Saturday, February 6, 2010

And the Award for 2009's 'Most Underrated Album' Goes to...

Cheryl Cole 3 Words

When I named my Top 10 Albums of 2009 a few weeks ago, I wanted to include a special mention for this album. As weak as I felt 2009 was for albums, 3 Words was nowhere near my Top 10. However, I felt like all the negative attention and publicity it had received was completely unwarranted. For Christ's sake, the way bloggers and critics attacked Cheryl and her album you would have thought Nickelback had a hand in it.

One of the most common (and thoroughly baffling) insults hurled at Ms. Cole was the fact that she couldn't sing. I'm not going to defend her voice because, honestly, she doesn't have the strongest voice on the planet. But when exactly did this become a problem for everyone? Girls Aloud, as a group, have a nice sound, but, individually, none of them (except for Nadine) have that great of voices. Did everyone just forget that fact when 3 Words came out and expect her to grow Christina-sized pipes? Besides, when has not having a great voice hindered some of our most cherished pop stars? Madonna in the early 80's didn't have a stellar voice, yet she came out with classics like 'Borderline' and 'Like a Virgin.' Brit gave up trying to even sound like she was singing by Britney. And artists like Rihanna and Kylie have much weaker voices than the studio versions of their songs suggest. What these women possess, however, is a certain something extra--whether it's in production or sheer personality--that sets them apart. I truly feel that, if given a chance, Cheryl could use that to her advantage. She's a classy, well put together lady that I strive to be like; if she could incorporate that into her on-stage persona and into her music, she could be amazing. She just needs some time. To modify the old saying, "Madonna wasn't built in a day."

Honestly, I think the real reason people crucified 3 Words was because it didn't sound like Girls Aloud. As much as people deny this and claim they listened with as much of an unbiased opinion as possible, they really wanted another Chemistry. From the beginning, Cheryl said that her album wasn't going to sound like Girls Aloud, but people just didn't want to hear it. If you listen to 3 Words with Girls Aloud in mind, of course you're going to be disappointed. Ms. Cole sound is much quieter and more R&B-driven than Girls Aloud's hard-edged electropop--and that is not a bad thing.

I suspect that if most people listened to 3 Words again today after months of (most likely) ignoring it, they will be surprised at how much better it sounds. I know it took me awhile to really get into, and I'm glad I stuck around. Not only is 'Fight For This Love' a killer track that doesn't get enough credit, there are plenty of other gems on the album. My favorite happens to be 'Make Me Cry.' I know a lot of people were put off by the repetitiveness of the track, but I find the way she keeps asking, "Are you trying to make me cry?" deeply hypnotic. Forgive my pretentious-sounding reasoning, but it almost feels like she's searching for some kind of emotion that she can't put it into words. I have no idea how she does it, but 'Make Me Cry' gets me every time.

The point of this post wasn't to convince you 3 Words is some lost classic that will be remembered for years to come. I just want you to take another listen to it without all the crushing hype surrounding it five months ago. Hopefully, you'll find yourself less pissed off with it than you were last time and actually start to see it in a new light.

1 comment:

J.D. said...

I haven't ever denied I wanted something Xenomania-produced or close in sound to GA, but this still isn't great? IF HER VOICE WAS STRONGER (etc) it probably would be really, really good, but out-of-character R&B is not the kind of music a weak but nice enough voice like hers lends itself well to. And frankly, I still hate "Fight for This Love" entirely because of her vocals - it'd be a great pop song if done a bit differently or with a different singer.

I do like the album, though.

Nadine has a technically great voice, also. At least she has the ability to belt.