Contrary to the unwritten law in this country that everyone must pretend to deeply love Girls Aloud…

I was never that big a Girls Aloud fan and generally find them quite dull. Something about the sound of their songs conjures memories of listening to TFM on Friday nights during my first part-time job, scraping scraps of half eaten Parmo into a bin and persistently getting my big curly hair caught on the fly paper near the radio… therefore they’ve never held a massive appeal for me even though I’ve tried to like them. They are no Spice Girls that’s for certain.

So I am as surprised as anyone at the fact that I have developed an intense liking for Nicola Roberts’ debut album.

Prior to the release of her solo material I knew close to nothing about her other than that she was ‘the ginger one’ who was mainly the butt of cheap jokes on tedious panel shows etc., I never watched Popstars: The Rivals and I didn’t even click that she was from Liverpool till a few months ago; this is how minimal my Girls Aloud knowledge is.

The two lead singles from the album were just brilliant and stood out like a zebra in a porno in our increasingly monotonous pop landscape of endless songs about ‘the club’ feat Rihanna. Is it possible that ‘the club’ is a shadowy organisation, like the Illuminati, that only middling Popstars can join?

My comedy disabled brother David made a weirdly apposite comment about ‘Lucky Day’ and ‘Dance to the Beat of My Drum’ stating that “this is actually pretty avant-garde for pop music.” It is a sad state of affairs in the landscape of Top 40 music that two of the most enjoyable, funny and devoid-of-reference-to-‘the-club’ songs released this year can be considered ‘avant-garde’ and consequently flop… ‘Beat…’ got to 27 in the charts, whereas ‘Lucky Day’ only managed 40.

Therefore I decided to buy her album Cinderella’s Eyes out of guilt, because I had listened so exhaustively to those songs online only for them to stall so unceremoniously. All it takes for evil to succeed (in the charts) is for good men to do nothing.

The big tear-jerker on the album is the closing track Sticks + Stones:

Many personal testimonies in the Youtube comments underneath talk about how much they cried whilst listening to the song, would Nicola finally help me excrete beautiful salty fluid (from my tear ducts)?


“Too young to buy my own bottle of vodka
So I’d beg the driver please I need another
How funny that I was too young for so many things
Yet you thought I’d cope with being told I’m ugly”

I feel guilty because I feel as if I have probably made jibes about Roberts’ appearance at some point in the past. I can’t remember when, but I know I must have.

In some ways it is easier to take the path of least resistance in situations when you are sat around with friends and relatives watching VIVA and people are saying which popstars are fit and which ones are ugly, an essentially pointless game because every pop star is fit, even Susan Boyle scrubs up well…

Because Roberts was the most striking and unusual looking of all the Girls Aloud members it’s easy to say ‘there’s the weird one’ or ‘the ginger one’, ha ha ha.

Although I don’t feel I am directly responsible for this song and Roberts’ hurt feelings, I do feel that I have contributed to that passive chorus of people around the UKslagging her off brainlessly at some point. The fact that I’ve forgotten when exactly I did it only makes it worse, in many ways I’m like Oh Dae-Su in Oldboy…

“Be it a rock or a grain of sand, in water they sink the same.”

This song is clearly a rebuke to the tabloid press and people like the comedy black-hole Chris Moyle’s who publically made comments about her being a ‘sour-faced cow’. Therefore in order to distance myself from that vile man I would like to publically redress my personal complacency and say that just because she looks somewhat uncanny and melancholy doesn’t mean she’s not a beauer.


“I can’t think why I could have made you so, so angry
your bullets I don’t feel them come on and fire at me!”


Ultimately the song is quite uplifting and she seems to have put a degree of distance between her and the ‘haters’ (an expression she thankfully doesn’t use) from the early stage of her career. My principal emotion whilst listening was guilt rather than sadness or empathy, no-one’s ever called me ugly because I am very handsome…

This song could have gone seriously wrong, compare it with other odes to self-pity from popstars released this year such as ‘Who’s Laughing Now’ and ‘Swagger Jagger’ (the former is diabolical, the latter is so misguided that it comes off as endearing). All in all it is vastly superior to all the Girls Aloud ballads that I have heard.

Roberts’ unlikely transition in my estimations from ‘novelty member of Girls Aloud’ to ‘best British popstar of the year’ has made me rethink many latent musical prejudices I once may have held. I wonder if the one that did those stupid yelps in The Automatic ever released solo material? It’s probably gold!