Sticks + Stones
It’s only been a year since Cher strutted into the public consciousness on The X Factor UK, wowing audiences with her cover of Soulja Boy’s ‘Turn My Swag On’, her vocals quivering but accomplished, before flipping into her now trademark defiant lip-curl. Her ballsy break from the overcooked covers of most X Factor auditions earned her a standing ovation.
In hindsight it seems canny that she should choose a song that focused on fabulousity, a kiss-off to the ‘haters’, because more than any other X Factor alum, Lloyd has dealt with a lot of flak in the past 12 months. She’s a diva, she’s fallen out with Cheryl Cole, she’s too big for her boots, they say. The Worcestershire-born 18-year-old has been largely defiant in the face of those ‘keyboard warriors with a license to hate’, but even with a number one under her belt (the diabolical ‘Oh My Darling, Clementine’-referencing ‘Swagger Jagger’) it must still sting.
Her sound can best be summed up by the Busta Rhymes-featuring opener ‘Grow Up’, which sees her pinballing between cutesy Lily Allen-like lilts and sharp, in-your-face raps. At the record’s apex is her current single, the urban pop punch of ‘With Ur Love’ (with Mike Posner), and the skippy ‘Superhero’. Its lowest points are the jarring ‘Over the Moon’ (like an urban Mika) and the bass-wobble of ‘Dub On the Track’ with grime MCs Ghetts, Mic Righteous and Dot Rotten (awful).
Even with its cast of top-notch writers and producers – Max Martin, The Runners – her Stateside-recorded debut will do little to silence critics. It’s divisive, but it is unmistakably Cher Lloyd, and there’s some triumph in that.