Thursday, 23 October 2008

Girls Aloud Add their own spice

GIRLS ALOUD - Out Of Control Rating **** 1/2
[IMG][/IMG]“NADINE,” shrieks Sarah Harding at her bandmate as she picks up a bunch of grapes from a fruit bowl.
“I’ve been watching you scoff all that fruit. Have you seen how much she’s had?” she asks the rest of Girls Aloud.
“Well it’s there for the taking, isn’t it?” Nadine Coyle, 23, replies, popping another grape into her mouth. “I haven’t stopped” she explains in her Irish lilt.
“I know, I’ve seen her eat a tangerine, a banana, an apple, and now grapes,” says Sarah, 26.
“Come on girls, sit down and concentrate. Sarah, can you put the laptop away please.” Girls Aloud’s PR is herding the girls together to sit down for our interview.
It’s not an easy task to rein in this feisty five. Nor is getting a word in edgeways with the loud, outspoken fun group, who chatter incessantly.
Girls Aloud are the UK’s most successful girlband.
Their new single The Promise is on course to be Sunday’s No1, and will be Girls Aloud’s 19th consecutive Top Ten single. They have had more Top Ten hits than any other girl group and have sold five million records.
Their last arena tour included 35 dates and proves the girls have come a long way since they were picked as the winning girl group on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002.
“It annoys me when people say we want to be the new Spice Girls. Hello, we’re Girls Aloud. We’ve lasted longer,” says Cheryl Cole, 25.
Arctic Monkeys, Liam Gallagher and Franz Ferdinand are all fans.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin recently said he was obsessed by them and that he has been trying to write them a song but can’t come up with anything good enough. And when I tell them that Bloc Party singer Kele Okereke had declared his love for the band and would also like to write them a song, Cheryl cries out.
“Shut up! No way. Did he really say he loved us? Amazing. And what is it with everyone wanting to write songs for us?”
“We still remember how people treated us at the start — when people wouldn’t touch us with a barge pole,” says Nadine.
“They’d say ‘this is a band that are going to be a flash in the pan. They’re going to break up and hate one another.’ They wouldn’t put us on TV shows, they didn’t want to direct our videos. And now we see the same people around, and they can’t do enough.”
You can’t help but warm to the girls. Straight-talking and down to earth, all are gorgeous and dressed immaculately. There are no airs, graces or egos.
The girls say the reason for their phenomenal success is hard work.
Out Of Control is their fifth album and again sees the girls team up with Xenomania’s Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper.
It’s an album of infectious pop which sees the girls at their most experimental.
There is Sixties-tinged pop (The Promise), Eighties electro (Untouchable), drum ’n’ bass (Live In The Country) and Nadine even raps on Revolution In The Head. It is the girls’ most grown-up album.
Kimberley Walsh, 26 says: “I think we had such a massive profile initially on the TV programme and then (first single) The Sound Of The Underground was at No1 for four weeks, but then it was hard work. We really had to work at it.” Nicola Roberts, 23, says: “We’re the hardest working band out there. People think we turn up and just sing and dance but those moves and vocals take lots of practice.
“Before shows we do weeks and weeks of choreography, and on this album we’ve really worked our hardest.
“We’re just so comfortable with Brian and Miranda now. It’s been six years. We’ve got a lot of trust in each other, so we’ll try anything.”
Cheryl adds: “And Brian is always so enthusiastic. He would get you in every now and again and go ‘Listen to this, mate, this is smashing’.”
It has been reported that the girls refuse to record together, something that makes all five break into screams, shouts, screeches and giggles.
Sarah says: “It’s because when we’re all in together, we can’t take each other seriously. I remember one time seeing Nadine going for it with all her emotion and I was laughing my head off! Indie bands, they will record in the same room but we’re different. We’re vocalists, so it’s a bit different.
“People think we must do everything together as they only see us pictured together. Joined at the hip, eat and even sleep together in the same bed! But we have our own lives and do our own things too.”
The album title Out Of Control came when the girls’ record label told them: “We don’t know what to say, you lot are out of control.”
It also features The Loving Kind, a track written by the Pet Shop Boys.
Kimberley explains how they teamed up: “They were in the studio recording stuff for their album with Brian and they wrote that song for us.
“But it was a bit mad. When we heard it, we were like, ‘That sounds like the Pet Shop Boys’.
“And it was really difficult to sing as we just kept singing it like Neil Tennant had.”
At this moment all five girls break into The Loving Kind, doing their best Pet Shop Boys impersonation.
Nicola says: “And Neil told us to just sing it how we would sing it, instead of singing it how he had sung it.”
Cheryl adds: “It’s a bit intimidating as well, you know, having Neil Tennant teaching you a harmony.”
“I know,” laughs Sarah. “I said, ‘Could you leave the room so I can sing it because I feel really uncomfortable’.”
Another song on Out Of Control, Love Is Pain, has been rumoured to be about Cheryl’s marriage problems with husband, England footballer Ashley Cole, after claims he had cheated on her.
Cheryl is not keen to talk about Ashley and says she has learned her lesson about discussing her personal life.
Kicking her feet up on the table, Cheryl sighs: “If it had been Nadine or someone else in that situation, that song would have been about their situation.
“ Just because one song relates to my situation, a load of c**p is written about it being about me. I don’t know how people can ask me about what happened.
“And so many people do. I think, ‘How have you got the audacity to bring this up? People on the street, even. I don’t know them and they ask me about my marriage. It just makes me feel very uncomfortable.”
“And,” adds Kimberley, “Cheryl didn’t even write that song, so how can it be about her relationship?”
The girls are fiercely protective of Cheryl and their honesty is what makes you like them more.
It’s a genuine friendship between the five.
Nadine says: “I don’t think we have that many diva moments, do we? We’ve never really had a chance to be able to, really. We’ve always been criticised, always been scrutinised, always been put down. We still have those insecurities.”
Sarah disagrees, saying: “Well, I know I have had loads of diva moments!”
Nicola adds: “You don’t remember them, you disregard them after a while.”
Nadine says: “I think with me, when I am tired or jet-lagged my mouth doesn’t stop talking even when I want it to stop. Then the next day I regret it.”
Even with Cheryl’s profile being propelled by her appearance on X-Factor as a judge, the girls remains supportive.
Nicola says: None of us are jealous, bitter people. We are happy for Cheryl.”
The girls appeared as guests on the show last week, which they admit was nerve-wracking.
Cheryl says: “It was scary as Simon Cowell had been winding us up all week. But I was really proud of us when I watched it back.”
Kimberley adds: “I swear you go back in that building and you get flashbacks. Like you’re getting judged all over again, like we did when we were on Popstars. But we’re really proud of Cheryl.”
After six years at the top, the girls are always dodging rumours of a split or talk that Nadine — who now lives in LA — will be kicking off a solo career soon.
Even when Sarah was reported saying Girls Aloud had two more albums in them, people took it as a negative angle — that the girls would be calling it a day after two more albums.
But, says Sarah, it was taken the wrong way.
“In the past we’ve always said, who knows if there will be another album? So this was more than we have ever said before.
“It’s not a plan that there are only two more albums in us — there is still more for us to do.
“This isn’t the final album. Every time we release an album, we get asked if it is the last one. It’s not. We’re not going anywhere at the moment. We’re enjoying it way too much.”
Girls Aloud’s album Out Of Control is released on November 3. Their book Dreams That Glitter: Our Story is available now.

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