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Music / Girls Aloud

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They're gift-wrapped kitty cats. From left to right: Nadine, Sarah, Nicola, Kimberley and Cheryl.

Girls Aloud is an English-Irish girl group.

They were originally formed on the talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, wherein the British public voted weekly to whittle down potential members of two pop groups —one consisting of girls and the other boys— until five remained on each side, who then faced off in a battle to score a #1 hit with their debut single. To everybody's surprise, Girls Aloud trounced the competition, One True Voice, with "Sound of the Underground" and went on to release twenty top ten singles in the UK, including four #1s. This them the most successful British pop act of the Noughties, especially in relation to their contemporaries who came up on similar talent shows.

Consisting of members Nadine Coyle, Cherylnote , Sarah Hardingnote , Nicola Roberts, and Kimberley Walsh, Girls Aloud quickly gained a reputation for their eclectic musical persona (largely thanks to the production team known as Xenomania), often playing around with different genres and sounds to point where they were often described as a pop act for people who didn't like pop music.

Girls Aloud released a total of five studio albums (and one Greatest Hits Album, plus a cameo appearance in St Trinians) until their first hiatus in 2009, originally intended to be one year but ultimately becoming nearly four following Cheryl's solo success. They reunited for a second greatest hits compilation and respective tour in 2012, but officially dissolved soon thereafter.

After Harding's untimely death from cancer in 2021, however, rumors began spreading about a potential second reunion, which ultimately materialized in late 2023 with the announcement of a new tour for the following year. (Plans to regroup sooner were in the works for their twentieth anniversary but put off by Harding's illness and eventual passing.) No new music is planned for this era of the group, but the show will pay tribute to Harding and apparently even feature her studio vocals instead of reassigning them to the other members.


This pop group contains examples of:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: In "Biology", Nadine sings "controversy" as "conTROversy", which is the British pronunciation, rather than the conventional "CONtroversy", which confused some American listeners.
  • Album Title Drop:
    • It's the sound of the underground, the beat of the drum goes round and around ...
    • Give me a squeeze a day, get off this negligee, what will the neighbours say this time?
    • Man get up! We're gonna start this fire, tangled up! Because I know I should ...
  • Auto-Tune: Used for robotic effect in "Sexy! No No No...".
  • Back for the Finale: After much speculation (going on for years), the girls confirmed their disbandment immediately following the final date of their Ten: The Hits Tour.
  • Between My Legs: Used in the "Kimberley" ending of their video for "I Think We're Alone Now". Kimberley buys time for the girls to escape with the loot by flashing the security guys, causing them to faint as she gives a knowing look to the camera.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Sarah (blonde), Cheryl (brunette), and Nicola (redhead). Nadine and Kimberley tend to stay in the blonde-brunette middle range. Nicola's hair has been all three colors as well as varying shades of red.
  • Britpop: Though the group are not strictly a textbook Britpop group, their debut album Sound of the Underground was very much influenced by Oasis, and Brian Higgins later said that he was intending to marry the Xenomania's pop sound with the burgeoning "indie" scene with that album.
  • But Not Too White/Redheaded Stepchild: Nicola was mocked and picked on by the press for being "ugly" due to her bright red hair and extremely pale complexion. She's since struck back with a fairly successful makeup range for pale women and championing legislation to ban the use of sunbeds for minors under 18 as well as putting out a critically successful solo album.
  • Call-Back:
    • The lyrics to "Something New" include the lines "we girls gonna run this show" and "feel the beat deep underground".
    • The "Love Machine" lyric, "What will the neighbours say this time?", refers back to lyrics from "Sound of the Underground": "Neighbour's banging on the bathroom wall. He's saying 'crank the bass, I gotta get some more.'"
  • The Cameo: The signature "do do do" refrain on Franz Ferdinand's cover of "Sound and Vision" are sung by the girls because both bands happened to run into each other at the same recording studio.
  • Canon Discontinuity: "Long Hot Summer" has been basically ignored since 2006. It's the only single of theirs that wasn't a cover that's been left out of Ten and on tour. Their covers of "See the Day" and "I Think We're Alone Now" are also ignored.
  • The Caper: The video for their cover of "I Think We're Alone Now", in which they go undercover at a casino to rob a high-roller. The video even came with three separate endings.
  • Catholic Schoolgirls Rule: The outfits from the second section of the What Will The Neighbours Say? tour, as the Fake Band at the end of St Trinians, and for a 2007 promotional campaign for Comic Relief.
  • Cover Version: Several appear on their albums and many times on tour or radio appearances.
  • The City vs. the Country: "Live In The Country" is about ditching the stressful city life for the quieter village life of ducks, lakes, and selling cake at the village markets. Bonus points for including animal noises at the end of the song.
  • Cuteness Proximity: On a sketch for their Christmas special, where the only reason they invited Paul O'Grady over for Christmas was that they wanted to play with his dog, Buster.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The "Sexy! No No No..." video. The portion of their tours that feature the song are generally stylized to look darker than the other segments.
    • During the Popstars days, "Sound of the Underground" was this to One True Voice's cover of "Sacred Trust".
  • Deliberately Monochrome: "Something New" and "Sexy! No No No..." falls under Limited Palette.
    • "Something New" has the individual girls filmed entirely in black and white and then the group shots in color. The set is simply a black and white wall and their orange dresses are more brightly saturated.
    • "Sexy! No No No..." also falls under the Limited Palette style, emphasizing black, red, and gray with everything else looking very washed out and flat.
  • Double Standard: Watch the video for "The Show". Now imagine the public's reaction if the situation were reversed with five men doing those sorts of things to a group of girls.
  • Downer Ending: The video for "Untouchable". The girls traipse across space in individual bubble ships and presumably trigger a cataclysm when their ships fail and they crash into the Earth.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Although "Sound of the Underground" was rather refreshing in comparison to girl groups before them, early b-sides and demos such as "Stay Another Day", "Lights, Music, Camera, Action!" and their version of "Sacred Trust", made it clear that their record label wanted the group to be another moody girl group. Brian Higgins and his production team Xenomania caught onto this very quickly after producing "Sound of the Underground" and "No Good Advice" and hearing the uneven production and direction of the remainder of the album demo content. He personally intervened by calling Polydor executives to complain, offering to replace six bad tracks on the album with four more of his own productions and calling the girls in to record them to elevate the album's quality as a fresh girl group. And then he took it a step further by recording another three tracks with them, including a cover of the Pointers Sisters hit "Jump", for the album's reissue. It was only then that they realized they were better suited for a more energetic sound than what their record label had tried to mold them into. The results were so good that Polydor hired him to produce the rest of their albums entirely from that point forward.
    Nicola: We had something that was fresh, rather than us just doing an Atomic Kitten track.
    • In their early days, Nadine was pushed as the Face of the Band; usually standing in the middle of all the promotional shots and taking on lead vocals for most of the songs. From "Jump" onward, Cheryl's popularity took off in the media and she became the face.
  • Epic Rocking: "Untouchable" clocks in at 6:44.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: "Je Ne Parle Pas Francais", which ironically was a translated version of "Can't Speak French".
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: For the "Jump" video, Nadine and Cheryl's hair was lightened (and Cheryl grew hers out longer). This also coincided with the group's switch to a Lighter and Softer image.
  • Fake Shemp: A Hugh Grant lookalike was used for the "Jump" video, to give the impression that the girls were sneaking around the set of Love Actually.
  • Fanservice/Three Minutes of Writhing: Their videos for "Long Hot Summer", "Wake Me Up", "Can't Speak French" and "Sexy! No No No..." are prime examples.
  • The Fashionista: All of them are involved with fashion in one way or another. They've all walked runways for charity fashion shows, modeled for beauty and fashion campaigns, and released a DVD about their personal styles.
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That: The track "Wake Me Up" from What Will the Neighbours Say? is closer to the aggressiveness of their first three singles - after the Girliness Upgrade they received with "Jump".
  • Genki Girl: Sarah, although all five of them tend to get excitable once you get them going and chattering at the same time. The other four have admitted that they thought Sarah was a madwoman when they all first met at the auditions. Sarah even dubbed herself "Big Mouth" as she admitted that she's the loudest of the girls and she'd talk to the audience in between songs while on tour.
    • The DVD commentary of their music videos up until "Sexy! No No No..." is basically Sarah and Cheryl cackling in both glee and horror while getting distracted by other things.
    Sarah: Getting shots of us all together to look serious is physically impossible.
  • Genre Mashup: Along with Genre Roulette and New Sound Album this tended to occur. Their debut single alone is a perfect example of this. "Sound of The Underground" is a dance song comprised of surf rock and drum and bass sounds. This generally was Xenomania's modus operandi.
  • Genre Roulette: While firmly standing in Pop territory, they've experimented with all kinds of genres. Out of Control is probably the best example of their variation in style; that one album alone sees them playing with Soul, Drum & Bass, Electronic Music, Funk, Dancehall, Alternative Rock, Power Pop and Country Music. "Biology" hops from blues to cabaret to electronica, while "Sexy! No No No..." is literally three different songs sewn together to bridge synthpop, punk rock, and samba rhythms.
  • Genre Throwback: "The Promise" and its music video is a nod to the girl groups, fashion, and music of the 1960s.
  • Girl Group
  • Girliness Upgrade: Compare "Sound of the Underground" to "The Promise", and they've come a long way. At the start of their career, they were quite tomboyish with lots of combat fatigues and street-style clothing, and slowly evolved into the glamorous style that they're known for today.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: The dodgy cover of "Walk This Way" with their chart rivals Sugababes done for charity.
  • Gold Digger: The b-sides "Money" and "Blow Your Cover". In an interesting twist, the ending verse of "Money" seems to imply that this is just a facade.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Almost. "No Good Advice" had a line with the word "shit" that got censored to it. Another lyric with "damn" was nearly censored, but the main single was released with the "I don't give a damn intact".
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: The entire band's fondness for clubs, alcohol, and parties have been well documented in the tabloids, but Sarah Harding iwas the stand out case. She not only had a home on the infamous party island of Ibiza, she was also engaged to a DJ. The band's lyrics, most notably "Swinging London Town", also contain frequent references to drinking and partying the night away.
    • Sarah's Hard-Drinking Party Girl ways caught up with her as she went into rehab and her engagement was called off. The Ten tour was a "dry" tour in support of Sarah's new-found sobriety and "On The Metro" references drinking soda instead of alcohol.
    • Nadine owned a bar in Los Angeles with her family from 2008 to 2015. She closed the bar down and moved back to Northern Ireland to spend more time with her daughter, especially as the bar business wore her and her family down.
    • One particular bit on Off The Record was Cheryl being horribly hungover after she and Nadine had spent the night drinking from their hotel bar. She's also said that Nadine has and will drink her under the table.
    • One interview with the Arctic Monkeys mentioned that one time at an industry party, the girls out drank them.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kimberley and Cheryl are very close, to the point that the band's fanbase enjoy reading into this, nicknaming them "Chim".
    • In fact, the first time Cheryl and Kimberley met, Cheryl blurted out that she thought Kimberley had beautiful skin.
    • Cheryl caused a minor meltdown in the fanbase by jokingly proposing to Kimberley on Twitter. And called Kimberley her wife.
    Kimberley: “@CherylCole: @kimberleyjwalsh !!! Marry me???” Lmjao...what have you started
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Nicola actually has written several songs that were on their albums: "I Say A Prayer For You", "It's Magic", and "On The Metro". She also wrote and produced her own solo album to strong critical praise, leading to a second career as a professional songwriter for hire.
    • Several songs on What Will The Neighbors Say?, Tangled Up, and Out Of Control were co-written by the girls themselves with Xenomania.
    • Kimberley managed the group's finances and activities during a period where they did not have any management after leaving Louis Walsh's management in the early stages of their career. (Louis still claims that he's the one who made them famous, but the girls have been adamant that Louis never talked to them after the surprising success of "Sound of the Underground".)
  • Hollywood Thin: Nadine. It's also speculated that Cheryl was fired from the American version of The X Factor for not being this.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The What Will The Neighbors Say? period after the Sound of the Underground period.
  • Idol Singer: In that each girl auditioned for Popstars: The Rivals and were voted into the group by the viewers.
  • Intercourse with You: "Watch Me Go", "Fling", "Love Machine", "Wake Me Up", "Graffiti My Soul".
  • Ironic Fear: The girls, especially Nicola and Nadine, all have some fear of heights. Their last four tours involved large heights and platforms flying over the audience.
  • Last Note Hilarity: "Live in the Country" ends with a gaggle of pigs squealing and other assorted animal noises, including a lion roar.
    Sarah: I didn't realize that was on there until Kimberley texted me and said "Has anyone else heard the pigs squealing at the end of 'Live in the Country'?" I was like "what?!"
    Kimberley: I could just imagine Brian [Higgins, Xenomania's head producer] laughing away to himself and thinking it was hilarious.
  • Leg Focus: The girls have flat out said that when it came to styling them, Nadine was always the one in the mini-skirt.
  • Lighter and Softer: Their cover of "Jump" reinvigorated their image as a group of sassy Genki Girls, as all their singles from Sound of the Underground portrayed them as rather moody and scowling.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Type 3 (All original members with a hiatus/breakup) and one of the few girl groups to make it to ten years. If it weren't for their hiatus, they would have been a Type 1 by the time they broke up.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Sexy! No No No..."
  • Mood Whiplash: "Something New" is a fierce, unapologetic girl power anthem. Its follow-up single "Beautiful Cause You Love Me" is the exact opposite of that, and almost undoes the point they're trying to make in the former!
  • Morality Ballad: The B-side "Why Do It?" warns of not succumbing to peer pressure and dropping out of school. The chorus even says, "Why do it? Don't do it, fool." In a twist, the song isn't a ballad, but a crunchy electropop song.
  • Motor Mouth: Cheryl. The girls just tend to let her do most of their speaking when it came to group interviews and she's described herself as that girl who just never shuts up. When the music calls for it, she and Nadine can sing as rapidly as possible, as evidenced on songs like "Money", "Watch Me Go", and "Something Kinda Ooooh".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Let's face it, the whole lot of them, with Cheryl probably taking the cake.
  • Multiple Endings: The "I Think We're Alone Now" video had three:
    • The "Good" ending, in which the girls get away with the money and celebrate by throwing it around on the bed.
    • The "Bad" ending, in which the girls get caught by the bad guys and end up tied up in the vault.
    • The "Kimberley" ending, which Kimberley buys time for the girls to escape with the loot by flashing the bad guys as they approach the vault. She then gives the camera a knowing look when the men faint.
  • New Sound Album: While Girls Aloud's first 3 studio albums were experimental and dynamic in terms of genre-straddling, Tangled Up was essentially a 50-minute rave party. This wasn't a bad thing, however, as Xenomania were still creative with their song structures and lyrical themes.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever it is in Yorkshire concerning Kimberley and Nadine that gets the local papers overexcited in that area.
    • The circumstances surrounding Cheryl's dubious exit from the US version of The X Factor still remain murky to this day.
  • Northern Ireland: Nadine hails from Derry and identifies as Irish.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Watch Me Go".
    Quarter past two
    I was dressed in red
    Tied up to your bed
    Begged you on my knees
  • Odd Friendship: With some well-known bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, and Coldplay. Chris Martin even specifically requested that they be the first opening act on their concert dates at Wembley Stadium.
  • Older Than They Look: Nadine famously tried to pull this for her audition for the Irish version of Popstars. The lower age limit was 18 for fairly obvious reasons, and she entered as a 16 year old, and tried to lie about her birthday, but messed up and subtracted 2 years from it instead. Somehow she still actually got to the point of being picked as a member of the band Six before she was found out though.
  • One-Woman Song: "Racy Lacey".
  • Oop North: Kimberley is from Bradford, Cheryl is from Newcastle, and Nicola is from Runcorn.
    • Although she was born and had her very early childhood in Ascot, Sarah spent much of her life in Stockport and identified herself as a Northerner.
    • Nadine can technically count as a Northerner as she's from Northern Ireland.
  • Opposites Attract: The theme of "Love Is The Key".
  • Paranormal Investigation: Ghosthunting with...Girls Aloud, in which they accompany Yvette Fielding on a tour of haunted locations in Britain. Nadine chickened out of participating and fled to Los Angeles. As Kimberley put it in an interview with Jonathan Ross, "The worst part was that we said yes!"
  • The Precious, Precious Car: When the girls appeared on an episode of Fifth Gear, Sarah got so enthusiastic at the opportunity to drive a Ferrari around the test track that she didn't see other cars in the parking lot and rammed it into their manager's van. Footage from Off The Record showed that after Sarah took the car on a drive anyway and only realized the extent of the damage after she came back. Everyone else had been stunned into silence.
  • Punny Name: The salon in the video for "The Show" is called Curls Allowed.
    • Their name itself is arguably one to play up the "boys vs. girls" theme on Popstars and a track on their debut album was titled "Girls Allowed."
  • Rapid-Fire "No!"/Big "NO!": Half the words of "Sexy! No No No..." is just repeating "No" as fast and angry as possible.
  • Reality Show / Talent Show: This is one of the few success stories to come from those types of programs. In fact, they're listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "World's Most Successful Reality TV Group", although One Direction have probably surpassed them in terms of global popularity. (It does remains to be seen if One Direction's career longevity, sales, and chart performances will surpass them as well.)
    • The girls themselves, with the exception of Nadine, regularly make guest appearances on other reality shows as well. Kimberley competed and came in second place on Strictly Come Dancing, Cheryl kicked off her solo career with The X Factor, Nicola is a mentor/judge on Styled To Rock and - although unknown to the voters - won the first series of The Masked Singer (UK), and Sarah hosted the dating program Dating In The Dark as well as competing on the sporting shows Tumble and Jump. Nadine's reality show appearances so far have been limited to the band's behind the scenes specials and as a guest judge on America's Next Top Model.
    • Nadine had previously won the Irish version of Popstars, but ended up being disqualified due to blundering a lie about her age. This actually ended up working out in her favour, as the band that was put together had one song and disbanded shortly afterwards. Sarah, meanwhile, participated in the print equivalent, having auditioned for FHM's "High Street Honeys" competition, a fact the publication was all too happy to remind its readership when she became famous.
  • Record Producer: Xenomania is the George Martin type, consisting of producer Brian Higgins, lyricist Miranda Cooper, and their various assistants and contributors. They've produced all the albums and aside from the Sound of the Underground album, "Beautiful 'Cause You Love Me", and the cover songs, all of the group's songs are also written by them. The group have always made it clear that Xenomania is the key to their chart success, even thanking them at the 2009 Brits when they won Best British Single for "The Promise".
  • Sampling:
    • "Graffiti My Soul" samples the Peplab song "It's Not the Drug"
    • "Biology" interpolates the main riff of The Animals' "Club-a-Gogo"
    • "Sexy! No No No..." samples the guitar riff of Nazareth's "Hair Of The Dog".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The live choreography for "Love Is The Key" throws in the strutting from "Single Ladies".
    • The Out of Control tour version of "Sexy! No No No..." throws in the riff from "Disturbia".
    • The Chemistry tour version of "Love Machine" adds the riff from Amerie's "1 Thing" to the dance break.
    • One of the covers for "Biology" is a reference to X-Ray Spex's Germfree Adolescents.
  • Silly Love Songs: Even a girl group with biting wit has to belt out a few silly love songs once in a while. Examples include "I Say a Prayer For You", "Forever and a Night", "Whole Lotta History" and "Beautiful 'Cos You Love Me".
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: While they have lovely singing voices, Cheryl's Geordie and Nadine's Northern Irish accents can be rough on unfamiliar ears, occasionally making them The Unintelligible. TMZ TV tried to watch a clip of Cheryl on The X Factor and were unable to understand her, and Nadine's accent was thick enough to warrant subtitles when she appeared on America's Next Top Model, and Matt Lucas was once unable to understand her on "The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off".
  • Stripperiffic: Occasionally. The What Will The Neighbors Say era tended to feature their most scantily-clad outfits, especially the tour costumes.
  • Synth-Pop: A good deal of their output is composed of this.
  • Take That!: The b-side "Hoxton Heroes" mocked the hipsters in the British indie scene who were more obsessed with flaunting their "indie credibility" and fame connections, than instead of being legitimate musicians the Girls could enjoy.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Nadine is undeniably the strongest singer in the group, but she lacks the charisma and live performance skills that makes Cheryl more popular.
  • Tempting Fate: The girls were invited onto a ghost hunting special and the first half of the special, nothing happened. Cheryl, exhausted and wanting to go home already, calls for a ghost to just make a noise already. A loud tap then sends all the girls screaming out of the room, prompting Sarah to yell at her.
    Sarah: CHERYL! YOU FUCKER! What the fuck did do you that for?!
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: At the beginning, Nadine and Kimberley were the Girly Girls to Cheryl, Sarah, and Nicola's Tomboys. Nadine and Kimberley were always more primly dressed and favored skirts while Sarah and Cheryl had favored pants and the "tough girl" aesthetic.
    • Cheryl has said that she didn't care that much about fashion or makeup until the What Will The Neighbours Say? period. She even said that when she won her place in the group, her reaction was based off of cheering for Newcastle United.
    • Nicola has said that she was more tomboyish as a child and her (and Sarah's) favorite part of making the video for "The Loving Kind" was destroying things.
    • The girls are invited to take part in some outdoorsy activities, thoroughly enjoying themselves, even though Kimberley flat out states she's a girly girl and normally wouldn't be around those activities.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: In "The Promise" and "I'll Stand By You". In the case of "The Promise", Cheryl states that Xenomania felt the song didn't have enough buildup, so they had the girls record a key change just before Out of Control had to be submitted to their record label.
  • A Very British Christmas: "Sound of the Underground" debuted at #1 on the Christmas charts as part of the goal of Popstars, and the Christmas special "The Girls Aloud Party."
  • Video Full of Film Clips: Their cover of the Pointer Sisters' "Jump (For My Love)". The video is intercut with clips from Love Actually to create the illusion of the girls sneaking into Downing Street and wandering around trying not to get caught.
  • Vocal Evolution: Kimberley, usually known for singing the lower melodies, put herself through a grueling three-week theatrical vocal workshop in late 2007 to audition to sing "On My Own" on a production of Les Miserables. The workshop pushed her into using her seldom-used upper vocal registers, and she was able to showcase her stronger singing voice on the Out of Control album and on her solo album as well as pursue a theatrical music career.
    • Since the 2012 reunion, Nadine's live singing voice has become slightly deeper and huskier-sounding.
  • Wake Up Makeup: In the intro to their "Ten Years At The Top" TV special, Nadine wakes up with a full face of makeup.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Their entire catalog, with the most infamous examples being "Love Machine", "Biology", "Sexy! No No No...", and "Miss You Bow Wow". The reason for this is Xenomania's production method of writing and recording various random bits of music and phrases, and then shaping the songs from there.
    Nicola: [introducing "Love Machine"] When we first recorded this next song, none of us were quite sure about it because it was a little bit quirky and the lyrics are a little bit daft, so we weren't really convinced on how it was going to go down.
    • Lyrical Shoehorn: On occasion, Xenomania will deploy this to make the lyrics fit with the melodies. The consensus on some lyrics site is that the second line of "Something Kinda Ooooh" is "Doctor gotta heat it up", and not "Gotta gotta heat it up".
  • Wrench Wench: The concept of their video for "Long Hot Summer." Bonus points for actually being filmed in an actual auto shop.
  • Younger Than They Look: In 2001 Nadine had won a similar show in Ireland, but had been removed from the resulting band because she'd lied about her age. Louis Walsh (who was also a judge on the Irish show) guided her into this band instead.
    • Made even more hilarious by the fact that the other band in question, Six flopped badly and haven't been heard from since.
    • The TV show that set out to create Girls Aloud also featured a girl who claimed she was 16 to make it into the competition. She made it fairly far until it revealed that she was 13.