It was a real tragedy when Girls Aloud split, wasn’t it? The best girl band since the Spice Girls, their inventive, off-kilter style of pop was an absolute delight, earning the band a record breaking run of top 10 hits. The wind in Girls Aloud’s sails was undoubtedly Xenomania, the songwriting machine that manufactured hit after hit, each one innovative and unique. But since the group disbanded, Xenomania haven’t quite found the right act in which to channel their genius.
Enter Mollie King. Former member of middling girl band The Saturdays (very much the Tesco Value to Girls Aloud’s Tesco’s Finest), she’s no stranger to Xenomania, having worked with the songwriting/production team during her girl group days. Knowing which side her bread is buttered, she’s teamed up with the hit-makers again, this time on her own for solo single ‘Hair Down’.
What a Girls Aloud song this would be. You can picture the choreography, the girls in unison, hands on hips, heads bobbing. There are echoes of ‘Sexy! No No No’ to be heard here, though the track’s focal point is certainly the blaring brass that gives the song an impossible-not-to-love bounce. If Girls Aloud were still around, this is the kind of single they’d be releasing.
But enough about Girls Aloud (only joking, you can never have too much GA). King is a fitting collaborator for Xenomania, her voice malleable and easily engineered. But though her name is on the record, this is a Xenomania affair through and through. The swaggering ‘na-na-na’ hook, the no-room-for-nuance brassy arrangement, the clumsy lyrics (imagine Kimberley singing “Pleased to meet your barber shop quartet, but that means you obviously aren’t getting any sex”!!). It’s Xenomania’s genius condensed into a gaudy and incredibly fun blast of no-nonsense pop, their best since the heady days when GA were ruling the roost.
King has done a cracking job on her latest single, snagging the best pop pioneers in the business and concocting a fantastically camp, flashy and addictive track. Only time will tell whether the notoriously bland tastes of the music buying public will allow such a colourful track to become a hit – but then, these are the people who sent Ed Sheeran to number one for a hundred years. So who really cares what they think, right?