Filed in Sarah Harding

Miranda Sawyer: Sounding Off

Cheryl Cole, an ickle-wickle television dolly who is, in her spare time, one-fifth of popular beat combo Girls Aloud, is about to launch her solo career. That’s her solo singing career. On 19 October, she’s bringing out Fight For This Love, which will see our pretty miss dressed in various tough-looking outfits ticking off/jollying up some random bloke who in no way resembles Ashley Cole, Cheryl’s gallant husband. “Quitting’s out of the question, when it gets tough gotta fight some more,” sings Cheryl, as well as “Too much of anything can make you sick” which is brave, given Ashley’s puking past. Remember, girls, it’s a privilege. I was hoping she’d sing “United we stand”, but that would just be taking it too far.
Anyway, in honour of Cheryl being allowed to sing an entire song by herself, I thought I’d chuck out a pub quiz question. Can you name 10 singers in the past 10 years who have been more successful as solo artists than when they were in a band? I’ll give you Robbie Williams for free. Off you go… There’s Beyoncé. Gwen Stefani. Damon Albarn, if you count Gorillaz as a solo project, which it isn’t. Um. Perhaps we should extend the time limit: then we could bring in George Michael and, er, Rod Stewart. Paul Weller, arguably. Could we say John Lennon? We couldn’t. Ah. Neil Young. Van Morrison. Peter Gabriel. Phil Collins. Excuse me while I keel over and die of depression at the state of pop, current and past.

It’s hardly a wall of fabulousness, is it? The list of those who have failed at pop’s coalface sans companions is much longer. The solo pattern is, usually, bring out first single, have massive success, then watch as the follow-ups shoot straight in at No 32, tour to emptying venues and slink back to your old band. If you haven’t fallen out with them, that is. Cheryl is canny enough to remain on great terms with Dannii, Louis and Simon. And yes, that’s a facetious joke, but, lest we forget, before Ashley’s extramarital seduction techniques led to Cheryl getting the X Factor gig on the sympathy vote, the Girl Aloud considered most likely to have a solo career was Sarah Harding.