The Girls teamed up once again with super hot production team Xenomania for the No. 1 smash hit 'The Promise' - it shot to the top spot in late October 2008... Incredibly it is the girls' 19th consecutive UK Top Ten hit and their fourth chart-topper.
Officially their fourth chart-topper at least, though the previous three were the single they released as part of the original Popstars: The Rivals and two charity records, so arguably this was their only single to top the chart under its own steam. You could also quibble about how super-hot a team Xenomania really are; for all the critical acclaim their actual success is mostly tied up with a couple of acts and particularly with the Aloud themselves. I've got to admit I'm a bit skeptical about their skills or at least reluctant to buy into all the hype over what are mostly well-crafted pop songs but only that.
One criticism I've levelled at a lot of Xenomania work is that they often seem to settle for a five weak hooklines over a couple of really good ones and to be honest that's what I thought of 'The Promise' at first too; but it later dawned on me that this was one time when it did work, because it's a rare example of them using the music expressively. The multiplicity of different melodies and rhythms and the unresolved sequences mirrors the confusion of the lyric and the protagonist trying to hold back temptation. Of course the chorus melody "Promise I made/starting to fade" still sounds like the theme from Blankety Blank but that might be intentional. Also, credit for the abrupt ending on the single edit, which preserves the tension and energy of the song much better than the album version that just fades out.
Fortunately it's the single cut that appears as the opener to Now 71, which I am of course doing at this point because it was the current album when I started the blog just under five years ago, and thus at the 25th anniversary of the series.
Also appearing on: Now 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73, 84
Available on: Ten