A host of new singers burst onto the noughties music scene 20 years ago when Popstars: The Rivals aired on ITV.
The show saw some 10,000 hopefuls whittled down by judges Pete Waterman, Geri Halliwell (now Horner) and Louis Walsh, to form one winning girl band and boyband. Girls Aloud, who went on to become one of the biggest pop acts in the country, formed on November 30, 2002 and became arguably the most successful in the Popstars alumni.
The lives of Cheryl Tweedy, Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh, Sarah Harding and Nicola Roberts were changed forever and the group landed a string of top 10 singles between 2002 and 2009, from No Good Advice to Something Kinda Ooh, The Promise and more.
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The girls saw off competition from boy band One True Voice to land the Christmas number 1 with Sound of the Underground . But the runners up also carved out their own careers in the entertainment industry, reaching number 2 with their debut Sacred Trust.
Many will remember the series also introduced us to The Cheeky Girls, who scored three top 3 singles in a row with their first singles, as well as Javine who went solo and the other contestants who formed their own bands to rival the others in the charts. Now 20 years on, we take a look back at the Popstars The Rivals acts and what they did next.
In Cheryl’s audition for Popstars: The Rivals, she sang S Club 7’s 2001 track Have You Ever, to judges Geri Haliwell, Louis Walsh and Pete Waterman and went straight through to the next round. Whilst still in the band, Cheryl joined The X Factor as a judge in 2008, just as the girls geared up to release their fifth album Out of Control and after she collaborated with Will.I.Am on massive chart hit Heartbreaker.
She scored two consecutive victories on the show in 2008 and 2009 with Alexandra Burke and Joe McElderry and used the show to launch her solo career with a memorable performance of her debut single Fight For This Love. The track went straight in at number 1 and went onto sell over a million. Cheryl's first album 3 Words also spawned further hits with its title track and Parachute.
Follow up album Messy Little Raindrops got off to a great start with lead single Promise This entering at the top and it was the same with album number three - A Million Lights - with its first single Call My Name shooting straight to the chart summit. In between the two albums Cheryl headed Stateside for X Factor USA but Simon Cowell replaced her after just a few weeks on the judging panel. But Cheryl did return to the UK show back in 2014.
Fourth album Only Human, released in 2014, featured two number 1 hits - Crazy Stupid Love and I Don't Care - sending Cheryl into the record books. Her music career faltered in 2018 when comeback Love Made Me Do It failed to make the top 10 and follow up Let You charted even lower.
Away from the charts, Cheryl married Jean Bernard Fernandez-Versini in 2014 but divorced a year later. Cheryl, now 39, then got together with Liam Payne, with the couple having son Bear together, before they split in 2018. Cheryl was last on TV in the second series of The Greatest Dancer in 2020, before the show was cancelled. Away from music and TV, she leads a fairly private life.
Nadine was just 17 when she auditioned, but infamously appeared on the Irish version of Popstars with her infamous 'passport' moment before trying out for Popstars: The Rivals. She blew Geri Halliwell away in auditions with her version of Sting's Fields of Gold.
Like Cheryl, Nadine, also tried her hand at a solo career releasing debut solo single Insatiable in 2010 alongside an album of the same name, which, in a rather bizarre move, she made exclusively available for sale at supermarket Tesco. Nor the single or album set the charts alight, but Nadine has continued to make music and in 2017 came back with Go To Work, a song lapped up by her fanbase.
Nadine has been a regular on the Pride circuit, both in the UK and in Gran Canaria and other singles from the past few years include Fool for Love and Girls on Fire. In 2019, Nadine, now 36, appeared on I'm A Celebrity and also appeared on The Great Celebrity Bake Off.
In the early 00s, Nadine also moved stateside to LA and with her family opened an Irish pub in Sunset Beach. Many will remember Nadine also famously dated Desperate Housewives star Jesse Metcalfe.
With ex-fiancé Jason Bell, Nadine has daughter Anaíya. The 37-year-old and former Boyzone star Ronan Keating recently performed the band's hit 'Picture Of You' at the Emeralds and Ivy Ball for Cancer Research UK, Belfast Live reports.
Sarah Harding was the oldest of the five when she came face to face with the panel. Wearing a snazzy pair of jeans covered in hand prints, Sarah auditioned with her rendition of Step's Last Thing On My Mind.
Sarah appeared on the big screen in St Trinian's 2: The Search for Fritton's Gold and then landed a dream role in Coronation Street. After releasing solo single Threads, Sarah appeared on and won Celebrity Big Brother in 2017, where she famously clashed with Jem Lucy and got together with housemate Chad Johnson, with the two enjoying a brief romance outside of the house.
Prior to her stint in CBB, Sarah appeared in Ghost the Musical, in one of the leading roles alongside ex Hollyoaks actor Andy Moss. In 2020, Sarah revealed the devastating news that she had been diagnosed with cancer.
She documented her cancer struggle in candid memoir Hear Me Out, which also reflected on her time in the spotlight. Sarah passed away at the age of 39 in early September 2021, with her death being announced by mum Marie, with tributes rushing in from fans and her former bandmates.
In her memory, Girls Aloud have been raising money for various cancer charities. The band mates have raised money by taking part in a Race For Life, holding a special gala in Sarah’s name and releasing a charity pyjama range with Primark
Kimberley blew the judges away with Whitney Houston's Where Do Broken Hearts Go in her audition. Initially given the news by Pete Waterman that she wasn't through to the finals, Louis later informed an ecstatic Kimberley about the change of plan.
Another Girls Aloud member who gave music another shot, Kimberley teamed up with Aggro Santos on top 10 hit Like U Like in 2012, before releasing her own album of musical classics - Centre Stage - which she previewed with a performance of One Day I'll Fly Away at the National Television Awards. After fulfilling a lifetime ambition to sing in Les Miserables on Girls Aloud's TV show The Passions, Kimberley has carved out a successful stage career, which started with a stint as Princess Fiona in the West End in 2011.
Since then she has appeared in the stage adaptations of Elf and Big and last year was on stage in a socially distanced production of Sleepless, alongside The Wanted's Jay McGuiness, in London. In 2012 Kimberley, 39, competed in Strictly Come Dancing where she reached the final which was won by Olympic gymnast Louis Smith.
Now 41, Kimberley is a mum-of-three and married to long-term partner Justin Scott, a former member of the British boy band Triple 8. This year, Kimberley revealed herself as Odd Socks on ITV's The Masked Dancer.
She is also part of the BBC Morning Live family, presenting with the likes of Gethin Jones.
Nicola, from Runcorn, was the youngest to make it into the final girl band. She was a 16-year-old schoolgirl and waitress when she sang Shakira's Underneath Your Clothes in her Popstars audition.
Nicola was given the boot just before the final 10 girls were sent to live together. But the singer was brought back in a surprise move after two hopefuls left.
In between Girls Aloud taking a break in 2009 and them returning with Something New and their Greatest Hits in 2012, Nicola entered the charts as a solo artist with debut single Beat Of My Drum, follow up Lucky Day and critically acclaimed solo album Cinderella's Eyes.
The name of the album and her own makeup brand for pale skin - Dainty Doll - were both clues Nicola gave on her way to winning The Masked Singer as Queen Bee. She returned to the ITV show in 2021 as a guest judge.
A successful songwriter, Nicola has written songs for a number of acts including bandmate Cheryl and Little Mix. A real fashionista, she has also been a judge on Rihanna's fashion show Styled To Rock.
One True Voice
After earning their spots in One True Voice, Matt Johnson, Anton Gordon, Keith Semple, Jamie Shaw and Daniel Pearce went in at number 2 with AA side single Sacred Trust/After You're Gone, which they then followed up with Shakespeare's Way With Words. Despite Pete Waterman being adamant they could be the next big thing, the group split just a few months later, after they played in celebrity football tournament Soccer Six. Despite coming second place and losing out on the top spot and vanishing from the limelight as a group, the five lads have enjoyed successful careers - including finding fame in America.
Anton went onto audition for The X Factor in 2006, but it was never seen on screen. Now going by Anton Romero, he often pleases fans by taking on their song requests and shares incredible singing clips on social media.
Daniel fared better, making it all the way to Judges Houses in 2009 but wasn't picked by Simon for live shows. Daniel landed a number 1 single as a vocalist on Dizzee Rascal's 2010 number 1 Dirtee Disco and again in 2014 on Sigma's Nobody To Love. Last year, he toured the UK as a backing singer on Genesis' arena tour and these days, is in the funk band Shuffler, which he formed with ex members of Jamiroquai.
Matt signed a solo deal with Jive Records after One True Voice but left the label after a short spell signed to them. The dad-of-two also appeared on Celebrity Fear Factor UK, later founded his own label by the name of Tristar Records and gets more than a million monthly streams on Spotify.
Keith moved to America in 2007 and auditioned for American Idol in 2010, unfortunately losing his place on the show due to immigration issues. He gave TV talent shows another shot in 2015, making the live shows on Adam Levine's team. Now, he fronts his band Semple and is continuing to make music.
Jamie switched from music to TV and his Twitter bio has him as an Executive Production Assistant for IJPR, a PR agency who handle shows on BBC ITV Netflix and more. The dad-of-one found his own success when the band parted ways, and in 2006 he supported US band the Backstreet Boys on tour in the UK and also became an executive publicity assistant for the BBC's Doctor Who.
The Cheeky Girls
While they were axed from Popstars: The Rivals well before the live shows, sisters Monica and Gabriela are an act everyone still remembers. From the moment they auditioned with The Cheeky Song they were engrained in the minds of millions of viewers.
They ended up releasing the track as a single, with it landing at number 3 behind Girls Aloud and One True Voice in Christmas 2002. The duo went onto score two more big chart hits with Take Your Shoes Off and Cheeky Holiday, with other singles including Have A Cheeky Christmas and Cheeky Flamenco.
Do you remember Popstars: The Rivals? Let us know in the comments section below.
Away from the charts, Gabriela had a headline-hitting romance with MP Lembit Opik. The Cheeky Girls made a surprise return to TV on This Morning on May 4, when they revealed they are both working in different car dealerships. They also announced a comeback single to mark 20 years since their Popstars audition.
Javine not getting into Girls Aloud was a huge upset at the time but she dusted off the disappointment to launch a solo career in the summer of 2003, getting off to a great start with a top 5 hit with Real Things. Follow ups Surrender and Best of My Love also made the top 20 and then came the battle royale when Javine went head to head with Katie Price for the chance to represent the UK at Eurovision 2005.
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It was Javine who triumphed with her track Touch My Fire but it finished right near the bottom of the leaderboard in the Eurovision final. Javine later hit headlines for being 'the other woman' in So Solid Crew star Harvey and Alesha Dixon's marriage.
She released dance collaboration Don't Let The Morning Come with Soul Avengerz in 2006 but it failed to make the top 40 Now a mum-of-two, Javine has competed in both The Games and Celebrity MasterChef, as well as Celebrity Come Dine With Me.
The girls who didn't get into Girls Aloud - Chloe Staines, Lynsey Brown, Emma Beard, and Aimee Kearsley - formed their own band Clea, an acronym of the first letter of each member's name. Download It was their biggest hit, reaching 21 in 2003, while follow up Stuck in the Middle reached number 23 and their dance cover of We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off reached number 35 in 2005, after Chloe left the band.
The band continued on as a trio and released two albums, but their last performances were in 2007. Emma, who lives in Greater Manchester, has gone on to a successful career in the media and hosts her own podcast series Monday Mumday after becoming mum to twin boys with her husband, actor Danny Kelly and was spotted out with Nadine Coyle in Manchester in August, the MEN reported.
Aimee, from Southport, also joined band Fanfair and supported The Wanted at the ECHO arena and fellow band mates Chloe and Lynsey have continued with their love of singing. In October, the band announced they were reuniting, with their first performance in 18 years together as a four piece band to debut in 2023.
After not getting into One True Voice, Chris Park, Mikey Green, Nikk Mager, Andrew Kinlochan and Peter Smith formed Phixx. They had four top 20 hits - Hold on Me, Love Revolution, Wild Boys and Strange Love, OK! previously reported.
Peter left in 2004 with Nikk following a year later. The remaining three toured as a trio until 2006.
Nikk auditioned in front of Cheryl on The X Factor in 2008 but didn't get through to the next round. Peter also tried out for The Voice Ireland in 2013, but continues to record music.
Making a rather large career step, Chris Park turned to presenting, hosting Channel 5's Quiz Call Live. At one point, Mikey dated Sarah Harding and went on to produce music under the name Michael Scott, before changing his name to Mic Steel and joining rock band Pentasonic.
He also appeared in reality TV shows including Channel 5's The Farm and Celebrity Wrestling. According to his Twitter bio, Andrew lives in London and is still a singer and songwriter.
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