Tuesday, 30 March 2010

2002 Girls Aloud: The Sound Of The Underground

Another set of graduates from a television talent show, Girls Aloud were the winners of 2002's Popstars: The Rivals, the successor show to the original Popstars that gave us Hear'Say. This time, the wrinkle came courtesy of that 'Rivals' epithet, with the aim of the show being that two groups - one all girl, one all boy - would be auditioned and created to slug it out in the Christmas charts. The girls were the clear winners this time, both in the short and long term whereas the 'boyband' winners, One True Voice, sat at number two behind 'The Sound Of The Underground' with their debut single 'Sacred Trust' before promptly fading into obscurity while Girls Aloud - both singular and plural - enjoyed a level of media based success that continues to this day.

This, though, is where it all started - with a misnomer. Given the background to the band and the heavy media exposure that turned the spotlight on their creation, then any debut single from them couldn't have been more overground if it was perched in a sniper's nest atop the Petronas Towers. But still it tries. Fair enough, there is something slightly rough urban and sleazy about the fast tempo, electronic dance jangle that adds a degree of street level, Grit Girls credibility to what is in effect commercial enterprise in its most naked form, but it's the same credibility inherent in a pre-aged, designer diamante 'punk' t shirt from Topshop. Because while the raw material juxtaposition of surf guitar riff and garage beats do catch my ear in a pleasing 'this is different' kind of way (particularly when put up against some of the company it's keeping here), it's all just too damn polite for its own good. "Chain reaction running through my veins, pumps the bass line up into my brain. Screws my mind until I lose control"; now that lyric sounds promising, and it might have lived up to the billing if the guitars had screamed, the beats thundered and the girls had shown a bit more attitude. But they don't, they don't and they don't - the true 'sound of the underground' should take no prisoners, this politely opts to take no risks instead. And that's not the same thing at all.


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