Girls Aloud's most famous gal finally unveils her long-awaited solo album - but hold the fanfare. '3 Words' may have Black Eyed Peas's will.i.am overseeing several of its songs, but there's a surprising lack of oomph, quality and diversity here. A disappointment.
With her fingers in so many extracurricular pies, it's almost easy to forget that Cheryl Cole hasn't always been a solo singer. Sidestepping her Girls Aloud duties, the glam Newcastle lass has come a long way since she herself was a contestant on 'Popstars: The Rivals' in 2002; with her fellow Girls, she's been a purveyor of some of the best pop tunes of the decade.
Unsurprisingly, then, she's the first member of the group to go solo. Having previously featured on will.i.am's single 'Heartbreaker', the Black Eyed Peas man returns the favour on Cole's '3 Words', supplying vocals and producing three songs here (rising UK r'n'b star Taio Cruz also guests).
Despite having a high-profile producer take her under his wing, though, '3 Words' simply isn't up to scratch for a star of Cole's stature. It's difficult to succumb to the majority of these songs because they're lacking in charm, diversity and quality. The title track opens the album and is representative of the other nine songs; Cole's voice is fine, but the song itself sounds disjointed and unsure of whether it wants to be a pop tune or a Tiesto remix. Ditto for the weak 'Heaven' and the bland 'Make Me Cry'; the former could be by any number of similar artists, the latter's tone far too samey to make a lasting impression.
It's not a complete failure, though: lead single 'Fight for this Love' is almost exasperatingly catchy and one of the few numbers with the 'replay' factor, while 'Happy Hour' uses the same sort of streetwise sashay purloined by Estelle. On the whole, though, you have to wonder whether Cheryl Cole is ready for a solo career - it may only be her debut, but there's a definite lack of identity stamped on it. 3 words? 'Try again, luv'?