New single The Promise is influenced by 1960s sounds
By Mark Savage
Entertainment reporter, BBC News
Girls Aloud say their bosses want to call the group's new album Out Of Control - because the pop stars can't be told what to do.
The group release their new single, The Promise, on 27 October. The album is expected to follow two weeks later.
"It basically came from the record company," singer Kimberley Walsh told the BBC.
"They said: 'We don't know what to say, you lot are out of control. We can't tell you anything.'"
"So that's where that came from. 'Out of control' means you can't tell us what to do."
The group were very much "involved in the direction" of the record, Walsh adds, which follows on from the soul influences of the single.
"The whole album's a lot older sounding," she confirms. "It wasn't intentional - it was just kind of how it went, you know?"
'Out of the ordinary'
The Promise sees the group take inspiration from the 1960s, adding their trademark sassy lyrics and cut 'n' paste song structures to the mix.
The video sees the band dressed in glittering Supremes-style costumes
"The '60s thing is quite prominent," Bradford-born Walsh says.
"But it's out of the ordinary. Not really what you'd expect."
The Promise is the five-piece's 19th single - an astonishing feat in the flash-in-the-pan world of pop music.
"It's mad, isn't it?" says an incredulous Walsh. "We still have to pinch ourselves."
Indeed, it's a wonder they have had time to record a new album at all, as their side-projects multiply.
Youngest member Nicola Roberts, 22, has launched a range of make-up for women with pale skin.
Irish star Nadine Coyle, 23, now lives permanently in Los Angeles, where she runs - of all things - a candle shop.
The group's most recognisable face, however, is Cheryl Cole - who can currently be seen every weekend on The X Factor.
The singer has had a rocky time since the last Girls Aloud album came out in 2007.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
Who is the worst liar?
"I'm probably the worst. You can tell straight away. I get all anxious."
Who has the worst morning hair?
"Sarah, because it's short. It literally sticks up straight in the air, like There's Something About Mary!"
What was the last book you read?
"This is really sad but it was ours! We had to read through it to make sure we were happy."
Do you remember your first experience with drink?"I don't, actually. That happens to me, I lose my memory altogether. It's not good."
In January, it was alleged that her footballer husband, Ashley Cole, had cheated on her, triggering months of tabloid speculation about her marriage and her health.
Fans, many of whom were hostile to the Chelsea defender in the wake of the alleged affair, initially believed the lyrics of The Promise would be a barely-veiled reference to his wedding vows.
"Oh no, it's nothing to do with that at all," says Walsh with more than a hint of surprise.
"I think people sometimes read a little too far into things."
The 26-year-old, who is often referred to as the "mother" of the group, is understandably protective of her friend and colleague.
Along with Roberts, she flew out to Thailand to provide support to Cole in the weeks following the tabloid revelations.
"I like to be there for them if they need me," she says of her bandmates.
"I just have that kind of instinct. I'm a little bit more sensible and I guess I'm a little bit older as well."
The family mentality is one of the keys to Girls Aloud's longevity.
Unusually for the music industry, they are surrounded by a stable team - from their writers and managers right down to the wardrobe and choreography teams.
"Everyone who works with us now has been there for a while and they don't hold anything back, which I like," says Walsh.
"You don't need people blowing smoke up your arse, do you?"
The group's harshest critics, she notes, are the girls themselves.
"But I think that's a good thing," Walsh adds. "That's how you push yourself further."
After contributing several tracks to 2005's Chemistry, they only had two writing credits on last year's Tangled Up - including the hit single Sexy! No No No.
Songs like Love Machine and Biology are hits with fans and festival-goers
"It's a time issue, which I know is bad - but we've always got so much going on," Walsh said.
"But this year I think a few of us have written bits and pieces and we've been quite involved in the direction of how it's going. So we're really pleased."
Many groups at this stage in their career would be thinking about taking a year off, or branching out into solo projects.
But Girls Aloud are pushing forward with a new album - their fifth - not to mention an autobiography, a TV special and a tour.
But, despite all their success, Walsh confesses that the group are worried about how the new sound will go down.
"We do still get nervous," she says. "When you don't get nervous you have to worry, haven't you?"
"It means that you don't care about it."
The Promise is out on 27 October.