Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 2009 debut solo album 3 Words from former-Girls Aloud singer, Cheryl Cole.
I’m really not looking forward to reviewing this album, as I generally can’t tolerate Cheryl 100% whats-her-face. This album looks to me like 11 tracks of Hell. The only consolation here is that the sooner it starts to play, the sooner it ends. So let’s go…
The album opens with title track and second single 3 Words. This track opens with a neat little guitar loop that soon gives away to Cheryl’s vocals as the song begins to evolve. Will.i.am is here too (he’s on 3 other tracks on this album), and the track soon picks up a pumping beats as Will.i.am’s deep rich vocals get going. He acts as a good contrast to her lighter vocals, and the song as a whole feels like quite a relaxed, atmospheric song. I’m a little annoyed that I’m liking this track.
This is followed by third and final single Parachute, which sees her further explore her RnB sound. There’s sweeping strings, tinkling piano, and a rapid stream of snares. There’s a nice stripped down section at about 2m 10s, where Cheryl is pitched against the drums, strings, and some layered vocals. This helps to show her vocals as nothing but delicate, but in this song they rarely stray very far. The song takes a slightly different tone as it fades out.
Will.i.am returns for Heaven, who exclaims his ‘Heaven is wit choo‘. This song plays a lot on vocal samples, over handclaps and synthscapes. The song is pretty simple, and slightly robotic at times. It’s quite a mellow track, and the synths give it some really nice sounds. Will.i.am’s inability to pronounce ‘with you’ gets annoying. Aside from his rap towards the end, his appearance here is a little short of annoying. Cheryl could have taken this one herself.
Lead single Fight For This Love follows, gently easing in with some dreamy shuddering synths and claps. Cheryl’s vocals here are confident and she sounds like she’s smiling all the way through. The chorus is really quite catchy (I recognise this track only because it and/or its mixes have been pumping out in my gym). Cheryl manages to show off her vocal range at about 2/3rds of the way through, after which the song builds up the drums and synth strings until the end.
Rain On Me is quite a nice little song, in which Cheryl gets plenty of space to flex her vocal range over a funky bass, wah wah guitars, and beats. There’s a wonderful little delicate bell sound throughout, that gives the idea of little rain drops, and this really helps to add another great layer. This really should have been a single. Oddly, the song kind of just ends and fades out… as if there wasn’t a proper ending.
Some swirling popping sounds usher in Make Me Cry, before switching to Cheryl’s vocals over what sounds like a late disco track. Again, the funky bass and guitars are back, like something that might have been spare from a Sister Sledge track. At times in the verses, she sounds a little bit like Melanie C, but the chorus show off her softer vocal harmonies set against the synthscapes which actually make this song quite a nice track. Its certainly not single material, but it just sounds nice.
Damn, I think i’m enjoying this album :S
We’re back to RnB for next song, Happy Hour. The track starts with a sped-up sample of Nevermore by Renaldo Domino – and this really works well over the tinkling piano and beats. Cheryl’s vocals weave in and out of the piano and beats, and collectively with the sample, makes this a little hypnotic.
It’s full on dance with Stand Up, which is just as well as Cheryl explains that she ‘came here to dance, i’m gonna put up my hands‘. The stuttering synths are back, and the beat and bass deliver a big thumping dance track. This echoes back to the acidy bass synths that populated many of her Girls Aloud hits. At times, I could imagine this track having been recorded by Kylie Minogue, which perhaps makes sense, as it was co-written by Taio Cruz, who released a slightly similar sounding Higher with Kylie in the same year. However, Taio doesn’t take the rap here, that’s left to Ayak Thiik whose name is hidden in the sleeve notes.
Ninth track Don’t Talk About This Love is by contrast a strings laden ballad. Here, Cheryl shows off a softer ballad-style vocal. Her vocals are gentle, and they sit perfectly on the strumming acoustic guitars. This is quite a nice little track, although it just kind of meanders rather than build up to some soaring finale.
Penultimate track Boy Like You uses a section of Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac. Will.i.am is back here for this stabby synth RnB track. Sadly, it feels like a bit of a waste of using such an iconic segment of a huge 80s hit, over what is actually quite a poor song. The only plus to this song is how the Little Lies segment gets plenty of use at the end of the song. Stick to pop, Cheryl.
The album closes with what was actually a Will.i.am single – Heartbreaker (feat. Cheryl Cole), and was her first solo foray in the charts. This track has a great tempo, aided by some hi-pace percussion, tinkling piano, and wonderfully rich bass, and some great funky guitar. The melody of the chorus feels very familiar – like it’s been borrowed from a classic 80s hit.. but I just can’t put my finger on it. Yet. Cee-Lo is here on backing vocals, and to be honest, Cheryl’s involvement is pretty minimal.
Over all, I had every intention to make a pun that this review could conclude by revealing that the 3 Words were ‘Pile Of Shit’, but actually I have been pleasantly surprised, and I feel a bit awkward about it.
The album is slick, and shows off Cheryl’s solo abilities across a fairly wide sweep of styles. There’s a couple of weaker songs here – Boy Like You, and Heaven, but as a whole, this is a great little album. There, I said it.
Sorry Cheryl, for being an asshole about you and your music.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2009 UK CHART POSITION: #1, certified 3x Platinum.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from a British Heart Foundation store.