There had been a lot of speculation prior to the recent announcement that Girls Aloud were to be getting back together to celebrate the quartets ten years as a unit. The announcement came to many as a bit of a shock given the stories we have all heard circulating in the pop world that the five-some could barely stand being in the same room as each other let along taking to the road and doing all of the promotional work that a re-union involves. On top of that, Cheryl seems to be doing quite well for herself as a solo artist and given that her recent solo release A Million Lights is still warm on the shelves, it seemed – at least for now – to be an idea not even worth entertaining.
Thankfully it was all a front and the girls return this month with the release of a greatest hits collection and the announcement that they will be taking to the stages of the country’s largest arenas once again for a ten year anniversary tour that will begin in Cheryl’s hometown of Newcastle and will also include 3 dates at London’s O2 Arena.
Working alongside the groups iconic hit-making production team Xenomania, Nadine, Cheryl, Kimberley, Sarah and Nicola returned to the recording studio to revisit the long string of hits that the girl group have let loose on the airwaves over this past decade.
The track listing of Ten reads like the perfect retrospective for one of the UK’s most treasured pop outfits and comes in both a single disc and double disc set, the latter containing various singles as well as some of the groups favorite unreleased recordings. Everything that we expect from a greatest hits package is found on this record, spanning each of the groups 5 studio albums.
Ten is the ultimate hits compilation combining the successes of the past ten years with four brand new tracks. Of the new recordings the group chose the appropriately titled album opener Something New to lead the way and usher in the quartets return to the pop scene. Effortlessly vibrant and every bit the Girls Aloud brilliance that we have come to love about this group, the single is up-tempo, camp coated and fun and much like the groups previous hits, allows each set of vocals to really shine.
Number ones are dotted throughout the track listing with the up-beat and 50’s inspired love song, The Promise. A favorite among fans, the song secured the girls with their first, and well overdue, Brit Award in 2009 for best single.
I’ll Stand By You, a cover of The Pretenders 1994 hit and Girls Aloud’s 2004 Children In Need charity single, finds a nesting place on the record along with Call The Shots, easily one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Another ballad, the Pet Shop Boys co-written gem The Loving Kind is also included on the collection. The single, the follow up to The Promise, is a touching and vulnerable ballad and features some of the best production work heard throughout their ten years together.
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With ballads easily finding their place on the record the track listing is balanced out nicely with the high-octane dance floor smashes that have made us fall in love with Girls Aloud time and time again. Among them is of course Love Machine and The Show. Both tongue-in-cheek pop monsters from the group’s 2004 What Will The Neighbors Say? studio effort, the tracks are a pair of the acts most recognized hits and both exhilarating power pop nuggets. These tracks sit comfortably beside some of the groups more recent up-tempo releases including the incredible Something Kinda Ooooh, Can’t Speak French and Sexy! No No No… easily filling the centre of Disc 1 to the brim with power pop bliss.
The oldies, if you can call them that, end the first record with the guitar riff driven No Good Advice and their debut single Sound of the Underground before we are given a dose of what the girls have recently been working on with 3 further new tracks – On The Metro, Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me and Every Now And Then.
On The Metro sees the girls dabble in high energy trance in this up-tempo and blood pumping dance-floor monster. The vocals propel the girls through a track containing the most intense instrumentation heard on a Girls Aloud song since Something Kind Oooh. Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me is a tender ballad that holds up well within the more upbeat pop pennings on the record and continues to show off the groups versatility as a collective and their ability to turn out infectious club floor fillers as well as vulnerable and moving ballads like this one. Though it may not be as timeless as some of the groups previous ballads such as The Loving Kind and Call The Shots, it is a superb addition to their phenomenal catalogue.
Ending the record with Every Now And Then we are offered another energetic pop gem. It’s Girls Aloud doing what they do best with a meaty, busy piece of pop confectionery that plays the cherry on the top for this fantastic collection.
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For anyone considering going out and getting this record (and you should be!), the Deluxe Edition of the release is well worth the extra couple of quid. Disc 2 contains some of the girls’ favorite unreleased tracks like Black Jacks and Girl Overboard, both from the groups 2007 Tangled Up release as well as Graffiti My Soul which was a song not only originally written for US pop superstar Britney Spears but was also expected to be the groups final single from their What Will The Neighbors Say? release. Wake Me Up has been included on the second disc which we found rather surprising as this was a big song for the group and one of their finest releases so we were hoping for it to be included on both formats.
Over the course of ten years Girls Aloud have achieved a string of twenty consecutive top ten singles including four number ones and that alone sets this collection up for being a cracker of a greatest hits. With such a hit-making machine like Xenomania firmly behind each of the bands enormous and career defining musical moments, Girls Aloud have become a staple in British pop culture and will always be regarded as one of the greatest pop units in UK history and this new collection just adds further evidence of why that is. A perfect collection for one of pop music’s most treasured acts.
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