Monday 18 June 2012

Cheryl - A Million Lights

It's becoming increasingly clear how much of an influence Ashley Cole has had on Cheryl's career, which is, of course, fairly understandable.  In this rather candid interview on Popjustice, Cheryl states that the songs on her album weren't written with her in mind, but it's hard not to read into the lyrics.  Opening track Under The Sun claims "is this really my life now that I'm over you...I can finally feel alive" accompanied by football-esque chanting and it's followed by current single Call My Name, a transparent call to disassociate herself from Mr Cole.  Screw You is probably the biggest musical middle finger since Frankee's F U Right Back, matched by All Is Fair's chorus cry "this is war!". And with bonus tracks entitled Boys Lie (sung with such animosity) and Last One Standing, plus lyrics like Telescope's "you're in my bed with her", it's difficult to see the integrity in her change of name. 'A Million Lights' is hardly the equivalent break-up record to Rihanna's 'Rated R' that Cheryl so wants it to be.

Then there's Girl In The Mirror, Cheryl singing "I've been picking little fights with the girl in the mirror". There's that toilet attendant again. Or maybe it's a nod to the tabloids? Ok, maybe that's too far.

'A Million Lights' actually has a lot in common with Cheryl's protégé Alexandra Burke, with its string of identikit dance tracks. Except where Burke's heartbreak is on hold, Cheryl's is displayed for all the world to see. And when she's not busy shouting about Ashley, she's trying her damn hardest to be sexy - but it just doesn't work. The Lana Del Rey penned Ghetto Baby is a clear candidate here, its drawling melodies instantly recognisable as Del Rey's work. In her hands, this could have been an ironic statement, what with its clichéd hip-hop lyrics ("drop it like it's hot girl"). Yet Cheryl just doesn't have the sex appeal to pull off lines like "I know you're sick boy I wanna get the flu, I'm running temperatures thinking of your love boo". It just sounds contrived.  Rihanna's attitude and allure would be perfect here, though she's in a different class to Cheryl. The poor grammar and house feel of Sexy Den A Mutha is another failed attempt at cool.

In that same Popjustice interview, Cheryl claims to have purposefully used up-and-coming producers to generate a sense of "newness". Yet whilst this dub soaked dance-pop may be a new (if obvious) direction for Cheryl, it's hardly breaking new ground. The overuse of the obligatory dubstep breakdown reaches a peak at the abominable Girl In The Mirror, seeping into the album at large. More so, it's a fairly hypocritical statement to make when the lead single is produced by Calvin Harris. And with Will.I.Am at the wheel, his influence dripping from the whole album, it's clear who's at the helm. That said, Craziest Things, which features Will's vocals, is a catchy highlight. Another is This Is War, clearly the darker, mid-tempo cousin of Fight For This Love, despite being an innumerate example of Cheryl's need for autotune.

By dropping her surname, Cheryl undoubtedly wants us to forget the baggage and enjoy 'A Million Lights' for its simple pleasures. It's a tall order, but if you manage it there is some fun to be had here. That said, this hasn't instigated the final break from Ashley that Cheryl has hoped for.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Call My Name
* Craziest Things
* All Is Fair

Listen: 'A Million Lights' is available now.