Cher. And Cher I like.

by Stephen Tall on January 2, 2011

X-Factor-haters look away now. There’s nothing for you here.

Cher Lloyd was the true star of X-Factor for me, no matter that she finished fourth. (Jade Goody, it may be remembered, finished in the same position in Big Brother 3: can you remember the names of the three contestants who beat her? Me either.)

From the moment she strutted her tiny, fragile frame through Turn My Swag On at the auditions, you could tell she had something: incredible poise and presence, a pitch-perfect and original voice, and no-nonsense sassiness. I loved her performance, and I loved her.

That her undoubted talent didn’t translate into greater popularity may have something to do with her refusal to compromise, to take the safe option of belting out forgettable karaoke ballads. It may also have something to do with the quite horrible bitchiness of the British tabloid press, and the even more horrible sanctimony of the British public for lapping up that bitchiness.

But it doesn’t matter. Much. She’s been snapped up by Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation, where hopefully she will be given the creative freedom to mash ‘n’ rap her way into the download charts and the public’s hearts.

Whatever happens next, she gave me my musical highlight of 2010: the quite sublime Clapping Song spliced with Get Ur Freak On. It’s guaranteed to make me squeal with delight and smile in awe every time I hear it:

(Also available on YouTube here.)