Thursday, November 20, 2003

Why I dislike Louis Walsh, part one.

This is an argument I've been carefully considering for some time. There are potentially many reasons to hate Louis Walsh. I can think of at least five big fat reasons right off the cuff. But that's enough about Westlife. The reason I dislike Louis Walsh at this present moment in time is for having the arrogance to throw away a wonderful opportunity for pop.

Let's face it, even during the heat generated by Popstars: The Rivals, few people predicted great things for Girls Aloud. Most of us just assumed that One True Voice would be the success story, and that Girls Aloud would fade into obscurity. But we all know the rest of the story: 'Sound of the Underground' was ace, 'Sacred Trust' wasn't, a nation collectively wet its pants at the fact that a Popstars single could actually make even music snobs admit that it was "quite good actually". And then came 'No Good Advice', and we all creamed our pants all over again that a Popstars band could produce the two best singles of 2003 (and yes, for the pedants out there, I realise 'Sound of the Underground' was released in 2002, but I don't give a tiny rat's ass), while at the same time reclaiming guitars from the dirty grounds of indie back to the hallowed ground of pop.

It was lovely of Louis Walsh, as Girls Aloud's manager, to actually demonstrate a love of music not evident in his work with Westlife, and give Girls Aloud an album full of modern pop classics. What I find totally incomprehensible is that fact that now he appears to have lost both faith and interest in the girls, demonstrated most amply by the release of their latest single, 'Jump'. I don't have a problem with the single in itself, in fact I think it's ace. What bothers me is that both CDs have been filled with album tracks and remixes, neither CD has the video, and therefore there's precious little here to tempt hardcore fans (who are pretty much the only people supporting Girls Aloud at the moment) into buying the single. Even though the single's new, the album's being re-released to include it, so why would hardcore fans (other than psychotic completists like myself) bother to buy it?

Given that Girls Aloud are up against Louis Walsh's other headline act, Westlife, in this week's chart, it seems a bit obvious where Louis' loyalties lie. And they are not with the future of pop - he clearly couldn't care less about Girls Aloud, and in a manner that seems worryingly common in the music industry these days, seems to be pushing them into the dumper with his own hands, leaving him free to focus his attentions on the (metaphorical and literal) fatted calf that is Westlife, despite the fact that they (a) make disturbingly atrocious records, and (b) have been around for ages and clearly can't be that far from splitting up.

It's such a waste. Girls Aloud could quite easily have been the best girl group in Britain; after all, the only band currently offering any serious competition is the Sugababes. Yet when even their management seem to have given up on them, it seems as though they're destined to follow Hear'Say and Gareth Gates into the road of a lukewarm reception of the second album, and then a one-way ticket to the dumper.

Much as I love Girls Aloud, and hope against hope that they will survive and continue to make further albums as classy and genre-defining as 'Sound of the Underground' was (and indeed still is), I'm sure pop will survive without them. But I don't think I can ever forgive Louis Walsh for dangling such a brilliant concept in front of us and then whipping it away as soon as he got bored.

(Wow - hardcore polemic and rhetoric! Bet you didn't think you'd ever see that on this site...)


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