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Aloud and proud.

Byline: By Gavin Allen South Wales Echo

The one question for any manufactured band is simple - how long will it last?

From Take That and the Spice Girls to bargain- basement scrapings like A1, every act has a shelf life.

The new generation of pop acts forged in the furnace of reality TV are even more disposable and for every Will Young that thrives there is a Gareth Gates whose career peters out.

Girls Aloud have both those monkeys on their back.

It was way back in the sepia-tinted days of 2002 when PopStars: The Rivals introduced us to Cheryl, Kim, Nadine, Nicola and Sarah as the girls were picked from 10,000 hopefuls to go head to head with male harmony group One True Voice for the Christmas number one slot.

The girls won the battle by selling 40,000 more than the boys and the fate of their one-time rivals is nicely summed up by the following extract from a recent interview.

Sarah: 'I have a good joke for you - Knock, knock.'

Reporter: 'Who's there?'

Sarah: 'One True Voice.'

Reporter: 'One True Voice who?'

Sarah: 'Exactly!'

Perhaps the band should tread more carefully.

The five-piece arrive in the capital hanging on to a rude enough health of popularity but there are clear danger signs.

The first warning in the manufactured market is always the rumours of a split and in September of last year the girls were batting off tabloid tales that they were calling it a day.

The group's third album, Chemistry, received surprisingly good reviews in the NME and The Guardian but upon its release it crawled in at number 11 in an album chart dominated by guitar bands.

It was enough for the NME (fickle folk) to plot a graph charting the rise of guitar music against the decline of 'pop' acts, using Girls Aloud as the standard bearers, and declare terminal illness.

It's the same slow drift in sales that has seen their singles enter the charts at two, then three, then four and their last two releases, See The Day and Whole Lotta History, enter at nine and six respectively.

Their E4 reality show (always a sign of celebs trying to revive a career) is giving them a little boost at the moment and there is a fourth album in the offing.

But while the likeable bunch of normal northern girls (and one Irish charmer) are a well-cut and polished pop opal they may well be finished setting records.

When See The Day became Girls Aloud's 11th Top 10 single at the end of 2005 it made them the first ever all-girl group (beating the Spice Girls) to have 11 consecutive Top 10 singles with their first 11 releases - Whole Lotta History increased the record to 12 earlier this year.

Girls Aloud - still setting and selling records, but how much longer will it last?

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Girls Aloud's Chemistry Tour hits the CIA on Tuesday, May 30. Tickets cost pounds 24 from 029 2022 4488
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 20, 2006
Words:500
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