Top 2011 Albums
17. Nicola Roberts - Cinderella’s Eyes
There’s nothing alienating about Nicola’s powerful voice, in fact, purity and sincerity make her one of the most explicitly relatable pop breakthroughs. Either through Nicola’s music aesthetics or image, she shares a lot in common with almost any pop act, especially with Robyn, The Sound Of Arrows, Kelis and Katy B. To justify this, I say that she is at the dead center of the pop spectrum where R&B and hip-hop influences are equally referenced through an electronically lead aesthetic, where relatable charm is met with an equal amount of abrasiveness and sexuality is seamlessly incorporated into the music.
To properly contextualize Cinderella’s Eyes, Nicola’s debut solo album, it’s essential to know that Nicola was commonly known as the blandest one of Girls Aloud. Ever since the group’s formation in 2002 she had been target of defamatory comments regarding her pale complexion and red hair; her confidence issues lead her to a severe depression and countless tan sessions. A porcelain hearted teen can only deal with as much defamation before feeling in despair. It wasn’t until 2008 that she took a moment to counteract all of the negativity that went on her way through the launch of a cosmetics line targeted to pale-skinned women, the release of her documentary “Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning”, and, most importantly, the release of Cinderella this past September.
Cinderella is a vessel for her prodigal voice and lyrical anxiety. There’s still lot of room in Cinderella’s Eyes for love songs and her time in Girls Aloud, but its themes mostly center on her fight against the ever present bullying that once damaged her self-image (“yet you thought I could cope with being told I’m ugly”; “Sticks + Stones”) and her struggles to fit into a popstar paradigm (“they want me be someone I’m not”; “I”). She sometimes sings as if she were the maddest girl in the world, as if we would be surprised that someone so damaged like her would take such a tone. Cinderella’s Eyes is a lyrical outburst that invites me to relate and vent off my own frustrations alongside her own angst.
The intensity of Cinderella’s theme is not only lightened by lyrical quirkiness, it is also made compelling by bull’s-eye pop sensibilities. The Dragonette produced “Lucky Day” features a full-on personable performance by Nicola comparable to any song by Robyn; her personal rants and playful vocals in “Take A Bite” guide the song through seamless tone shifts and bleepy sounds; the cheery offset “Beat Of My Drum” is heavily influenced by the work of M.I.A. through the timely production by Diplo and Dimitri Tikovoi.
Admittedly, Nicola’s success is very inspiring. The songstress, who was once known as the least desirable member of Girls Aloud, has given a magnificent spectacle for someone like me who adores the underdog. The equal times formulaic and experimental Cinderella’s Eyes is a much safer bet than Nicola would imagine, I feel like she deserves recognition. In fact, she should be fucking big, how can her body not collapse by her own amazingness!