The Problem With... Cher Lloyd's "Want U Back"
The United Kingdom is revving up songs on U.S. charts this summer, likely in tandem with the 2012 London Olympics. However, instead of promoting fresh British artists like Michael Kiwanuka and Emeli Sandé, they're giving America by-the-numbers pop from One Direction and The Wanted. They even refurbished Ellie Goulding's 2011 single "Lights" for American Top 40 charts. The latest on this bandwagon is the single "Want U Back," the U.S. debut for Cher Lloyd.
Lloyd placed last as a finalist on The X Factor in 2010, after auditioning in seasons past. She's probably The X Factor's response to Canadian Idol alum Carly Rae Jepsen. Like the "Call Me Maybe" singer, Lloyd got a record deal in her country for effort.
"Want U Back" has funky pop-rock guitar and it's catchy if taken at face value. Austin-raised songwriter Savan Kotecha's lyrics include rote lines, a squeaky rise in the pre-chorus and guttural, Nicki Minaj-ish interjections.
The problem with "Want U Back" is that it sounds and looks borrowed. Her punkish attitude and pop-rock composition call up a younger, higher octave ringer for fellow UK singer Jessie J. The song also treads the breakup theme Adele popularized. (At this rate, Adele should be knighted in 20 years for saving the music industry; I'm calling it!)
The U.S. music video used the same retro diner setting as the video for Cee Lo's 2010 single "Fuck You," and employs the same cascading layers of ye olde British pop. This Cher won't grind my heart of stone anytime soon.