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"Sound of the Underground"
Single by Girls Aloud
from the album Sound of the Underground
B-side "Stay Another Day"
Released December 16, 2002
Format CD single, cassette tape
Recorded 2002
Genre Pop
Length 3:41
Label Polydor
Writer(s) Miranda Cooper, Niara Scarlett, Brian Higgins, Xenomania
Producer Brian Higgins, Xenomania
Certification Platinum (BPI)
Girls Aloud singles chronology
"Sound of the Underground"
"No Good Advice"
The Sound of Girls Aloud track listing
"Sound of the Underground"
"Love Machine"
Alternate cover
UK CD 2 cover
UK CD 2 cover
Audio sample
file info · help

"Sound of the Underground" is a song by British all-female pop group Girls Aloud, written and produced by Brian Higgins and his production team Xenomania. It was released on 16 December 2002 in the UK, just 16 days after the group was formed on Popstars: The Rivals, and became the year's Christmas number one. The single spent four consecutive weeks at number one, achieving a platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry.[1] It also served as the title track of Girls Aloud's debut album, Sound of the Underground. Irish artist, Samantha Mumba, was due to record this as her comeback song in 2002 but she opted for I'm Right Here instead.


Background and release

"Sound of the Underground" was one of sixty songs that Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper had written with the aim of launching their own girl group.[2] The song was originally recorded in 2001 by London girl group Orchid, who disbanded before gaining a firm record deal.[3] It was chosen by Girls Aloud's manager Louis Walsh as their debut single.[3] The six finalists of the ITV1 programme Popstars: The Rivals rehearsed the song a week before the finals.[2]

Girls Aloud were formed through the show by a public vote on 30 November 2002.[4] The concept of the programme was to produce a boyband and a girlband who would be "rivals" and compete for the Christmas number one single in 2002. Girls Aloud competed against One True Voice, managed by music producer Pete Waterman. Both groups were sent on huge promotional tour. They used a combative "Buy girls, bye boys" slogan to persuade the public to buy their single.[5] A cover of One True Voice's single "Sacred Trust" appears on the special edition bonus disc of Girls Aloud's greatest hits album The Sound of Girls Aloud.

Pete Waterman caused a media frenzy after accusing Girls Aloud of being unoriginal and not singing on "Sound of the Underground" (after they claimed it was better to release a new song than a cover as the A-side) .[6] Many articles falsely claim that this track was then "stolen" from Orchid by Girls Aloud. The track was actually owned by Xenomania (the producers) and the original version was used as a "session singers" version, making it Girls Aloud's and not a cover as some articles suggested. This is not uncommon in the music industry.[3]

Due to the press attention, the members of Orchid are credited on the single release and remain backing singers on the single. Sarah Harding explained that this just pads out the track and is not uncommon in the industry. Girls Aloud also sang "Sound of the Underground" live throughout promotion to prove it was them singing and rubbish Pete Waterman's attempt to sabotage the release.

Critical reception

"Sound of the Underground" received a positive response from most music critics. It "proved a first: it was a reality pop record that didn't make you want to do physical harm to everyone involved in its manufacture."[7] A review for Girls Aloud's debut album stated that the song has "become a pulsating pop classic with a modern, metallic beat, catchy chorus and just the right amount of sleaze."[8] The song was further described as "an enticing blend of spiky guitars and Fatboy Slim beats topped off with an irresistibly catchy chorus."[9] Allmusic praised the song, calling it "a mechanistic sashay of twangy surf guitar and sultry gang vocals — Girls Aloud explodes like a five-headed Kylie Minogue."[10] Michael Osborn said that "Sound of the Underground" offers "a fresh tune that has no intentions of following the road to seasonal schmaltzville."[11] An article from The Guardian called the song "an icy confection very different from the normal run of girl-band things."[5]

In 2002, "Sound of the Underground" was voted Best Single at the Disney Channel Kids Awards.[12] "Sound of the Underground" and another Xenomania production, Sugababes' "Round Round", have been called "two huge groundbreaking hits",[13] credited with reshaping British pop music for the 2000s.[14] The Telegraph placed the song at number 15 on a list of 100 songs that defined the noughties, while NME included it at number 39.[15] named "Sound of the Underground" the eighth best British song of the 2000s.[16]

Music video

The video for "Sound of the Underground" was shot in a London warehouse just days after Girls Aloud's formation on the last week of competition of Popstars: The Rivals.

It features the band members in various scenes "underground". In the group scene, they perform the song backed by a band in a large metal enclosure. As the song progresses, each band member also incorporates a tall microphone stand into the choreography, echoed in many live performances in the song. In the solo scenes, each member is shown sitting or standing in the "underground" setting while various other shots, such as a light bulb spontaneously cracking open and catching on fire, are shown.

Track listings and formats

UK CD1 (Polydor / 0658272)
  1. "Sound of the Underground" — 3:43
  2. "Stay Another Day" (Tony Mortimer, Rob Kean, Dominic Hawken) — 4:24
  3. "Sound of the Underground" (Brian Higgins Remix) — 4:40
UK CD2 (Polydor / 0658202)
  1. "Sound of the Underground" — 3:43
  2. "Stay Another Day" (Instrumental) — 4:24
  3. Girls Aloud interview — 7:13
Promo (Polydor)
  1. "Sound of the Underground" (Flip & Fill Remix) — 5:35
  2. "Sound of the Underground" (Instrumental Breakdown Mix) — 3:36
German CD
  1. "Sound of the Underground" — 3:43
  2. "Stay Another Day" — 4:24
  3. "Sound of the Underground" (Brian Higgins Remix) — 4:40
  4. "Sound of the Underground" (Flip & Fill Remix) — 5:36
  5. Girls Aloud interview — 7:13

Versions and appearances

These are the official versions and remixes and the release they appear on, of:

Version Release appearance
Album Version "Sound of the Underground" single,
Sound of the Underground,
The Sound of Girls Aloud
Instrumental "Sound of the Underground" single
Brian Higgins Mix
Flip & Fill Remix
Video "No Good Advice" single,
Girls on Film [DVD],
Style [DVD]
Extended Performance Version The Sound of Girls Aloud [Special Edition]

Chart performance

"Sound of the Underground" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart on December 22, 2002. Girls Aloud sold just over 213,000 copies, while One True Voice's "Sacred Trust" sold only 147,000.[17] The song spent four consecutive weeks at number one.[18] and was certified platinum in March 2003.[1] The song had similar success on the Irish Singles Chart. "Sound of the Underground" debuted at number two, while One True Voice only managed to chart at number nine.[19] They held on at number two for a second week,[20] and later rose to number one.[21]

Chart (2002/2003) Peak
UK Singles Chart 1
Australian Singles Chart 31
Belgium Singles Chart 13
Dutch Singles Chart 9
New Zealand Singles Chart 53
French Singles Chart 55
German Singles Chart 42
Irish Singles Chart 1
Romanian Singles Chart 10
Swedish Singles Chart 39
Swiss Singles Chart 25
Greek Singles Chart 8
UK Singles Chart (2002 Year-End) 17
UK Singles Chart (2003 Year-End) 21
Chart (2000–2009) Peak
UK Top 100 Songs of the Decade 40[22]

Live performances

The song has been performed live at the following events:

Cover versions


  1. ^ a b "Certified Awards - Sound of the Underground". British Phonographic Industry. 2003-03-14. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  2. ^ a b Robinson, Peter (2009). "Sound of the Underground", p. 7 [Booklet]. Album notes for The Singles Boxset by Girls Aloud. London, England: Fascination Records.
  3. ^ a b c "Girls Aloud: Is it really a cover?". CBBC Newsround. BBC. 2002-12-21. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  4. ^ "Popstars girl group picked". BBC News. BBC. 2002-12-02. Retrieved 2009-02-28.  
  5. ^ a b "Females with attitude". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 2002-12-16.,11710,860818,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  6. ^ "Waterman starts slanging match". 2002-12-19. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  7. ^ Alexis Petridis (2003-05-23). "Girls Aloud: Sound of the Underground". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2009-02-28.  
  8. ^ Ian Youngs (2003-05-23). "Girls Aloud trounce pop rivals". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 2009-02-28.  
  9. ^ Andrew Lynch (2003-06-04). "Girls Aloud - Sound of the Underground". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2009-02-28.  
  10. ^ Johnny Loftus. "Sound of the Underground". All Media Guide. Retrieved 2009-02-28.  
  11. ^ "Popstars Girls win musical war". BBC News. BBC. 2002-12-16. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  12. ^ "Gareth is tops with kids". Ireland On-Line. BT Ireland. 2003-09-20. Retrieved 2008-04-11.  
  13. ^ Neil McCormick (August 13, 2009). "Xenomania: how to write a hit song". (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 2009-11-24.  
  14. ^ Emily MacKay (November 2009). "End of Decade: Sound of the Overground". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 2009-12-03.  
  15. ^ "End of Decade: lists". Xenomania News. November 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-03.  
  16. ^ Richard Moore (2009-12-06). "Best British Songs of the 2000s". AOL. Retrieved 2009-12-31.  
  17. ^ "Girls Aloud top festive chart". BBC News. 2002-12-23. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  18. ^ "Sound of the Underground". Retrieved 2009-02-28.  
  19. ^ "Eminem holds on for Christmas number one". RTÉ.ie. Radio Telefís Éireann. 2002-12-23. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  20. ^ "Eminem still at top of Irish chart". RTÉ.ie. Radio Telefís Éireann. 2002-12-30. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  21. ^ "Girls Aloud knock Eminem from No 1". RTÉ.ie. Radio Telefís Éireann. 2003-01-13. Retrieved 2009-02-28.  
  22. ^ Radio 1 Official Chart of the Decade, as broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on Tuesday 29th December 2009, presented by Nihal


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