Friday, May 6, 2011

Will Nicola Roberts's solo material be any cop?

Short answer: I have no idea.

Long answer: She's working with Diplo (amazing) Dragonette (AMAZING) Metronomy (generally above average) and Dimitri Tikovoi (the jury's out).

In other words, Nicola is dragging the Girls Aloud sound into a back alley, roughing up its hair, scratching its back and planting lipstick on its collar. Even the b-sides have immense titles like Disco, Blisters And A Comedown. Key words for reviews could include: unique, unexpected, mature, leftfield and - for old time's sake - ginger.

The idea that Nicola's music will be more... er, "experimental" than her bandmates' solo efforts is supported by the promo campaign, which has so far involved posting random pictures of Nicola's feet all over Twitter.

"The album has a very British sound," says Nicola in a press release. "The stories I tell are things that have happened to me and life in general. Some are happy, some songs are a little cheeky and one song is sad."

One song is sad: I love that.

Lyrically, Popjustice has been spilling the beans on the project. Lots of the songs are about growing up in the spotlight. Nicola was the ingénue of Girls Aloud - an innocent, small town girl subjected to the full and sudden blast of Britain's media klaxons. And, with her alabaster skin and teenage demeanour, she initially came in for a lot of criticism.

"I was too young for so many things," goes one of the lyrics, "yet you thought I'd cope with being told I'm ugly over and over. I'd read it, believe it, said no to the shrink. I can fix it, I think..."

(This might be the sad one).

On a happier note, fans of Nicola saying "frankly, I don't even care" on No Good Advice will be pleased to hear the album contains further instances of 'rapping'.

So far, the only music you can actually listen to comes in the form of a teaser video. Posted on YouTube last night, it shows Nicola in a recording studio, while a minimalist drum loop clatters along. Supposedly from her debut single, Beat Of My Drum, the instrumental snippet also features a couple of sampled voices and detuned synth drones.

It's all very Diplo... but the video keeps returning to footage a shiny grand piano. So there's still time for this to turn into a Celine Dion number.

Nicola Roberts - Through Nicola's Eyes vol 1

As exciting as this may be for pop fans, there's no telling what the public is going to make of it all.

Nadine Coyle proved that residing affection for Girls Aloud is no guarantee of success. And the fluctuating fortunes of Ellie, Marina and Little Boots illustrate the difficulty of sustaining a synth-based solo career in the era of "Jason Derulo" and "LMFAO" (or, as I like to call them, FFS). Even Cheryl Cole's The Flood stalled at number 18 earlier this year...

So, in summary: Good luck, Nicola. You look like you're doing something interesting and, even if this all goes a bit Siobhan Donaghy, we'll still love you.

:: Nicola Roberts is on Twitter.
:: Nicola Roberts is on The Internet.
:: This video of Girls Aloud brings back a lot of memories.

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