Five reasons to be excited about the Girls Aloud reunion
The worst kept secret in pop is out – Girls Aloud are back together. Their website sprang into action on Tuesday 9 October with a whopping great "TEN" and a clock counting down, yes, 10 days to the 10th anniversary of their formation. That takes us to... now!
So what's the deal? A new single – Something New – already out there in cyberspace, plus three more unheard tracks all feeding into a brand new Greatest Hits album. It's called Ten. No idea why. There's a 13-date arena tour too, kicking off in 2013, but as yet nothing else concrete. Tellingly though, they're not ruling anything out.
Those of you who watched every second ticking by on the countdown will already understand what a big deal this is, but – for the rest of you – here are five reasons why you should be excited.
They bowed out at the top of their game
And not many bands do that. Look at the Spice Girls, Girls Aloud's nearest forebears, who fizzled out in 2000 shortly after trying to reupholster their sound with a Geri-less R&B flava, and then failed to make the top 10 with 2007 comeback single Headlines (Friendship Never Ends). Sure, there's still time for Girls Aloud to fall flat on their lovely faces but the omens are better.
They might have tasted top 10 failure with their last single Untouchable but it was the third release from a successful album and the only single in 21 to fall short. Girls Aloud left on hiatus on their own terms, going out in a blaze of Coldplay-supporting glory three years ago. They return, exactly 10 years after their Popstars: The Rivals debut, as a fire-breathing pop colossus.
Their crown remains unclaimed
Seriously, who's come along to stick their perfect behinds on the girlband throne? Wonderland? Girls Can't Catch? The ill-fated Mini Viva? Credit to The Saturdays for giving it a good old characterless go, but that's their problem: they never connected and – crucially – they've never had a number one. Mere pretenders.
There's only one girlband juggernaut that can derail Girls Aloud's procession to their palace and that's the relatively untested Little Mix. But come on, they're babies. They can rub along with their spiritual mums, but if it means Girls Aloud are compelled to up their game then that's good news for all of us.
A changing dynamic?
Who's the leader of the pack? It'll be fascinating to watch the jostle for the spotlight now that everyone's grown up a little, enjoyed some independence and discovered their place in the world. Nadine Coyle once famously referred to herself as "the singer" in the band, but Cheryl Cole is now the real megastar. Will these "gift-wrapped kitty cats" be "turning into tigers" to grab centre stage?
Let's hope so. A bit of needle between front-people never hurt a band. Look at The Libertines. Oh.
Girls Aloud and Xenomania: A match made in pop heaven
Polished image and grand pop status is nothing if you ain't got the tunes, and Girls Aloud always had them, from Love Machine to Biology to No Good Advice to Call The Shots. I could go on. I will – to Sound Of The Underground to The Promise to The Loving Kind...
The good news is the girls are back in harness with Xenomania, Brian Higgins' production and songwriting team behind all their best bits, and the first result is Something New – leaked earlier this week and the only talking point in pop ever since. It's a mad rush of raps and Calvin Harris synths, but maintains just the right levels of Girls Aloud cool. Together, they and Xenomania have got the Chemistry. (See what I did there - it's the name of a Girls Aloud album - oh well.)
An end to all those drab solo projects
Well, I'm sure Kimberley Walsh's turn in Shrek The Musical was jolly good fun, but the less said about Sarah Harding's balsa-wood acting excursions the better. And as for the solo records we've had to endure – who really comes up smelling of roses?
Nicola Roberts' Cinderella's Eyes was a pretty cherishable pop album even if it barely singed the charts let alone set them alight, but Nadine's Insatiable stank and sank. And let's speak some truth here: how many great songs have emerged from Cheryl's three-album pop-R&B adventure? You can count them on less than a fifth of the fingers of one hand.
So much more than the sum of their parts, Girls Aloud will always be welcome around here.
Are you thrilled about a Girls Aloud reunion? Or is it all reality pop pap that belongs down the dumper? Join the debate on Twitter @MusicOnVM.