The perceived wisdom on pop music is that it’s easy, simply a question of placing slot A into slot B, finding some pretty boys or girls to front it (never mix the sexes), bung a load of cash at them and watch the teenagers, tweenies and youngsters roll on up to purchase their downloads, ring tones and gig tickets, if not the actual records anymore. That’s fine if you’re looking for a one hit wonder but genuine staying power requires all of this and something else, the X factor if you like. Great pop music only truly exists in tandem with great pop stars.
Girls Aloud are great pop stars. As the whole Simon / Louis / Cheryl / the other one circus kicks into gear once more it’s worth reminding ourselves that this reality show creation are on their fifth album and one of the biggest live draws around. The argument as to whether they are a -real’ band or not has surely been put to bed by now, re-awakened only by the fact that most -real’ bands aren’t nearly as much fun.
Thus their fourth live DVD finds them bestriding the live pop experience in high heels. As a spectacle, it’s second to none – opening with the five raised high into the air on moving plinths and taking in floating stages, dancers, pyrotechnics, costume changes, brass sections and an audience made up of young girls, annoyed looking parents and gentlemen of a certain lifestyle choice. It’s hugely entertaining, not least because the soundtrack contains some of the best pop songs this side of the sixties. Some of the hits are here (with others dispatched in a closing medley that cuts some of their best tunes frustratingly short) but the set focuses mainly on the new album, revealing that they have become increasingly adept at producing records that maintain the interest beyond the first three tracks.
For those constantly on the lookout for signs of discord in the ranks will certainly note that, at times, this looks like the Nadine plus backing singers show and that Nicola still seems a ghostly presence on stage, getting paler as the others grow more glamorous – but the quintet’s real solo star Cheryl Cole is happy here to be one of the gang. Which is perhaps why Girls Aloud have endured for longer than anyone expected, that they are as much a gang as any of history’s great bands. That and the fact that you simply cannot argue with a tune as good as -Love Machine’. One day it will end, probably sooner rather than later, but for now let us thank our lucky stars that we have them.