Cheryl’s solo efforts thus far (“3 Words” and “Messy Little Raindrops”) have seemed rushed to me. I’m pretty sure she thought she had to, to keep herself in the public eye after Girls Aloud went on hiatus. I believe that it was a mistake to push herself to Frankenstein a record by listening to demos, picking and choosing what she wanted to slap on a record that her label could sell. I know that’s how most artists do it. I just wish Cheryl hadn’t been one of them. Cheryl had a real shot at being organic with her solo stuff, fleshing out her thoughts and emotions on songs she wrote herself.
Aurally, they’re two completely different records. “3 Words” has a more laid-back R&B sound that I think suits Cheryl’s voice very well. Obviously having will.i.am executive produce, write the majority of the record, as well as guesting on most of the songs helped with that. In his defense, Will is a hitmaker and he saw that potential in Cheryl when they did “Heartbreaker” together. He gave her a great record to debut as a solo artist with. I hated the title track though, and was disappointed it was released as a single.
“Messy Little Raindrops” sounds so basic, something that would’ve done well if “3 Words” hadn’t been produced showing us what she’s capable of. I tried to like “Promise This” but I think it’s an awful song. The hook annoys the piss out of me. The drum machine in the song is overload to me. Not saying it could’ve done well slowed down, or even as a ballad, but the relentless pounding seems out of place.
She had Travie McCoy and Dizzee Rascal – two of my favorite rappers from my generation – guest on “Yeah Yeah” and “Everyone” respectively. Their verses were severely lacking and seemed bogged down by the dullness of the songs they were on. In fact, you could take them out and the songs would be better! That sucks to say because I love Travie’s solo stuff, and I’ve been following Dizzee since “Boy in Da Corner.”
“Waiting” is one that sticks out to me, and that’s because it sampled Vanessa Carlton. “Amnesia,” “Happy Tears,” and “Hummingbird” are great tracks as well.
“The Flood” is going to be the second single, and it seems like the prerequisite slow song that you expect from a diva known for her more upbeat songs (i.e. Beyonce’s “Halo”, Lady GaGa’s “Speechless”).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Queen Cheryl. I adore her. She’s beautiful, has a wonderful voice, and she’s got star power. I wouldn’t be reviewing her if I didn’t believe she had It. Let’s get this straight: I’m picky about who and what I review. I don’t review haphazardly. If I feel moved by an artist or a movie, I will review them, for bad or for worse. I would LOVE for Cheryl to push the envelope musically. She doesn’t stray far from her comfort zone. That might sell records and get her to #1, but she’s not fooling me. She has the potential to be huge, if she just trusted herself.
“Messy Little Raindrops” is a grower, unlike “3 Words,” where I heard the hits left and right. I might have to revisit my review in a few months’ time. I refuse to give her a bad rating, because it’s not a bad album. It just could’ve been better.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars