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.
When Girls Aloud‘s Kimberley Walsh announced a solo record deal with Decca Records in November, a vision of 25 electric angels dancing in the rain quickly flashed before my eyes. And then, when it was further announced that the album would be a collection of musical covers, life got cold.
But alas: Never judge a book (or album) by its, um, description, because after hearing the first track off of the upcoming album Centre Stage (that’s Center Stage for American eyes) on February 4, there’s still hope that this will actually be an incredible album–even if it’s only got one or two original songs.
The good news: Girls Aloud‘s Kimberley Walsh is releasing a solo record in February!
The bad news: Musical theater.
Earlier this morning, a press release went out to announce that Kimberley will be releasing her debut solo record Center Stage (or Centre Stage, for British eyes) on Decca Records, complete with “interesting takes” on theater “classics.”
We’ve seen a lot regarding Cheryl Cole, Nicola Roberts and Nadine Coyle ’round these parts lately. Now it’s time to give some shine to another member of the brilliant fivesome known as Girls Aloud: Kimberley Walsh.
Earlier today, Fabulous published an interview and rocker-chic photo shoot with the Aloud’s resident theater geek (remember that musical medley during the Chemistry Tour?) as she begins her run as Princess Fiona in the West End’s Shrek The Musical.
It’s a great read in full, but here’s some excerpts for ye of the lazier variety:
On having the least amount of drama out of all the Girls Aloud members:
Sometimes I do look at myself and think how it’s all been very easy. In a way, that makes me worry that it shouldn’t be such plain sailing and wonder when something bad will happen to me! But to be honest, I always felt that bit older than the other girls so I always felt I knew myself a bit more and had a bit more of the confidence you get in that way.
On being with her boyfriend of over 8 years, former Triple 8 member Justin Scott:
We still think of ourselves as really young, but actually we do need to get going! We’ve bought our first proper house together, which is a home rather than a place to live. I’m incredibly lucky to be financially secure and to be with the man I want to be with for the rest of my life. I’ve got no excuses, really – apart from that I need to get through this show and then we’re talking about the Girls Aloud reunion next year…
On being curvier than the average pop star:
I’m proud of my shape because I think it sends a better message to girls. And yes, there were definitely times in Girls Aloud where it could get difficult. All of those girls are so slim and there would be the moments where they’d say: ‘Let’s do hot pants in the next video,’ and I’d be thinking: ‘Oh no!’ But my attitude very quickly changed to: ‘What the hell!’ So I’d look curvier in the shorts – so what? That is me and I’d think: ‘I’m just standing up for all the curvy girls like me.’
On bandmate Cheryl being ‘heartbroken’ over the US X Factor snub:
People don’t really know Cheryl. Everybody talked about it like it was the most horrific thing, that it was this massive deal, but it wasn’t like that for her. She’s very much: ‘That’s life, some things don’t work out and let’s move on.’
On the girl group now rapidly growing popular in the UK, The Saturdays:
The Saturdays have done well, but people don’t know them individually,” says Kimberley. “People got to know us in Popstars: The Rivals. Then after we won, it may have looked easy but it was incredibly tough. That was when we bonded. We kept thinking we were going to lose it all, nothing was certain and it made us stick together. It made us fighters, it made us a real team, real friends.
God, I love me some Kimba: She’s got such an incredibly refreshing and positive outlook on life, she’s outspoken, and she’s completely proud of her legacy as an Aloud. Just some of the many reasons why the Girls Aloud roster remains unmatched!
You’ve got to love those constant references to a 2012 reunion as well. Let’s make it happen, ladies!
The greatest part about the rapidly globalizing state of the music industry is that, thanks to the the Internet, music lovers worldwide have the ability to indulge in popular music from far-off territories while developing a strong kinship with fellow fans. The downfall, of course, is that no one else around you knows who the fuck you’re talking about.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t already: Meet Nadine Coyle.
Nadine is best known as one-fifth of a girl group called Girls Aloud.
A super slick, super chic powerhouse quintet originally formed during a UK reality singing competition called Popstars: The Rivals, the Almighty Aloud ruled the UK charts from 2002 to 2009 with their unique brand of edgy, glam pop cultivated and mastered by arguably the greatest pop writing and production troupe of all time, Xenomania.
From kicky drum & bass cuts (“Sound Of The Underground”) to lush disco gems (“Call The Shots”), the Aloud’s chart reign is–pardon the pun–untouchable, having already garnered over 20 Top 10 singles in a row (a Guinness World Record), five platinum selling albums (not to mention a greatest hits collection that went platinum thrice over), and legions of fans the world over. You know, like myself.
On Thursday evening, I somehow found myself sitting down on a bench, outside on a patio in a gorgeous Chelsea loft, with an eager Nadine Coyle sitting directly next to me. “You’ll have to forgive me, I’m trying to keep it together,” I said, nervously fumbling at my phone to start recording. “Oh, yar so togaythur,” she reassured me with her thick Derry accent, adding with a smile: “Ay would have no aydeyuh!”
As I looked down at my barely legible notes where scattered thoughts like “‘Graffiti My Soul’/Britney connection?” and “How are the Mist Burgers at Nadine’s Irish Mist?!” were frantically scribbled and squished together, I could only think to myself: What is my life right now?