The latest Simon Cowell import lands with a pop-rap hybrid that delights her 'brats'
By Larry Gilchrist
Special to MSN Music
Cher Lloyd (©Epic)
With the latest season of "X Factor" just wrapped, it's worth checking the progress of the reality competition's recent grads with an eye toward the show's track record. Thus far, the international series has spawned high-profile careers for One Direction, Leona Lewis and Melanie Amaro. Poised to increase the string of alumni who've crossed the Atlantic and gained a Stateside fan base is Cher Lloyd, the 19-year-old Malvern, England, native who placed fourth on the seventh series of the show's original U.K. edition.
While Lloyd didn't win the show, judge Simon Cowell saw something special in her and signed her to his Syco Music. Flash forward a year to October and Lloyd's full-length U.S. debut, "Sticks + Stones," led by her infectious single, "Wants You Back," is released.
MSN Music recently caught up with Lloyd, fresh off a short vacation, to talk about her Stateside success, returning to the "X Factor" stage and the fans she affectionately calls "brats."
MSN Music: Why did you choose "Oath" as the current single?
Cher Lloyd: It just made sense to do something new, something no one has ever heard before. Of course, the album was [already] out in the U.K. and I felt like it was difficult to release the album somewhere else when another country has already heard it, because all the fans are connected -- they know what's going on. We felt that we should release something new and fresh, and that's why I wanted it. And, in my opinion, it's an instant song.
How did the track come about?
I was basically doing a lot of stuff in London at the time and I had the opportunity to do it. So, I went in on maybe a Wednesday and it was on radio the next day.
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You initially released "Sticks + Stones" in the U.K. Tell me about recording the album.
The album was recorded in under two months. It feels like a long time ago, and it was. It was actually two years ago that the album was recorded. I went in with a lot of respected producers, and I was familiar with songwriting at the time, but I had a go and I co-wrote on most of the songs on the album. It was like new to me, learning a lot more about how it actually works. I hadn't a clue that you had to go in with different producers and try out different stuff. It was a learning experience for me.
What has the U.S. response to the album been like?
I think I've been very lucky with this album. Off of one single ["Wants You Back"], things started to go great for me and I think that's the reason that people actually bought into me. And the thing with my fans is, they're very committed to actually being involved in everything I do, and that's why they went out and bought the album. And I feel like the response from America has been a lot better than I could have ever expected.
Were you surprised by the response to "Wants You Back"?
It was shocking. I remember the first time I came out to the States. Nobody had a clue who I was, nobody knew my name. And then all of a sudden, "Wants You Back" goes to radio and everyone goes crazy over it. It was just a great feeling, and from that moment on I've been spending a lot of time out here. And it's good ... it's really good to see that all my hard work has paid off.
Your fans are known as "brats." Why is that?
They actually came up with the name. And I feel that the reason why all these boys and girls come up with a name for themselves is because they want to be a part of a group, and that's what I like about being an artist: You can bring so many people together. They like to talk to each other over the Internet about my music, where I am and what I am doing. It's just good to be a part of that, to give them something to look forward to. If I book a show, they definitely look forward to it. And you know, I remember being like that as a kid, and it's just very nice to stimulate that.
You recently returned to the "X Factor" stage for the U.S. version. What was that like?
It felt amazing. I was backstage and it was just a whole different experience. To be treated like a star, it just feels good. And you don't have the added pressure of wondering if you were going to get knocked out that week. I had a lot of fun. It was good to see L.A. [Reid, Epic Records chairman]. It was good to see Simon [Cowell]. I hadn't seen Simon in such a long time.
What advice do you give aspiring singers?
The advice that I give is to prepare yourself. To gain success isn't easy and it never will be. Sometimes, people think that they know what it's like, but in reality they don't. My main bit of advice is to live your life first. Go out and make mistakes first, learn from them and then think about moving forward with a singing career.