Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nadine & Cheryl are 'Aloud' an Insatiable Promise

Yes, that title makes zero sense.

Ah, Girls Aloud. No doubt there is a huge void left by their extended vacation from the pop music game (technically, you could call it a break but really it's more a difference in opinion). So often as a fan, I'm more tempted to wish for group to reunite as a team rather than spliter off into solo projects (except for the case of *NSYNC, because let's face it -- even I have to admit it's kind of a lost cause at this point), and Girls Aloud is no different. They were the girl group who made me interested in the UK pop game in the first place, firmly wedged just behind Sugababes as my favorite "International" girl group (they won the title for themselves once Keisha was booted from group and the formerly glorious Sugababes became the Wannababes). 

For those of you readers who aren't as familiar with Girls Aloud, they are basically pop music royalty, built out of a British television reality competition (a la our Popstars here which gave us Eden's Crush...aka Nicole Scherzinger). What resulted was five albums in six years, a Greatest Hits album and twenty consecutive singles in the UK Top 10. Their latest single as a group, 2009's "Untouchable" from their fifth album Out of Control peaked at #11 (oh, the monstrosity -- what a failure -- insert eye roll here), ending their historic run of Top 10s and their descent into their current "break" situation. Their brilliance can largely be attributed to the songwriters in Xenomania, changing the pop game dramatically and quite literally serving up hit after hit. Get familiar with Girls Aloud, popsters -- you'll be glad you did. There's plenty to sink your teeth into -- especially this juicy little nugget.

Cheryl Cole (or is it Tweedy yet?), the group member best known to us Americans, had a brush of solo success last year with her debut solo album 3 Words, largely produced by Black Eyed Peas hero Will.I.Am. A sophomore solo album, apparently dubbed Messy Little Raindrops, is currently set for a November release. She also serves as a judge on the runaway Brit television hit "The X Factor", soon to be coming Stateside. Get prepared for a lot more Cheryl, as girlfriend is reportedly slated to appear on the American judging panel (insert Mel's squee here). 

Here's where things currently get tricky. The main hurdle in Girls Aloud not returning to their five-piece perfection seems to the big voice of the group, Nadine Coyle (or at least, that's what the media wants us to believe). Nadine has opted out of living in the UK in favor of Los Angeles a few years back, and has also embarked on a solo project, left in limbo for what felt like forever while Ms. Tweedy racked up a #1 single and album of her own. Finally, the dust is starting to settle, and what we're left with is lead single "Insatiable", of the debut solo album of the same name.

Coincidentally (read: completely not coincidentally), both Cheryl and Nadine's albums are set to be released in the same month, just as their lead singles, "Promise This" and "Insatiable" respectively,  will soon do battle against each other on the singles charts. I'm no rocket scientist but this seems very catty to me.

During GA's heyday, I never really was much biased toward any Alouder in particular, but I was quite fond of Nuhdeen's big voice. The drama that often surrounded Chezza kind of turned me off, and 3 Words (especially with Will.I.Am at the helm) did little to remedy this. Then, along came these pair of singles and a very strange thing happened.

While the majority of my blogging peers have thrown the majority of their support to Big Voiced Nadine, I'm finding myself hitting repeat on Cheryl's "Promise This" an obscene amount of times. Yes, I'm willing to say it. I like Chezza's single better. (Clearly this means it's doomed in terms of the chart scene -- however, given that it's Cheryl, her first single post-AshleyColePocalypse, I doubt it will epically fail.)

"Promise This" was produced and written by Wayne Wilkins, the man behind Chezza's first solo single, "Fight For This Love" (which, it should be noted, went to #1 on the UK charts and I, as I already stated, strongly disliked). While "Love" was kind of used as a rallying cry during a time of drama and misfortune in Cheryl's life regarding her ailing and dying marriage to soccer player Ashley Cole, "Promise This" is distinctly darker, injecting pieces of the French children's rhyme "Alouette" into a repetative chant hook that I can't get out of my head if I tried with a sledgehammer. I thought you couldn't speak French, Cheryl? You just let the music do the talking. (Terrible joke, I know. They can't all be winners, people.)

In contrast, "Insatiable" is vast, expansive and contains everything including the kitchen sink. Unlike the case with Cheryl, Nadine's noticeable lack of voice modulators is commendable, but it also leads to the song being rather boring and bland to my ears. Yes, homegirl can wail. Couldn't they have cooked up something a bit more sonically interesting than this dirge to further exploit that point and prove to us the Girls Aloud break was necessary?

Perhaps the reason for my Chezza preference is because "Promise This" doesn't require much thinking. It's an earworm of the very best kind -- you want to dance, you want to sing along to the hook (bonus -- everyone knows that rhyme), and the chorus is also rather singable and familiar. It sounds like a poppier version of what Girls Aloud does best -- their collective sass runs rampant here through Cheryl's vocal veins. "Insatiable", in comparison, requires much more lung-power. Even in my shower, I could never sound like Ms. Coyle (and I think she knows this). Much like Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey before her, she suffers from her lack of relatability. While I often bemoan the lack of sangers on the radio, I'd rather a dancey, high-energy earworm to a bland piece of toast, no matter who does the warbling.

Take a listen to both and let me know which you prefer. Let the inevitable Chart Battle begin. Ladies, let's keep it clean. If you must catfight, then you must, but so long as we still end up with a five-piece Girls Aloud after this, I suppose I can't complain.


Music for Songwriters said...

it has been a long time since i heard from these girls...good to know that they are making music again...

Myfizzypop said...

as i have many many issues with Cherevyl, it's team nadine all the way for me :)

John said...

I really didn't have much of an opinion about the duel, but if it comes down to comparing these two singles, Cheryl wins by a mile.

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