Posted by a Contributor in November's Magazine
This year Cheryl Cole’s live performance of her latest single on the X Factor stage was anticipated with a touch (just a touch) of antipathy rather than the somewhat tired but loyal excitement reserved for artists debuting a not-as-successful-follow-up-album-release. Since her solo career began, Cole has gone from strength to strength. Public support alone seemed remedy enough for a full recovery during her malaria scare and during this well timed hiatus from Girls Aloud – which the writers of her latest single clumsily capitalise on by inserting French lyrics into her up tempo new release, a nod in the direction of the former pop outfit’s older hit ‘Can’t Speak French’ – Cole has enjoyed chart success and a hugely increased celebrity profile. But in typical celebrity fashion, what first nurtured her rise to fame has shown its reverse side by generating public doubt in Britain’s sweetheart in residence.
The case in question is that regarding Gamu Nhengu’s dismissal from X Factor at the final hurdle before the live shows. Whether Cole was right or wrong, harsh or sensible, the decision was hers and it was final. But there was a surprise twist waiting in the after effects of Cole’s judgement. The public were unanimous in their reaction against Cole’s decision acting as though she handed Nhengu the deportation order personally. Cole then found herself in a tempest of furious objection and it was she who suffered most while the rejected Nhengu basked in the public’s superfluous adulation. But never mind rejection, Nhengu found fame and the anticipated deportation to her native Zimbabwe could wait – for at least fifteen minutes. Cole’s high horse was certainly rocked and this was obvious in her showcasing of ‘Promise This’.
Compared to last year, Cole appears to be overcompensating for every aspect of the song’s shortcomings as opposed to embracing another generic poptastic feat. The stormy graphics in the background were overwhelmingly moody, and the tack of her high street Quiz-esque clothing was a momentous error in judgement. In the aftermath of Gamu-gate is it not sensible to try attributing as much credibility to Cole’s performance as possible? To maybe indicate that she is qualified to be making or breaking careers and that Gamu’s dismissal was an educated decision? Well, Cole’s people vote ‘no’ on this one. Instead she is a blazoning icon of all things tasteless. The confusing hue of her red mane serves the purpose of only exacerbating the violence of the over choreographed routine. Brian Friedman was sadly unable to comment due to missing the performance – excessive cringe factor (even for Friedman) in the first 10 seconds forced his eyelids to swell shut.
For me, it was the moment when not one but both of Cole’s feet left the stage and she partook in a crab-like airborne shuffle that most solidly confirmed the masking of Cole’s poor vocals, live or not, eliminating any chance of her proving why she is actually a judge. As the performance went on it became increasingly obvious that if the judges’ protégés are to manage dance routines and singing, Cole must rocket herself into an entirely superior league of performing finesse, thus proving the display is far too complex for vocals anyway.
Unfortunately for Cole, the fist pumping action put an end to this logic. Such a movement coupled with such an outfit is such a reminder of her fist throwing, toilet attendant hitting days of Tweedy past. But this faux pas in celebrity toilet etiquette reminds us that we are all human, all imperfect souls who are susceptible to the odd mistake once or twice. The shaky performance revealed that no matter what elevated societal platform you may traverse, you are not untouchable.
The decision made by Cole, mistake or not, was enough to give her a fright. The darling of British celebrity faced a fall from grace, but maybe this was a reasonable price to pay to avoid entangling herself in political affairs. I mean, if Nhengu faces a Zimbabwean firing squad on arrival back home, surely Cole’s most educated decision yet has been not to involve herself in messy Home Office affairs. Now she’s safely free from political embroilment Cole can continue investing her strength into her good decisions. Proving she can manipulate her acts into becoming favourites of the show and ensuring that any of those who must perform as a result of being in the bottom two are armed with a well rehearsed expression of painful disbelief. After a year of adoration, Cole endured a shocking trough of public opinion but a peak is surely on the horizon.