It’s been an interesting 12 months for Cheryl Cole. After getting unceremoniously fired from X Factor, the British export played it cool; she declined offers to return to TV, dodged Girls Aloud reunion rumors, and for the first time in her entire life, she laid low and avoided the spotlight.
Her big plan of action? To return with a new album and make it as a global pop star.
To translate her celebrity status into musical fame, Cheryl’s snagged pop’s latest flavor-of-the-moment hitmaker-for-hire Calvin Harris to produce her talked-about comeback single “Call My Name”.
Just like the RedOne’s and David Guetta’s that followed before him, Calvin Harris has a formula for Top Forty success, and he sticks to it. It started off as the big fat Ibiza synths from “I’m Not Alone” that were ripped off by everybody from Chris Brown to Cobra Starship, and then evolved into the melodic keys in his songs like “We Found Love” and that awful new Scissor Sisters’ song. “Call My Name” falls into the latter category.
Cheryl’s never been one for originality, so it was to be expected that “Call My Name” would just be a less-good “We Found Love”. But as formulaic as it is, it’s a good formula, so Calvin Harris’ production still shines, no matter how many times you’ve the beat before. Harris’ repetitive keys can make anything catchy, and “Call My Name” comes packed with an addictive chorus that should have you humming for a few minutes until you reach for your iPod and put Rihanna on instead.
It’s been a year since Cheryl was sacked from X Factor, but she clearly hasn’t spent the past 12 months receiving vocal lessons, as her voice remains just as unpleasant as ever. Calvin Harris does his best to disguise not only her thin vocals, but also her bad tone by repeatedly layering her voice to the point that it sounds like five processed Cheryl’s are all singing over the top of each other at once, but it’s obvious that “Call My Name” would be far more tolerable in the hands of somebody like Kylie Minogue. Not that Kylie would record this song in the first place anyway — she’s too original for that, and her work with Harris (that dates back to as early as 2007) still remains some of his best to date.
Nicola Roberts and Nadine Coyle’s solo projects may not have been particularly great, but at least they both tried to do something interesting with their music. It’s what should be expected from members of one of Britain’s most cutting-edge girl groups. Cheryl, on the other hand, scrapes by with a pass for “Call My Name”, but she certainly doesn’t earn any extra points for effort, as there clearly was none as far as this song –or her entire solo career– is concerned.