When Nadine Coyle, Kimberley
Walsh, Cheryl Tweedy, Sarah Harding and Nicola
Roberts won the girls’ section of the U.K. reality TV talent contest
Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, and then formed a group called Girls
Aloud, I don’t think anyone was really expecting much from them.
After all, the last U.K. band formed
via a reality show, Hear’Say, had gone spectacularly to pieces, with
public backlash and rapid disintegration within 18 months. The twist
to Popstars: The Rivals was that it put together not one but
two bands: Girls Aloud, and a boy band called One True Voice, who were
then expected to battle it out for that year’s U.K. Christmas No.
1. Public money was on One True Voice: After all, teenage girls always
have room on their walls for another boy band, whereas everyone in the
U.K. knew that there hadn’t been a successful five-piece girl band
since … well, since the Spice Girls.
In the end, One True Voice came up
with an awful piece of drivel called “Sacred Trust” for their first
single, and Girls Aloud beat them to No. 1 with their first release,
“Sound of the Underground.” Since then, the Aloud have been more
successful than anyone would have predicted, achieving 17 consecutive
top ten singles, three of which reached No. 1. Although not a global
phenomenon like the Spice Girls, they’ve held on to success steadily
for five years, without any major upsets like the loss of a band member.
In that time, although they’re
not my favorite band, they’ve also come up with several songs that
I like. There was their second single release, “No Good Advice,”
There was “Wake Me Up” in 2005
— with a video excellent for anyone who likes
straight girls on bikes:
And, on a slower, classier note,
there was the unexpectedly stylish “Whole Lotta History” in 2006.
As well as liking the song, I have to admit I find it hard to resist
a girl who sings to me from inside a book-lined study:
Image-wise, the girls project a slightly
different, more aloof and grownup vibe than the Spice Girls do, and they
also play to a different demographic: less to kids, more to men’s-magazine-reading
guys (alas). However, to introduce you to each band member individually,
and to amuse myself, I thought I’d try pairing each Aloud Girl with
her equivalent Spice Girl:
1. Nicola Roberts and Geri Halliwell
Nicola and Geri go together in my
mind for the simple, and perhaps not very reasonable, reason that they
are both red-haired. Apart from this, though, they don’t have a great
deal in common. Ginger Spice was joyously loud and mouthy. Nicola is
quiet and unusual and enigmatic-looking — a bit more like the also red-haired
Siobhan Donaghy of the original Sugababes.
2. Cheryl Cole (née Tweedy) and
A fairly simple one here: Cheryl
and Victoria are both pretty, dark-haired (when they’re not busy dyeing
it an unflattering blonde) and married to footballers. Cheryl is fairly
daft, though, whereas (at least in my Posh Spice fantasies) Victoria
possesses a subtle intelligence and surprisingly comprehensive knowledge
of 19th-century French poetry.
3. Nadine Coyle and Emma Bunton
Nadine and Emma are both blonde,
sweet, pretty, friendly and generally prone to making you feel that
it’s a lovely day. I suspect Emma’s blonde to be a tad more natural
than Nadine’s, however.
4. Sarah Harding and Melanie Brown
They’ve both got a hard edge that
I find slightly off-putting — though Sarah is a huge hit with the men’s
magazine market, and in fact I can scarcely walk past a newsstand without
seeing her posing in her underwear.
5. Kimberley Walsh and Melanie
Both seem like down-to-earth girls
whom you might meet on the street. But I have yet to see Kimberley do
Have I chosen the right match-ups?
Which (if any) of the Aloud is your favorite?