Book Review: In The Girl In The Band Belinda Chapple exposes the ruthless entertainment industry

The Girl In The Band is a tell all memoir from Australian singer, creative director and interior designer Belinda Chapple.

Chapple made a name for herself as a singer, dancer and model, starting her performing career at just ten years old. She shot to stardom as a member of the award-winning and platinum-selling band Bardot. Formed from one of the world’s first reality television competitions, Popstars (2000), Bardot became the first ever group to debut at number one on Australian charts with both their first single “Poison” and first album, Bardot. They completed several national and international tours throughout the UK, India, New Zealand, and the Asia Pacific region as well as performed at the ARIA Awards ceremony in 2000 where they were nominated for three awards.

Belinda’s memoir focuses largely on her early days growing up as a performer, her experience throughout Popstars and the rise and fall of Bardot. She describes the experience as ‘almost soul-destroying’ and ‘heartbreaking’. Though a courageous testimony, the feel of the book is that of a tragedy. Every early success in Belinda’s story is also suggesting the disappointment that is ahead, tainting it as bitter-sweet.

This year for me was all about reading autobiographies and non-fiction so when I got my hands on The Girl In The Band I could immediately see the similarity between the book and my most recent good read, Britney Spears’ The Woman In Me. Both are tragic stories of child stars who experienced that almost too-lucky early career journey, getting all the opportunities artists dream of way too quickly. Securing an agent as a teenager, getting cast for high end gigs with travel opportunities and having a modelling career that actually pays the bills – all of these are just too good to be true for artists these days. But as the book reveals, Belinda, just like Britney, is ‘so lucky, she’s a star but she cries, cries, cries in the lonely night…’

It is clear that the experience of fame was traumatic for Belinda and she admits throughout the memoir that she was later diagnosed with PTSD as well as having struggled with bulimia throughout her Bardot journey. She exposes the brutal truth about the entertainment industry, in particular within the reality TV domain. Belinda recounts shockingly unfair contracts, artist exploitation, sexualising of women for the sake of ratings and even the use of fake scripting in reality TV as a form of cover up.

Twenty years later, Belinda is now an interior designer with global experience following her graduation from the National Design Academy in London. She is now returning to the entertainment industry as the original concept creator and executive producer for the TV series Paper Dolls, an eight-part scripted drama following the meteoric rise and fall of fictional manufactured girl-group: HARLOW. It sounds to me like it is inspired by Belinda’s personal story, but I’ll have to find this out for myself now that the show has officially aired on Paramount+.

Belinda also returned to the scene as a recording artist in 2021, forming the pop duo Ka’Bel with her former band mate Katie Underwood. You can follow the duo’s recent releases on their socials HERE.

Belinda’s present achievements suggest that she had moved on from the her difficult experience with Bardot and is finally thriving in her new career paths. Though the book doesn’t include these recent developments, it rather ends tragically with the fall of Bardot and Belinda’s heartbreak as she feels betrayed by her band mate Sophie Monk.

For this reason, it just wasn’t a satisfying enough read for me. I feel that the book is missing that crucial personal development arc that I followed in other successful autobiographies. It contains a brief closure in the epilogue but to me it still doesn’t deliver on a promise. The ending left me wondering: was the intent behind the book to tell the story about Belinda overcoming her mental health struggle and realising herself? Or is it all about her still being bitter at her friend Sophie?

Nonetheless, The Girl In The Band was definitely an entertaining easy read and I would recommend it to pop culture fans and my fellow reality TV addicts.


The Girl In The Band by Belinda Chapple is available now from Simon & Schuster Australia. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

Anna Blaby

Anna is a Melbourne based mum, writer and storyteller.