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26th Jul 2017

Remembering the time Girls Aloud convinced us to buy a Nintendo DS

Cast your mind back to 2008

Ciara Knight

Cast your mind back to 2008.

The world was a much different place. We were watching Gavin & Stacey and Skins, Fidel Castro retired as President of Cuba, The Dark Knight and Twilight were released, Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross were leaving salacious voicemails for elderly actors and Madonna was busy divorcing Guy Ritchie.

Meanwhile, Girls Aloud were having a great time in 2008. They released their fifth and final studio album, which entered the charts at number one and went double platinum. Their popularity was at an all-time high, so they turned their valiant efforts towards Nintendo, producing what I still consider to be the greatest piece of advertisement of the early 2000s.

The advert begins with our girls settling into their daily game of Mario Kart, which they regularly huddle around one singular couch to play. Even though the couch is big enough for them all to sit side-by-side, the girls are so consumed by their desire to play Nintendo, that they assume a 3-2 formation, with Sarah and Kimberly pulling the short straws and having to hunker down on the carpet in front.

Where are they playing Nintendo? Is this supposed to be one of the girls’ houses? Or do they all live together like the Spice Girls did on that bus driven by Meatloaf? Wherever the location, it’s fucking fancy. There are at least three glass top tables, which we all know can only be purchased by rich people. There’s also an abundance of jazzy lamps, which again are strictly reserved for the affluent. You have to use a code word in Argos to access them. (The code word is Jojoba).

The opening dialogue is flawless. Cheryl, ever the competitive Aloud Girl, says “I have to warn ya, I’m good at this one”. What I like about this sentence is that it implies that Cheryl has played many games on her Nintendo DS, too many for you to even comprehend. She’s played so many games that she is now in the very fortunate position of being able to determine which one she truly excels at. What luck for young Cheryl that the girls have chosen Mario Kart today. Victory will surely be hers.

Nadine chimes in with “Start it up”, as the on-screen countdown has already begun. It’s a redundant statement and I think Nadine herself would agree with me on that one. Whoever is in charge of getting this game off the ground has already done so. The countdown had already been initiated when Nadine offered up her expression. There was nothing to start, it had already been started. All that could happen at that point is a situation where they could pause the game, then unpause it, thereby starting it up again. It’s unnecessary drivel and if anything, hampers the viewer’s concentration.

In terms of the girls’ technical ability, they’re all well used to the intricacies of Mario Kart. We’re following Nadine first in the on-screen demonstration, which says a lot about the dynamic within the group. Is Nadine the main one? I always thought it was Cheryl, but maybe I was dead fucking wrong. Sure, Nadine has the strongest vocals, but her harsh Derry accent means she’s restricted in her commitment to being the spokesperson for the group. We’ve all got our favourites, but it’s never been openly discussed that Nadine is the main one? Have I, among others, been mistakenly perceiving Cheryl to be the main Girl Aloud when all this time it’s actually Nadine? It’s 9 years since this ad aired and only now it’s all starting to make sense.

Suddenly Nicola, arguably the sneakiest member of Girls Aloud, hits Nadine with a shell, meaning her kart comes to a spinning halt. This allows the rest of the girls to whizz past, potentially signifying that there’s some underlying tension within the group. Perhaps the other four agreed on a strategy beforehand, aiming to take down Nadine once and for all. As we know, all band splits can be traced back to a heated game of Mario Kart, so it’s by no means a stretch to buy into this logic.

Sarah, the fucking dark horse of the band then hits Cheryl with a good old fashioned inking. The screen and her character are covered in ink, it’s a fucking disaster. She can’t see a damn thing. Let’s look into this a little deeper because fuck it, we’re more or less there anyway. Sarah has always been the band member that tries to stand out. She wears slightly edgier clothes and always has an edgy haircut and an even edgier piercing. Is this her time to literally and metaphorically overtake both Cheryl and Nadine as the main ones in the group? It’s a delicious situation to watch unfold. Kimberly and Nicola seem reasonably content with their back seat roles, but Sarah wants blood. She’ll ink any man, woman or child to get ahead.

In the end, Cheryl obviously wins. It was a no-brainer. The signs were all there. She literally warned us at the beginning that she was “good at this one”. Personally, I thought that it was all smack talk, but that’s shut me right up. Cheryl ruthlessly fought her way to the front of that race, she was untouchable. Even an inking from that snake Nicola couldn’t hold her back. It was always Cheryl’s race to lose, and lose she most certainly did not.

Overall, this advertisement is about so much more than a Nintendo DS. It’s about tension within the music industry. Just kidding, it’s about convincing teenage losers such as myself in 2008 that I will become more popular if I purchase a portable games console with multiplayer function. In reality, you’ll be playing against the computer every single time because the Wifi connections weren’t strong enough to link up for the entirety of a game.

In essence, we learned a huge amount from this gripping advertisement. Cheryl was the main one in Girls Aloud, despite Nadine’s enthusiasm. Sarah Harding also fancied herself as a significant band member, and had no issue in resorting to ink-related violence. Nicola is a fucking savage, but content with being in the back. Also, Girls Aloud do not know how to sit on a couch properly and now I really want to play Nintendo DS with them all. Fuck, advertising actually works.

Images via YouTube