Three New Pop Singles By Seven Female Pop Singers

Moving house (twice) in a short space of time is stressful, and as a result my blogging has suffered in the last few weeks. As I move to London in less than two weeks to pursue my dream of video game journalism I’m thinking of turning this blog, partly or wholly, into a diary of my adventures in the big smoke. For now though, it’s business as usual.

Lily Allen – URL Badman

Lily hasn’t been perfectly happy with the run of singles from her third studio album, Sheezus. Specifically, the label made her release songs designed to get radio airplay rather than the provocative, sharp-tongued musicals musings Allen is known for. Fans and Lily herself can now rejoice as one of the stand-outs from the album is getting the single treatment, and the popstar is at her satirical best.

‘URL Badman’ is a critique not of bloggers and wannabe journalists (even if it was, I couldn’t help but love it – ironically, obviously) but the keyboard warriors who think their strong opinions and way with words entitle them to slam everyone else. You know the type. Hipsters with a webpage. The video has some cool effects but it’s a bit of a non-event, not that I could think of something to do visually with the songs theme, the track itself is definitely deserving of a download for quotable lyrics like “I don’t like girls much, they’re kinda silly, unless of course they wanna play with ma willy”. Oh, and there’s a Space Ghost reference in the brilliant rap middle eight. You don’t know who Space Ghost is?! pfft, *rolls eyes*

I think I just became a hipster.

Florrie – Little White Lies

Whilst I’m on this ‘too cool for the mainstream’ wavelength I might as well try and get more people into my favourite bubbling-under-the-radar popstar, Florrie. After releasing an EP earlier this year consisting of three excellent tracks (one I covered before) and two average remixes, the singer/songwriter/drummer/astronaut is turning one of the remix tracks into her first proper single, a single that will almost definitely maybe lead to an album that might (not) be out before the end of this year.

Unlike the three songs from the Sirens EP, ‘Little White Lies’ is more a ‘proper’ pop song, with a standard verse chorus verse chorus middle 8 chorus structure as opposed to an upside down and in reverse (reference!) collection of sound bites. That’s a good and a bad thing for me: the song floats along dreamily nice enough, and hopefully it’ll fit in well with what’s currently on the radio but I prefer the excitement of the more left-field edge of ‘Wanna Control Myself’. That being said, it’s Florrie – and therefore Xenomania, my favourite producers ever, of Girls Aloud/Pet Shop Boys/Abs from 5ive fame – so for either to get a hit would be fantastic.

The Saturdays – What Are You Waiting For?’

If anyone is going to give Xenomania a hit this summer, it’s the single from The Saturdays upcoming greatest hits. As well as the single, the group has uploaded a megamix of their hits, which I think is definitely worth a listen, because it sums up the good and the bad of The Saturdays.

If you’ve listened to the radio at all in the last 6 years you’ll probably sing a fair few of these chorus, even if you didn’t think you knew them. You might go ‘oh, that one’s quite good actually’ here and there. But overall, (and I’m fully aware it’s a megamix) the main feeling I get is that The Sats are just a girl group doing girl group songs. Now I do like a good girl group, they are an essential part of the pop landscape, and when they develop their own style, like the aforementioned Almighty Aloud, Destiny’s Child, the Spice Girls, the second line-up of Sugababes and now, Little Mix, they becomes leaders of the pack (reference!). Then there’s The Saturdays. There’s no catfighting or bitchy dramas, diva tantrums or trashy lads mag shoots (well maybe the odd one). On the other hand, The Sats don’t have any sort of unique identity to them musically. ‘All Fired Up’, ‘Ego’ ‘Up’ and ‘Higher’ are great, but nothing in their catalogue is a stone-cold classic.

As the lead single from their greatest hits, and produced by the masterminds at Xenomania, I was really hoping for that classic to finally be delivered. Instead (and clearly following on from the dreadful ‘What About Us’ being the group’s first number one) we got every generic pop/EDM crossover cliche thrown into one neat package to remind us how unadventurous a lot of chart music has been these few years (My god, maybe I am a URL Badman). It’s got a good beat to wave your arms to in the club, the lyrics are easy enough to sing/shout when drunk but you won’t remember it down the line. The sad thing is, when Xenomania and The Saturdays teamed up before, they created ‘All Fired Up’ which was a club banger with loads of auto-tune and lyrics about partying. Where ‘All Fired Up’ works though is that song didn’t bother with the tired build ups and drops of everything else, and was three minutes and fifteen seconds of a sonic assault, barely stopping for breath. ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ just… plods along. And the music video is Beach Video 101 too. The perfect opportunity to make a deceleration of why you should be a major British pop act, wasted.

Some new songs that came out in (or around) February

Usually on my music write-ups I gush about pop music by artists that aren’t exactly mainstream, and no one really pays attention to me. So in a blatant attempt to get some views (and for people to read about an artist I really, really like) I’m going to also review two songs by people whose music I always hear ‘in the club’…

First up, Ludacris ‘Party Girls’ (feat. Wiz Khalifa, Jeremih and Cashmere Cat)

Ludacris is really popular, right? I mean, I liked his song ‘Rollout’ when I was like, twelve and didn’t know better. His bit is the only non-chorus bit of Usher’s ‘Yeah’ that people attempt to sing/rap along to and he’s obviously on Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’. He’s also roped in the guy who did that ‘Birthday Sex’ song, some dude I’ve never heard of but I assume is popular amongst hip-hop fans and the chap from ‘Payphone’ and the song where T-Pain ruins one of my favourite Lily Allen tracks. If that’s not going to get me tons of views nothing will! So onto the song itself…

Oh dear. I imagine Ludacris think he’s being really edgy and cool by sampling Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ here. Sure, rappers like Flo-Rida have been taking cheesy Eurodance songs and turning them into anthems about having lots of sex with sexy ladies for a while now, but to go further than any rapper has before and interpolate THAT song is pretty courageous, right?

No. In fact, its about as boring as going to Subway and buying just ham on plain Italian. Onto the next one

Jason Derulo – ‘Stupid Love’

About as boring as going to Subway and just having bread.

Well, if you came here for Ludacris and Derulo then please stay for five more minutes and listen to this song by one of my favourites artists. She’s been an internet favourite for a few years now, hopefully moving into up-and-coming success in the mainstream territory. This is Florrie…

Florrie – ‘Seashells’

With Girls Aloud breaking up almost a year ago to the day, the Gossip album being a major mixed bag and the whole Amelia Lily debacle, I was thinking this was the end for Xenomania – my favourite pop makers of all time. Luckily, Florrie was there with my second favourite song of last year ‘Live a Little’ keeping my faith alive. Despite finally signing to a label, this singer-drummer-model-fireman combo hasn’t ditched team X to work with the current big names that everyone else is. And despite the songs Brian Higgins and co have put out over the last 2 years nearly all being firmly in the electronic category, ‘Seashells’ instantly hits you with some Asian-sounding production. This is typically Florrie and Xenomania in that it ignores typical verse-chorus song but is made up of nonsensical playground style chants that earworm into your brain. It’s not the most immediate song on first listen, nor does it seem to compare to earlier Florrie songs like ‘Call of the Wild‘ or ‘Every Inch’, but if your curiosity takes you back for further listens, it really grows on you.

The video suits the song too, its not really about anything but its got the chilled aura to it. The Instagram effects coupled with Florrie’s relative unknown status make this pretty hipster friendly but she really is worth getting into, and not just to have an unknown popstar to brag about liking but because her music is really damn good.

(and she’s not actually a fireman)

Happy 5th Birthday The Loving Kind/Memory Of You

It’s been a while. I know I shouldn’t have kept you waiting. But I’m here now.

I do love a good musical reference, if you know the song you get a bonus cookie to go along with the humble pie I have here. It’s been two months since I last updated and I’m not trying to make excuses but going from working on average 17 hours a week to 40+ hours has taken its toll – not to mention Christmas and work experience (full post on that soon, promise!) taking up what free time I have. Anyway, it’s Saturday night and I’m here eating sweets and drinking Fizzy Tooth Rot Max, what better time to talk about the sugary sparkling goodness that is pop music.

Over  the festive period, the music channels love to remind us all of the godawful songs we’ve bought in Decembers gone by – Cascada’s cover of ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Bob the Builder’, ‘Proper Crimbo’, the original ‘Last Christmas’ and yes, the Almighty Girls Aloud‘s ‘tepid’ (I’m being nice) cover of ‘See the Day’.

Being reminded of this song’s existence prompted me to list the Girls Aloud singles in order of best to worst because… why not, I’m a nerd. It was a tough decision over whether ‘See the Day’ or the ‘Walk This Way’ cover with the Sugababes got the dubious honour of worst single (the latter ‘won’) but best single.. that was easy.

‘Sound of the Underground’? Incredible but overrated. ‘Jump’? Great fun, best cover single but nah. ‘Love Machine’? Very good but it annoys me when people say that’s all GA are. ‘Biology’? Not mistaking it. ‘Sexy! No No No…’? VERY close but no. ‘Untouchable’? The album version is my favourite song of all time. The radio mix… no.

My favourite single has got to be:

The Loving Kind

Look at that release date. Now look at the date on your screen. Don’t you feel old now? I know I do.

IT’S FIVE YEARS SINCE THE LOVING KIND WAS RELEASED.

If you don’t remember it, then here it is:

So why do I find this song so fantastic?

Well, it’s a three-way collaboration between three of my favourite entities (for lack of a better word) in pop: the girls on vocals, once again perfect production by Xenomania – who have produced 90% of their output and are the reason GA aren’t another Atomic Kitten – and as the Wikipedia box states, co-written with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.

It’s the bloody Pet Shop Boys darling

Some critics wrote this song isn’t as good as an AloudShopBoysmania collaboration could be, whereas others derided it for sounding like a weaker ‘Call the Shots’. I disagree entirely. All parties are at the top of their game here. The girls all get a good share of delivering wistful vocals, with Sarah taking the lead (a rare treat) and Nicola delivering the desperation of her part perfectly. The song wasn’t written for them (but for the Boys own Xenomania produced album, the excellent Yes) but they pull off beautiful Tennant lyrics such as the opening “Sometimes, I watch your when you’re sleeping, I wonder what you’re feeling”. The songwriting captures that horrid feeling when you just know that the romance is fading away. Xenomania are in their element of melancholic electronic and the production is typically layered, such a the faint ‘woahhhh-ohhhhh’s in the background and whooses that lead from one segment to the next. The arrangement isn’t all over the place as something like ‘Biology’, but the  “I’d do anything” part sounds like it would be the middle 8 of a more straightforward song, yet here it’s post-first chorus, keeping the energy going before that wonderful drop into the downtrodden “rush hour of another day” moment.

The Loving Kind video 1

The video is also fantastic, something that can’t really be said for many of the Aloud’s efforts. It’s got a minimalist colour scheme of white, black and red and is wonderfully arty. The girls are in these glass boxes, either looking all sad, doing turns, stretches, pouts and poses (as you do in pop videos) or smashing up old photos and chucking flowers all over the place. It’s pretty simple and sounds dull on paper but the visuals and editing are fantastic. I l-o-v-e (reference!) the bit at the start of the final chorus, where it cuts to each girl all doing the same arms stretched head shaking movement then drop to the floor and back up again.

And also, don’t the girls look stunning?

So many Cheryls! It's like a heterosexual man's dream.

So many Cheryls! It’s like a heterosexual man’s dream.

There's only one Queen Nuhdeen!

There’s only one Queen Nuhdeen!

No pun here, just reiterating how the endless reflections look fantastic.

No pun here, just reiterating how the endless reflections look fantastic.

So yeah, fantastic song, brilliant video, the team-up being the thing of pop nerd’s dreams. But that’s not (just) why I adore ‘The Loving Kind‘ so much. I’d always enjoyed Girls Aloud‘s music on the same level I enjoyed most chart stuff before I really listened to music more in-depth. Catchy stuff, knew the choruses and most of the words (whatever anything in ‘Love Machine’ means), happy to dance to at a party. But then ‘The Promise’ came along and I thought “this is something pretty special”, and a lot of people thought so too, it hit Number One and so did the album Out Of Control. And then I saw ‘The Loving Kind’ video and fell in love. I dipped into some of the album tracks from that album, and never turned back. As I wrote about before, Girls Aloud musically opened my eyes (ears) to a lot more musically, and were my gateway into an online pop community. ‘The Loving Kind’ is where it all started.

Which is a shame that it’s not a massive hit. It was the girls 20th (not counting ‘St. Trinian’s Theme’, sadly counting ‘Walk This Way’) consecutive top 10 – an incredible feat, specially as once an album is out, the singles don’t really do the numbers anymore. It’s in the top ten best selling songs of theirs according to those MTV count down shows and was on the music channels and radio a fair bit when it was out. But it’s not really stuck in many memories five years on (I’m still dumbfounded its been that long) and that’s sadly because it was massively overshadowed by its predecessor. In fact, it may not have even been a Top 10 hit at all (it landed exactly at #10) if it wasn’t for hardcore fans:

Didn’t help that all the promo the girls did for the song was before Christmas. They scraped by this time, but Untouchable wasn’t so fortunate.

Despite it not being critically or commercially Girls Aloud’s crowning glory, I still treasure this song deeply 5 years to the day after it was released as a single. Of course, fans will know it isn’t the only Aloud song released on 12th January 2009…

One of the reasons I love Girls Aloud (and risk sounding like a total hipster) is that their B-sides are all kinds of incredible. Not just their singles (unlike a lot of artists), not just their album tracks (like most artists) but the songs they only put out on CD (remember those?) or vinyl (your parents remember those?). Before 2012 and the bonus disc of their greatest hits TEN, you had to buy a 50 quid limited edition boxset to get this song on disc and therefore; legally onto your iPod. It added to the cult feel on the song, and it really is a fan favourite. In a poll to decide the album tracks and B-sides for the TEN bonus disc, this song was the runaway winner and with good reason.

From the opening stop-start synth lines, to Kimberley’s vocodered, echoey first verse “Late at night I dream I’m falling into love again, twenty five electric angels are dancing in the rain” this track oozes dark and moody, with ethereal qualities Ellie Goulding could only dream of (sorry housemate Jade!). Like ‘The Loving Kind’, it’s full on Melancholic Electronic (if I ever made an album, it’d be called that) but in a much more dancier way. Typically nonsense but intriguing lyrics (“paradise with ice cream skies”, “wondering if sheep count us when they can’t sleep at night” only make sense to songwriter Miranda Cooper), incredibly busy but pin-sharp production and gorgeous solos from only Kimberley and Nicola, the two who are usually seen as the background members of the group by the general public, come together perfectly. It’s so perfect that when Nicola released a solo version, with exactly the same instrumental and just her singing all the vocals, it wasn’t right. Kimberley’s deeper voice opening the song sets the mood, and the contrast between there vocals as the second verse goes into the bridge is one of my favourite bits. I appreciate Nicola for trying to please the fanbase, but don’t mess with perfection.

Even though it adds to the less commercial, more pop-cult feel of the track, I do find it a bit of a shame that song wasn’t given single treatment. It would’ve been a joy to hear in clubs, especially with so much dance pop focused solely on the same old getting drunk and putting your hands up stuff I tired of ages ago. But at the same time it’s cool, in a weird way, to have this incredible piece of music that almost ‘belongs’ to a certain group of people: dedicated pop and Girls Aloud fans.

Five years ago I was just getting into this group and discovering their flawless catalogue, with the promise (reference!) of 3 new albums following a brief hiatus exciting me no end. As we all know, that hiatus lasted 3 years with four new songs (three of them just as wonderful as I was waiting for, and the other being ‘Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me’) and a tour that wasn’t a farewell tour but was a farewell tour. Obviously they never would have performed ‘Memory of You’, being a HITS tour but I am GUTTED that ‘The Loving Kind’ wasn’t performed. I know it wasn’t their biggest hit and apparently Nicola doesn’t like it very much but to me, of all their singles, it was the most special of all.

If the legacy of these songs amounts to nothing but the following video, then that’s fine:

Happy Fifth Birthday, The Loving Kind and Memory of You.

The new Pet Shop Boys album ‘Electric’ is really good, let’s all try and make it Number 1 please

If you didn’t know, the Pet Shop Boys new album ‘Electric’ is out this week. Its being hailed as their big comeback, despite their last album only coming out ten months ago. That’s because last year’s ‘Elysium’ was chilled, reflective and… a little bit boring to be honest. ‘Electric’ is the Boys returns to the dancefloor, and the true sequel to 2009’s FANTASTIC Xenomania produced (the guys behind Sugababes, Gabriella Cilmi and the Almighty Aloud‘s biggest hits to name a few) album ‘Yes’. But not only that, it feels like the album PSB should be making and in fact… the album Daft Punk should have made this year with ‘Random Access Memories’.

This is absolutely amazing, why is this not played everywhere?!?

Don’t get me wrong this album is clearly the work of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (y’know, the Pet Shop Boys) and producer Stuart Price (The Killers, Kylie, Take That, Madonna). But it’s got the interesting electronic twists and turns that people who know Daft Punk pre-‘Get Lucky’ are used to. ‘Axis’, linked above, is a kitchen sink affair, and could easily be the work of Godfather of Electronic Music Giorgio Moroder, whilst ‘Shouting In The Evening’ is insane in a ‘Skins party sequence/keep the dubstep kids happy’ way whilst still sampling Lionel Richie. 

Elsewhere, ”Vocal’ is a full on raveathon with lyrics about being in a club and getting lost in the music and ‘Thursday‘ is an ode to starting the weekend early, featuring ‘What We Made’ hitmaker Example. Of the 9 tracks here, 7 are instantly gratifying, with only ‘Inside a Dream’ and Bruce Springsteen cover ‘Last to Die’ being overshadowed by the amazingness of everything else on my first dozen or so listens. But the Boys are (usually) clever with writing tracks that take just that little bit longer to reveal their brilliance, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

And now we come to my highlight of the album; a song with possible the most Pet Shop Boy-ish title of all time – ‘Love is a Bourgeois Construct’. An italo-disco affair that hits the sweet spot on first listen, where we find Neil is disillusioned with love, believing it only exists in books and whatnot. Its all very tongue-n-cheek and bounces along giddily, occasionally blasting off into some computery vocal effects (but tastefully done).  There’s even some classic ‘Go West’ male choirs thrown in for good measure. Listen and love:

Yeah, its that good I put it up there twice.

Now here’s the thing: the album is currently sitting at Number 2 on the album charts. This is great, because although ‘older’ bands like Black Sabbath have done great in the album charts this year, and a lot of old stuff is coming back into fashion, the Pet Shop Boys are seen by people of my age and pretty ridiculously ‘uncool’ (maybe its coolness, not love that is a bourgeois construct). The person keeping them from Number One is… this dude.

I mean, REALLY?!?

‘Blurred Lines’ (the song) has been Number 1 for 4 weeks, before getting knocked off by Icona Pop‘s amazing ‘I Love It (feat. Charlie XCX) and then climbing up to the top spot again last week. Well done everyone. I’m not being funny but whilst the song has a really catchy production, the song is dreadful and like the video, it’s a little bit… rapey.

Maybe since turning 21 I’ve actually become 40 but I find #BLURREDLINES (grrrr) crass and… pretty trashy. And off the back of that, this guy is going to have a Number 1 album over British music legends, with a career spanning 25+ years and legendary songs like ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s A Sin’ , ‘Suburbia’,’Always On My Mind’ and I could go on but you get the point. So I’m begging of you please, music buying public of Great Britain; put aside your ideas of Pet Shop Boys being too old, boring, posh or… gay and go buy a very good electronic/dance album and enjoy it for what it is. Which is pretty spectacular.

Also, I got my first ever vinyl yesterday:

Iconic.

New Music Video: Diana Vickers ‘Cinderella’

How this didn’t make it into my Top 5 I don’t know, I think I stopped listening to it because the release date was (and still is) so far away, I didn’t want to get tired of it. Now the video is out the song is back on repeat again and I love it even more.

The music video’s not exactly groundbreaking, but looks very well done despite Diana being on a smaller label. There’s great use of location and simple colours (white/cream and black mostly) and all that technical stuff. The story is exactly as you’d expect: Diana meets a cute bought in male model type, they flirt and avoid getting caught. What sets it apart from many is that there’s genuine chemistry between them, and the male love interest is good looking but not in the ‘straight out of the Topman website’ kind of way most (*cough*Yo-yo*cough) videos do. Diana’s cute little winks extend to her solo shots, and she flirts with the camera brilliantly. She’s got natural star power, this girl, like some sort of… ‘X Factor’.

The song is still all kinds of incredible, co-penned by (ex) Xenomania lyrical genius Miranda Cooper, Diana voice goes perfectly with the light synthpop production and the lyrics. The ‘I believe in thunderbolts and butterflies’ is a standard Miranda-ism, as is the time-checking middle eight, but my favourite bit of the song – the ultimate Miranda touch and bit that makes me feel all magical and whatnot – is the chorus. Specifically the bit in the chorus where Diana sings “for you I would lose, buh-both of my shoes”. The triple ‘ooh’ rhyme and the fact ‘both’ is ‘buh-both’ just makes it for me. Its kind of hard to explain, but its just one of those little things that add to it. 

Cinderella‘ is criminally not out until July, and here’s hoping it starts Diana’s second album campaign off with a hit. It’d sadden me to see that now both Xenomania geniuses Miranda and Brian Higgins solo female projects fail (that’s Amelia Lily by the way).

Backdated Post: My Thoughts On The Girls Aloud Split

One of the first things I’d like people to know about me is that I absolutely ADORE pop music, I could happily be paid to write about it every single day (hint hint). My longest and most emotionally invested blog post was from the 20th March, after Girls Aloud announced their split on Twitter. I’m very proud of it so here it is, on here.

Image

Ok, so it was pretty much inevitable. Even though I would have loved them to do a Take That and do a group album one year and solo endeavours the next, I get it. They bowed out on a high, following a tour full of nostalgia and the biggest songs that defined them and a generation of music. Would they have success if they carried on? Something New dropped like a stone, TEN barely made it inside the top ten and Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me was a mess. Their solo projects are just that, and no amount of generic solo Cheryl tunes, nice but boring Kimberley covers, Sarah being in Danny Dyer films, Nadine’s gaudy outfits in NY gay bars and Nicola’s music being amazing yet written off by the public because she is ‘ugly’, ‘the ginger one’ -and thereby somehow lacking talent- can tarnish their group legacy together. But if they carried on and released the kind of music the Saturdays, Amelia Lily (what ARE you thinking Xenomania?!?) and all these American artists put out, it would dilute their musical output.

And what fantasical musical output it was. I get people have opinions but it really annoys me when people write Girls Aloud off as just another girl group. Yes, ‘Jump’ and ‘Love Machine’ are incredibly cheesy and camp but there is so much to them than that. ‘Sound of the Underground’ and ‘No Good Advice’ are edgy, combining disco, surf guitar and drum and bass together, but unlike many artists, their debut was in no way their peak. ‘The Promise’, ‘Call the Shots’, ‘The Loving Kind’ (co-written by The Pet Shop Boys, surely a sign of their amazingess) are incredibly sophisticated; a word not commonly associated with pop.

And then there are singles like ‘Sexy! No No No…’ and ‘Biology’ which are actually genius. Listen to them, and think about them. They don’t just follow the standard ‘verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle 8, chorus, end’. ‘Biology’ doesn’t even give us a chorus until the last minute, and all the little ‘bits’ of it are so different, just jumping from one genre to another. Go list to ‘Graffiti My Soul’ and tell me what the chorus is. There’s about 3. ‘Miss You Bow Wow’ is basically four minutes of continuous choruses. I’m not trying to say all this stuff in a ‘my music taste is better than yours’ way, I’m trying to express my genuine adoration for these songs. I find as I listen to music now I’m older and more versed in these things, I can tell how most songs progress from the first thirty seconds.

Listening to many of these wonderful Xenomania productions (and don’t get me wrong, without them I doubt GA would’ve lasted past album two), there is a genuine feeling of ‘what’s next?’ and pure thrill of when rollercoaster songs like ‘Swinging London Town’ go in a COMPLETELY strange direction.All the time, throwing earworm hooks one after another. Credit to Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper and co. The oddball lyrics and detailed production are just so… clever. I’m not the biggest fan of R&B because I don’t find there’s music ‘there’ in the songs, I like mine to be full of ‘stuff’, for lack of a better term.

And then there’s ‘Untouchable’, ie: my favourite song of all time (album version of course). This song is basically Star Wars in song form. It’s epic (6:40 album version, although Justin Timberlake had decided to make every song on his new album that length or more) and creates this wonderful, spacey atmosphere, especially on the Instrumental version. The opening forty seconds create this feeling of hugeness, the vastest open space imaginable, then Nicola’s gorgeous voice comes in with fantastical lines about flying through the flames. These squiggly electronic sounds sneak up on building to this chorus that takes off, the girls singing ‘and in my dreams, it feels like we are forty stories tall’. This little twangy guitar bit comes in after each chorus, and it’s not much – but its symbolic of those little things in these songs that all add up. Although its pretty conventional in structure, the third chorus is followed up by a beautiful middle eight by Nadine “Whenever you’re gone gone, they wait at the door, everything’s hurting like before. Without any meaning, we’re just skin and bone, like beautiful robots dancing alone”. It doesn’t make complete sense (many of their songs lyrically don’t, but that’s the fun). Who is waiting at the door? Beautiful robots, dancing alone – what?!? I find some existential meaning in these lyrics, and its lines like this and “Late at night, I dream I’m falling into love again. Twenty five electric angels are dancing in the rain” from the sublime b-side ‘Memory of You’ endlessly poignant. And these are songs that would sound great in the club, but contain no references to being ‘in the club’. I’d love to be dancing in a dark room, with crazy flashing lights with tons of people having an amazing time, experiencing happiness and sadness at once – living life whilst singing about being skin and bone.

Going back to a point I mentioned earlier. Girls Aloud are what really got me into MUSIC. As in, going online, talking to like minded people about my interests, seeking out demos, b-sides, remixes and other rarities. Being recommended artists that I now hold incredibly deeply to my heart. I’ve got meet lovely people, online and in person, as passionate about pop music as I am, when before people just blindly listened (I know you don’t need eyes to listen, you know what I mean) to what was on the radio; accepting whatever Radio 1, adverts, X Factor and the musical channels threw at them. I learnt how to forge my own musical ‘identity’ I guess. Researching Xenomania, I became fascinated in the process of writing and producing music, the things that go behind the scenes and this web of people all working with each other. Richard X, William Orbit, Stuart Price, all the way back to Giorgio Moroder. I appreciate music much more than I did before. It used to just be just ‘there’, but now I consume it: songs old and new as if its food and I need more to survive.

I feel I could go on forever, but I’m going to wrap this up soon. I really got into ‘The Aloud’ (for it is they!) after the Out Of Control Tour had basically sold out and I couldn’t find the money, or people to go (damn you not coming to Cardiff). So whilst I am absolutely gutted its over, I have had the fulfillment of finally seeing them live on this latest tour. Thank you for giving me the opportunity, and one of the best nights of my life. Seriously, the amount of acknowledging my existence they all did was so worth the wait. And Nadine singing the entire middle eight of ‘I’ll Stand By You’ directly to me, her perfectly manicured hands trying to grab my extended arms after reading my ‘Queen Nuhdeen, yew are Unsayshuhbuhl’ t-shirt will never be forgotten.

As half-hearted as this reunion/farewell few months has seemed at times (and the announcement being on Twitter of all places, don’t even get me started!), it has been great to see that am I not alone in how passionately I care about Girls Aloud. Life, and music, goes on and I’m sure I will discover some absolutely wonderful artists who I will adore a dearly as I do Queen, Pet Shop Boys, Lily Allen, Kylie (god my music taste is gay) but I highly doubt that for the rest of my lifetime, I will never cherish any musical act as much I do The Almighty GIRLS ALOUD.