• Al Jennings

Twenty-five electric angels are dancing in the rain...

“Late at night I dream I’m falling into love again - twenty-five electric angels are dancing in the rain”

What an oddly romantic and lovely image to think about?

British songwriting team Xenomania has been credited by reshaping British Pop music for the 2000s, writing hits for icons such as Cher, Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the Pet Shop Boys, but their greatest success was found by being the long-term writers and producers behind Girls Aloud. Working with the group on all their studio albums from 2002 through to 2012. Xenomania wrote and 21 top ten singles for Girls Aloud, and produced 4 of their studio albums, singles and countless B-Sides. One of the masterpieces that they created with Girls Aloud is a little-known B-side to their 2009 Single, The Loving Kind entitled; Memory of You.

Memory of You has been described as more of dance song than a pop song, influenced and incorporating sounds from trance and progressive house music. The song began life back in 2004 as a song by Cadence, a trance project composed of Grammy-nominated DJ and produce Mike Koglin, Darren Edges and Paul Woods. Japan, as it was then known was written by the Xenomania team and featured vocals by Fame Academy’s Louise Griffiths. Japan was revisited in 2008, for a potential inclusion on what would become Girls Aloud’s final Studio Album – Out of Control.

Retaining a few of the same lyrics from Japan, it was given a major overhaul. Reworking, and reproducing it into Memory of You, one of Girls Aloud’s most undiscovered song, and one that that has developed a cult following over recent years. At the time of its of its release in January 2009, Memory of You was wrongly identified by the News of the World as being an underground tune recorded by Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts outside of Girls Aloud. Whilst elements of the Cadence original still formed parts of the song, a new lyric was included, earning Girls Aloud a co-writing credit.

Opening with a synth-led introduction, Kimberley Walsh’s slightly disconnected, often robotic – yet distinctly Northern, vocal draws the listener into another world as she dreams of falling in love with the twenty-five electric angels that are dancing in the rain around her. Note, her vocal delivery of the “twenty-five electric angels” line, not quite pronouncing the words properly, making it that bit more relatable for anybody north of the Watford Gap. Telling us about a paradise with ice-cream coloured skies that when you awake fade to a dull and monotonous black and white existence that she leaves.

Meeting a man for the first time, and finding that instant attraction and connection she craves and desires – she laments how she lost him in Japan, from being with him and holding his hand, to losing him to the last train of the night as her world is plunged from an intense euphoric paradise into that old familiar feeling she has become accustomed to. Relatable to anyone who has met a man on a night out and felt that deep connection only never to see them. We’re assuming that it’s not Japan the country, Is it a trendy-hip cocktail for bar for lonely popstars?

The thumping, power chord led chorus leads her to ask out in the darkness if that guy is still thinking about her and what might have been because she’s been doing it all night long until the morning comes. Laid awake, and as the sunrises, she laments about counting sheep and wondering whether they count us if they can’t sleep – an age-old question. And then almost immediately we’re then into the comedown. We all know the intense hangovers that follow a glass of wine and vodka filled binge. Channel surfing on the sofa, trying to bleach out the memory of him and the night before. Drinking copious amounts of tea and eating dried, burnt toast trying to fight off the second hangover from the night before – making the monotonous existence ever more thrilling.

The darker side of Girls Aloud would be revisited in 2012, with the Invisible Men produced electro sad banger, On the Metro which sits somewhere in-between Memory of You and Mini Viva’s Left My Heart in Tokyo, in the pop landscape. On the Metro, could almost follow up on that night, mixing trace synths with J-Pop creating a chorus which packs a whole lot of conviction.

How do you define a B-Side? Is it a throwaway cut from a singles parent album? Memory of You is more than just a mere B-Side. This frost-bitten, electro banger, aided by some incredible vocal runs delves deep into darker territory of the group, which is far superior to some of their camp sounding tracks which became their signature tune. There are times when the B-Side stands out to be far superior than its parent single, and this is one of them. Whilst I adore the Pet Shop Boys-written The Loving Kind; Memory of You stands head and shoulders above it, and the majority of the Out of Control.

Memory of You has yet to be performed live by Girls Aloud, which adds to is a mystery. Featured on the Greatest Hits album Ten, it remains a mystery to the general public and hidden in the shadows just waiting to be unleashed onto an unsuspecting listener. 2020 saw rumours surfacing of a potential reformation for the Girls. If this materialises, I do hope that Memory of You makes an appearance of some form on a supporting tour. It deserves its moment to shine. If you’ve never heard Memory of You before, take five minutes out of your busy day and have a listen. You’ll find it on Spotify, but beware – this will be in your head for a long time to come so get used to it.

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