Girls Aloud: they were all glossy legs, huge hair extensions and matching polyester outfits, with just enough tweaks for each band member to differentiate themselves.
There was Nicola, the quiet, pale-skinned, ginger-haired one; Sarah, the loud-mouthed, peroxide blonde one; Cheryl, the Geordie one who was so beautiful she even managed to transcend an assault conviction to become a national treasure; Kimberly, the inoffensive one with a pretty smile.
Then there was Londonderry girl Nadine. There was never meant to be a lead singer in the band: they were supposed to be equals. Yet Nadine Coyle’s powerful voice meant that, as Girls Aloud and their fan base grew, Coyle found herself taking the lead more and more.
It is said that this eventually drove wedges between the girls (who were, also, usually wearing wedges – it was the noughties) but not before the band, formed in 2002 on one of Simon Fuller’s earliest talent shows, Popstars The Rivals, had 21 top 10 singles (for scale: the Spice Girls had 10). Tracks like “The Show”, “Love Machine”, “Biology” and “Something Kinda Ooooh” helped them notch up four million UK album sales.
After months of speculation, the band announced they had called it a day at the end of the last show of their 10th anniversary tour in 2013. The statement read: “Your love and support will stay with us forever but we have now come to the end of our incredible time together.”
Coyle never saw her bandmates again – bar Sarah Harding whom she saw four years ago when Anaíya, Coyle’s daughter with her long-term boyfriend Jason Bell, was born. “I’m not in touch with them,” Coyle says now.
“I haven’t seen the girls since we finished our last tour together which was a really long time ago.”
She has what sounds like a pretty well-rehearsed spiel about how working relationships are just that, and being left out while three of the girls – Kimberly Walsh, Nicola Roberts and Cheryl – have maintained an extremely close friendship “is just one of those things”.
Coyle, 33, adds: “I don’t look back and see any sadness to do with that time. I’m happy for the opportunity it gave me and happy about the success of the band, and happy with the people I continue to work with.”
The band were in their teens when they started out and, while they weren’t perhaps all best friends, there was a camaraderie of sorts – documented in the band’s 2006 reality show Off The Record. As time went on, as with any major pop band, the cracks began to show.
They were then fractured irreparably when Coyle got herself a personal agent in LA in 2012. At that point, said Walsh last year, Coyle’s “loyalties didn’t really lie with the group any more”.
It has been reported that Coyle branded the girls “jealous” of her profile within the band. “I didn’t say that, how pompous and arrogant would I have to be to say that? But yes, a thing that did cause stress in the band was the fact that I was given more lines and the girls didn’t like Brian [Higgins, Girls Aloud collaborator and the mastermind behind pop production team Xenomania] as a result of it.
“They didn’t like the label as a result of it, and they didn’t like me as a result of it. So it was just circumstances which were out of my control: I didn’t decide who sang what. But,” she stops herself. “I love my life and I just get on with it.”
Coyle may maintain that she’s not sad that she is on a separate path from the majority of her former band, but it does make a Girls Aloud reunion look increasingly unlikely.
In April, reports suggested that the group would reform to mark their 20th anniversary. Coyle doesn’t seem to know anything about that. She says she’s asked about a reunion a lot and would be keen to do one.
“It may happen,” she breezes. “The answer is always the same: if everything comes together, then yes, I’m a huge supporter of Girls Aloud. I’d never say never to us coming back together.”
The heavily rumoured feud with Cheryl – which Coyle won’t be drawn on – wouldn’t throw a spanner in the works, either: “There’s never been any issues with us working together. So I’m sure we’d get on absolutely fine.”
Reunion or not, Girls Aloud’s songs will get their time in the sun if Coyle’s recently cancelled solo tour is resurrected. In April, she was forced to pull out of the proposed dates and admits there were some budgeting issues.
“I really shouldn’t have put it on in the first place,” she says. “There were only seven shows, and I’d come from a place where I wanted there to be screens and costume changes. My idea of the show, it just didn’t make any sense.”
Were there, as reported, issues with Coyle performing Girls Aloud tunes on her own? “No, definitely not. When someone comes from a band and they have so many songs, then it’s only natural that, when a member goes solo, they continue to perform them. Kimberly’s done it, Cheryl’s done it, Nicola’s done it, Sarah’s done it… everyone.
“It just makes sense. Like I could be really self-indulgent and play all solo material but people want to hear ‘Sound of the Underground’ and I want to perform that as well.”
For the time being, Coyle is focusing on a new career path: acting. She has a small role in Deborah Haywood’s fantasy drama Pin Cushion which premiered at the Venice International Film Critics’ Week last year to positive reception.
Haywood approached Coyle to appear in a series of dream sequences, alongside the film’s star Lily Newmark. She loved the experience.
“I have done bits and pieces but not much, and then I started with Girls Aloud when I was 16 or 17.
“When you’re in entertainment, everything just blends together anyway: if you’re doing a [music] video, you tend to have to do acting anyway so it’s not that dissimilar.”
Considering she’s had one role so far, Coyle has impressively grand ambitions. “If they remade Pretty Woman, I’d love to play Julia Roberts’s part. That would be great,” she says without a hint of irony. “And I like some of the comedy ones, like Miss Congeniality.”
She’s not going to let her solo career suffer for acting, though: she has several songs in production with Higgins, and will be performing at festivals this summer. While she’s not superstitious per se, there is one vital pre-performance ritual which Coyle has adhered to.
“I have had a potato before every show for a decade, probably longer,” she says earnestly. “I’m typically Irish, they’re part of my DNA – they give me energy. Preferably I’d always have them mashed.”