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With assistance from top producers, Cher Lloyd's 'Sticks and Stones' hits hard

By Gregory Hicks, Daily Arts Writer
Published October 2, 2012

Most Americans aren’t familiar with Cher Lloyd’s journey through Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor U.K.,” so many default to labeling her as “the one that grunts” in this summer's hit song “Want U Back.” With Lloyd’s rough-and-tough, Sticks and Stones attitude, this label isn’t too far off.

This album is the embodiment of quirkiness. “Grow Up” is practically a competition between Lloyd and Busta Rhymes to find out who can spit out words the fastest. As a white British girl, her intense rap verses should be the most tacky, annoying aspect ever thrown into an album, but somehow it sounds natural and fun.

It doesn’t end with rap either. If a bit of dubstep on “Over the Moon” and “Playa Boi” isn’t enough, the song “Dub On the Track” delivers exactly what it promises. Imagine that. It’s not radio friendly in the slightest; major bonus points for creativity.

One of the simpler playful tracks, “With Ur Love,” was a major hit in the UK and originally featured vocals by Mike Posner. The bouncy beat of Lloyd’s lighthearted vibe brings back the mood of Fergie’s “Clumsy.” Posner was removed from the song for the US release, which essentially removed the aspect hat would have drawn in American listeners, which is unfortunate because he does little in the way of actual vocal contribution.

Though some might be excited to see Carolina Liar featured in “Beautiful People,” it’s one of the weakest tracks on the album. The opening instrumentation sounds like it was sampled from a low-budget video game, and the melody is just as dull. The only purpose this song serves is to add some tempo variety to the album.

The Dr. Luke-generated song, “Oath,” available on US release only, was chosen instead as the next single from the record. Considering America’s obsession with music made by Luke, this was a wise move. The sound of the track is easily comparable to Nicki Minaj’s “Young Forever,” which by no coincidence is another piece of his work. Reminiscing in a remember-this-remember-that style shows a sentimental side to Lloyd’s rugged appearance.

Cher Lloyd’s thug style of pop music is sure to be a hit or miss among audiences, very similar to Nicki Minaj’s pop-rap crossovers. Fortunately for Lloyd, there’s no need to desperately attempt to please fan bases from two completely different genres of music. The album has its creative twists, but it’s clearly pop at heart.

Most artists only dream of having Shellback, RedOne, Max Martin or Dr. Luke write and produce on their album, and Lloyd was lucky enough to have all four of these hit-makers put together the record. Shellback did the majority of the writing and producing — a fitting choice, given all the work he’s done for the other ferocious female pop artist, P!nk.

There are many roads to be followed with pop music, but Cher Lloyd’s voice has the x-factor, allowing her to pull off almost any musical interpretation of pop. Regardless of the wacko production and collaborations that take the album in ten different directions, Lloyd is never overshadowed in the music, thanks to her “Swagger Jagger” vocal spunk.


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