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EDITIONS
 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 09:22 GMT
Girls Aloud top festive chart
Girls Aloud
Girls Aloud have the 50th Christmas number one
Made-for-TV pop group Girls Aloud have landed the UK's 2002 Christmas number one single, just a month after they were formed.

The all-female group's Sound Of The Underground became the 50th Christmas number one single - beating another group formed by ITV1's Popstars: The Rivals, boy band One True Voice.

Who are Girls Aloud?
Nicola Roberts, 17, from Runcorn
Nadine Coyle, 17, from Derry
Kimberley Walsh, 21, from Bradford
Sarah Harding, 21, from Stockport
Cheryl Tweedy, 19, from Newcastle

But they have the worst sales figures for debut singles by any of the UK's reality TV pop stars.

Sound Of The Underground sold just over 213,000 copies while One True Voice's Sacred Trust sold 147,000.

Both groups were formed with the intention of battling it out for this year's festive chart-topper.

They had a huge publicity machine, and most other acts pulled out from the race for the top.

But despite the hype, sales were small compared with the amounts sold by past Christmas number ones and other recent TV talent show winners.

Pop Idol winner Will Young's first single sold 1.1 million copies in its first week, while runner-up Gareth Gates shifted 850,000 and the first Popstars band, Hear'Say, notched up 550,000.

The relatively disappointing performances of the new Popstars bands will raise further questions about whether reality pop has a future.

Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy, 19, said: "This is more than we ever expected. A month ago we were all wondering if we were going to make it into the band.

"Now we're celebrating going to number one. It's been an exhausting few weeks but it has all been worth it."

Christmas top 10
1. Girls Aloud - Sound of the Underground
2. One True Voice (above) - Sacred Trust
3. Cheeky Girls - Cheeky Song
4. Sir Elton John/ Blue - Sorry Seems...
5. Eminem - Lose Yourself
6. Daniel Bedingfield - If You're Not The One
7. Love Inc - You're A Superstar
8. Las Ketchup - The Ketchup Song
9. Avril Lavinge - Sk8er Boi
10. Robbie Williams - Feel
Source: The Official UK Charts Company
A spokeswoman for One True Voice said: "Although the guys are disappointed they didn't get to number one, they're pleased with the number two position.

"Now they're really looking forward to the New Year and going into the studio with Pete Waterman. And they wish the girls all the best."

The fight between the two groups started out as a stage-managed rivalry.

But it took an apparently bitter turn when music mogul Pete Waterman - manager of One True Voice - said the girl group did not sing on Sound of the Underground.

The female group is managed by Waterman's fellow Popstars judge, Louis Walsh.

The Cheeky Girls made number three with Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum), meaning the top three positions were filled by Popstars groups.

Transylvanian twins Monica and Gabriela Irimia were laughed off the programme when they auditioned for the girl group - but landed a deal for their song, which was written by their mother.

The 19-year-old sisters followed their chart success by signing an advertising deal with internet company Freeserve, and the ad will show them painting each other's bodies - with their trademark hotpants and vests on.

Other hits

Most other singles had their release dates brought forward to avoid a clash with the Popstars groups.

Christmas number ones
Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams
2001: Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman (above)
- Somethin' Stupid
2000: Bob The Builder
- Can We Fix It?
1999: Westlife
- I Have A Dream
1998: Spice Girls
- Goodbye
1997: Spice Girls
- Too Much
1996: Spice Girls
- 2 Become 1
1995: Michael Jackson
- Earth Song
1994: East 17
- Stay Another Day
1993: Mr Blobby
- Mr Blobby
Last week's number one, Sir Elton John and Blue joining forces for Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, fell to number four.

Love Inc's You're A Superstar was the third-highest new entry at number seven while Canadian teenager Avril Lavigne's Sk8er Boi entered the chart at number nine.

Death In Vegas' Scorpio Rising - featuring Liam Gallagher - entered at number 14, while former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson's Let's Give Love A Try - tipped as a novelty hit - did not even make the top 75.

Of the other seasonal releases, S Club Juniors' Puppy Love made number 11, one place better than Ronan Keating and Lulu's We've Got Tonight.

Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates' What My Heart Wants To Say plummeted 10 places to 15 after just one week on the chart.

Robbie Williams scored his second Christmas number one album in a row with Escapology, fending off competition from Blue and greatest hits compilations from Sir Elton John and Westlife.

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  The BBC's Razia Iqbal
"The real winners are the programme makers"

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