Produced by Xenomania, the dance-pop and pop rock song showcases a more mature side from Girls Aloud, and received positive reviews from music critics, with one deeming it as the "greatest pop song of the 21st century". In 2008, the song won the award for the Popjustice £20 Music Prize, an annual prize awarded by a panel of judges organised by music website Popjustice to the singer(s) of the best British pop single of the past year. "Call the Shots" proved to be commercially successful upon its release, charting at number three on the UK Singles Chart, continuing the band's string of hits by becoming their sixteenth consecutive single to chart within the top ten, and being later certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry. The song also peaked at number nine on the Irish Singles Chart.
The accompanying music video was directed by Sean de Sparengo, and features the girls in purple dresses performing on Malibu Beach at night with flames and white fabric surrounding them. Each member of the band is also shown other locations, following several story lines. "Call the Shots" was promoted through numerous live appearances, including a high-profile performance on The X Factor, and has since been performed on three of Girls Aloud's subsequent concert tours. Several artists and bands including Coldplay and Mark Morriss have covered the song.
The first part of "Call the Shots" to be composed was the instrumentation, which was done by Xenomania in 2005. The lyrics of the song were written in 2006, when songwriter Miranda Cooper was "inspired by an article she read on something called (coincidentally) the Miranda Complex, named after the ambitious lawyer in Sex and the City, about how women are earning more than men and pushing ahead."Polydor Records originally intended to release it as a single for The Sound of Girls Aloud: The Greatest Hits (2006) the same year, but was deemed "too downbeat, when a greatest hits single needs to be a celebration."Nicola Roberts, Cheryl Cole, Sarah Harding and Kimberley Walsh recorded vocals for the song in London, England, while Nadine Coyle recorded her vocals in Los Angeles, California. Cole deemed the song her favourite from Tangled Up, adding that it gave her "goosebumps". An early version of "Call the Shots" leaked online in September 2007. On 16 November 2007, Tangled Up was released, with "Call the Shots" being released for digital download on 26 November 2007, through Polydor Records, while it was also made available on two different CD single formats the same day. The first disc included a live cover version of Amy Winehouse's 2007 single "Rehab", as performed on the BBC Radio 1 programme Jo Whiley's Live Lounge. The second CD format featured an original composition entitled "Blow Your Cover", co-written by Girls Aloud with Xenomania. The Tony Lamenza Remix of "Call the Shots" was being included on the CD single also at first, however, the Xenomania Club Mix was selected instead. The Tony Lamenza Remix was then included on the Singles Box Set, released in 2009.
A 22-second sample of the song, where Girls Aloud sing over a "classy electronic" instrumentation. The lyrics are concerned with the ending of a relationship, with the band singing during the chorus, "Just 'cause you're raising the bet and call the shots now on me".
"Call the Shots" is a dance-pop and pop rock track written in the key of D major and with a moderate tempo of 126 beats per minute. Unlike previous singles released by the band, the song follows the verse–chorus form. The lyrics are concerned with the ending of a relationship, and opens with a repetitive melody followed by Coyle singing, "Static tone on the phone, I'll be breaking again / Must be something better babe". As the chorus begins, the five members of the group trade lines and sing, "Just 'cause you're raising the bet and call the shots now on me / It really doesn't faze me how you spend your time", with Alexis Petridis of The Guardian stating that "only anterograde amnesia could wipe [this part] from your brain". During the middle-eight, Roberts sings lyrics that were the inspiration for Girls Aloud's autobiography Dreams that Glitter – Our Story, released in 2008: "I've seen life burn bright, seen it shimmer / Then fade like starlight to a glimmer, oh no / I've seen life flow by like a river / So full of twilight, dreams that glitter". Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy said that the instrumentation of "Call the Shots" was based on 1990s dance productions, and added that it incorporated "oohs" and "ah ah ahs" that "reverberate around an infectious chorus," while John Lucas of Allmusic wrote that the song showcased a more mature side from Girls Aloud.
"Call the Shots" received positive reviews from music critics. Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy rated the song four out of five stars, writing that it is "more tasteful" than few of Girls Aloud's previous releases.Daily Star journalist Kim Dawson said "Call the Shots" is one of the band's best singles, while another reviewer for the same newspaper deemed the song "classy electronic Euro-pop with real edge." Jennie McNulty of Marie Claire said that the song "has a wonderfully ambient feel, echoing an arty electro band", while Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote that Tangled Up "begins disappointingly" with "Call the Shots" as the opening track because the song's structure is "a bit commonplace" compared to Girls Aloud's previous singles such as "Biology" (2005). On the countdown of the top singles of 2007, Digital Spy placed "Call the Shots" at number 17, commenting that the band had not lost "their knack for making supremely catchy pop hits." In 2008, the song won the Popjustice £20 Music Prize – Girls Aloud's fourth win.Popjustice writer Peter Robinson deemed it as the "greatest pop song of the 21st century."
Following the availability of "Call the Shots" due to the release of Tangled Up, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at number nine. The following week, "Call the Shots" rose six places to peak at number three. It managed to stay at number three the following week, but slipped to number five in its fourth week. Through the Christmas week chart, the single managed to stay in the top ten, returning to its debut position of number nine. "Call the Shots" was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry. On the chart issue of 22 November 2007, the song debuted at number 44 in Ireland, reaching a new peak at number 9 the following week. It attained the same peak on the European Hot 100 Singles chart.
The accompanying music video for "Call the Shots" was directed by Sean de Sparengo, and filmed in October 2007 in Malibu, California, while Girls Aloud were filming The Passions of Girls Aloud. The video features the girls in purple dresses performing on Malibu Beach at night with flames and white fabric surrounding them. The girls are also shown in different locations with individual story lines. Cole is simply seen looking out of a sunny window. Walsh is sat in front of a mirror, putting on make-up; her fictional boyfriend comes to get her and they hug, though she appears to be sad. Coyle is seated on a couch, flipping through photographs featuring her and a man. She takes a lighter to the photos and sets them alight. Roberts is lying down by a swimming pool, running her fingers through the water. A young man walks up to her with a bouquet of flowers and tosses them into the water. Harding watches her boyfriend in the shower and goes through his phone. The video premiered on 17 October 2007.