We’re not just Girls Aloud lite – we’ve got edge!

Daily Mail

The Saturdays threw themselves in at the deep end when they began their colourful assault on the pop world last spring.

A female quintet assembled after a series of auditions, they were launched with a prestigious support slot on the Tangled Up Tour, headlined by Girls Aloud, the UK’s biggest girl band.

Before the opening night, at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena in May, there were plenty of backstage nerves.

‘We were all really excited, but also very frightened,’ admits Mollie King, the blonde, bubbly Saturday who is described as ‘a mixture of Disney cartoon characters’ by her bandmates.

‘We’d only done one warm-up gig. But, suddenly, we were performing in front of 10,000 people. We were worried that our singing might not be spot-on, or that we wouldn’t be able to dance. Luckily, we went down really well, and we came offstage completely buzzing.’

At 21, West Londoner Mollie is already a veteran of the girl-band scene. As a former member of Fallen Angelz, who appeared on The X Factor in 2007 only to be dropped after reaching the ‘boot camp’ stage, she has experienced the pain of pop rejection.

She isn’t the only Saturday to have sampled the highs and lows of a previous career, either.

Two other band members, Frankie Sandford and Rochelle Wiseman, were in S Club Juniors. The other two, Vanessa White (who sang in the West End production of The Lion King) and Una Healy (who played in an Irish rock band and sang jazz standards in hotel receptions) have also paid their dues.

All five, however, were grateful for the practical support offered by Girls Aloud on that daunting debut tour. ‘People will want to hear that there was rivalry between us,’ Mollie says. ‘But there wasn’t any. On the first night, Cheryl [Cole] and Kimberley [Walsh] came into our dressing room to wish us luck. They also chatted to us over dinner. They went out of their way to be nice to us.’

Comparisons between the two groups are inevitable, but The Saturdays are keen to assert their own identity. They are not, they imply, Girls A-Lite.

With a dance-pop sound that lies closer to the Pussycat Dolls and Rihanna, they have already had two Top Ten hits. A third single, Issues, should follow suit when it is released on Monday.

‘It’s flattering to be compared with Girls Aloud because they have been around for six years,’ says Tipperary-born Una, 27 (‘the determined one’, say the rest of the group). ‘But it was the same for them when they started; they were always being compared to the Spice Girls.’

For Frankie and Rochelle, both 19 and from Essex, The Saturdays offered a route back into music after the demise of S Club Juniors, a short-lived S Club 7 offshoot formed in 2001 by Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.

Overjoyed to get a second chance, they are making the most of it. When I meet the group at noon, they have already been working for eight hours, having risen at 4am to prepare for a breakfast TV show.

According to Frankie (‘honest and upfront, she tells it like it is’), S Club were the perfect introduction to the pop world – but The Saturdays are a more grown-up, edgier affair.

‘With S Club Juniors we didn’t have any creative freedom, but that wasn’t a bad thing. We were so young – 12 when we started – that we wouldn’t have known what to do with it anyway.’

For Rochelle (‘the mummy of the band, bossy but with the best of intentions’), an apprenticeship under Fuller has stood her and Frankie in good stead. ‘It was odd to be making music at such a young age,’ she admits. ‘I saw an old S Club TV interview recently. We were just kids, but we were being asked the same sort of questions that we get asked now.’

With the five-strong line-up completed by 19-year- old, Somerset-born Vanessa (‘our Christina Aguilera, but ridiculously modest’), the group’s management team, Maximum Artists, secured them a deal with Polydor last January.

After six months in rehearsals, the girls took their live bow on the Tangled Up Tour before releasing their first single If This Is Love in July. Their upbeat debut album Chasing Lights followed in October. Touting themselves as ‘a proper, full-on girl band’, they might be five girls who want to have fun, but The Saturdays also see themselves as an integral part of a new wave of pop groups with greater credibility, and a touch more attitude than the manufactured song-and-dance acts of the Spice and S Club era.

Rochelle says: ‘When Frankie and I started, pop was very cheesy. Now it has more of an edge, and that’s refreshing.’ Una agrees: ‘I think that we came along at the right time. People have a negative thing about bands who are put together  –  they think we are told what to sing and what to wear. They say that we are manufactured, but you can’t manufacture talent.’

The group’s new single, Issues, shows their softer side. Still, the ballad came close to causing controversy when radio programmers, taking account of the current wave of knife crime, misheard the lyric ‘I can’t decide if I should slap you’ as ‘I can’t decide if I should stab you’. A new radio edit has been made, with the phrase amended to ‘leave you’.

Frankie says: ‘We knew that we were singing “slap”, so we didn’t pay much attention to it at first. But we changed the lyrics to have a clean conscience.’

The Saturdays say they are not really ‘into the party scene’, preferring to focus on their careers.

As Vanessa points out: ‘This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, so I’m not going to take anything for granted. I don’t want to look back in years to come and realise that I blew my big chance.’

• Issues is out on Monday.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top