When Girls Aloud were first formed in 2002, I don't think any of us really expected that much. Look at the other Popstars, Pop Idol and X Factor winners: they've all proven that TV talent show pop has a shelf life. Even the acts considered as the most successful such as Leona Lewis and Will Young are now struggling to be noticed. So why were Girls Aloud so different to all the other talent show winners?
I think we can all agree that Girls Aloud's success is owed to their very first single, 'Sound of the Underground'. It wasn't just completely different to any other TV talent show winners' single, it was completely different to any 21st century pop song. The lyrics may have made no sense whatsoever, but it had one of the catchiest hooks and guitar riffs of any pop song we'd ever heard. It was the edgiest pop song Britain had heard for years, and it put Girls Aloud and their distinctive sound firmly on the map.
I was 10 when Girls Aloud were formed, so like everyone else my age, I grew up with them. What was so strange about them was that you felt like Girls Aloud grew with you rather than you growing with them. It started with fun yet edgy pop which any 10 year old girl would love, and then by the time I was 16 they had matured and blossomed into a much more adult pop with hits such as 'The Promise' and 'The Loving Kind'. No matter how old you are, you can't resist their concise, catchy, fantastic pop songs. Even Johnny Marr couldn't resist Girls Aloud, stating in a 2012 Uncut interview:
'I was working with Brian Higgins on a Pet Shop Boys record, and I let it slip that I like the guitars on a couple of Girls Aloud’s early singles. So he got me in a headlock, took me from hehind and, before I knew it, I had a harmonica in my mouth. No, I loved doing it. I am evangelical about pop music. The idea that pop is crass and commercial is an old-fashioned rockist conceit linked to the whole “Disco Sucks” campaign. [...] I’ve always held on to the nobility and aspirations of pop, and what it can be.'
However, it wasn't Marr that gave Girls Aloud the sound that we all know and love them for. The Xenomania team produced all of Girls Aloud's albums except 'Sound of the Underground', and without their extraordinarily talented team of writers and producers, Girls Aloud would probably have fallen from the throne in late 2004.
Although it's really sad that the best pop band of the 21st century have split up, it will be interesting to see where this takes pop music. Will there be other pop bands that will take the Girls Aloud formula and be just as fantastic as they were? Probably not, but hopefully some of them will come very close. Let's just hope that the end of Girls Aloud doesn't signal the end of great pop music, and that we aren't left in a world full of various Flo Ridas and Biebers.
You took some acid back in '99
You said it blew your mind
And it helped you write rhymes
So you bought a trilby and a cheap guitar
You thought you'd be a star
It didn't get you that far
I don't know your name
You're just another band with a different game
And you're all the same
You said you played at Reading
Then you chart at fifty-seven...
Just cos your dad knew the Rolling Stones
You've got the Primrose set in your cell phone
Don't kid yourself, you're an indie clone
We've seen it before, get a sound of your own