[2] Girls Aloud, ‘Biology’

Biology

Of course, ‘Biology’ ruined Girls Aloud for me. The magpie brilliance of this record, chucking away choruses like confetti, switching devilishly between top-speed blues and sleek pop, it all makes for a dense confection that drips with kaleidoscopic flavour, a new taste every time you try it. Little wonder all their sterling singles in the five years since can’t hold a candle. Only ‘The Promise’ comes close, repeating some of those epic tricks with one-use choruses, but its patina of conventionality keeps it in tighter check. ‘Biology’ has no yellow belly.

“The way that we talk/The way that we walk”. How much of this is down to the girls themselves? Is ‘Biology”s strength just a matter of production and composition, with showroom dummies fronting the package? I like to think of Girls Aloud as Xenomania’s muses, their sass, attitude and talent for inhabiting a song encouraging the machine to reach ever higher. After all, if this kind of thing can be knocked off by any production team worth its salt, The Saturdays would be turning out pop alchemy too.

Junior says: “I love Girls Aloud,” with no clues, profoundly reflecting the number of times we’ve played this little gem. She then threw herself around the room for the entire song, expressing her boundless regard for the ‘Aloud.

Best bit: So many to choose from, but let’s go with “We give it up, and then they take it away…” It feels like a chorus. It never comes back.

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[8] Girls Aloud, ‘Love Machine’

Girls Aloud

Frankly, I think I’ve written enough about Girls Aloud. I love them, Junior loves them, we all have a mad dance-off. I look ridiculous and Junior looks as if she could oust anyone who’s not pulling their weight.

‘Love Machine’ is a fairly straightforward beat group pastiche, that batters its ho-hum roots with manic enthusiasm, barmy lyrics and those excellent “oh”s. And Cheryl doing the claws.

Let’s go, eskimo:

[3] Girls Aloud, ‘The Promise’

Girls Aloud

I can play this with the utmost confidence, because Junior’s now done what I would have expected far earlier – she’s fallen in love with Girls Aloud. Let’s face facts: we all have. The most surprising thing is they haven’t run out of steam; ‘The Promise’ is the curtain-up to their fifth (that’s fifth) album, and while the long-players are patchy as ever, the quality of single just isn’t dipping. ‘The Promise’ faced brickbats to begin with, sourpusses claiming it was the first step towards Westlife safe-playing or a pale Duffy/Winehouse identikit girl-group-throwback, but it soon revealed itself to be as complex as any ‘Biology’ you could mention. Only the brashness has been sacrificed, the brazen ambition is still there. Listen to it – no verse is the same (there are three, with entirely different melodies), no bridge is the same, and still they throw in a middle eight. If this is pop in the 21st century, I’m on board.

Junior knows all the words, and shimmies her shoulders just like her mum. She’s probably got an opinion about Kimberley’s hips too. I reckon Junior even knows what “walking Primrose” means and understands what the “promise” is and who it’s pledged to. It’s multi-layered, you see; once you’ve sussed out what the music’s doing, you still have to decipher the lyric. The ‘Aloud are two steps ahead of the pack.

But how much longer have we got them for? Rumours that Nadine’s on the way out won’t abate – and she continues to blow the others off stage with sheer lungpower – while Cheryl suddenly looks too big for a band. If they gotta go, go now. It’s been golden.

[14] Girls Aloud, ‘Sexy! No No No…’

Girls Aloud, ‘Sexy! No No No…’

Junior jangled her keys to this one. I say “her keys”: she’d nabbed Nanny’s spare set from the dining room table and was refusing to give them back, a proper feisty Girl Aloud with no intention of relinquishing a winning position against all odds. They’re a phenomenon, this lot, showing staying power only rivalled by the execrable likes of Westlife and their peculiar hold on a lobotomised fanbase. That Girls Aloud have managed it while reeling out one inspired pop hit after another is something to be applauded, and cherished.

There are signs, however – sadly – that they’re slipping. The album Tangled Up is bland by their freewheeling standards, while ‘Sexy! No No No…’ is good but it’s no ‘Biology’ nor ‘Long Hot Summer’. It’s here by dint of its surprisingly forthright power, demanding inclusion simply because the consequences of omitting it are too chilling to imagine. It’s one big tease, lyrically and melodically, as the girls discover the potential of remaining demure and the writers experiment with the dispensation of a recognisable chorus. Bravo. I think.

[3] Girls Aloud, ‘Biology’

“The way that we TALK, the way that we WALK”. Junior finds this frustrating. Are they teasing her? She’s still laughing at me standing by the stereo, but it’s a CD so I’m not even trying to be the superfly DJ. Those new-fangled CD decks are just cheating anyway. You don’t get the chance to hit the stylus arm by mistake, and you never need to balance a 20p coin anywhere to stop it jumping.

I could be the muso about this song’s unusual structure. Girls Aloud and Xenomania eschew your standard verse-chorus arrangement to fling in a load of highs and “can you see the join?” splicing. It shows ambition that a lot of modern pop lazily avoids, whether you like the record or not, and it’s a gamble. They don’t get the Number Ones you might expect, and perhaps they don’t appeal to “the kids” as much as they do to the pop scholars.

Pop scholars: Paul Morley, Paul Gambaccini, writers at Stylus and Pitchfork, the NME to satisfy the occasional whim, and hey, me. And Junior. Will she be defending this sort of stuff when all her friends are into the 2018 equivalents of Sum 41, the Kaiser Chiefs, the Killers and 50 Cent? Don’t fail me now.