Cher Lloyd - Sticks & Stones
Record Label: Syco Music / Epic
Release Date: October 3, 2012 (US) / November 7, 2011 (UK)
With so many music competition shows on the air these days, both in the US and around the world, it can be easy for many participants and even winners to get lost in the shuffle. After finishing fourth in last year's The X Factor (UK), the 19 year old British singer/rapper Cher Lloyd received a contract from Simon Cowell's record label Syco Music and releases her first full-length album Sticks & Stones. Her album won't win any awards for originality but for a reality show participant, it's right in the middle of the pack and is a decent pop album.
"Want U Back" has been all over the radio lately and for good reason. It's a feel good track that gives a great introduction to the world for what to expect from Lloyd in the future. There's something about Lloyd's voice that definitely pulls you in. She weaves between rapping and singing without missing a beat. That's not to say that she's a great rapper or singer, but she does enough to hold her own in the pop scene. She doesn't have that annoying fake accent that Nicki Minaj uses when she raps, which in my book, makes her miles ahead of the curve.
As far as slower songs go, "Behind The Music" is about as close to a ballad as you'll get on Sticks & Stones. It has a strong drum beat and the chorus is very similar to Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield". The piano melody really meshes well with the drums and is one of the highlights of Sticks & Stones. The song is the epitome of what Cher Lloyd stands for. She states that if you don't stand behind the music you make, you will be quickly forgotten. She takes ownership of her pop sound and offers no apologies for who she is.
The Dr. Luke (Katy Perry, Britney Spears) produced track "Oath" is a great summer jam with an easy going guitar riff starting off the song on a poppy note. It builds to a huge chorus. The verses are reminiscent of "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars. The final chorus has great background shouts of "Oath!" that really bring an added element to the atmosphere of the song. It's definitely one of the more mature songs on the album.
"Playa Boi" has a definite 80s vibe where Lloyd flexes her muscles as a rapper and the chorus is one that will get your foot tapping in no time. The track, produced by RedOne (Lady Gaga) features elements of dubstep but it's not overkill. It's just enough to make the song exciting.
Armed with a legion of fans and some of the best producers in the business, Cher Lloyd introduces herself as a pop singer who isn't afraid to be bold and say what she really feels. She has the "I'm tough and I know it" vibe that makes her very appealing as a performer. While Sticks & Stones doesn't break any barriers for pop music, it doesn't seem to bother Cher Lloyd. She's tough enough to hold her own and she will definitely let you know that.