99.7 [NOW!] Summer Splash 2014: Cher Lloyd
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Though she first burst into the public’s consciousness as a finalist on the U.K. version of The X Factor in 2010, Cher Lloyd began to make waves in the U.S. the following year with one of that summer’s most irresistible songs, “Want U Back,” a double-platinum hit that led The New York Times to proclaim, “…she’s the future.” The 20-year-old British singer and songwriter followed it up with the gold-certified ode to female friendship, “Oath,” a Top 10 album, Sticks & Stones, and numerous high-profile television appearances, including performances on The Today Show, Dancing With the Stars, Ellen and America’s Got Talent. (She also collaborated with Ne-Yo on the Fruttare track “It’s All Good,” performed “Want U Back” on stage with Taylor Swift and is featured on Demi Lovato’s new single “Really Don’t Care.”) In the process, this outspoken, determined individualist has attracted a rabid global fan base whose members call themselves “brats” and follow her every move online and off. To them, Cher is the voice of the underdog, a once-quiet girl from the small English town of Malvern who found her own voice through singing, writing songs, and performing, and is now taking on the fight for others to demand to be heard.
To do it, Cher felt the time had come for her to reveal more about who she is and what is meaningful to her on her new album. “I’ve really let my barriers down on this record,” Cher says. “I’ve opened up and written songs about things I’ve never talked about before. It’s a big step. I’m kind of nervous for people to hear the album, because they’re going to know a lot more about me and that I am imperfect, but I want to be honest about who I am as a person and as an artist.”
Cher’s vulnerability is evident on new songs like the gut-wrenching “Sirens” as well as “Goodnight” — a deeply heartfelt ballad she describes as a “breakthrough” and one of her proudest songwriting moments. “It was inspired by being away from home so much, which has made me realize how much I miss my family,” she says. “I want people to realize that I am completely human and go through the same things as everyone else.”
Even the upbeat songs on the album divulge more about who Cher is, including the playful, cheeky “Dirty Love,” where Cher laments that her guy is too accommodating (“You’re always so nice, I’m getting bored,” she taunts). “When my mom heard the song her jaw dropped to the floor,” Cher says with a laugh. “I thought, ‘This is great. I’ve definitely done what I wanted to do.’ Because this is me. I’m like this in real life. I don’t mind cracking jokes about naughty stuff. And for a long time, people haven’t been able to see that side of me.”
Then there’s the first single “I Wish” (featuring T.I.) on which Cher catalogs how she might fall short in the eyes of a guy she likes. It’s a sly take on the way girls perceive themselves and their self-worth. “Sure, I would love to be tall,” Cher says. “I would love to have a big pair of bangers and a bigger arse. I think a lot of girls struggle with body image or get pissed off because the prettier girl with everything gets the guy. And that’s not fair, and I think I should challenge that. That’s what I really want my fans to connect with. If you have to make all of these changes to impress someone, then they’re not liking you for you. It’s such a message for me too. I’ve always said, if you can’t take me as I am, don’t take me at all. Because I will not change, for anyone. I’ve worked way too hard and stuck to my guns and I want each and every one of my fans to feel that, too. It’s okay to be a brat and stomp your feet and kick and scream when you truly believe in something. I say do it. I support it!”
Sonically, Cher says that her new album is more representative of her musical taste than ever before, due in part to imaginative production work by her executive producers Savan Kotecha and Shellback (whom she describes a “a musical genius”), along with Rami Yacoub, Matt Squire, and others. “Dirty Love” is underpinned by skittering drum and bass, while “Bind Your Love” also experiments with edgy rhythms. Overall the album finds Cher growing up and out of her “bubblegum princess” image, as she puts it.
“I’m a lane switcher,” she says. “I know that this could all go tomorrow, so why not get the most out of it and try different things? That’s kind of what the album title is about. I’m now at that point where I can finally say that I’m where I want to be, musically, and my style has all come together.”