By Matt Pais
RedEye music editor
September 6, 2013
It would be easy to dismiss most singers who get their big break on reality TV and young pop stars whose appearances inevitably include throngs of shrieking teenagers.
Still, you have to admit that many of the earworms released by English singer Cher Lloyd—who along with One Direction made the top 5 on Britain’s “The X Factor” and has since collaborated with Ne-Yo, Demi Lovato and Busta Rhymes—are so catchy you ignore the surrounding, bubbly noise and give in to the beat. That’s certainly the case with “Want U Back,” “With Ur Love” and Lloyd’s latest track, “I Wish” (featuring T.I.), the first single from her upcoming, still-untitled sophomore full-length.
Taking a break from tour rehearsal in L.A., the 20-year-old singer (who has 5.1 million Twitter followers, BTW) discussed singing about a more adult kind of satisfaction, physical enhancements and why Miley Cyrus will be “more than fine.”
Cher Lloyd, 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at Vic Theatre, $25
Watch at RedEyeChicago: “I Wish”
You recently performed “Want U Back” on stage with Taylor Swift, who’s the queen of songs about former boyfriends. Singing that together is like painting with Picasso or playing catch with Tom Brady.
Yeah, it was really great. She is the queen of all breakup songs. I feel like she really enjoyed herself, and she seems to really, really love that song, so I just hope that she likes the new one. That’d be really cool if she likes the new one.
You’ve said that the new stuff is a bit badass. How do you define badass?
I talk about much more mature subjects in the next album. I really feel that I tap into the more grown-up side of me. It’s going to take a second for people to adapt to the slight change, but I feel like people are really going to appreciate it. This album is completely me. It’s me this time. I’m not saying that the last album wasn’t me; there were elements of me in that last album for sure. But this next album, it represents what I’m all about and I think there’s so many relatable subjects in there.
When you say mature subjects, do you mean paying taxes and buying insurance, boring stuff like that?
[Laughs] No. There’s one song where I’m talking about a guy and not getting what I need [from him] and not being satisfied. If you know what I mean.
I know what you mean.
Yeah. It’s a big difference to saying that you want someone back and [being brokenhearted]–it’s a little bit more grown-up.
In this case, it’s, “I want you back, but you need to improve some of your late-night activities or I’ll kick you out again.”
[Laughs] Yes! That’s exactly it. [Laughs]
If someone came along and said they could grant your wishes from “I Wish,” would you want that?
I’ve thought about this a little bit when we were going through the lyrics before we actually recorded it. I was kind of like, “Yeah, but would I really wish for these things?” And the answer is yes, I would do anything for a bigger pair of boobies and a bigger butt. But in saying that, I’m not going to go get that done. Because I feel like I don’t necessarily need it. It’d be the wrong message to give to my fans because the overall message of this song is we all wish to have things that we don’t have, but at the end of the day you have to be yourself. You have to go with it, and if you can’t get the guy because he doesn’t like who you are, then he’s not good enough for you anyway. So yeah, I would like a bigger ass and a bigger pair of boobies, but that’s not going to happen, but I’m still happy with myself. Kind of.
So you want people to accept you for who you are, but if someone comes along and can snap their fingers and have that come true, you’d be OK with that.
Yes, I’m fine with it. But I really don’t want to go under the knife. That would just be ridiculous.
There are a lot of songs called “I Wish.” Do you prefer the Stevie Wonder or Skee-Lo versions?
Oh, I don’t know. It’s funny you say that because I wanted to watch my lyric video and I typed in “I Wish” and you’re right, a lot of different songs are called “I Wish.” But mine is definitely different than all the other “I Wishes” I feel.
Skee-Lo also wanted to be taller. There’s a whole community of singers who want that.
I think a lot of people wish to be taller. I’m really, really short. And when I’m on TV it looks like I’m tall, but I’m really not. I think I’m like just over 5-foot, or not even. Yeah, I’m really small.
It seems like you’ve done a good job of moving on from some of the controversy that was going on earlier in your career, but there’s a lot of it elsewhere in the music world. Why do you think so many young, up-and-coming artists tend to have controversy attached to them?
I honestly feel like as an artist—I don’t know how other people are going to take this when I say this—but I feel like as an artist you’re so passionate about what you do, you want to be the best and you want [to show] that you are the best, but I feel like sometimes you can overstep that mark. It’s very easy to do. I feel like when you say something it can be taken away and then changed in so many different ways … into what the writer or the TV program wants it to sound like. It’s a difficult industry, and I think a bit of slack needs to be cut. It really does. I’m not saying I’m perfect; I can be a right bitch when I want to be … but I haven’t said anything controversial yet, so I think I’m doing OK. I’m not being a pottymouth either. I’m good for the moment. I need to wait until someone pisses me off, so then maybe you’ll get a bit of controversy.
You defended Miley Cyrus recently about her look and sort of suggested that if something gets attention and gets people talking, it’s doing its job. Do you feel like any press is good press in that sense?
Uh, no, no. I feel like not all press is good press. Sometimes personal things can be released and … that’s not good press. Or perhaps [footage] of you naked is not good either. I honestly feel like every single artist, we’re not perfect. In fact, we’re just human. Everyone out there that has a particular career, whether it be in retail or computers or whatever, [we all make mistakes]. But when you’re doing this in the public eye, that mistake can go on for months if not years.
What do you think of the reactions that came out after Miley’s VMA performance?
I was actually in Brazil at the time so I didn’t really get to see it while everyone else was seeing it. I’ve seen a few little articles while I’ve been on Twitter … she has her fans. And she has people who really respect her. Miley, she’s got an incredible talent. She’s got a great voice, and other than that she’s stunning too. She is one hot lady. She’ll be fine; she’ll be more than fine.
You’re a big Nicki Minaj fan and have done a few songs people would say sound somewhat similar to her. How much do you feel like she has influenced you?
I remember when I used to listen to her mixtapes back when I was in high school. I’ve been a Nicki fan way before “Super Bass,” [laughs] so I am a huge fan and she’s very influential. The way that she pronounces her words and she’s so very animated, and I think the way that I’m animated, sometimes I have that influence from Nicki. I just really appreciate her as an artist. I think she really represents female rap. I’d say she’s the queen of female rap.
If you two collaborated, what would it sound like?
I honestly feel for me it would be one of my greatest achievements. It really would. I would really love to do that just to have that to listen to and be like, “Wow, I’m singing with my idol. Someone I really look up to.” I think the fans would go crazy. They really would. And I think it would be really upbeat and something everyone can dance and sing along to. It would be very interesting to say the least.
On Chicago: “What I’ve got from the city is that my fans are very loud. I feel like there’s a big vibe going on whenever I go there and I feel like the fans are very excited to see me. They’re not afraid to come up to you. They really ain’t. I like that about them. I think that is really cool.”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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