Something kinda “meh.”
Katherine St Asaph: The prospect of a Girls Aloud comeback single is far less enthusing when you consider the output of Cheryl and Nadine or the reception of Nicola. Xenomania tries to fix this by comping together all three; if the writers are trying at all, it’s to name as many girl-group references as they can (Beyoncé! Shangri-Las! Their YouTube comments about real music!) before someone slips up and says “girl power.”
Edward Okulicz: It’s nice to hear Xenomania doing what they do best, and that’s songs with lots of different bits, and a breakneck pace (compare their last few years of repeating every damn bit of every song into the ground). And it’s equally wonderful to hear Nadine Coyle out in front doing what she does best too, they never really bang unless she’s the lead on the chorus. The middling score is because even the most fun part of this track is less catchy than the most boring part of “The Show” or “Sexy! No No No,” and because while this sounds like a different song every minute, it sounds like a bunch of stuff I’m tired of hearing already.
Iain Forrester: Things Xenomania have picked up since last time: 1) The “Party Rock Anthem” riff is effective; 2) the synth screech from “Bad Romance” is one of the most thrilling sounds in pop. Yeah, they’ve taken inspiration from two of the most popular songs of the last few years (as I type, the two are locked in a locked in a tight three way contest with “Gangnam Style” on YouTube, all on ~490 million views!). Just turning out a Tangled Up album track standard Girls Aloud banger with those additions actually works brilliantly, though. The meta and the references and the question of how new it really fade away; just hearing the group giving their all over those screeches is far more exciting than I expected a comeback to be at this point.
Jonathan Bogart: It would be positively tolerable if there were any space in the arrangement. But no, modern dance requires that every moment be filled up with thick, blocky noise.
Alfred Soto: The similarities inspire a question: which came first — K-pop or Girls Aloud? The estrogen-tinged electroperk insists on its will to power, subsuming two decades worth of girl power, not to mention house keyboards. Like K-pop, though, it won’t do a thing on these shores.
Will Adams: Whoever decided to turn down the house piano should be banned from a mixing board for life. Anyway, um, is there even a song here?
Anthony Easton: I don’t believe a word of this, and I doubt the Girls do either; I don’t believe they believe that any of this is new, that anything of this is wild, that it will bring anything to the other side — and the listener needs to at least be convinced for the three minutes of the song.
Brad Shoup: If you mishear one thing in pop music, let it be “weed girls” in the EQ’d-out and exhausting ”Something New” by Girls Aloud. You’ll need it.
Alex Ostroff: I have significant affection for the Girls, and this is certainly better than most of the middling Out of Control, the brilliant “The Loving Kind” excepted. Still, the excitement of their early material wasn’t simply that they and Xenomania made recombinant pop constructed from dozens of spare bits and extra choruses — it was that all of those bits and bobs were individually great. This is more like one of DJ Earworm’s end-of-year mashups, combining a hundred different sounds that stopped being new two years ago. The best thing here is the rapped verse at 0:48, which has the sass and intonation of “dirty sheep” ca. “No Good Advice.” The chorus doesn’t touch the synths + drama heights of “Call the Shots.” They carry this with the force of their personalities but just barely.