Now here's a real novelty: a pop act from a reality TV talent show that continued its success after the furor of the show had died away. In the case of Girls Aloud, they had been a fixture on the pop scene for so long (compared to their contemporaries) that many had almost forgotten which show had originally launched them. For the record, it was Pop Stars: The Rivals, a show that pitted a girl group against a boy band and never reached a second series; in fact, the show's format had been killed off even before the end of the career of the boy band equivalent of Girls Aloud, One True Voice. But mainly thanks to the singles chart, Girls Aloud were still going strong -- well, maybe not as strong: the cracks were beginning to show. After all, when your main audience consists of preteen girls, you have to understand that when your own fans grow up, new generations of preteen fans will favor bands closer to their own age -- and there will always be many, many bands waiting in the wings to satisfy that market. Chemistry was the third album by the girls, and although (like predecessors Sound of the Underground and What Will the Neighbours Say?) it produced its fair share of Top Ten singles such as "Long Hot Summer" (not the Style Council song), "Biology," "See the Day," and "Whole Lotta History" (sounding like the Spice Girls in their "2 Become 1" mode), the previous two albums' batches of singles had hit numbers one or two and these were only reaching numbers seven and nine, not good enough in the mid-2000s for an out and out pop act. "Models" was used as the theme to a TV documentary about the band, and they do attempt some rapping on the song "Wild Horses," but the track does begin rather like a twee children's choir. In a similar vein to "I'll Stand by You," a big ballad in the middle of the fun and froth of What Will the Neighbours Say?, on Chemistry they sang a cover of Dee C. Lee's "See the Day" that was rather formulaic and lacked the soul of the original. It had never been a good idea to release major pop albums in December, most retailers having allocated the space both in the windows and at floor level, and Chemistry suffered from a December 5th release, not being eligible for the charts until the week just before Christmas. Although it sold well, it became their lowest-charting album to date, not even reaching the Top Ten.
by Sharon Mawer