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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Cheryl Cole - 3 Words Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 10.27.2009

Cheryl Cole - 3 Words
Review by Daniel Wilcox

Track listing:
1. 3 Words [feat. Will.I.Am]
2. Parachute
3. Heaven [feat. Will.I.Am]
4. Fight for this Love
5. Rain on Me
6. Make Me Cry
7. Happy Hour
8. Stand Up
9. Don’t Talk About this Love
10. Boy Like You [feat. Will.I.Am]

For whatever reason, be it the fact that she is the lesser of four evil judges on UK talent show The X Factor, or the fact that we pity her for being married to the biggest cocksucking money-grabbing prick in football (soccer), Cheryl Cole has become something of a national treasure in the United Kingdom. Cole rose to fame as part of the girl group Girls Aloud, who are probably just about the biggest and most successful girl group in UK history, eclipsing the Spice Girls. She’s even become fairly well-known state side, such is her celebrity status. I would probably go as far as to say that Cheryl Cole, the bonnie Geordie lass, is this country’s most cherished celebrity since Princess Diana, and as such, anything she puts her name on is going to be a success, as is evident by her first solo single “Fight for this Love” becoming the fastest-selling single of the year and going straight to number one this past weekend. Her album will undoubtedly be number one come Sunday as well. And yet, she is probably one of the least talented members of her group Girls Aloud, and thus least likely to have a successful solo career.

Unsurprisingly., Cole hooks up with Will.I.Am, a superstar in his own right after the way the Black Eyed Peas have dominated this year, a renewal of acquaintances after Cole guested on Will’s chart-topper “Heartbreaker” last year. On the first of three tracks that features Will.I.Am, which also happens to be the title, Cole offers something that suggests she may actually be able to make a go of this solo career thing. “3 Words” is far more interesting and innovative than anything her girl group has done in their entire careers. Featuring dark loops of acoustic guitar before morphing into a sombre and honest dance track, it serves to suggest that in an imaginative environment, Cole can do fantastic pop songs. Her other collaborations with Will.I.Am don’t come off as flawlessly however. “Heaven” is one of the more upbeat tracks on the record but comes off as cliché and uninspired, and the Fleetwood Mac-sampling “Boy Like You” sees the album end on a bit of a low ebb, although the penultimate track “Don’t Talk About this Love” almost kills all the momentum Cheryl had built up anyway.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s dominant theme is love, be that looking for it. finding it, losing it, or pairing it. Songs like “Make Me Cry” and the Madonna-esque “Rain On Me” obviously relate to Cole’s troubled relationship with aforementioned soccer star (C)Ashley Cole, as Cheryl warns, “Careful what you’re saying, ‘cause I’m trying to stay with you.” While these tracks are fun and catchy, and the following take “Happy Hour” is tremendously upbeat and fun, her vocal performance throughout is patchy. She offers nothing in that department that suggests this is an artist who would usually get any kind of solo success. Luckily for Cheryl, this album is essentially flop-proof, unlike the vast majority of girl group-gone-solo artist records.

Most songs on 3 Words are a bit of a 90s R&B throwback, although there are some good 70s synths creeping in here and there. Will.I.Am does a really good job on production and as a guest artist, and Taio Cruz, who features on “Stand Up,” is a welcome addition to the album. For the most part, Cheryl comes across as pretty hard done by and melancholy, but yet she’s dominant and in control. Of course it must help to randomly have the backing of an entire nation behind you.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that lead single “Fight for this Love.” On first listen, it honestly comes off as a bit of a dud but it is undoubtedly a grower, and while it’s certainly not pushing any boundaries, it’s somewhat unconventional as a lead single. Not so much as the title track, which is set to be the next single, but this just goes to show that Cole isn’t afraid to do things her way, something she probably learned to do after the scandal last year when her husband publicly humiliated her. It’s a pretty decent debut for the nation’s favourite Geordie, and one that’ll have unquestionable success, but at the same time it does suggest that long-term, Cheryl may be better served to stick with Girls Aloud.

Essential downloads: “3 Words,” “Parachute,” “Fight for this Love,” “Rain on Me,” “Make Me Cry,” “Happy Hour” “and “Stand Up.”

The 411: Honestly, Cheryl could've put out an album of songs bashing jews, blacks, gays, Christians, muslims and the disabled, and this country would still adore her. Alas, what we have is a relatively safe yet fun mix of R&B and pop, albeit with somewhat mediocre vocals and lyricism. Unquestionably Cole benefitted from working with Will.I.Am, Taio Cruz and a few other big name producers and song writers, but she's managed to essentially "capture the hearts" of a nation entirely on her own. Of course, it probably helps that's she's bloody gorgeous.
Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend


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