I don’t want to get into the disbandment of Girls Aloud — the greatest modern girl group of all time, just to be clear — because every time I start to think about that ill-fated day (breaking up via Twitlonger — how COULD YOU?), the walls start to close in. My vision blurs. Then come the tremors, and then the dry heaves until, well…life just gets terribly cold.
Anyway, we’re all getting old, and so is the music we hold dearest. And that music needs to be celebrated at random times now and again, because life is precious and rare and fleeting. Right? Right.
Case in point? “Whole Lotta History,” Chemistry mega-ballad and the Aloud’s 12th consecutive UK Top 10 hit, released nearly ten years ago in March of 2006. (Yes, I’m two months early with this anniversary, but I was busy turning my wall into a vision board using my Ten box set collectible posters this past weekend and felt inspired. So sue me.)
The Almighty Aloud’s sweetest sonic spot was always their uptempo stuff: tangled (up), nonsensical lyrics about gift-wrapped kitty cats, boudoir beauties and cocktails with price tags that’ll make you choke on your sushi set on top of a slamming synth-pop pulse and kicky drum and bass beats, but in their rarer moments of balladry, they shined every bit as much.
“Whole Lotta History” might just be the Aloud’s best ballad. Technically, their best ballad is “Untouchable,” but that’s more of a sad disco stormer rather than a straight-up ballad. “Life Got Cold” is certainly up there, too. UPDATE: AND “LOVING IS EASY.”
Break-ups are hard and complicated and awful, especially when the other party moves on before you do. (And don’t they always?) “Whole Lotta History” kind of perfectly captures all the heartbreak, insecurity and regret that comes surging through your body as you ‘accidentally’ come across an Instagram of your former flame locking lips with some average floozy. Does she hold your body tight all night, baby?
True to Xenomania form, “Whole Lotta History” is less of a standard ballad and more of a Franken-pop creation made up of melancholy strings, a gentle sway and infuriatingly catchy, singalong-ready melodies stacked right on top of each other, one right after the next. While “Whole Lotta History” sounds vaguely familiar — early reviewers (rightfully) likened it to a Spice Girls moment of balladry — it’s probably the most Aloud-sounding ballad they have in their discography.
That was always one of the (many) qualities that separated the Aloud from the rest of the pack: They might have been the definition of a pop product, assembled right in front of our eyes on Popstars. They might have been cheeky. Yet they were never ones to concede to generic, paint-by-numbers song construction, and never once did they attempt to sound like what was already on the radio. Their songs are like mini mash-ups of only the catchiest hooks crafted in a Xeno studio session, and the production always felt thrilling and unexpected.
Moments of brilliance include, but are not limited to:
Everyone’s face on the high drama single artwork. Especially Nadine.
Kimba‘s umbrella. Chezza‘s yoga. And just when will Queen Nuhdeen receive her royalty check(s) for Adele‘s clear and ahbvahyuhs creaytuhv infrayngemahynt? “Hello…uht’s may.“
Nicola, Nicola, Nicola.
Speaking of Adele: The 25 vocalist might be getting a lot of attention at the moment for her ode to flip-phone miscommunication, but Cinderella’s Eyes chanteuse Baby Nic’s “hello…did you call me?“, tenderly murmured a decade before, is the true definition of heartbreaking vulnerability.
“It might sound crazy, but your voice still leaves me all funky / All funk-ay…“
Sarah’s anguished outro feels like the predecessor to her Primrose walkabout on “The Promise.” Her live rendition was even better, when she would really belt those final few lines out and make her solo moment last. OO-OO-OH, FUNK-AY!
“Does she love you like I never could? / Hold you tender? Tell you everything’s good? Whoa-oh-oh-ohhh….“
As with the majority of Aloud’s best gems, Nadine is the reliable backbone of “Whole Lotta History.” The devastation in Nuhd’s powerful Irish pipes is real — like being caught lying about your birth year on a reality show.
The Chemistry Tour live performance.
“Whole Lotta History” became a tour staple, and the girls always managed to make the song sound as good as, if not better than, the studio version. The Chemistry Tour performance is a personal favorite, vocally and visually: Those turr outfits are the essence of mid-’00s fashion elegance. Darling, they’re in fashion, don’t you know?
“We wanted to be Top 5, Top 3 at the most…but 6 is good. 6 is…fine.”
The Aloud chronicled the making of their “Whole Lotta History” video in their Off The Record E4 series — and they were mostly pissed they didn’t chart higher. (Except Cheryl, who was over the moon.) But hey, a Top 10 is a Top 10! It was their very own Lisa Scott-Lee “But I’m B-list at Capital!” moment, basically.
“Whole Lotta History” wasn’t the only good thing to come from that release: The ballad’s B-side, “Crazy Fool,” introduced the crazy thought of a solo Cheryl Tweedy Cole Fernandez-Versini Just Cheryl to the world. (If only anything on Only Human sounded half as good as this…)
“Whole lotta histry-ahh.”
Without hyperbole, the greatest pronunciation of the word “history” in modern song.
And there you have it: A moment in histry-ahh revisited. God, I miss ’em.