Skip to content

‘Deceased, bodies hanging out of bins and Soho is no more,’ is how Nicola Roberts’ best friend (quite accurately) described the limp-wrist population’s reaction to the return of Girls Aloud. On 22 November, the pop giants announced a 2024 tour in celebration of their groundbreaking discography and to honour the late, self-described “wild child” Sarah Harding, who sadly passed away from breast cancer in 2021.

Between 2002 and 2012, Girls Aloud annihilated the UK charts with a record-breaking twenty consecutive top ten singles – including four chart-toppers – with their innovative Xenomania-assisted approach to pop transforming the musical landscape of the noughties. As well as their pure adoration and reverence for their signature genre, Girls Aloud’s aesthetic, music videos and legendary television appearances soon cemented their status as camp, queer icons.

“We pride ourselves on these camp moments,” Kimberley Walsh tells GAY TIMES after Nicola, Cheryl and Nadine Coyle reflect on their viral use of stools in their ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ performance, Ghost Hunting with Girls Aloud and their bilingual talents in ‘Can’t Speak French’ (the French version). “That [translator] was really getting on my nerves,” Nadine reminisces. “She was like, ‘That’s not French’ and I was like, ‘IT SOUNDS FRENCH TO ME!’”

“Camp and chaotic” is how we described this interview in the headline, and it’s apt. Here, Cheryl, Kimberley, Nadine and Nicola discuss all of the above moments in their career, as well as the divisive single they no longer claim, why they don’t feel the need to record new music and why the “stars have aligned” for this exciting new era in Girls Aloud’s history.

Girls, this will be a very camp and gay interview.

Nadine: Love that.

Kimberley: So happy, we are here for this.

The gays love you… You love the gays. Makes sense.

Kimberley: It’s a mutual thing.

Cheryl: I’ve had many text messages saying, ‘The gays are gagged.’ So, I am fully in the know.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the news reveals that a 5.2 magnitude earthquake was registered at 8pm on Wednesday 22nd November from the sound of queers screaming.

Kimberley: One of my favourite messages on socials was the one about the 4, 3, 2, 1 [countdown] saying, ‘This is basically the gay calendar of the year.’

Nicola: Listen to this message from my best friend. He said, “Promo has got the gays up in a heap, deceased, dead, bodies hanging out of bins, Soho is no more, French bulldogs all up for adoption. Due the mass extinction of the gays, girls: go, go, go, go, go!”

Cheryl: My friend text, “Panics in gay.” What does that mean?

Nadine: It’s like you’re panicking, but in gay mode.

It’s like this: [panics in gay].

Kimberley: That is it, come to life.

Nicola: That’s the level of drama that we deserve.

You’ll see it on this tour. Fainting, crying, dying…

Nadine: No, we don’t want anyone dying.

But if I’m going to die, it’s going to be at a Girls Aloud concert. Know what I mean?

Cheryl: You’d be happy?

Nadine: No better place. That’s the way to go out.

This tour is a celebration of your iconic career and in memory of our wildchild icon Sarah. You have such a tremendous discography, what’s it like to revisit that now?

Kimberley: It’ll be nice to revisit it after ten years off. When you’re doing the songs day-in, day-out, you get complacent. You almost don’t see the beauty in them as much. When I’m listening again now I’m like, ‘These are great!’

Nicola: With the music, people don’t see the logistics. For us it’s like, ‘What’s the video going to be? How is it mixed?’ We don’t get to enjoy the songs: the fans do. Like Kimberley said, you come back and hear it in such a new way. For me, I’m a genuine fan of the music that we created and what Xenomania did for us. They’re masterpieces.

Cheryl: We’ve had a decade distance, which is healthy for everyone, and it’s 21 years now of Girls Aloud. It feels like the stars have aligned, and we’re women now. We’ve got wisdom. We’ve got perspective. There’s something really cathartic and healing about this whole process.

Revisiting your music now, you realise how innovative these songs were…

Cheryl: Ahead of their time.

Nicola: If I was Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper, the writers of ‘Biology’, I would be like, ‘Okay, I am king. Look what I’ve created?’ It’s a masterpiece. People don’t realise they’re never one song. ‘Biology’ was probably six different songs that he’s curated to make this one piece. It’s genius.

I know fans wanted new music but with this library of timeless classics, did you even feel the need to?

Nadine: There’s no need. It would dilute what we’ve got going on.

Cheryl: It’s so difficult because Sarah wouldn’t be on the track. It would have a different sound, a different feel. She’s embedded in our DNA.

Kimberley: As you said, they are quite timeless. They stand alone. It’s enough for us to go and have the biggest party to the songs that we already have.

The fan-gay in me has to ask, what is your favourite single?

Cheryl: ‘The Promise’ for me.

Sarah’s “walking primrose” line… iconic.

Kimberley: It really is.

Nadine: She is the walking primrose.

Kimberley: ‘The Promise’ was just a moment, wasn’t it?

Nicola: We fought for that song to be our first single, really hard, to the point where we were like, ‘Nadine, don’t even come back from LA.’

Nadine: I was like, ‘If yous don’t change the single…’ I was in hair and makeup like, ‘I’m going to LA right now. Call me when you sort this out.’ They called half an hour later like, ‘Okay, so it’s ‘The Promise’.’ That’s the day I fell and I had a new boyfriend at the time. My knees were bleeding. It was not good.

Then it became your best-selling single, BRIT Award-winning. Listen! To! The! Girls!

Nicola: Our MD was like, ‘If you release this, it’s..’

Cheryl: ‘Career suicide.’

Nadine: Who said that?

Nicola: Colin.

Nadine: He did?

Cheryl: Those exact words.

Nadine: No way.

Do we like Colin?

Kimberley: We do like Colin. He got a lot of things right.

Cheryl: He didn’t that day.

Kimberley: It was one of those moments where we’d been together for so long that we felt so sure that it was right. It was almost like, ‘Go big or go home. Let’s just do what we feel is right.’

Cheryl: You tell us. Would you have wanted that or The Pet Shop Boys?

Nicola: ‘The Loving Kind’.

I do think it’s one of your most underrated singles, but not lead-single worthy.

Cheryl: It’s a great song, but lead single?! No.

You boast an incredible 20 consecutive top 10 songs…

Nicola: I thought it was 23?

Nadine: I thought it was 25. I’ve been saying that for years.

Cheryl: Is it 21 with ‘Something New’?

21 in total with ‘Something New’, but ‘Untouchable’ broke your top 10 streak. Was there pressure from your label to keep churning out the top 10 hits? Or was there a point where you stopped caring and thought, ‘Whatever’?

Nicola: We were always really scared. On the day of the midweeks we’d be like ‘Jesus, what’s it going to be?’ because we always struggled at radio. Every single time we released a single, they made us prove ourselves. Male groups were always A-Listed at radio straightaway but with us it was always like, ‘Show us what you’ve got.’ It was like, ‘Guys, this is our 20th song… really?’

Cheryl: Give us a break.

Nicola: Give us a break! Chances are, it’s probably going to chart and then you’ll end up playing it anyway. So, we’d always get a little scared but the fanbase was so strong that we…

Kimberley: Survived.

Won’t lie – and I think I speak for a lot of fans here – I had a bit of a mental breakdown when ‘Untouchable’ only reached number 11.

Nicola: That genius, beautiful song failed its way into the top ten because it was already released on the record. It deserves more.

Your best-selling album too, right?

Nicola: Exactly. It sold like 800,000 copies.

Kimberley: We always loved ‘Untouchable’. I felt really emotional yesterday after I stupidly put it on in the car after dropping the kids. I thought I was strong enough!

What’s it like to see this campaign trying to get the song to reach number one, aka the spot it deserves?

Kimberley: It’s so lovely.

Cheryl: We were all in the group chat last night, sharing the [chart] updates. It was reminiscent of when we used to wait for the midweeks. It’s unbelievable, after all these years, that fans are still rushing to support what we’re doing. It’s mind-blowing.

Girls Aloud’s career is full of camp moments. But, what would you say is the ultimate camp moment?

Kimberley: I would love to know what you think it is….

For me, ‘Love Machine’ is obviously a camp extravaganza, as well as ‘Can’t Speak French’.

Nadine: Have you heard our French version of that?

Nicola: Je ne parle pas français!

I have… Were you all fluent in French?

Nicola: No absolutely not, I nearly killed the translator.

Nadine: That woman was really getting on my nerves. She was like, ‘That’s not French’ and I was like, ‘IT SOUNDS FRENCH TO ME!’

Kimberley: Tell me some more. Are they your two favourites?

I mean, Ghost Hunting with Girls Aloud. C’mon!

Nadine: I wasn’t there. No way, seances and all that?

Nicola: Off the Record always gets a massive response.

Kimberley: Have you seen the thing going round on Hunsnet?

Nicola: Us doing ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ on stools?

Kimberley: [Singing loudly] “But… now! There’s nowhere to hide!”

Nadine: Oh my god.

Kimberley: Remember when we did ‘The Show’ at G.A.Y. with the men sleeping under the covers? And then they popped out?

Nadine: We’ve had some good G.A.Y. performances.

Nicola: I think ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ takes it.

Kimberley: It’s gone viral. We pride ourselves on these camp moments. We’re here for it.

The gays love their deep cuts, the non-singles. Are you going to take that into consideration on the tour?

Nicola: We’ve got our own favourites as well. Some of the album tracks: ‘Girl Overboard’, ‘Close to Love’. I mean, it’s going to be all the hits: they’re the priority. But, we need to see what the fans want.

Kimberley: We need to see what the deep cuts are. What’s your deep cut?

‘Graffiti My Soul’.

Cheryl: I was gonna say that.

Nicola: Maybe we can do a deep cut megamix?

‘On the Metro’, too.

Nadine: Do you remember the routine for that? [Starts intensely dancing.]

Kimberley: That was actually quite hard.

Cheryl: Guess who my partner was? Miss Sarah.

Nadine: Me and Sarah stayed on for extra choreography for that.

Kimberley: I’m putting it out there: I loved ‘Rolling Back the Rivers’.

Nicola: And ‘Fling’.

Kimberley: ‘Control of the Knife’.

Nicola: ‘Revolution in the Head’.

Are there any songs you don’t want to play?

Cheryl: Any for you?

Am I about to tell Girls Aloud my least favourite single?

Cheryl: It’s important!

It’ll have to be ‘See the Day’.

Nadine: That’s not a single. I don’t know what happened there.

Kimberley: We don’t claim it.

Nadine: That was an accident.

Cheryl: That was a blip. Everyone’s allowed a blip!

Kimberley: You can’t have everything, c’mon.

Nadine: Do you remember that one, “It’s 3am and you still look gorgeous”?

Cheryl: ‘Deadlines and Diets’?

Is it true you actually wanted ‘Deadlines & Diets’ released in favour of ‘Love Machine’?

Kimberley: There’s every chance.

Nadine: We wanted to be cool but we were just there like, ‘I’m just a love machine!’

Kimberley: We did say that we don’t get it right all the time…

Sarah named her autobiography after the What Will The Neighbours Say? track ‘Hear Me Out’. Are there any plans for that song to be played on tour?

Nadine: Sarah wrote that song.

Kimberley: I can’t listen to that.

Cheryl: It’s very emotional for us, I’m not sure if we’d be able to. She wrote the book because she sincerely meant the sentiment like, ‘Can you just listen to what I’ve got to say?’

Kimberley: I’m so happy she was able to do that.

Cheryl: Me too.

I remember in our last interview Cheryl, you mentioned how that song randomly started playing in your car…

Cheryl: I was driving to Newcastle, which is a five, six-hour long journey and I always say a little prayer when I get in the car. You would normally have to plug the phone in for bluetooth to work. I could not, for the life of fiddling, get my car to work. I got Gary involved. Nobody was helping, right? I just gave up. I got in the car, sat down and music started playing and I went, ‘Oh, you fixed it!’ and he said, ‘I haven’t touched anything.’ The song was ‘Hear Me Out.’

Nadine and Nicola: Wow.

Kimberley: What the hell?

Cheryl: I started crying. Gary’s a complete logical…


Cheryl: Beyond. And he was like, ‘Gotta say it is a bit weird, like.’

Nadine: It’s not something that would be on?

Cheryl: And it’s not something I would be playing regularly, so to be the one that came on… At first I was like, ‘This is a Girls Aloud song!’ and then I went, ‘This is Sarah’s song.’ I was like, ‘You can’t tell me nothing now! You can’t tell me that’s not a sign.’

Do you know what Sarah’s favourite deep cut was? Or her favourite single?

Nadine: She liked the rockier ones.

Kimberley: Yeah like ‘No Good Advice’ and ‘Real Life’.

Cheryl: Anything with a bit of a growl or rasp, she was in.

As well as Ghost Hunting, you were completely unfiltered and hilarious in your other shows, such as Off the Record. Cheryl simply did not care about reaching the “peak of the Greek”. Are you aware that a lot of those scenes have been immortalised on Gay Twitter?

Cheryl: I am fully aware. I have a friend that fills me in constantly. The amount of people who go to me, ‘Cheryl, whenever you’re ready.’ I’m like, ‘I’m ready.’ ‘You said that with some determination!’

Kimberley: My step-daughter got me watching Off the Record during lockdown and I was shook like, ‘I can’t believe how unfiltered we are.’ We thought we were filtered! God knows what you would’ve got if we’d have been fully unfiltered.

Cheryl: Can we talk about that meme of me saying, ‘Do you think I’m gonna be singing ‘Love Machine’ when I’m 30?’ In the words of Mariah, “I don’t know her”. She’s a vague memory in the back of me mind. Now, we’re 40 and I still feel 20.

You wouldn’t have modern day pop stars now running around the world, climbing mountains and screaming, ‘Shit! Fuck this! Bollocks!’

Nicola: ‘It’s shit, it’s actual shit!’

Cheryl: ‘It’s shit, that’s what it is.’

Nicola: ‘What’s that? It’s shit.’

Kimberley: ‘That’s what it is. Actual shit.’

Cheryl: It smelled of shit. I could smell it and I was looking for what the smell was, and it was actual shit.

I was cackling in the office today over the scene where Kimberley’s trying to take a photo and Cheryl’s in the background not having any of it.

Kimberley: I was like a tourist, ‘C’mon everyone!’

Cheryl: Why would I wear high heels?

Nadine: So did I!

Nicola: We didn’t own flat shoes! I remember having a boyfriend, I think it was circa Out of Control, and he was like, ‘Just wear trainers today’ and I was like, ‘I don’t own any.’

Sorry for my memory, but Nadine, why did Jesse Metcalfe call you? I’m confused.

Nadine: We were together three years!

I seem to have completely blanked this crucial detail in your history, Nadine.

Nadine: He was obsessed with me. Completely obsessed. He’s got a tattoo of me on his arm. The obsession continues…

Cheryl: Has he? Never.

Kimberley: Now you said it, I remember.

Nadine: And he had it done on a TV show, one of these tattoo shows. He took a picture and I was like, ‘This is really creepy’ because I was like, ‘Do you realise that I was 17 in that picture you had tattooed?’

Kimberley: Jesus.

Cheryl: Have you got a picture of it? We need to have a look at it.

Nadine: It’s on the internet. And I’m naked in it! I was like, ‘Wow, that’s how you see me? Great!’

Nadine, do you know if it’s still there?

Nadine: Still there. It’s my breasts. It’s my waist. It’s my face.

This year alone, there’s been icons such as Beyoncé, P!nk, Madonna, Shania Twain, female artists who are 20 or 30 years into their career reaching new peaks. How does it feel to be part of this new wave of fierce pop star mothers slaying the game?

Nicola: I remember being younger and thinking, ‘We’re gonna get older and we’re not gonna be able to do this’ because that’s the message that the media and society put on women. I thought, ‘We’ll never be a pop group when we’re 30 because we’ll be past it and no one will be interested.’ Now, as much older women, it’s amazing that we get to do this, 21 years on. Women who grew up with us are still by our sides, cheering us on.

Kimberley: It lets people know that life is not over when you turn 25. It’s not all downhill.

Cheryl: They’re paving the way for other women to feel good about themselves.

Nicola: It’s incredible for us, as people, that we’ve been part of something that made such a big impact.

Nadine: You have to do your own thing. If we followed what other people were doing, we wouldn’t be Girls Aloud. You have to stand strong in your own ways. That’s what made us stand out.

Nicola: Our music stood alone. We didn’t follow trends.

Finally, I know it’s in the early stages, but what else can you tell me about the tour? You were known for your grand entrances. Again, that’s another camp aspect of Girls Aloud.

Cheryl: That is camp, to be fair.

Nadine: We’ve done it all. We came up through the floor, came down from the roof. We flew in…

Kimberley: It just always felt like our playground. There were no rules. It could be as camp as we wanted. I mean, we did blimmin’ musical theatre! And we wouldn’t have had that moment of Sarah doing Footloose. To me, that is the pinnacle of her. It’s unbelievable. I could watch that all day long. It’s going to be as big as it always was. All the hits, and the best party ever. But, we’re going to feel like we’re part of the party this time.

Tickets for The Girls Aloud Show go on sale Friday 1 December at 9am on