There aren’t many who have successfully made the transition from girl group to solo star. But one woman who has, and made it seem utterly effortless, is Cheryl Cole.
The statistics are impressive: Cheryl’s first solo single, Fight For This Love was the fastest selling single of 2009, and both solo albums charted at number one. The first, 3 Words, has been certified triple platinum. Three further top five singles followed, along with two BRITs nominations and winning the coveted Best Music Act at the ELLE Style Awards 2011. “Going solo was terrifying!” Cheryl admits. “But I’m so glad that it’s gone as well as it has.”
In making these albums, Cheryl collaborated with an impressive number of music’s A-list, including Dizzee Rascal, Travie McCoy, Taoi Cruz and most notably Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas. “We instantly clicked,” says Cheryl of her first meeting with the powerhouse producer back in 2008, when they worked together on his Heartbreaker single. “Cheryl and I are both in love with music. That’s why we get on so well,” says Will.I.Am.
As well as effortlessly charming her collaborators, Cheryl has garnered many a famous fan too. Adele, the voice of 2011, chose to cover Promise This, the number one lead in single from Cheryl’s second album Messy Little Raindrops, in the Live Lounge on Radio 1. And it’s obvious that Cheryl’s self-confessed girl crush on Rihanna is far from unrequited: “She’s the ‘it girl. Like, she’s it!” Rihanna says.
Another very big fan is Simon Cowell, who personally handpicked her as a judge for The X-Factor in the UK in 2008. Cheryl became an instant hit with viewers and went on to win the show in both 2008 with Alexandra Burke and 2009 with Joe McElderry. “She has natural instincts as to whether people are good or not, and has her own opinions,” says Simon. “She is absolutely brilliant.” The last season of the X-Factor was the most talked about show in Britain, regularly attracting audiences of 15 million. The final almost pulled in 20 million viewers and saw Cheryl with two of her contestants in the final.
It comes as little surprise that Cheryl has also become a leading style icon. She has graced the cover of British Vogue twice, the first time becoming the highest ever-selling February issue in the title’s history. She has also appeared on the covers of Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE.
Simply by choosing to wear a new designer’s work on The X Factor, Cheryl can bring them a massive boost in both profile and sales. But Cheryl remains thoroughly modest about her influence, saying “I definitely don’t put myself out there as a fashion icon. I just like how clothes make you feel as a woman. I like feeling dressed up and I like the fact that people enjoy what I wear, and that other girls want the same shoes as me or to wear their hair like mine.”
And there are plenty of women who really do want to wear their hair like Cheryl’s. So many that Cheryl has landed a place alongside other A-listers such as Beyonce, Eva Longoria and Gwen Stefani as a L’Oreal spokesmodel. Cheryl fronts the L’Oreal Elvive Full Restore 5 haircare range, sales of which rose from 10,000 in September 2009 to over 250,000 by the end of November 2009 after her adverts first appeared.
Despite massive success as a singer, style icon and TV star, Cheryl is keen to give back. In February 2009, she joined an expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in order to raise money for Comic Relief. In February 2011, Cheryl announced the launch of her own charitable foundation with the Prince’s Trust. The Cheryl Cole Foundation will provide funding to work with disadvantaged young people from Cheryl’s hometown of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and surrounding areas of the north east of England.
“Too many young people grow up thinking no-one cares and don’t believe they can make anything of themselves,” says Cheryl, who did much of her growing up in public. “They have so much potential – but can go off the rails without the right care and support. I want my Foundation to help them realise their potential and get their lives on track. I have always been a great admirer of the work of The Prince’s Trust with disadvantaged young people across the UK. It’s the perfect charity for my Foundation to support.”
Cheryl Cole did her growing up in Girls Aloud, the UK’s most successful girlband. Formed on TV show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, they went on to record five albums and sell over 10million records. Girls Aloud topped the singles chart four times, had 20 top 10 singles and won the BRIT Award for Best Single in 2009 with The Promise.
Girls Aloud won critical acclaim and fans from every corner. Their third album, Chemistry, got five star reviews from the likes of The Guardian. And it’s not just the critics they wowed. Arctic Monkeys chose to cover their single Love Machine, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin personally requested that Girls Aloud were on the line up alongside Jay-Z for the Wembley Stadium shows in 2009.