While every gay man under the sun has been soiling his Tesco panties over Girls Aloud‘s comeback, I’ve found myself strangely disinterested in the return of the Almighty Aloud. Sure, they’re one of the best girl groups in the history of mankind, but something happened during their lengthy hiatus. Witnessing their various solo projects — Cheryl’s mediocre pop albums, Nadine’s failed attempt to crack America (or anywhere), and Nicola’s shockingly overrated Cinderella’s Eyes — was like having the curtain raised and discovering that the powerful wizard is no more than a little man making loud noises. There’s a very specific formula to Girls Aloud’s greatness, and it consists of all five members and their longtime producer Xenomania. If just one of those things is missing, then that special chemistry (get it? Chemistry??) vanishes faster than Sarah Harding’s sobriety.
The group is now temporarily back together for a few months to release their second greatest hits compilation instead of the new studio album that we’ve all been praying for since “Untouchable” missed the top ten. Their new single “Something New” leaked online this week, and with all the pieces of the Girls Aloud puzzle now back in place, I’m relieved to say that it’s finally safe to unblock your ears and start stanning again.
Longtime Aloud fans will instantly recognize shades of the group’s back catalog in “Something New”. From the first listen you can feel the relentless energy of “Something Kinda Ooooh” and some of the demented pop flavor of “Sexy! No No No…”. Of course, it’s more radio-friendly than the latter, but what isn’t? From the girl group responsible for “Biology”, “more radio-friendly” is still more innovative and original than almost anything else you’ll find in the mainstream pop sector. Most of the lines are shouted or half-rapped over pulsating electro and ’90s house chords, and the song completely shifts gears in the last thirty seconds for the girls to triumphantly chant “We’re the leaders of the pack!” — as if we were stupid enough to think that those dumb slags from Little Mix or The Saturdays had taken their spot or something.
If “Something New” has to be compared to something other than Girls Aloud’s own work, it’s Xenomania’s short-lived girl duo Mini Viva, who released the best song that Girls Aloud never recorded but totally fucking should have, “One Touch”. Just so you know, that observation was solely so I could plug “One Touch” and nothing more.
Now I’m going to tell you the one-and-a-quarter bad things about “Something New”. The one is that Cheryl is on lead vocal and hogs most of the song. There’s a reason why Nadine always did the heavy lifting in Girls Aloud; she’s the voice of the group like Beyonce in Destiny’s Child or Soyeon in T-ara. Nobody is here for Cheryl’s voice and they never will be, so homegirl can take a stadium full of seats when it comes to this whole singing thing that she’s trying to pull off. The quarter bad thing is that “Something New” isn’t really reinventing the wheel like “Biology” or the utterly brilliant Tangled Up did, and is more so just a rehash of the group’s old hits mashed together. That’s okay though, because it’s appropriate for a greatest hits LP, and it’s still more interesting than everything that everyone else is doing anyway.
Now get down on your fucking knees and worship the five queens of europop for a few minutes, then slightly adjust your position so you’re kneeling in prayer and ask Godney the Holy Spearit to cleanse these girls of their sinful solo ambitions so we can get another full-length Girls Aloud album sometime this century.