Buoyed by the runaway success of the reality television show Popstars, the UKs ITV1 channel launched Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. The show adopted a new twist on the Popstars theme, picking opposing boy and girl bands to battle it out in the UK charts, with pop svengalis Louis Walsh and Pete Waterman in charge of managing the girls and boys respectively, and ex-Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell brought in to lend expert advice. The show, after a shaky start, began to attract larger audiences in the latter stages of transmission, leading to the final selection of the two groups in November 2002. The winning females were announced as Cheryl Tweedy (30 June 1983, Newcastle upon Tyne, England), Kimberley Walsh (b. 20 November 1981, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England), Nadine Coyle (b. 15 June 1985, Derry, Northern Ireland), Nicola Roberts (b. 5 October 1985, Runcorn, Cheshire, England), and Sarah Harding (b. 17 November 1981, Ascot, Berkshire, England).
Adopting the moniker Girls Aloud, the quintet was launched into a nakedly commercial race for the Christmas number 1 position with their boy band rivals, One True Voice. Girls Aloud triumphed when the double a-side, Sound Of The Underground/Stay Another Day, topped the charts. The singles hypnotic beat and sinuous vocals made a pleasant change from the usual manufactured pop fare, although their insipid cover of the East 17 song on the flip side was more in keeping with the quality of One True Voices offering, Sacred Voice/After Youre Gone. The quintet suffered a setback the following March when a prospective Popstars tour was cancelled owing to poor ticket sales, but they bounced back in May with the number 2, No Good Advice, and the Top 10 album, Sound Of The Underground. In marked contrast to their pre-packaged predecessors HearSay, the album was a surprisingly adept collection of electro pop with Love Bomb and Stop repeating the formula of the two singles to great effect.
Girls Aloud enjoyed further UK Top 5 hits in 2003 and 2004 with Life Got Cold, Jump (a cover version of the Pointer Sisters classic), The Show and Love Machine. Their cover version of the Pretenders Ill Stand By You, commissioned by the Children In Need charity, topped the UK charts in December 2004. The groups second album, What Will The Neighbours Say?, also received a surprising number of positive reviews. A lot of the credit was directed towards Brian Higgins Xenomania production and songwriting team, however, rather than the slick vocal performance of their charges.
Girls Alouds run of chart successes continued into 2005 with Wake Me Up reaching the UK Top 5. Long Hot Summer, the Christmas single See The Day (originally by D.C. Lee), and Whole Lotta History were all taken from the groups third album, Chemistry. The group received unprecedented praise for another single, Biology, a thrilling Xenomania creation that towered over contemporary releases by Girl Alouds few remaining rivals. Their 2006 greatest hits compilation proved what a fine run of singles the group had released since their inception, with the new track Something Kinda Ooooh maintaining the quality control.
In March 2007, Girls Aloud and Sugababes teamed up on a cover version of Aerosmiths Walk This Way for the Comic Relief charity. The single debuted at the top of the UK charts. They returned later in the year with the Nazareth sampling Sexy! No No No..., the first release from their fourth album Tangled Up.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.