Untouchable (Girls Aloud song)
|Single by Girls Aloud|
|from the album Out of Control|
|B-side||"It's Your Dynamite"|
|Released||27 April 2009|
|Length||6:42 (album version)
3:49 (radio mix)
|Girls Aloud singles chronology|
"Untouchable" is a song performed by British all-female pop group Girls Aloud, taken from their fifth studio album Out of Control (2008). The song was written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins and his production team Xenomania, and produced by Higgins and Xenomania. Influenced by trance music and Balearic beat, the album version of "Untouchable" is over six minutes long. Remixed for single release in April 2009, "Untouchable" memorably became Girls Aloud's first and only single to miss the top ten on the UK Singles Chart. The song received generally favorable reviews from most contemporary music critics, who praised its ambition. "Untouchable" would be the final release by the group before their hiatus.
In the music video, inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey, the group travels through space and approaches Earth in illuminated glass spheres (resembling meteorites). "Untouchable" was promoted through an appearance on Dancing on Ice and the group's Out of Control Tour, during which the song was performed.
Background and composition
"Untouchable" is a trance-inspired "rave ballad," which marries "Balearic guitar lines with a pulsating techno throb." The song is Girls Aloud's longest yet, at a full runtime of 6:45. "Untouchable" follows the common verse-chorus form, but includes a number of instrumental solos. Nadine Coyle sings a middle 8 ("Without any meaning, we're just skin and bone...") as the music drops out. The song builds back up and concludes with a final chorus.
Sarah Harding described the song as "so Nineties, a proper pop dance song. It’s got that trancy, chilled Ibiza feel. [...] I get lost in the music at the beginning and then it builds and builds and builds. You just want to go mental." The "emotional twangy guitar noise" heard in the song was the result of Xenomania musician Jason Resch responding to Higgins' request for something "special". Higgins left the song at its full length, knowing that "The Promise" and "The Loving Kind" would be the first two singles and he could remix "Untouchable" for single release at a later point. The song was "chopped and changed for its single release", with Girls Aloud's vocals being vocodered.
"Untouchable" was selected as the third single from Out of Control after it fared best in a fan poll on Girls Aloud's official forum. It was announced as the single on 20 February 2009. "Untouchable" was released on CD single and 7" vinyl formats on April 27, while digital download formats were available a day earlier. The CD includes a previously unreleased b-side entitled "It's Your Dynamite", which Digital Spy says "matches the standard set on their previous releases [...] a treat for the ears." The 7" vinyl picture disc format includes the Thriller Jill Mix of "Love Is the Key", as heard on The Girls Aloud Party opening credits and commercials.
"Untouchable" received generally favourable reviews from music critics. Slant Magazine said that it was "one of Girls Aloud's finest achievements." John Earls of Planet Sound labelled the song "the standout track from Out Of Control", drawing comparisons with both DJ Sasha and the rave music of the 1990s. It was praised by NME, described as "post-Ibiza power-balladeering". The song was referred to as "fast, electronic and fantastic" with an immense build-up to the chorus by Popjustice. BBC Music felt "the Balearic bliss of epic seven minute marathon Untouchable [...] prove[s] that you don't have to be brassy to be brilliant." Digital Spy said the song "serves as the centrepiece" on the album and that even the radio edit "remains surprising, thrilling and strangely moving - in short, classic Girls Aloud."
However, MSN said "the plodding disco track falls short". CBBC declared, it "seems to want to be a ballad and a dance track without doing either well." GayNZ.com stated that the song "works....but possibly not as well as the girls were hoping."
The song entered the UK Singles Chart on 29 March 2009 at number 54. It entered the top forty three weeks later. The Sun reported that "Untouchable" was in danger of becoming the first Girls Aloud single to peak outside of the top ten, ending their six-year streak of twenty consecutive top ten singles. On 3 May 2009, it officially reached number eleven. On the Irish Singles Chart, the song entered at number 38 and peaked at number nineteen.
After the single failed to achieve top ten success when it was released late April 2009, a fan-created Facebook campaign was started nearly a year later (January 2010). The group hoped to push the single into the top ten, reviving and continuing Girls Aloud's streak. The campaign failed, with "Untouchable" only charting at number 152.
The music video for "Untouchable" was directed by Marco Puig with post-production from The Mill. Shot in a west London studio on 18 March 2009, the filming took sixteen hours. Pictures of Girls Aloud in their "skimpy rubber" outfits for the music video were published in tabloid newspapers on 25 March 2009. The video premiered on 25 March 2009 on 4music at 7:00pm GMT and was shown again at 11:05pm on Channel 4. The "Untouchable" video was made available on MSN the following day.
The futuristic video was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's classic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Girls Aloud appear in "sci-fi inspired PVC leotards", travelling through space and approaching Earth in illuminated glass spheres (resembling meteorites). After the second verse, the words 'Alert: Condition Red' appear on the screen and the girls have trouble in their bubble-like orbs. They begin to plummet through Earth's atmosphere, with the spheres erupting in flames. Still burning, they pass an aeroplane and approach a city. The video ends with televisions showing the 'breaking news' as they hit the ground, with a reporter describing it as a "meteor shower" before turning to static.
The first performance of the song occurred at the Dancing on Ice semi-finals. Girls Aloud entered on wires suspended from the ceiling and performed the song whilst ice dancers Torvill and Dean skated around them. Girls Aloud wore draped Grecian dresses. Smoke followed the group as they were lowered down on to individual podiums. As Nadine sang the final verse, Torvill and Dean were raised into the air on wires. The song ended with an explosion of pyrotechnics. Torvill and Dean were criticised for "completely and utterly ruining the momentum and energy."
"Untouchable" was one of the most significant performances of Girls Aloud's 2009 Out of Control Tour. The song is "performed over the crowd on a flying platform," which Girls Aloud use to travel to a smaller stage in the middle of the arena. Girls Aloud wear science fiction-inspired outfits, designed by Welsh fashion designer Julien MacDonald, along with the rest of the show's costumes. The song was performed on 2013 Ten: The Hits Tour with the girls wearing sci-fi clothes under UV lights.
Formats and track listings
These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Untouchable".
Credits and personnel
- Bass guitar: Kieran Jons
- Engineering: Toby Scott, Dan Aslet
- Guitars: Nick Coler, Jason Resch
- Keyboards and programming: Tim Powell, Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper, Owen Parker, Fred Falke, Sascha Collison, Matt Gray
- Mixing: Tim Powell, Brian Higgins
- Songwriting: Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Tim Powell, Matt Gray
- Published by Warner/Chappell Music and Xenomania Music
|Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)||39|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||11|
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