family and the British people came together to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Queen of Britain’s ascension to the throne. (Lessers, take note: This is not to be confused with the Pop Throne, on which Madonna has sat for roughly thirty years. Stay pressed.)
Following the concert, the Queen headed backstage to
try and bang Robbie Williams greet all of the performers. Kylie Minogue was her chaperone. Footage of this event exists, which you can now watch below.
The following actually occurs and is not made up:
+ The Queen’s personal chaperone down the row of celebrities is Kylie Minogue.
+ Kylie Minogue introduces The Queen of England to Cheryl Cole.
+ Will.I.Am is also there, but whatever. No1curr.
+ Cheryl Cole literally has no idea what to say to the Queen, so she just bows down.
+ Grace Jones is standing next to Cheryl Cole.
+ Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, Cheryl Cole and The Queen are all standing in the same frame.
+ The Queen of England comments on Grace Jones changing her outfit.
+ Grace Jones tells the Queen that her legs would have been “too much.”
I can’t with any of this. WHAT?!
First of all, Kylie Minogue as The Queen’s personal chaperone down the line of celebrities–GENIUS. I seriously wish I could have been there for that planning session just prior to the event.
“Wait! Sorry, who’s planning to guide the Queen down the line?”
*Everyone at the table looks around and mumbles*
“Tom’s guarding the palace, sir.”
“He’s looking after Sir Elton John’s piano, sir.”
“Making sure Grace Jones doesn’t try to eat anyone again, sir.”
“Bloody hell, who’s left?”
“I mean…Kylie Minogue?”
*Everyone looks around, shrugs and nods in agreement*
“KYLIE IT IS.”
Secondly, I love the fact that Cheryl just goes completely silent. A polite curtsy…and that’s it. Completely speechless/humbled. It’s like we’re back in Girls Aloud territory and Queen Nuhdeen just walked by or something. SHAYS VAHRAY UHMOHSHANUHL.
And Grace? GRACE. The scene-stealing star of the show, as always. Flashing her lady bits multiple times? The way she says “cooooOOOLD!” at the end? Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t throw the Queen on her shoulders, steal an accordion and launch into a stunning performance of “La Vie En Rose” on the stairs of the palace. And then do this to Will.I.Am:
I know what you’re all thinking, so I better just say it now…
NEW GIRL GROUP ALERT!
A boy can dream.
Thank you to Camille from Hard Candy Music for showing me this/shaking and crying about it with me.