Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Monday, October 02, 2006

Nicola Roberts: A Life in Videos 

It's Monday! And it's an exciting week here at TiaPL Towers as we gear up to celebrate the single most important and life affirming date in the calendar: Nicola Roberts 21st birthday on October 5th. Hooray! No doubt you'll be marking this national holiday in your own way, but we believe that such a milestone deserves a proper build up, so this week we're going to proudly present to you, our dear reader(s), Nicola Roberts: A Life in Videos.

Yes, as we count down to the momentous day, we'll be looking at Nicola's performances in every single Girls Aloud video. And by "Every single Girls Aloud video" we mean every one up to Long Hot Summer, as the others aren't out on DVD yet and it's hard enough trying to spot what they've let Nic contribute to the promo without having to do it via the medium of low-res YouTube blockiness. Besides, other then Biology, the rest of the Chemistry videos don't have much to recommend them, apart from the fact that, despite having made a career out of looking, and lets not beat around the bush here, a bit grumpy, Nic chooses the Whole Lotta History video, a quite downbeat and sad song about a failed relationship, to start smiling, grinning, and generally looking like it's the happiest thing in the world that could have happened to her.

Anyway, lets go back, way back, to a time when the world was more innocent. A time before James Blunt, Katie Melua and Sandi Thom, a time when there was still a hope that Bush wouldn't win a second election, and a time when Nicola was still actually ginger. It's December, 2002 and this is Sound of the Underground.

Sound of the Underground

It's quite clear from the get go that the brief given to the director was twofold: 1) Keep the whole shoot as low cost as you can, we're still not sure whether the girls will recoup or not, and 2) the ginge stays out the picture. And so it was that the debut video by the greatest group the world has ever seen consisted of them dancing around in a poorly lit chicken wire cage with Nicola, the greatest pop star the world has ever seen, stuck right on the far left of shot, perfectly positioned so that the cameraman can accidentally cut her off as he swoops in on the group, something he does with annoying regularity. Indeed, such is Nic's lack of involvement in the video that the casual observer could easily be forgiven for believing that Girls Aloud are, in fact, a four piece. Or, for that matter, given that it achieves more screen time than the flame haired popstrel, that the disembodied strumming hand of the guitarist was a full time member.

This is not, of course to say that Nicola doesn't shine. In our entirely unbiased and non obsessive opinion she's clearly the best thing in the video, even despite the fact that the directors lack of interest in her extended to her wardrobe, with her forced to pull her shapes in a shapeless black top and not hugely appealing pink trousers, while the other girls got to wear clothes that could, in a New Look sorta way, be considered sexy. She does get a few solo shots in which she smoulders in front of the camera, even if the abiding impression you're left with from the framing of the shots is that she's been locked in the cellar and is spoken of only in coded terms by the others, and the bit in the second chorus where she spins round and her hair fans out behind her like a flaming ring of gold or, in slightly less poetic terms, like some hair is particularly impressive. Or it would have been had it not been going on in the background while the others arse around in front of her.

At one point a bulb explodes. It was probably the one that was supposed to be illuminating Nic.

No Good Advice

The girls all absolutely hate this video, which just goes to show that even perfection can be wrong sometimes as we think it's pretty ace. Their main dislike of this vid comes from their lukewarm attitude towards the bacofoil - sorry, silver leather - outfits they had to wear which, by all accounts, were uncomfortable, too hot, and had a tendency towards ripping, so that by the end of the shoot most of their essentials were covered by the not exactly glamorous medium of duct tape. It may not have been pleasant for them, but they do all look rather good in it, with the exception of Kimberley, who was clearly busy on the day of the shoot and so her role was played by Pete Burns.

Nicola herself, who looks slightly drunk, tired, or both, was wearing a short bacofoil dress and heels, the right one of which we own. We have no idea what it's worth, but we'd hazard a guess at at least a million pounds. Our attempts so far to clone a Roberts from the DNA contained within the sole have so far come to naught, though we have managed to grow some cress, so result!

Our ownership of pop star footwear aside, this video mainly features the girl dancing round, on top, and in a car, with occasional glimpses of Sarah smashing up a phone booth, presumably in reaction to every right thinking person in the world calling up and suggesting that they might want to give the ginger one a bit more screen time. As this is their second video the budget has been increased which allows them to use top of the range special effects, or "Blue Screen" as it's otherwise known. To this end the girls flash in and out of shot, with multiple versions of each girl often appearing on screen. Despite the fact that there's often twice the Nicola in some of the shots, she still only gets half of the air time, a lot of which is spent showing her feet as she dances atop the car with the guitarist while the camera finds other things to focus upon.

By the end of the video, the budget has clearly run out so the special effects software is now running on an Atari from the early nineties, using techniques last seen in a Bonkers Happy Hardcore Classics video. Blue flame shoots across the screen as the girls morph in and out of each other, with Nicola getting literally blacked out at one point, as if they hadn't already made their incomprehensible desire to keep her appearances down to a minimum crystal clear, but whether they like it or not, she was given the last line in this song, and so it ends, as frankly all videos should, Girls Aloud or not, with Nicola placing her hand on her hip and shooting the camera with a look of disdain. And quite right too.