Americans are really, truly missing out. We have some groundbreaking pop musicians here. We have Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. We have Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber and probably some other guys not named Justin. I would trade every single one of these people for Cheryl Cole. Cheryl Cole is a British pop sensation, 1/5th of the incredible girl-band Girls Aloud and an absolute celebrity in her own right.
I have made everyone I know listen to her and look at picture of her and watch her interviews but now I need to spread this love to more people because it is finally happening – Cheryl is coming out with a new album! Seeing pictures of the video shoot and reading lyrics has got me too excited to keep her to myself anymore. Americans, get ready. This article will be told mostly in pictures and videos because that is how Cheryl is best experienced, clearly. You’ll thank me for it when you’re done.
Cheryl Cole is Girls Aloud’s Justin Timberlake equivalent. She was always a major part of the success of her band, and when they went on hiatus she carved out a very successful solo career. It’s hard to even begin explaining how stellar she is. Number one, she is very sweet and humble. It’s always terrible to love a musician’s sound, look them up, and find out he or she is an awful person. Cheryl is kind, funny, and goofy. Plus, sometimes, she thinks she’s super hard, and I love that about her.
She is also a fantastic dancer. She was trained in more classical styles as a kid, and she clearly has a knack for it. She sings live while pulling off some ridiculously complicated moves and wearing some amazing outfits.
In the UK, she is on just about every magazine cover. I visited for a week and bought multiple magazines because of her presence (also wow I’m pretty sure they have more magazines there, I wonder why that is. Food for thought). She is a bit like their Britney Spears, only she never actually does anything crazy/bad enough to deserve being tabloid fodder.
She is clearly gorgeous and she has an interesting and very defined sense of style. She may or may not be my current desktop background (hint: she definitely is. And also my phone background…). She is the face of several L’Oreal products, because she’s worth it.
She has an accent that I could listen to all day long. During her run on the U.K. X Factor, she was the best mentor and kindest critic. She believed in her contestants and supported them 100 percent. She is also absolutely hilarious. If she wasn’t a musician, I think she’d be a great host or correspondent. She can go toe-to-toe with Simon Cowell and come out on top!
She is charitable, involved in giving back to the community she came from with her Prince’s Trust Foundation group. She is very involved in charity and unimaginably kind to her fans. At a signing she did a while ago for the store carrying her shoe line, Stylist Pick, she stayed many hours longer than had been promised, gave out swag, talked to all her fans, signed things not bought in-store, took pictures, and engaged in such a way that she made a lasting impression on every last attendee. Honestly, it’s hard to explain how thoughtful she is. If you take a look at her Twitter at any point, you’ll see the thought and care she puts into her responses to her fans. She has started following a group of fans each month and actually engaging with them through DMs, tweets, RTs etc. She teases and jokes with everyone. Unfortunately I probably won’t be followed because my Twitter name is my own name, it doesn’t have “Cheryl” anywhere in it, my background picture is boring default blue instead of a collage I’ve made in her honor and I don’t have a whole bubble gum replica of her in a secret shrine Hey Arnold style but… if she followed me, quite honestly it would make my life. I know, it’s just the internet, but, you guys, it’s CHERYL COLE. Come on. If she asked me to, I’d build that shrine. And I don’t even like gum.
Alright, so now that you know a little more about Cheryl as a person, let’s move on to the music.
Cheryl’s sound is unique. Catchy, with great hooks and lyrics you can sing right along with her, and each song is different. There are hints of rap, definitely. Some R&B. Eastern influences in some songs, classical influences in others. Girls Aloud (which I love to death) is very much a pop band, but Cheryl has set out to be a bit more soulful.
I do not usually watch concert videos or really care how my musicians do live or what they did for a music video unless it’s Britney Spears. That all changed with Girls Aloud and Cheryl. I’ve decided to include several videos in this post because Cheryl’s music goes beyond the sound and into the experience. The dancing, the outfits, the sets. The music is great on its own, but it is made even stronger with dynamic performances and a clear dedication to entertainment.
Her first album, 3 Words, came out in 2009. Will.I.Am is a major part of the album and can be heard on several of the tracks. The first single, ‘Fight For This Love’, has a military inspired video and the chorus will be stuck in your head for ages. When I’m trying to show someone how great Cheryl’s music is, this is the first track I play them. Vampire Weekend also liked the track and covered it here.
The second single is completely different. In fact, I have never heard a pop song quite like it before, or really any song for that matter. ‘Parachute’ has an almost jilting, stuttering style of sound and the video is absolutely gorgeous. I know pop music isn’t everyone’s thing, but this song may surprise you.
Her second album, Messy Little Raindrops, focused on the theme of betrayal. Her husband was a ginormous jerk, and this album speaks to that. Heartbreak albums are always great (for us, not the person writing them) as we saw most recently with the massive success of Adele. It’s hard to explain, but Cheryl definitely has her own sound despite the wide variety of influences on her tracks. Adele covered the main single off this album, ‘Promise This’. The official video features some killer dance moves.
I love the non-singles too. Songs that weren’t my favorites at first quickly grew on me, such as ‘Boy Like You’ and ‘Heaven’, both featuring Will.I.Am. I love the lyrics of ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Happy Hour’ and I love the cool melodies of ‘Hummingbird’. There are a couple b-sides I’ve heard, all of them strong enough to contend with album tracks. Cheryl can also go out of her comfort zone, which she proved with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Set Fire to the Third Bar’ alongside Snow Patrol
This is exactly the sort of music and innovation we love here in the United States, so I cannot comprehend why we have not caught wind of Cheryl yet. She was a judge for a few rounds of the U.S. incarnation of The X Factor but things went awry and Nicole Scherzinger replaced her. Cheryl showed up in the first couple episodes but was mostly cut, though even that small dose had critics raving over her likability and genuine nature. We got to see her rock some big Texas hair, one of my favorite looks of hers, and she took the time to chat with the American fans that attended the auditions and performances. I seriously contemplated going to one of the performances she’d be judging, but she was axed before I got the chance to see her or her hair.
She shot a small cameo in What to Expect When You’re Expecting in Georgia, my home state, and I actually drove down from my college town to see if I could meet her. I drove 2 hours on a school day, picking up a pal along the way for support and to be my driving buddy, and made my way to the set. I was told I could hang out outside the cones surrounding the lot, and so we waited in my car by the trailers. I tweeted Cheryl a couple times hoping to let her know I was there and meet my hero. Then Jennifer Lopez had me kicked off the lot… officially making her enemy number one. I tell this story because quite honestly, Cheryl is the kind of person where I think had she known I was there, she would have taken the time to chat. I would not have driven that far if I didn’t think that. She was filming her newest music video in L.A. recently and one of her young fans there was desperate to meet her, and so not only did Cheryl have her brought to the set and take pictures with her, she gave her a cupcake. Win-win. (Edit: I have since found out that Cheryl wasn’t even on the set I stalked! A heads up from the crew would have been nice 😦)
If you don’t love Cheryl at this point, it’s because I haven’t told you about Push 10.
Push 10 is her street-dancer name, earned because her jokes to her dance instructor often led him to making her do 10 push-ups. Four of the members of Girls Aloud pursued their other passions as part of a documentary series, and she chose to learn how to street dance in L.A. Not only is she funny and cool in the show, but she is REALLY talented. You can see the result of what she learned in Will.I.Am’s Heartbreaker music video and you can actually watch the entire Passions episode on YouTube starting here. Watch from about 2:45 through about 3:30 on the following video to see my very favorite part of the entire series. Her corny jokes crack me (and clearly her) up, but the dance instructor not so much…
You can bet that when her new album comes out I’ll be importing it from wherever I need to in order to get a copy. I just hope that we’ll embrace her over here in the U.S. so that I can see more of her. You can read all my opinions on her greatness as they come to me on Twitter @emhig.