With her X Factor performance being picked apart more than anything else to happen on the ITV show for about five years, her track being branded a flop, and her physical appearance getting an alarming amount of scrutiny; she spoke out herself earlier this week in a bid to try and quieten the hysteria.
“The sheer level of unbalanced negativity towards me in the tabloid press these past few days has been quite frankly shocking,” she wrote, but despite 30,000 Likes, the negative coverage has just kept on going.
And the bizarre thing is that reports of Cheryl’s career falling off a cliff seem to have been blown vastly out of proportion.
Sure, she’s not generating the same instant, effortless success she did a decade ago, but things are certainly going just fine.
Let’s look at precisely why.
Is Cheryl really flopping?
The Love Made Me Do It video has had 2.4 million views
Claim 1: ‘Her new single is a flop’
Love Made Me Do It, Chezza’s big comeback track, debuted at No19 on the UK singles chart last Friday. This week, midweek projections indicate it will leave the Top 40. So is it a huge flop?
Well, however you dress it up, a fall that big is not exactly the sign of a smash hit. But let’s keep things in perspective.
The charts run very differently now to when Cheryl was last recording music. Rather than songs being promoted for months before they’re made available to buy or stream, they’re now put on the market straight away before the promotion cycle begins – meaning a chart run is often a marathon rather than a sprint. Ariana Grande’s new song thank u, next [sic] may have flown straight in at No1 in its first week, but this is extremely rare, and something an artist only of Ariana’s global calibre could pull off.
Essentially, this means it’s much harder to gauge a song’s performance based on a chart position: for example Olly Murs’ latest, Moves – the big first single from his latest album – failed to enter the Top 40 at all, instead peaking at No46. Paloma Faith performed her new single Loyal on Strictly Come Dancing, the country’s most popular TV show, and it didn’t enter the Top 100. Of the last five singles released by former One Direction star Zayn Malik, the peak position is No79.
Even Kylie Minogue has had an incredible year, but nobody picked up on all bar one of her new singles missing the Top 40 (Dancing snuck in at No38).
So whilst Love Made Me Do It’s performance so far (and remember it has only been a fortnight) certainly isn’t triumphant, drawing attention to it as a humiliating flop does seem more than a little unfair, given how many A-list artists these days would give their right arm to even be in the Top 20.
And even though the importance of iTunes on today’s charts is certainly far from what it was a few years ago, very little has been said about Love Made Me Do It flying to No1 on the digital store’s in-house charts within hours of release.
Cheryl has five solo No1s to her name
Claim 2: ‘She’s been dumped by her record label’
There has been some chat about Cheryl’s change of record label: she is now releasing music on 3Beat, a much less renowned firm than Polydor, who she was on before. This means that while her labelmates used to include the likes of Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey, Madonna and Years And Years; they’re now Pixie Lott and Philip George.
Was this Cheryl’s decision, or was it the result of her last album, 2014’s Only Human, faring slightly worse than its predecessors? That’s not clear, but again it seems irrelevant.
Cheryl is now nine years into her solo career, and a change in label is not remotely unusual for artists with big legacies behind them – just look at Kylie, who joined BMG and went straight to No1 with her latest album Golden. While this may mean less cash is in the pot for things like marketing, it does mean the artists get much more creative control; which, after several years with a major label, they’re often desperate for.
And anyway, with Polydor and 3Beat both under the Universal umbrella, it – again – seems unfair to point to it as a sign of imminent failure.
Cheryl performs on The X Factor
Claim 3: ‘Her X Factor performance was outrageous’
A handful of viewers complained to Ofcom about Cheryl’s performance on The X Factor on Sunday, and the video clip on YouTube has more dislikes than likes.
Cheryl has never been Adele or Leona Lewis in the vocal department, and it’s true that she didn’t exactly serve a note-perfect rendition of her track on Sunday night (with choreography so intense, it’s hard to hold it against her). But it’s not even the vocals that got people enraged.
According to Ofcom, the complaints that have been made relate to the raunchy content of the performance – and the clothing.
This is something female popstars have to contend with all the time – just look at the atrocious barrage of sl*t-shaming tweets Little Mix get whenever they’re on TV – but this case in particular is especially strange.
What precisely was raunchy about Cheryl’s performance? It seems to boil down to a lick of her hand, which accompanied a lyric about her tattoos (she has a tattoo in that spot), and an outfit which exposed… a small portion of her legs. So it seems that this, too, may be a storm in a teacup.
The star has been hard at work promoting
Claim 4: ‘What’s she done to her face?’
Cheryl’s appearance has taken a lot of prominence, as people flock to Twitter – and the media – to speculate on why exactly she looks different to when she was last in the public eye.
And whilst it’s only natural to notice differences in someone’s appearance, the level of scrutiny female stars have over their looks is so intense that it’s getting a little uncomfortable. What has or hasn’t happened to her face?
The answer: does it matter?
The star will be on Graham Norton’s show at the end of the month
Claim 5: ‘This will all lead her back to a Girls Aloud reunion’
Bookies have today slashed the odds on Cheryl running back to Girls Aloud with her tail between her legs, in the hopes of instigating a reunion.
Nadine Coyle has said in the past that she’s sure the five-piece will get back together at some point, but it’s Cheryl who has quite firmly said she’s had enough. And it seems like it’d take a lot for her to change her mind.
But even if she does U-turn… would this century’s greatest girlband getting back together really be such a bad thing?
Cheryl’s new single Love Made Me Do It is out now.