Different For Girls: the biographies of Girls Aloud and Sleeper.

Another £2 bargain from Book Madness (they have the official Jessie J one for £4, even I'm not sure I could take that one on...) it's strange to read the book retrospectively, after last years somewhat muted anniversary tour/comeback/thing. It's not meant to be a historical document, but it has that feel. There is only one laughable moment when they claim "as I sit here writing", as the book is clearly the result of either numerous or one very very long interview. It reads like tidied up vernacular, not the work of someone painstakingly putting pen to paper. But this means you can create their voices in your head, and as you take the book around with you, it's a bit like having a member of Girls Aloud sitting next to you, regaling you the abstract reader with tales of yesteryear. It's hard to think back to the fledgling days of reality tv pop, but also astounding to read about the way the nurses backstage would give the contestants a 'herbal relaxation pill'. It makes the 1984-like X-factor version of Black Mirror seem like an inevitability, not a fiction. I got my kicks at the thought of Nicola and Cheryl living like The Young Ones in the early days, but the stranger feeling from reading this is the swinging of sympathies for Sarah Harding and Nadine Coyle - they give off these little details that betray a sadder life, slightly excluded from the band. Hardings have been pretty public, and she is the only one that talks about having a drink. Then you read that as a kid, Nadine Coyle prefered to eat slices of cucumber to sweets. There's unspoken tragedy lurking between the lines. *puts on Untouchable and The Loving Kind*. I met Nadine Coyle once, (*klang* I took this picture too.) although all I can really remember about her is a long story about her falling over and the fact she was pretty discouraging about this book. :(

Though it was originally called Different For Girls, the kindle edition of Louise Wener's autobiography goes by Just For One Day: Adventures In Britpop. It does exactly what it says on the tin, with a few snidey swipes at Blur and the terrible awful record industry (again, a historical document more than anything). There are a few LOLZ to be had - the shit sandwich springs to mind - and Wener's writing style is as easy to read as an indie Adrian Mole. The laughs become a bit laboured though, and in the way Armistead Maupin characters only ever turn up in the least expected situations, every little detail gets reshaped into a punchline. There's half-hearted self deprecation, and you never feel any sympathy despite the fact Wener was probably in more need of it than anyone from Girls Aloud. You can file it next to Morrissey under Record Deal: Cautionary Tales. Except you can't file it because I got the kindle version, so I've illustrated it with this excerpt from my teenage letters with Heatshrink fanzine, where I was defending my love of Sleeper. I rest my case. And my exit music...