Cher Lloyd is yet another successful product of the UK’s “X Factor” machine. From Leona Lewis to One Direction, Simon Cowell must be putting something in the water. After so much publicity and build up, “Sticks + Stones” was finally released worldwide last week. The album shows Lloyd’s excitement to work, but with a lot of lackluster songs.
Back in 2010, Lloyd was just another contestant on the massively popular singing show. She wowed everyone with her big voice in such a tiny frame. She became an instant success in the UK by auditioning with “Turn My Swag On” by Keri Hilson and Soulja Boy. Her charisma showed through enough to land her in fourth place in the competition.
Lloyd works with an interesting mix of styles. She has a little Ke$ha minus the ridiculous amount of autotune. Sometimes she acts like Nicki Minaj in her “Monster” phase. She even channels some Carly Rae Jepsen with her made-for-radio pop songs. She is slowly proving that she could easily fit in alongside the chart-toppers in the business today.
The differences between the UK and US versions of the album aren’t easy to decipher aside from a few additional tracks. Lloyd’s biggest single, “Want U Back,” has gotten higher on the charts in America than her home country, oddly enough. Lloyd’s song is definitely getting her airtime, but the album has plenty of tracks that are nearly identical. Her bubblegum pop tracks such as “With Ur Love” can get repetitive with the sickeningly sweet beats and catchy choruses. Even her version of a ballad, “Beautiful People,” still doesn’t stop the heavy beats behind the track. Despite the similarities from track to track, Lloyd’s singles are perfectly engineered for American radio stations with their non-stop energy and “YOLO” attitude.
But anyone who fell in love with Lloyd on “The X Factor” might be disappointed. On the show, she brought her own twist to exciting cover songs. This album? It’s just dull at points. She’s extremely charming, but Lloyd’s label and management aren’t bringing her talent forward. Her sassiness and cute British expressions should have made her a huge success, but she’s blending in too much with other popular artists. Her sound is just as manufactured and produced as the rest of the Top 40 – and that’s a problem.
Lloyd is still hugely successful in Europe, but whether or not she will make it big in the US (like fellow “X Factor” alumni One Direction) is hard to say. Overall, she has catchy, radio-friendly songs that are total earworms, but we expected more from her. —
Speakeasy Rating: C+
Key tracks: “Want U Back,” “Turn My Swag On”