Girls Aloud – On the Metro
Polydor HQ, late 2012. Picture the scene: Girls Aloud have just sent Twitter (a.k.a. the gays) into meltdown with the “accidental” leaking of comeback single Something New. Cheryl Not-Cole is pissed off because frankly orange isn’t her colour; Nadine Coyle sits wide-eyed with glee at being briefly relevant again; Sarah Harding doesn’t really know where she is.
Meanwhile, Nicola Roberts is finally dreaming of her moment in the spotlight: she’s penned what must surely be their next single. Produced with the help of DJ Fresh, On The Metro is three minutes and fifteen seconds of unrelenting, ferocious J-pop noise regaling us with the story of love lost when you momentarily dash for a slash.
It’s breathless: the kind of song that makes you involuntarily shout “BANGER!!!” when it comes on at drunk o’clock, and for which you need water stations dotted around the dance floor. Opening with the unexpectedly philosophical “a hundred Os and Xs, lighting up the dark…”, this Left My Heart in Tokyo slayer speeds along non-stop until it fades out, echoing the clickety-clack of a passing intercity.
The video – I’m imagining, now – is set on the Underground: Kimbers et al have set up a District Line disco, surrounded by other lovelorn nightclub veterans, and they’re having a bloody good dance because that’s what you do when your heart is breaking: just ask Robyn. They are number one forever, saving us from Cheryl’s diabolical solo career.
But of course, none of this happened; the Ten album campaign is a carefully-orchestrated farewell. After the monster success of Something New, a subsequent release of On The Metro would’ve signalled the permanent return of Britain’s most reliable girlband. That was never the plan – there’s haircare products to be sold.
Instead, they release Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me, a pretty but unremarkable ballad that’s the most un-Girls Aloud single ever to have troubled the charts. We never find out what Nicola’s favourite soda pop is. The band is over. The dream is dead.
“she could release an album that’s just her solo version of this repeated a dozen times, and I’d still pay £9.99 for it.”
Me too. No hesitation.