An ode to Girls Aloud

Our ‘Alouder’ pays tribute as girl band announces split

I am an “Alouder”. Yes I am - and I didn’t even know it. Sadly, as soon as I find a club of which I am happy to be a member, it shuts its doors. I am now an “ex-Alouder”. We all are.

Girls Aloud have announced they are splitting up following the last night of their 10-year celebration tour. A tweet from the band’s official account last night said: “We have now come to the end of our incredible time together.” The message was sent shortly after the five singers came off stage in Liverpool.

Kimberley Walsh, Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding and Nicola Roberts are going their separate ways. The tweet said: "Dear Alouders, we just want to say from the bottom of our hearts Thank you!!"

More followed: “This tour has been an amazing experience and the perfect chance to say thank you for being on this journey with us through a decade.


“It has far exceeded any of our dreams and we hope we are forever your inspiration and reminder that dreams really do glitter!! Your love and support will stay with us forever but we have now come to the end of our incredible time together. Love you lots.”

The TV audience-selected five-piece made their first live appearance on Popstars: The Rivals on October 19th, 2002. On March 20th 2013, they made their last appearance. (Ok, we’re not abandoning all hope here. Nobody died. They could be back. If Westlife, Boyzone, the Spice Girls, even B*witched have taught us anything it’s that nothing is certain ).

Last Saturday, Dublin's O2 was choc-full of Alouders. We all kind of knew we were only a shot away from tears and smudged mascara. The smell of "goodbye" hung in the air. After all, the members of Girls Aloud have been doing their own "Independent Woman" acts during the band's three-year hiatus so the signs were staring us in the face. The tour was a big, glittery testimonial - well if Ryan Giggs can have one, the Girls surely deserved us passing round the hat.

Last Saturday, myself and a few “colleagues” spent the night discussing what your favourite Girl Aloud says about you. The opinions of lift operators, security personnel and Alouders were scientifically sought.

All of GA are celebrity-mag perfect, but Cheryl is perhaps the most beautiful. The security man and woman liked her best. Picking Cheryl, wronged in love (j'accuse Ashley Cole ), but with a Geordie fighting spirit that provoked an incident with a toilet attendant and accusations of racism that Cheryl fervently denied, is forgiveable. Her star has burned most brightly, she has released three solo albums and been a prime-time TV talent show judge. She is a bundle of super-feisty beauty. But she is a predictable selection. If you like Chezza, you probably like Harry Styles - and Strawberry Creams.

One of our gang picked Kimberley, but she’s Strictly Come Dancing fodder (the friend, not Kimbers). The friend (let’s call her Louise) raved about Kimberley’s “naturalness” and her “womanly figure” - at least she looked abundant next to whip-slim Nadine Coyle. We think choosing Kimbers makes you good best-friend material. You are the girls next door who never puts horrible messages about other girls on Facebook.

Myself and another friend (let's call her Lauren) chose Nicola Roberts. Even though Nicola told Lauren Murphy in her recent interview in The Ticket that . "There'll never be a curtain on Girls Aloud" (i.e. LIED to us) we have already forgiven her.

Nicola is the least conventionally attractive of the gang of five. But not to us. She has embraced her difference as a pale-skinned, titian-haired Scouse goddess by producing a line of beauty products especially for the melanin-cally challenged. Nicola is moodily smart. Nicola is an individual. By picking Nic we are putting ourselves in the same category - talented outsiders who refuse to run with the pack, but have a belting vocal range. Funnily enough, myself and my friend Lauren are also all of those things.

What we Alouders ultimately loved about this manufactured big-haired, false-eyelashed quintet was their everywoman-ness. Nicola, Kimberley, Sarah, Nadine and Cheryl always appeared one failed single away from the tills at Tesco. They could have been us. With a few singing lessons and a bit more fake-tan, we could have been them. They had the disinterested air of adolecence at its moody heights. They gave us permission to pal around with our lairy mates and make every night a hen night with co-ordinated dance moves. Anyone who was in the O2 last Saturday will know that. And here was the fascinating thing: a band of five beautiful, thin, primped women - each one seemingly tailor-made to appeal to a separate male fantasy of womanhood - brought all the girls to the yard, NOT all the boys. If there was one man for every couple of hundred women in the audience, that was all. And they were gay.

Girls Aloud offered a fantasy alright, but it was a fantasy for women: that we can all get along together, that when we gather together in a pack there will be no nastiness, back-stabbing or intrigue. That we can be gorgeous. For ourselves. Girls Aloud sold us a dream of cosy female friendship that we were determined to believe in; even when we suspected the cracks had begun to show. There can be no cracks in a girl band. They MUST be firm friends or the spice is lost.

How many of us have kept five female friendships together intact for 10 years? Not many. So thanks Kimberley, Cheryl, Nadine, Sarah and Nicola for being role models. Thanks for growing up and still talking. We have learned from your curves.

Girls Aloud have left the building.

Anthea McTeirnan

Anthea McTeirnan

Anthea McTeirnan is an Irish Times journalist