The Loving Kind
|"The Loving Kind"|
|Single by Girls Aloud|
|from the album Out of Control|
|Released||12 January 2009|
|Length||3:53 (album version)
3:59 (radio mix)
|Girls Aloud singles chronology|
"The Loving Kind" is a song performed by British girl group Girls Aloud, taken from their fifth studio album Out of Control (2008). The song was written by Pet Shop Boys, Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins and his production team Xenomania, and produced by Higgins and Xenomania. Described as a "synth pop ballad", "The Loving Kind" was originally written for inclusion on Pet Shop Boys' Yes (2009) before being given to Girls Aloud. Upon its release in January 2009, "The Loving Kind" entered the UK Singles Chart at number ten, thereby continuing their six-year streak of top ten hits.
In the music video, the group portrays the "good" and "bad" Girls Aloud as they perform in mirrored boxes. "The Loving Kind" was promoted through numerous live appearances and was performed on 2009's Out of Control Tour. The song was largely praised by most contemporary music critics, although maligned by others for its similarities with "Call the Shots".
Background and composition
Xenomania and Pet Shop Boys wrote the song in sessions for the latter's album Yes. Both parties had previously agreed there would be just three co-written songs on the album, and having noticed Chris Lowe's "slight reticence" towards the song, Higgins suggested that Girls Aloud record "The Loving Kind". Pet Shop Boys member Neil Tennant said that they co-wrote the song while working with Xenomania, and described it as "beautiful but still dancey". It was the second song Girls Aloud recorded for Out of Control. The band were intimidated when learning the harmonies from Tennant. They found themselves reproducing his delivery, until he advised them to sing their own renditions. It was said that "the lyrics have the sadness and melancholy of a massive proper ballad but the production drags the song straight to the dancefloor and lends it an undeniable sense of optimism." Lowe said he was "absolutely over the moon" with the result.
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"The Loving Kind" is a "synth pop ballad", in the same vein as much of the Pet Shop Boys' output. It has been described as an "elegantly sad account of a waning relationship." The song is written in D♭ major with a time signature in common time and a tempo of 128 beats per minute. The basic chord progression of the song is G♭, D♭, B♭m, Fm, and A♭. The song begins instantly with a synthesised introduction, followed by the first verse and refrain. There is an emotive bridge and a middle 8. The verse repeats, followed by the chorus, an instrumental section, and the chorus again. The radio mix differs slightly; the introduction is less abrupt and the song lasts six seconds longer.
The single was confirmed on 21 November 2008 via Girls Aloud's official website. The CD single includes a Girls Aloud megamix, released to celebrate Girls Aloud's twentieth single release. The megamix was created by Jewels & Stone, and features the intro and outro from the famous Stars on 45 medleys. There was also 7" picture disc made available, which included a previously unreleased B-side entitled "Memory of You", originally called "Japan". Remixes by Wideboys and Utah Saints were also commissioned.
There was a mild controversy surrounding the fact that the single's B-side "Memory of You" was only available on the vinyl format and not in CD or digital quality. The song was originally called "Japan". Fans campaigned to get the song available in a high quality format, which even gained the attention of The Sun. Tabloid paper News of the World wrongly identified the track as an "underground tune" that Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts had recorded outside of Girls Aloud. Popjustice featured a 30-second clip of "Memory of You" as their Song of the Day prior to release. It was later included in high quality on an official Girls Aloud singles box set. Roberts recorded a solo version of the song and made it available via pre-order only with her third single, "Yo-Yo", from her debut album.
The song received mostly positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Digital Spy gave the song five stars, saying it "weds hauntingly melancholy vocals [...] to a sense of dancefloor euphoria totally at odds with the teary-eyed lyrics" and was "nothing short of dazzling, meaning 'The Loving Kind' deserves a place [...] on the list of Girls Aloud's finest ever singles." They called it "the standout track" from Out of Control and "one of the most emotionally resonant songs of the group's career." Dorian Lynskey of The Observer agreed, calling it "best of all [...] It's bracing to hear Girls Aloud traffic in grown-up emotions". "The Loving Kind" has also been called "the best thing they've ever done." Nicola Roberts was praised for her vocals, which Slant Magazine felt "provide some of the album's most affecting moments."
However, "The Loving Kind" was criticised due to its similarities with 2007's "Call the Shots", with NME even calling the song as "a letdown sequel". BBC Music felt the song was "hugely disappointing." Popjustice said that although it isn't "amazing by Girls Aloud PLUS Xenomania PLUS Pet Shop Boys standards", it was still "really properly amazing." In a blog for BBC, Fraser McAlpine agreed that "it's easy to get caught up on the idea of this being some immense pop event," but it was still an "extremely well done piece of heartbroken pop."
At the 2009 Popjustice £20 Music Prize, Nicola Roberts expressed dislike for the song and even nominated it for the Twenty Quid Invoice Prize, presented to what judges deem to be the worst single of any given year.
On 14 December 2008, "The Loving Kind" entered the UK Singles Chart at number 87 on downloads alone. The following week, it entered the top forty at number 38. In the run-up to the single's release, chart commentators began to speculate that the song could possibly become the first single by the group to miss the top 10. James Masterton wrote on his Yahoo! chart blog, "Their problem is the continuing chart performance of former number 1 hit 'The Promise'. [...] Good reviews do not chart placings make and "this song is too good to be a flop" is as much a myth as "team X are far too good to get relegated"." After its physical release, "The Loving Kind" still managed to peak at number ten, becoming Girls Aloud's twentieth consecutive top ten single. It fell to number 14 the following week, but spent eighteen weeks in the top 100. "The Loving Kind" entered the Irish Singles Chart at number 49, before rising to number 24 the following week. It peaked at number sixteen.
The music video, directed by Trudy Bellinger, was premièred on 4Music at 7pm and was shown on Channel 4 at 11:05pm on 3 December 2008. The making of the video was aired on MTV Hits on 13 December 2008, with reruns on both MTV Hits and TMF.
In the video, "the girls appear to be duplicated as they perform against a backdrop of multiple mirrors." The boxes are either coloured black, red, or white. The girls portray the "good" Girls Aloud, who are the lovable kind, and their "bad" alter egos, who are not. The bad Girls Aloud throw wine and smash the glass that covers their boxes. Cheryl Cole cut herself when she smashed her hand through the glass and similarly Nadine Coyle injured herself when kicked her foot through the glass. Pop music blog PopJustice noted that "twenty singles in, Girls Aloud have made their best video yet."
Girls Aloud's first performance of the song occurred on their ITV1 variety show The Girls Aloud Party. The group performed in matching black tutus, described as "mini prom dresses." They perform with slow, ballet-like motions and make their way to a catwalk. As Sarah Harding adlibs into the final chorus, pyrotechnics explode on both sides of the stage. On The Paul O'Grady Show, they performed in pink and purple dresses. On GMTV, they performed in the outfits from the music video. The performance received attention for Harding's "bum note".
On the group's 2009 Out of Control Tour, each girl is positioned in front of boxes with flashing lightbulbs, similar to those in the music video. Neon designs and scenes from the music video appear on the screens above the boxes. The ramps in front of them, used throughout the tour, also flash with neon lights. As the performance comes to a close, the lights all turn off.
Formats and track listings
These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "The Loving Kind".
Credits and personnel
- Engineering: Toby Scott, Dan Aslet
- Guitars: Nick Coler, Jason Resch, Owen Parker
- Keyboards and programming: Brian Higgins, Tim Powell, Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe, Matt Gray, Miranda Cooper, Sacha Collison
- Mixing: Jeremy Wheatley, Tim Powell, Yoad Nevo
- Songwriting: Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Tim Powell, Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe
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