Remember how we felt about that Pet Shop Boys single? Well…
Rodney J. Greene: The problem with all the housed-up pop to bother the U.S. charts of late is that it’s been utterly resistant to any strain of house other than those subtlety-proof super-club varieties, with the Chicago classicism of Ne-Yo’s “Closer” as the exception to prove the rule. It is my understanding that the British pop consumer is, on average, exposed to a somewhat greater swath of dance music, thus allowing pop songs to get away with sounding like Aeroplane remixes of themselves.
Martin Skidmore: How odd: Girls Aloud go trancey. It bounces along nicely on the verses, and the choruses are a real rush. It’s perhaps not their most memorable song, but it’s irresistibly danceable. I could live without the use of autotune, but the vocoder sound is kept very slight and occasional.
Talia Kraines: Soaring synths, a Balearic bassline and a rubbish choice of Girls Aloud single. The fans might love it to bits, but why ignore the past fan love of surefire hits like “Models” and give in for this? We’re not saying “Untouchable” is a bad song. It’s gorgeously epic. We just don’t think it’s the one that should follow the underperforming “The Loving Kind”. We’re all about Girls Aloud grabbing the Radio 2 audience, but we’d like a bit of sass back in our ladies (we’d have gone for “Love Is Pain”).
Martin Kavka: The full album version of this is spectacular — it’s the track I currently have on a repeated loop while preparing lectures — and the lyric “Without any meaning, we’re just skin and bone, like beautiful robots dancing alone” is the closest that pop has come to Whitmanesque poetry in decades. The single is marred, well, by being shorter, but also by some AutoTune madness, and perhaps the most tone-deaf video ever, in which the girls are missiles from outer space who destroy civilization.
Alex Wisgard: In context of the last Girls Aloud album, the seven-minute version of “Untouchable” was a bold statement, albeit one which never sounded quite as impressive as it thought it was; besides, they’d already pulled off the perfect pop mini-epic with “Biology”. That said, hearing “Untouchable” as a single, mercilessly cut to half its running time, the song doesn’t sound quite right either. Shorn of its more unwieldly intentions (and given an all-too-abrupt ending, in lieu of the album version’s revelatory fade-out), it now seems like Just Another Girls Aloud Single. If nothing else, maybe it’ll help shift more copies of Out of Control; unfortunately, in this butchered state, it’s the Girls Aloud single that least lives up to its name since “Sound of the Underground”.
Edward Okulicz: Despite them taking one of Nicola’s lines and giving it to Sarah (ugh, why?), the jarring autotune and cutting out the line about the sharks, “Untouchable” works pretty well as a four-minute pop song. The dance touches are cheap, but they give the song a sense of kinetics missing from the moody album mix. The verses seem a touch abrupt at first, but a few listens make the cuts seem natural. If anything, though it seems a little short it makes the album version seem just a shade too long in retrospect. But those flaws are minor, and the climax of Nadine’s “beautiful robots” outro remains astonishingly bizarre and the tune is their best in ages.
Alex Macpherson: The latest grim chapter in The Decline of Girls Aloud features: cheap, nasty-sounding, trebly synths (obviously someone just pushed the “poppers o’clock” button in the studio, the one marked “FOR THE GAYZ”); some of the most strained singing since the heyday of Geri Halliwell’s solo career as the Girls collectively strive, in vain, for a semblance of emotion; and one of the lamest similes you’ll hear in this or any year in “like beautiful robots dancing alone”, a collection of words which push the buttons of the easily-pleased but which mean precisely nothing together. That this turgid, increasingly pointless group are still considered to be musical standard bearers in 2009 is a sad indictment either of the state of pop or, more likely, the awful taste and lowered standards of their boosters.
Ian Mathers: Well they are now, aren’t they? Girls Aloud songs have always been a bit meta (and c’mon, “we’re beautiful robots, dancing alone” is a bit too on the nose maybe), but the group are kind of respected or at least perennially successful elder stateswomen, and as long as (or maybe when) the fans are around, it does feel like they’re never going to fall. “Untouchable” is their tranciest single to date, but it’s mostly just another slight variation on not so much a formula as a type: well-written, memorable pop. It’s far from their best, but it’ll do.
Keane Tzong: Though I do like the song, its choice as a single feels like something done to purposely end all the wittering over consecutive Top Tens that happens every time a Girls Aloud single is released. This is the most #18 song I have heard in a long time.