Thursday, 18 February 2010

4: Girls Aloud - Sound Of The Underground

Another long delay. I'm good at starting "projects", less good at finishing them. Ah well, nearly there now.

The credit for my #4 song of the decade really goes to Xenomania, the production duo of Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper. 'Sound Of The Underground' was one of 60 songs that the pair had written with the intention of launching their own girl group. Yet their project failed to get off the ground, and when ITV's reality show, 'Popstars: The Rivals' approached the pair for a song that they could use, Xenomania were suddenly launched into the big time.

In truth, the outcome of 'Popstars: The Rivals' was a done deal before the show even commenced. The pop charts of 2002 were screaming out for a relevant girl group to fill a Spice Girl-shaped void, and One True Voice, the male winners, never really stood a chance. The combination of Nadine, Sarah, Kimberley, Nicola and Cheryl just seemed to make sense, instantly. Winning the show (and the battle for the 2002 Xmas #1) was one thing, but Girls Aloud's remarkable continued success relied on a combination of exceptional talent, good looks and effective marketing.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 'Sound Of The Underground' was the perfect way to launch the group. A Guardian article at the time famously called it "a reality pop record that didn't make you want to do physical harm to everyone involved in its manufacture", and my own initial reaction to it was similarly positive. I loved the drum'n'bass style beats, and the equitable dishing out of the lines allowed me to quickly identify my favourite Alouds (Nadine and Kimberley, for the record). It felt fresh, modern, relevant. It pulsated with energy, but was not without a little, er... sultriness.

The rest, as they say, is history. 'Sound Of The Underground' became the 40th biggest selling single of the decade, and Girls Aloud followed it up with another 19 consecutive Top 10 singles (a run that ended just months from the end of the decade when 'Untouchable' only reached #11). They're Britain's finest pop group over the last 10 years, and as much as I could have chosen any number of other hits, I felt that going back to where it all started was the right thing to do in this countdown.

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