Girls aloud – 10 of the best
In an ideal world, there would be a memorial plaque at the entrance of the Liverpool Echo arena. “Here ended Girls aloud, the last great girl band” I would say. On March 20, 2013 Nadine Coyle – a fifth part of the genre-bending, pop-remodeling of the rabble – was preparing for the final night of the band’s reunion tour. “I was in hair and makeup,” she explains, in the north London restaurant, “going through my nightly ritual.” In place of taking the delivery of the good luck bouquet, Coyle received some news through the band’s public relations and director of the other girls wanted to quit. No more fashionable in “hiatus”, which they had already done in 2009, but a proper division. With the band working to the rule of the majority, there was nothing she could do.
“It was shocking. We had signed a new agreement and recorded what was basically a new album.” Confused, she marched towards the headquarters of the green room, ignoring video directors to record the tour for posterity (DVD), and with the recent Celebrity Big Brother winner, and the closest ally in the band, Sarah Harding. “I said, ‘do you want to break the band as well?’ and she was like, ‘Oh, shit, I can’t be arsed with it, fuck, I hate all the world.’ The last show, all the excitement was off so I was concerned, with any of them.”
No longer aloud … Nadine Coyle is going solo. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guide
More ignominy followed: it was decided to the division announcement would be made that same night. Through a tweet. “A tweet?!” Coyle rages in his thick Derry accent. “I have seen the project and just said, ‘Remove my name’. We had been saying from the beginning we had properly again.” At the end of the tweet went out, the stage was being dismantled. After an end of tour party that lasted until the next morning (“[the band] was not drinking together, but we were in the same room”), Coyle posted his own tweet: “You should know by now I had no part in any of this split business. I could not stop them. I had the best time and I want to continue”. Apart from Harding, she did not speak with the rest of the band since then.
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Fifteen years after it was formed through ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals, and four years since the separation, Coyle has put together with Girls aloud’s unofficial sixth member, Howard Hughes-esque production genius Brian Higgins and his clique pop out of the mavericks, also known as Xenomania, for the new single Go to Work. Next to the lyricist Miranda Cooper, Higgins was the intellectual author of its 20 uk Top 10 singles, including Biology, Love Machine and Something New, the crushing of the pop regulation, spray-painting neon, and then carefully suture it all back together to create the monster of Frankenstein-pop that made everything else – with their boring verse-chorus-verse structure – look decidedly pedestrian.
“The desire to do a very surprising, very aggressive pop was just breaking,” Higgins tells me on the phone. “The pop sound of the day was this Swedish R&B-lite sound that I loathed. I wanted to do something spectacular.” That spectacular streak would include the 22 singles and five albums in five years, a workload that inevitably led to the break up in 2009. “One of the heads of our label came to the London show [in that year Beyond the Control of the tour,” Coyle remembers, “and none of the girls were really talking to each other, and he said,” When you have 20,000 people to the front and nobody wants to be here, that is the time to take a break.'”
‘I tend to go with the flow” … Nadine Coyle.
Despite the accusations in 2014 of Cheryl Cole that the interruption was caused by Coyle, of the search of a solo album according to her, she is firm in her in the beginning I just wanted a break. “Cheryl already had her treatment, she was ready to go with his solo stuff. I had nothing set up for me.”
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Even before the meeting was announced in a press conference at the end of 2012 the problems appeared. Despite Xenomania creation of all their singles, the band, the less Coyle, it was decided to return the song was not going to be glitter-bomb banger Something New, but the limp, not Xenomania ballad Beautiful Because you love Me (Not 97 smash when it was finally released). “I was at Disneyland and they told me that was the song that went with me, and told me that I could not make the meeting,” she says. “‘Beautiful ’cause you love me? We are beautiful anyway! But then I got a call back saying that it was now Something New, and I was like, ‘OK, let’s do it.'” For Higgins that the initial decision not to continue their mutual legacy still hurts. “It is very difficult to talk about it in a certain sense – there were a lot of emotions.”
Something New-a door to one side, Coyle’s decision making has not always been so finely. “I tend to go with the flow and that the flow can end up in places big or not so big places,” she laughs. It is a trait that has her involved with the supermarket chain Tesco, in a move unprecedented for a non-law heritage, exclusively launched solo, Xenomania-free album in the year 2010. “It was a moment of tension,” she says. Despite the fact that the music becoming more accessible, Tesco did not want the album available on iTunes, that would have been fine had the Cd been stocked in all their stores.
Out of control … Girls aloud in happier times.
“During five years of [Xenomania] 21 years that we have been in the wilderness, trying to figure out how we might be incredible, again,” Higgins says. While in the role of Coyle inconstant, Housewives Derry person seems to disagree with Higgins’s Rain Man focus, there are similarities, the meeting represents the return to your comfort zone. “When I was 13 years old I would record myself on my karaoke machine and if I don’t like I would like to record again. I’d like to do it for hours, making sure that each line sounded well.” For Higgins, this sense is about giving Coyle – “a world-class vocalist” – a proper stab at a solo career.
Interview: pop producer Brian Higgins
“Nadine is going to have her go, and that means a lot to me – that there are no regrets,” he says. Ask them both what their expectations are to Go to Work and the response is similar. “I have none,” Coyle says it feels like something that should not say in a loud voice in the hallways of his new label, Virgin. “I’m measuring success in different ways now,” says Higgins, aware that those chart-dominating Xenomania days are behind him. “It is a great peace of mind for me what is happening with Nadine.” If you are Going to Work represents a kind of closure, or the beginning of waiting for something new, Coyle’s joy at being back is palpable.
“I’m very excited,” he confirms. “I could cry when I think about how good everything has been.” The day before our speculative chatter news emerges that suggests Sarah Harding CBB performance has nixed a possible Girls aloud at the meeting. “It has not been discussed, no,” she replies, before applying a magpie out of the window and offer a little salute. “One for sorrow”, she says. Did you ever get back together? “To be honest, I didn’t want to break up in the first place. Therefore, I would have been sitting here with the other four. I was happy to continue.”
Going to Work is now