Oh hey! I’m Sam Lansky, and this is my column “Pop Think,” where I’ve kind of made a career out of writing about international artists I think are poised to break big in the U.S. (A lot of the time I’m wrong, but you can’t fault me for being an optimist!) One surefire Stateside success story, though, is Cher Lloyd, whose brilliant single “Want U Back” has been tearing up the U.S. charts and shows no sign of stopping.
But it’s no surprise, since Cher is one of the coolest, brightest talents England’s exported our way recently, and her single is a commanding pop gem with just enough attitude to make a major splash in a world where pure pop (“Call Me Maybe,” anyone?) is back on top. Given Cher’s “X Factor” pedigree and the support of big guns like L.A. Reid, it seems reasonable to expect that she might be the next big import. Don’t call her a swagger jagger, y’all — she’s in a league of her own.
Get ready to hear a lot more about Cher Lloyd (and not just from me).
One of the best things about the televised talent competitions like “Idol” and “X-Factor” is getting to watch inexperienced, everyday kids evolve into huge global superstars — and that’s pretty much been the journey with Cher Lloyd, whose U.K. “X Factor” audition (it’s an absolute must-watch) back in 2010 went viral as a showcase for her unmistakable charisma and magnetic personality. When she performed her own version of Keri Hilson‘s cover of Soulja Boy‘s “Turn My Swag On,” the judges unanimously agreed that Cher was brilliant. In successive performances, she seamlessly combined hip-hop and pop (in much the same way Justin Bieber has) for innovative, unexpected mashups that blew the competition out of the water. Although she was eliminated before the finals, she quickly signed a deal to Simon Cowell’s Syco Music and began churning out hits in the U.K., first the No. 1 smash “Swagger Jagger” and then her Top 10 hit, the Mike Posner-assisted “With Ur Love.”
Read more about Cher Lloyd’s U.S. breakthrough after the jump.
Cher’s talent didn’t go unnoticed in the U.S., with L.A. Reid signing Cher to a U.S. deal on Epic Records. But many artists with major international platforms sign label contracts only to flounder Stateside, and it wasn’t until the success of “Want U Back,” from her Sticks + Stones international debut, that Cher started to pick up steam here. Though two separate rap remixes were recorded, first with U.S. “X Factor” wunderkind Astro and then with the legendary Snoop Dogg, the song’s rapid ascent up the charts has rested solely on Cher’s shoulders. It seems to be pushed forward primarily by digital sales, given that “Want U Back” is at No. 5 on that chart, and an impressive No. 12 on the Hot 100 and poised to break the Top 10.
It should, since it’s a great pop song, but it’s also evidence that there’s a new meritocracy returning to the pop charts, with the surprising successes of singles such as Ellie Goulding‘s “Lights” and, of course, Carly Rae Jepsen‘s (VMA-nominated!) “Call Me Maybe” dominating airwaves. In “Want U Back,” the crisp pop production, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head melody, and, of course, that likable grunting make it sound like a hit, but the song may also suggest a new space is developing in the commercial market for pop like this, pop that comes without a house beat and an obligatory rap guest spot. Pretty soon, the U.K. may end up wanting Cher Lloyd back. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up wanting to keep her for ourselves.
Photo credit: Epic Records