on 29 November 2012
The first single release in nearly 4 years from a group I thought would never reform and to be honest I'd lost faith. In the early days of the hiatus, I imagined that The Saturdays would have received all my affections from then on. They have done a reasonable job at keep the girl group torch lit for me but now that Xenomania's guinea pigs are back there's no competition! Coming back with this as the lead single of 4 possibles, this was, I feel the wisest choice. It feels like Girls Aloud's best bits all rolled into a 3-minute megamix, with a 2012 nod. Sounds amazing on the dancefloor, in the bedroom and the pub! 95%
Brian Higgins created this track to really put the girls on the map. Pity they then split just after! Nevertheless, with a nod to 60s Motown, "The Promise" is a fabulous lead track for an album (Out of Control), though, it doesn't necessarily fit in the with the electronic feel of the majority of their 5th studio collection. The fastest-selling single in the UK in 2008 (until The X Factor finalists beat them the week after), I absolutely adored this track for months. It's aged well also...but maybe not as well as some of their other tracks. 87%
"The Loving Kind"
Co-written by the Pet Shop Boys, you can easily imagine Neil Tennant singing this sweetened sequel to 2007 smash hit, "Call the Shots", the lyrics describing one's slight desperation to hold on to a fading relationship. Bittersweet, in that the lyrics are quite sad yet the music is as uplifitng as a ballad of this nature could be...like a less defiant version of "Call the Shots" only with PSB association, which would continue to influence the sound of their latest studio album "Out of Control." 86%
The only official GA single to miss the UK top 10 to date, "Untouchable", is arguably far superior in its original 7-minute form than the autotuned radio edit, yet, ironically Cheryl is one of only 2 members to not have her vocals in the radio edit not tinkered with, as she usually ends up being the first port of call when the producers want to electronically modify a vocal on a track by the girls. The fact it didn't make the top 10 was probably a combination of it being the 3rd single to be lifted from their only million-selling studio album (Out of Control) and it's not as instant for the casual radio listener as a lot of their other hits. Definitely one for the pop connoisseur and Girls Aloud nut. 89%
"Sexy! No, No, No..."
I'm a sucker for blatant autotune-use and the intro to this top 5 smash from 2007 utilises that technology to maximum effect, with Cheryl taking care of such a vocal. It's like 2 tracks merged into 1 which is almost standard procedure for a Xenomania track given to the Girls, when the first (semi) chorus kicks in with a huge bang. What made this track so much memorable was the mind-blowing emergence to this song on their Tangled Up tour in 2008. This song is another one for the hardcore fan, more-so than the casual listener as it thinks too far outside the box for a conventional radio song, which is the probable reason for the song's quick descendancy out of the top 75. 91%
"Call the Shots"
Probably the most perfect pure pop song of the last decade. It doesn't have the typical Xenomania structure of verse-chorus-random bridge-fade out or whatever... 3 verses, chorus 3 times, etc. Even though Nadine is normally regarded as the best vocalist in the group, yes, she may have the most powerful but, Nicola begins to shine in this track during the bridge. The driving rhythm is similar to later-stage ELO, 20 years previously. "Call the Shots" is like something PSB could have written, had Xenomania not beaten them to it, but probably explains the collaboration which would come a year later. 92%
"Can't Speak French"
As much as I like this song, I think the radio edit gives it the extra little kick it needs, a touch more countermelody and sound effects to bring out the cute little tune. Not much to say about this track. It's pretty and has the customised Xenomania/Girls Aloud song structure. Nice addition of a re-recorded vocal in French on the B-side to the single too. 82%
"Something Kinda Ooooh"
My favourite single of the last decade, this was the girls' first step into full-on dance mode, away from the rock-tinged pop and the results paid, with a song which could well be about doing naughty things round the back but who knows? The lyrics are nonsense in typical Miranda Cooper style and it's fabulous for it. Although the promo video was panned at the time, I actually adored it and it seems Booty Luv liked it too as they pretty much copied the scenes in their video for "Some Kinda Rush" a year later. Faultless single! 100%
Chemistry was half brilliant, half a damp squib. But, the brilliance more than made up for the mediocre tracks like Racy Lacey and Swinging London Town. Somehow managing to splice 3 nonsensical songs into a four-minute masterpiece. A bit of jazz mixed with pop blended in a way never done before and maybe won't be done again any time soon, especially now that Xenomania seem to have completely shied away from mixing genres and going down a sort-of trance-like road. 91%
2nd album "What Will the Neighbours Say?" was the first album where Xenomania were at the production helm and crafted a collection especially for the group, beginning a period where Brian Higgins would use the girls as his guinea pigs for trying sonically different pop to the rest of the pack and helped make them the "leaders" of said pack come 2012's comeback. "The Show" was the first fruits of the new look and better sounding Girls Aloud. The song was the first to utilise the special song structure Girls Aloud would deliver time and again. It sounded very '80s synthpop-like, which would later saturate the charts. 84%
This single is probably the single which made the group credible amongst the music snobs. The song loses appeal now because of overplaying in clubs, Homebase adverts and simply because the group have released so many better singles since its release in 2004. At the time, though, "Love Machine" put Girls Aloud in a league of their own. 78%
"I'll Stand By You"
The 2004 Children in Need single finally gave the group another #1 single, but when you consider all of their hits and where they charted, something doesn't add up. Like "Love Machine" but even more-so, this track hasn't aged as well as the hits which didn't reach the same dizzy heights. Pretty much a carbon copy of the Pretenders' original, but I guess it served its purpose. Back in those days the CIN single tended to get towards #1 every year... 65%
Girls Aloud claim that this single was necessary in order to stop them from coming across as a miserable group. It certainly worked and as well as giving them their 4th top 3 hit in November 2003 and featuring in the Love Actually soundtrack, it's still a staple part of a club's playlist! A much punchier version of the Pointer Sisters song, the production really makes this song a winner even 9 years on. 84%
"No Good Advice"
If there were any fears that the group would be a one hit wonder, they were quickly diminished upon the release of this surfer-pop-lite smash. Possible inspiration for Franz Ferdinand can be heard in the guitars as well maybe? 87%
"Sound of the Underground"
This song still seems to be one of the favourites by many 10 years on but I just can't feel it at all. I think it's dated quite badly but did the job of s*itting rings round One True Voice's rival track "Sacred Trust", which the girls also recorded and did a much better version of. The track just does nothing for me anymore and is always skipped. However, it helped seal the deal with forging a ten-year partnership with Xenomania so it's not all bad! 55%
"On the Metro"
So Nicola teamed up with half of Orson who now call themselves The Invisible Men, to write one of the 4 new tracks for the retrospective. You can kinda hear the Orson sound in the production. It sounds like something The Saturdays would release as a single and have it bomb but that's not to say that track isn't very good...it just sounds like a track that the fans would appreciate but it wouldn't go down well as a single. At least it gives Nicola another chance to work her pipes. One nice thing about the new tracks is that the vocals are evened out amongst the 5 of them better than in the past. 73%
"Beautiful Cause You Love Me"
There would have been some concern amongst the hardcore GA fan that releasing a non-Xenomania production for the first time in 6 years (they worked with Dallas Austin for "Walk This Way") would go down like a pork pie at a Bar Mitzvah. However, after listening to the track a couple of times, I now think it's the most perfect Christmas single in recent years, since The Darkness' "Christmas Time" from 2003. Lyrically, it covers the same ground as Sugababes' "Ugly" and Christina's "Beautiful" but musically it sounds more like Spice Girls' Christmas #1s "Goodbye" or "2 Become 1". In another age this could have sailed to the top but I think it may struggle now, but, it's still glorious to me. I'm a tad confused as to why 2 different vocal mixes have circulated though. The original radio premiere version featured more Nadine and Sarah while the album/single version is dominated by Nicola and Kimberley. 88%
"Every Now and Then"
This track sounds like a new and improved version of Amelia Lily's "You Bring Me Joy" or a "Swinging London Town" for 2012. Although I don't enjoy Swinging London Town much when all the other Girls Aloud fans seem to adore it, the combination of sudden key change, banging drum track and mental vocal production makes this the perfect way to end a CD which is celebrating the first ten years of the greatest pop group of the new Millennium. This really should be released in time to be the 2013 Comic Relief single and watch it soar to the top of the charts! 95%
Overall, Girls Aloud's output over the last decade has surpassed the output of any other act during that time. It's a pity their earlier output has dated worse than music from the Chemistry period onwards but I really hope that this CD isn't the end of a group that gave me the soundtrack to me early 20s.
Overall rating: 85%
on 11 June 2013
I'm not gonna lie, I'm a grown man with a secret love for awesome pop songs. This album has plenty.
You might not want to, but you'll find yourself singing along word for word (in my case, at the top of my lungs in the car) and busting some killer moves, where possible!
I didn't expect to listen to it as much, but I have listened to this album on a very regular basis since I bout it a few months ago.
There are the obvious highlights e.g. 'Call The Shots' & 'Something New', but I really love 'Every Now And Then' and, particularly, 'On The Metro'. Something different to what we have heard in the past, with more of an edge - pretty awesome. The only song I don't listen to is 'Beautiful 'Cause You Love Me', as it's just not for me.
Great for getting ready for a night out or even just in the morning! Definitely sets you up for the day.
Whilst it's a shame that they're no longer together, they couldn't have left on a higher high.