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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Girls Aloud trounce pop rivals

by Ian Youngs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Pop Rivals girl group Girls Aloud release their debut album, Sound of the Underground, after two hit singles.

Reality pop is not supposed to be this good.

Girls Aloud were the female group produced by TV show Popstars: the Rivals - destined for a lifetime of obscurity before being plucked and packaged by svengali Louis Walsh.

Girls Aloud
Girls Aloud: Some moments of high excitement for pop lovers
Now these would-be checkout girls who look like the best a surburban high street has to offer are having hits with songs that are not just good, they are actually properly good.

Their male Popstars counterparts, One True Voice, have kept their end of the bargain. Even their best songs are truly, truly terrible.

But Girls Aloud are in danger of becoming the best UK pop group since the Spice Girls. It just does not compute.

This album explodes with the group's first two hits, title track Sound of the Underground and recent number two single No Good Advice.

Sound of the Underground has siphoned off hit ingredients from artists like Sugababes and Kylie Minogue to become a pulsating pop classic with a modern, metallic beat, catchy chorus and just the right amount of sleaze.

But No Good Advice is better than anything else on the album, or in the charts.

It is classic pure pop that borrows from that unashamed musical decade, the 1980s, while also being heavily laced with millennial attitude and beats.

It is not obsessed with trying to be a cutting-edge club hit, as many songs by the likes of Kylie and Justin are.

But with at least three different killer hooks welded together, it is just a totally irresistible pop song from the old school, and makes Atomic Kitten look like playground wimps.

There is a 1980s Brat Pack soundtrack out there that needs this tune on it, even if it is 20 years late. And it could be an American number one single. Maybe.


Admittedly, the album falls off quite steeply after that, and at 15 tracks, it has at least seven too many.

But there are more gems to be found. The third track, Some Kind of Miracle, has lovely layered vocals with its slow tempo despite being more formulaic.

Life Got Cold is a charming ballad that should be the next single.

Part of the chorus sounds like it is going to turn into Wonderwall by Oasis, but does a Sting-like about turn and suddenly becomes a sweet but slightly sad pop song.

If it was on the new Madonna album, it would have been hailed as a work of genius.

Rock the beat

Some other songs are bland pop-by-numbers fillers that are either about dancing or being rebellious girls.

Or, should I say, not being able to stop rocking to the beat or how I don't want to hear you say you're sorry, babe. This we have all heard before.

All in all, there are some moments of high excitement for pop lovers, but almost none of them are down to the girls.

They have songwriters to write the songs and a manager to pick them. They look right and sound good but even that is down to stylists and producers.

Whether they can build on the head start they have been given will depend on whether they can prove they have personalities of their own.

Personality was one thing the Spice Girls had from the start - but, despite the good songs, Girls Aloud could be any five girls with half-decent voices.

Sound of the Underground is released by Polydor on Monday.

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19 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
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05 Jan 03  |  Entertainment


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