British pop star Cheryl Cole will join Simon Cowell on the American X Factor, but what does that mean for her former chart topping and critic charming group Girls Aloud?
British recording artist and U.K. X Factor judge Cheryl Cole has been announced as the third judge on the American edition of X Factor alongside Simon Cowell and record executive L.A. Reid.
It’s doubtless that many people will assume they know who Cheryl Cole is upon hearing her name. She’s the one who dated Lance Armstrong and sang that one song about soaking up the sun, right? Wrong. You’re thinking Sheryl Crow. Although both ladies make music and are known for their high profile relationships and subsequent breakups with professional athletes, the similarities end there.
Cheryl Cole rose to fame in 2002 at the age of 19 as a contestant on the reality singing competition Popstars: The Rivals. The show whittled down contestants to form two groups, the boy band One True Voice, and the girl group Girls Aloud, who competed on the British charts for the coveted Christmas No. 1 spot. One True Voice released a predictable and boring reality show single, while Girls Aloud dropped the most inventive reality show coronation song ever – “Sound of the Underground.”
“Sound of the Underground” rocketed to No. 1, and as One True Voice faded into obscurity, Girls Aloud developed into the most celebrated British girl group of the ’00s. The group, comprised of Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh, released five platinum albums and a string of 20 consecutive top 10 singles. Not only were Girls Aloud a commercial success, but the critics loved them too. Their unusually structured “Biology” was called “the best pop single of the last decade” by the Guardian, and it even managed to make Pitchfork’s top songs of the decade list.
Credit for their amazing pop goes to the songwriting and production collective known as Xenomania. Helmed by Brian Higgins, a man whose big break came in 1998 when he took a risk and auto-tuned Cher’s voice for “Believe,” Xenomania flew in the face of traditional pop songwriting rules. They married drum ‘n’ base to pop in “Sound of the Underground,” cranked up the electro-clash revival on “The Show,” mastered the art of stuttering on “Sexy! No No No” and wrote their own ’70s punk classic with “No Good Advice.”
Perhaps learning from predecessors like the Spice Girls, the ladies of Girls Aloud realized they were stronger together than they would be apart. None of them broke off with delusions of eclipsing their former group as a solo artist, they just kept making exceptionally good pop. But in 2009, they decided to go on hiatus. Cheryl Cole was the first to announce she’d be make music on her own, but she insisted her group was just taking a break.
Cole’s debut album was an exercise in making music that didn’t sound like just another Girls Aloud record while still exciting radio dials. With two solo No. 1 singles under her belt, it seems that Cole succeeded. But while songs like “Fight For This Love,” “3 Words,” and “Promise This” were good, they weren’t good enough to make up for the lack of Girls Aloud/Xenomania tracks.
Fans kept hope alive that the group would reunite, but as Cole landed a job judging the U.K. X Factor alongside Simon Cowell, those dreams seemed ill placed. The announcement the Cole will join Cowell in America has set any sort of new Girls Aloud material back indefinitely, if not forever. While this gives her a good shot at launching a career in the States, it’s a shame the world won’t be hearing the Aloud for quite some time.
X Factor will premiere this Fall on Fox.