Friday, January 05, 2007

song of the week: biology

Sarah's my favourite (far left): who's yours?

If pop music is about fantasy, then Girls Aloud have refined their trade into an art form.

I really tried not to like Girls Aloud when they were publicly thrown together in 2002. I was rather more po-faced about my music then, preferring to linger in dingy bars philosophising on Lou Reed’s solo output with equally dingy students. I hated myself for loving the drum and bass-lite Sound of the Underground and all its shamelessly cynical too-cool-for-Louis sassiness. And then one night in said dingy bar, I found myself drunk and arguing for the brilliance of Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty and my cover was blown. And thank goodness.

A drum-thumping, guitar-twanging intro pumps itself into a full-blown hip-shakin’, glove rippin’, stocking-tearin’ striptease as Nadine swoons and gasps her way through a series of pleas and commands:

Why don't you fool me, feed me, say you need me/Without wicked games
C'mon and hold me, hug me, say you love me / And not my dirty brain

The intro shimmers into a glittery, glossy, Moog-heavy, early ‘80s dance track with a kiss of radio-friendly MOR – the musical equivalent of Miso Pretty Plum Lipgloss. An uptempo, urgent little pop song, it tells the blissful heartbreak tale of a man so dangerously irresistible that a ‘one way ticket to Alabama’ and a ‘cappuccino to go’ is the only option, else slavery to the ‘fire of pure desire’ awaits. Lyrics straight out of an episode of Sunset Beach - brilliant.

As Cheryl and Sarah take the mic, the number of syllables per line increases until the verses are delivered with a breathless urgency. Cheryl sounds like she’s having an asthma attack, albeit with a very cute Geordie twang. And then before you’ve even had an opportunity to reapply your mascara, in leaps Kimberley, and eventually, the entire GA, with a hushed, sexy chorus of ‘closer, closer, closer’, shimmying relentlessly to the chorus.

Like many GA songs Biology has not one, but two choruses – the thrusting intro and the cheeky sing-along. (That’s slim pickings for these girls – The Show is pretty much all chorus). Biology has some delightfully dubious lyrics: the whole song treats sexuality as vaguely threatening – but all the better for it, especially when delivered with synchronised dance routines and knowing winks. All that little-girl-lost Britney crap is dispensed with immediately – whatever you might wonder about Girls Aloud, the 1998 Britney question is not one of them – and thank god – it was very creepy, especially if you actually were a schoolgirl virgin in 1998.

The centrepiece of the chorus with its instantly memorable choreography is a tongue-in-cheek stilted Barbie-doll mantra; ‘The way that we talk / The way that we walk’. A backing track of ‘wooh!’s that sounds like a deranged disco locomotive steams through the song, travelling through the chorus and out again, back to the grinding stripper’s ending. If you have any sense at all, you’re left with bruised feet in cheap heels, happily exhausted. Before your St Tropez has a chance to fade, a shiny chorus-line of five fantasy female automatons has danced the money out of your pockets and replaced it with an overwhelming sense of wellbeing.

It didn’t really matter which Girls Aloud song I chose. I could have written about the sprightly Love Machine, the bossy, berating ‘should have’ bit in The Show, the drum ‘n’ bass intro to Sound of the Underground, the My Sharona homage No Good Advice, Jump, so much better when sung by girls, or Something Kinda Oooh, purely because it has a lyric built into it which means you have no choice but to flick your butt Beyonce-style.

Either way, Girls Aloud are the best pop group in the world at the moment: the end.


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