As a definite non-fan of the X-Factor, even I bow down at the sheer success that certain finalists of Season 7 have achieved. Aiden Grimshaw has released some music that wasn’t half bad, and Matt Cardle has done whatever an X Factor finalist is meant to do. I’m talking about Rebecca Ferguson, who managed to release two of the more exciting post-2010 soul records being an artist that wasn’t Adele and managed to be a sleeper hit both times, and, of course, One Direction.
Last but not least comes Cher Lloyd. I confess I wasn’t a fan of her doing my X-Factor watching days and that reputation of hers – no matter how doctored for TV – has preceded her ever since. I got her first album, Sticks + Stones, merely out of curiosity, and was surprisingly impressed. It wasn’t an amazing record but it was different, fresh and fairly ok (especially if you could look past the lead single ‘Swagger Jagger’, a song that still perplexes me to this day).
Cher’s sophomore offering Sorry I’m Late is an album that has built on this and I would claim is better musically than the first. In Sticks + Stones, it sounded like Simon Cowell had snapped her up and didn’t know what to do with her, but this new album reflects Cher’s rejection of the SyCo label in order to start afresh in her own direction. Even during the X-Factor, a lot was made out of Cher’s rapping ability, but in songs such as ‘Human’ (a triumph self-confidence song), ‘Siren’ and ‘Goodnight’, it is evident how her sound and her vocals have matured.
Some of the songs still maintain the old vibe and themes of the previous album. See ‘M.F.P.O.T.Y.’ and lead single ‘I Wish (feat. T.I.); “Ew, what’s wrong with you”, “Keep it in your pants, boy” are lyrics that feature in the former, and are reminiscent of the young-person vibe which have threaded through some of her bigger hits. The latter speaks about the need to physically change herself for a boy she can’t help falling for.
Apart from this, many songs celebrate the madness of needing and wanting love; ‘Bind Your Love’ is akin to a fast ballad, with a chorus that allows her voice to linger whilst keeping it youthful with the electronic beats. If this was on a Katy Perry album during her One of the Boys era, this could have been a big hit. It will undoubtedly be a great stadium anthem when Lloyd goes on tour.
An astonishing element to the rise of Cher Lloyd has been the extent to which she has managed to gain a presence in the United States, fresh off the trail of One Direction. Much like Little Mix, Cher has managed to capitalise on the large market for teen idols amongst their young people, getting in with some of their tween royalty like Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift to build a fan base across the Atlantic.
Ultimately, this is an album that proves that if Cher makes the right choices, she could one day fully shed her X-Factor image and grow into a bigger star in her own right. Sorry I’m Late still features songs that might make people in the UK turn their noses up, but much like Demi Lovato’s ‘Skyscraper’, Cher proves her ability to create sincere and well-sung tracks. Has she lost some of her old sass and personality in the process? That’s for her fans to decide. In any case, in the name of some of the odd gems on the record, I don’t mind how late Cher’s been at all.