Girls Aloud are really quite beyond anything else. As a band, over the past six years they have caused a nation to fall in love with them, to cherish them and their inspired pop songs. They are impossibly beautiful, role models to countless young people, media darlings that have the tabloids and celeb mags hanging on their every move, they are fantastic singers who have treated us to some of the best pop songs of the 21st century, but most of all - they are Girls Aloud, and that is why we love them.
And now, in the book that all us fans have been waiting ages for, Cheryl, Nadine, Nicola, Sarah and Kimberley invite us to sit back and listen to just what it's like to be Girls Aloud. For those who have seen the Girls' brilliant DVD's Off The Record, Style and TV series Passions you will already have a taste of what to expect here. One thing I have always admired the Girls greatly for is their straight talking attitude, they have this down-to-earth charm and feistiness to them that truly sets them apart. And it is this that we see here in Dreams That Glitter.
The book takes a roughly chronological approach and starts off with the Girls' lives leading up to the band's beginnings on Popstars - The Rivals. The viewpoint alternates between each of the Girls, each offering their individual outlooks and own experiences at each stage of their career. It is fascinating to see them looking back now, with hindsight, on many of the things that must have just swept them up in a hurricane in the beginning. There are also individual sections scattered throughout with Q&A's for each of the Girls and such like.
In essence, this isn't so much an autobiography, but a series of insightful anecdotes, told by the Girls as they might tell a friend over an evening meal. In the past six years the Girls have been through a lot and this book shows very much how they have become very different, yet fundamentally still the same, from the people they set out as. They have learnt lessons in life, and as they started out so young, these lessons were all the more powerful, and it is heart-warming to see them working through these various aspects of their lives, whether they be for good or for bad. As the Girls repeatedly say, they wouldn't change any of it for the world - what will be will be and all that.
They are very humble about their success too, Cheryl in particular being very embarrassed by the stratospheric levels of fame and public awareness surrounding her now. There is an extremely touching paragraph in the book's introduction where the Girls say:
"We've been on the most amazing journey together and achieved so much more than we ever dreamed possible. We still have moments when we can't quite believe just how far we've come, that this extraordinary life really is ours. We'd love our story to inspire you to have faith in your dreams, whatever they might be, and to go for them, no matter what."
And you can't get a much more positive message than that. But it's true. Through these last six years, as the Girls themselves have grown up and matured, their fans have done so with them, it's a mutual experience, and I like to think that we all go through the same and that some of what's in this book will inspire people as from reading it, I think they say some truly insightful things about fame, the world around them, and life in general.
Girls Aloud have one of the most devoted fanbases around - they have after all helped the Girls to achieve that wonderful chart record of 18 consecutive top ten singles - and it is to these fans that this book is dedicated. Looking at the Girls today, we see a band that has serious publications like the Guardian writing six page articles about them, a band that NME applaud and give rave reviews to their albums.
In terms of the book itself, there are loads of lovely pictures in there of the Girls looking glam and having fun (plus one fascinating pic of the elusive Brian Higgins and Mirana Cooper - two of the masterminds making up the Girls' songwriters/producers Xenomania). The book itself is gorgeous too, very high quality with glossy, colourful pages and actual glitter on the cover.
I think it was around the time of Call The Shots that Girls Aloud finally transcended from being just a `great pop group' to something quite special indeed, something almost heroic, something almost magical. I've heard them described as `national treasures', the `saviours of pop' and thus this book makes a fitting tribute to a year which has really shown us the very essence of what Girls Aloud mean. Really, this book is for the fans, although I'm sure more casual readers will find plenty to enjoy here too - well worth reading.