221. Girls Aloud – ‘Untouchable’ (2008)

“Whenever you’re gone, gone
They wait at the door
And everything’s hurting like before
Without any meaning
We’re just skin and bones
Like beautiful robots dancing alone”

Taken from the album Out Of Control

UK #11

‘Untouchable’ begins with a bang, but immediately switches to a low-key sonic rumble, punctuated by a wistful guitar. “Through wind and rain we got here…” it begins, Nicola Roberts kicking off one of Girls Aloud’s greatest achievements. The quiet vulnerability in her voice, a little bit of sorrow, a little bit of awe, especially when she sings “When I look in your eyes, it’s all gone”, is beautiful to hear and between this and her verse in ‘The Loving Kind’, she emerged as one of the group’s most valuable assets.

The chorus kicks in – “And in my dreams it feels like we are forty stories tall, when you’re around, ooh, we’re untouchable”. Simple but grand, slightly off but completely sensible and right, this chorus is as serious as it is uplifting. As the production races behind them, the girls sing as if they’re beside a piano in a jazz bar, ignoring the dance beats and injecting every syllable with as much emotion as they possibly can. The song goes through a few more verses and an extended instrumental, never dragging it out, only prolonging the pleasure. Every girl gets a chance to shine vocally, every line is special, not a second or a beat or a word wasted.

All of this is just a warm up. Four minutes and fifty seconds in, when you think ‘Untouchable’ couldn’t get any better, Nadine Coyle explodes through your speakers for what is a contender for the most electrifying moment in the history of pop music. It’s quoted above but it needs to be repeated one more time:

“Whenever you’re gone, gone
They wait at the door
And everything’s hurting like before
Without any meaning
We’re just skin and bones
Like beautiful robots dancing alone”

Without any meaning, we’re just skin and bones, like beautiful robots dancing alone. In all my life I’ve heard few single lines of poetry as powerful or as wonderful as that. A lot of fuss and nonsense surrounded the release of ‘Untouchable’ but it all means nothing when that verse kicks in. There are further choruses before the end of the song but you barely notice them – you’re emotionally exhausted and in awe of all this. This is what pop music should always feel like. Like being forty stories tall. This is the kind of song lists like this were made for.

2 Responses to “221. Girls Aloud – ‘Untouchable’ (2008)”

  1. Mihkel Says:

    I guess you had to “be there” for 2005-6 to truly appreciate the Chemistry-era and its superiority over anything that came before or after. Calling this ‘one of GA’s greatest achievements’ sounds like a blasphemy to my ears, but each to their own.

  2. Mikey Says:

    I live in the U.S. and “Untouchable” was the first Girls Aloud song I ever heard. I was instantly hooked! This is my favorite GA song, I’m so glad you posted about it!

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