Friday, September 18th, 2009

Cheryl Cole – Fight For This Love

The first Girls Aloud solo single, then…


Keane Tzong: “Too much of anything can make you sick / even the good can be a curse / makes it hard to know which road to go down / know when too much can get you hurt” — and yet, here we are, witnessing the birth of a Girls Aloud solo effort. Do what Cheryl says, not what Cheryl does, I suppose.

Erika Villani: Back when everyone thought that awesome Girls Aloud press release was written by Nicola, I was like, “I knew Nicola was the best member of Girls Aloud!” Then we found out it wasn’t written by Nicola at all, and I was like, “Oh.” Then this song came along: The vocals that remain thin and incorporeal even when they’re layered to high heaven. The synth-y instrumental track that sounds straight out of 1989 — not old enough to be retro, not new enough to be nostalgic, just right to be old-fashioned. The halting, unsure way she sings “love ain’t no walk in the park,” as if English isn’t her first language and she’s learning the song phonetically. I knew Nicola was the best member of Girls Aloud! (And if Nicola has already come out with a song that sucks as blandly as this, please don’t tell me, because I can’t take that kind of disappointment again.)

Briony Edwards: With the sort of team you’d expect to find behind a debut as highly anticipated as this, I find it deeply shocking that this is the best they could come up with. It’s weak in every respect – the lyrics are painfully clunky & uninspiring (“Are we sitting in reverse, It’s just like we’re going backwards… Driving fast but let’s go slow, What I don’t want to do is crash, no”), and the music has as much charisma as a dishcloth.

Martin Kavka: The writer of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”! The writer of Rihanna’s “Disturbia”! The writer and producer of Tashbed’s “Single”! The singer … who can’t deliver the material, out of tune in her lower register and screeching in her upper, obviously in need of other singers with whom to blend.

Kat Stevens: I was watching a repeat of the Girls Aloud Chemistry tour on telly at the weekend, and it struck me how none of them could really sing quietly – it was balls out or nothing. Cheryl comes a cropper in the same way here: her muted verse vocal is aloof and awkward, and doesn’t benefit at all from the autotune – in fact it would probably have worked better as a spoken word section (the Jimmy Nail style Geordie monotone is totally underrated as a pop device). That leaves only the rather dull, competent chorus to cling to.

Tom Ewing: Winningly unassuming pop that relies on the simple pleasure of a big chorus hook: no bells, no whistles, which is as firm a break from Girls Aloud as she could have made. It’s so vanilla it could be a lost Louise single (albeit a rather fine one). My only problem is Cole’s weird over-singing in places on the verses. Since her day job now involves listening to an unpleasant man chew people out for not being perfect singers it’s no surprise if she’s got self-conscious, but the awkward little note-bends on “curse” “hurt” etc. still grate.

Michaelangelo Matos: Ne-Yo aside, this is the first R&B record I’ve heard in a while that could have been done by someone on the Southern soul-blues circuit; with cheaper and less strobing synths, not to mention a simpler, more down-home, played-by-hands groove, it could have fit onto the Motel Lovers comp Trikont put out a couple years back. “If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for” is such commonsense advice it’s tempting to dismiss it as mere cliche, but Cole’s performance is jumpier than that, more urgent, and so is the advice itself.

Alex Ostroff: The fluttering synths that open “Fight For This Love” suggest a “Call the Shots” with less bite and more burn. It’s both better and worse than that. As Cheryl’s first solo outing, this should establish her identity, and it doesn’t distinguish her from the Girls in any meaningful way. Cheryl tries to salvage a failing relationship, mixes picnic and car crash metaphors, and hilariously informs us “there’s always a place in me that you can call home.” The song wins me over in the final stretch (tho), trading in its Stargate drums and synths for a sparse vocals/drums pairing that’s strangely primal before bringing in a beautiful arpeggiated string countermelody that plays out until the end of the coda.

Ian Mathers: If not for the business of the percussion I’d probably appreciate the way the arpeggiating synth kind of lurks in the background, but that backing needs a beat that’s sparser, or stiffer, or something. Cole acquits herself perfectly well but that doesn’t stop the rest of the track from seeming like a misfire.

Edward Okulicz: People whose opinions I respect are drooling over this, and parts of it are fantastic — I love the Bruce Hornsby-esque trills in the second verse, especially. Cheryl shows she’s expressive enough to win (and, apparently judge) a singing comp, apart from the chorus which is featureless and repetitive — less a mantra than a lazy Tedder-esque toss-off. Cheryl’s personal story is probably supposed to give this emotional weight but depth was never her strength in Girls Aloud (they have Nadine and Nicola for that) and the Europop-ish backing burbles agreeably but without bite.

Fergal O’Reilly: Although not quite as comatose as its title would suggest, this is still undermined by its rudimentary string melody and sappy platitudes about persevering with a relationship. It’s also hard to picture it being sung to anyone other than Google’s Ashley Cole, which limits the possibility of emotionally engaging with the protagonist but does admittedly make it a bit funny when she sings that “too much of anything can make you sick”.

Alex Macpherson: From the moment of Girls Aloud’s formation, Cheryl Cole’s media profile was destined to outstrip those of her colleagues. She started inauspiciously, with that definitely-not-racist assault conviction, but 2009 finds the carnival queen beauty and wronged WAG’s transformation into Britain’s sweetheart (via a spot on the X Factor panel) all but complete. But like her spiritual forebear, Victoria Beckham, she’s consistently had the most anonymous presence on record: after all these years, it’s still hard to tell what her singing voice actually sounds like. Beckham’s solo debut cannily got around this by being a distorted and slightly mental piece of 2-step hysteria. Cole’s solo debut…is a rudimentary and somewhat lethargic trance-lite ditty with no apparent tune. And I still can’t tell what her singing voice is like.

Sophie Green: As much as I like Cheryl Cole as a person, the only points for this come from the fact that it’s stolen the chord progression from “All My Life” by K-Ci and JoJo.

Andrew Casillas: I’ve never been too keen on Cheryl’s work, but this is remarkably unassuming. Granted, that’s not much of a compliment in itself, but she possesses the right touch of self-empowerment and casual affection that gives the song a bit of believability. And believe me, that’s not an easy balance to strike.

Pete Baran: There are multiple overdubs where she sings with herself, like she was a one-woman girl group. Thus it is impossible to really tell why we should care about Cheryl out of Girls Aloud out of Girls Aloud. Especially when the Girls Aloud tracks are, on the whole, better.

6 Responses to “Cheryl Cole – Fight For This Love”

  1. Initially thought she was actually going for the Geordie thing and singing “it’s wor happiness we’re fighting for”

  2. […] [10] Michelle Branch – Sooner or Later [5] Future of the Left – Arming Eritrea [7] Cheryl Cole – Fight for This Love [6] Jason DeRule – Whatcha Say [7] Mumford and Sons – Little Lion Man [7] Taylor Swift […]

  3. hi i love my new song


  5. The video can be seen here:

    It blazes new frontiers of badness in choreography, costume design, and makeup.

  6. thankgod i’m not they only one that noticed it sounds like K-Ci and Jo Jo. even the xylophone/piano sounds like the piano riff at the beginning of All My Life.

    I do like the song though.