Cheryl Ann Cole (née Tweedy; born 30 June 1983) is an English pop and R&B recording artist, songwriter, dancer, actress and model. She rose to fame in late 2002 when she auditioned for the reality television show Popstars: The Rivals on ITV. The programme announced that Cole had won a place as one-fifth of the girl group, Girls Aloud. During her time in the group, Cole released twenty consecutive top-ten singles (including four number one singles) in the UK and five platinum albums (two of which went to number one) and earned five BRIT Award nominations from 2005 to 2010. In 2009, Girls Aloud won “Best Single” with their song “The Promise”. In 2009, Girls Aloud announced their musical hiatus and Cole went on to release two solo albums, which both went to number one in the UK: 3 Words (2009) and Messy Little Raindrops (2010). She achieved a number of hits, including two number one singles: “Fight for This Love” and “Promise This”.
Cole became a judge on the British televised singing competition The X Factor in 2008. While on the show, Cole became the winning judge twice out of the three series she judged on, with Alexandra Burke and Joe McElderry winning respectively. It was announced that Cole would leave the UK version of The X Factor for the upcoming American version of the show. However, just weeks into filming the auditions, it was reported that Cole had been sacked from the show with it being confirmed by Fox, Freemantle North America and Syco TV on 6 June. Mike Darnell, president of Alternative Entertainment for the Fox Broadcasting Company, confirmed Cheryl Cole left USA X Factor.
Cole has become a recognised and photographed style icon; referred to as a fashionista by the press. She has been photographed for the covers of British Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, while also becoming the new face of cosmetic company L’Oréal. Cole was married to England footballer Ashley Cole from July 2006 until September 2010, when she divorced him.
Cole was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England and grew up on council estates in the districts of Walker and Heaton. She is the fourth of five children of Joan Callaghan, and the eldest child of Gary Tweedy. Cole’s parents never married each other; they separated when she was 11. She has a brother, Garry (born 1987, Newcastle) and three elder maternal half-siblings: Joseph, Gillian and Andrew.
[pullquote_right]As a small child in the late 1980s, she appeared in a television advert for British Gas.[/pullquote_right]
As she was interested in dancing from an early age, Cole started sequence dancing at the age of four, before joining The Royal Ballet’s summer school at the age of nine. At a young age, Cole enrolled in The Royal Ballet’s summer school. She won many modelling competitions, including the titles of Boots Group’s “bonniest baby”, Mothercare’s Happy Faces Portrait competition, “Best Looking Girl of Newcastle”, The Evening Chronicle’s “Little Miss and Mister”, and “Most Attractive Girl” at the MetroCentre. She also appeared in two British Gas adverts, an SCS advert, and an Eldon Square Christmas advert with younger brother Garry as well as appearing in dance recitals on some television shows. She attended Walker Comprehensive School in Newcastle, and left at 16 with few qualifications. During her time there, she was suspended twice: once for fighting with another pupil and again for swearing on a bus. After school, she took a job as a waitress in a restaurant.
2002–2008: Girls Aloud
Cole auditioned for the reality television show Popstars The Rivals in 2002 with the song “Have You Ever”. Several thousand applicants attended auditions across the UK in hope of being selected. Ten girls and ten boys were chosen as finalists by judges Pete Waterman, Louis Walsh and Geri Halliwell. These finalists then took to the stage, participating in weekly Saturday night live performances which alternated weekly between the girls and boys. Each week, the contestant polling the fewest phone votes was eliminated, until the final line-ups of the groups emerged. Cole joined Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts, and Kimberley Walsh to form the new girl group Girls Aloud, as determined by a public vote administered through the show on 30 November 2002.
The group’s debut single “Sound of the Underground” peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart, becoming the 2002 Christmas number one. Girls Aloud hold the record for the shortest time between formation and reaching number one. The group released their debut album Sound of the Underground in May 2003, which entered the charts at number two and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) later the same year. Since 2003, Girls Aloud have released twenty additional singles, with all but one charting within the top ten, and 15 reaching top five positions. Their singles “I’ll Stand by You”, “Walk This Way”, and “The Promise” have charted at number one. Two of their albums have reached the top of the UK Albums Chart: their greatest hits album The Sound of Girls Aloud and 2008’s Out of Control, both of which entered the chart at number one, with over one million copies of the former being sold. All five of their studio albums have been certified platinum by the BPI. They have been nominated for five Brit Awards, and in 2009 won “Best British Single” at that year’s Brit Awards for “The Promise”. The group has sold ten million records worldwide. Girls Aloud have become one of the few UK reality television acts to achieve continued success, and had amassed a fortune of £25 million by May 2009. The 2007 edition of Guinness World Records listed them as “Most Successful Reality TV Group”, while they also hold the record for “Most Consecutive Top Ten Entries in the UK by a Female Group” in the 2008 edition.
[pullquote_left]In July 2009, Girls Aloud announced they would take a year-long hiatus in the pursuit of solo projects, but would reunite for a new studio album in 2010. In August 2010, bandmate Nicola Roberts revealed that she wasn’t anticipating a reunion of the band until 2012.[/pullquote_left]
2009–2010: 3 Words
Cole’s first solo performance was on American rapper will.i.am’s “Heartbreaker” in 2008. She was picked to appear as a dancer in the video after taking streetdancing classes during the filming of the ITV2 series The Passions of Girls Aloud, in which the members of the band achieve something they had always wanted to do, other than sing. She was later asked, by will.i.am, to sing additional vocals on the track. In April 2009, Cole started working on solo material.Her debut album, 3 Words, was released in the UK on 26 October 2009. Cole was reunited with will.i.am for the album, in addition to collaborating with Fraser T. Smith, Syience, Danish production team Soulshock & Karlin, singer-songwriter Taio Cruz, Wayne Wilkins, and Steve Kipner. Recorded in Los Angeles and London, Cole mainly collaborated with will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, the executive producer of 3 Words. It crosses from contemporary R&B, dance pop, house and a more general pop sound. Cruz was asked to write two songs for Cole, the first of which, “Break Your Heart”, was written specially for Cole but Polydor label boss Ferdy Unger-Hamilton felt the song was too similar to Heartbreaker, the track Cole did with Will.i.am. When asked about the album’s title Cole revealed she had already contemplated an album title which contained the phrase 3 Words before the title track was recorded. She had considered titles like Three Syllables, although the strongest contender was Unveiled as Cole “felt like she didn’t have any protection without the girls [Girls Aloud]” and because it correlated with the veil on the album cover. The album begins with its title track, a duet with will.i.am and Cole’s favourite song on the album. She said the song was “totally different from anything I’ve done [with Girls Aloud] or liked before” and took its inspiration from Cole’s newly acquired love for dance music on the charts, especially David Guetta & Kelly Rowland’s “When Love Takes Over”.
3 Words spent two weeks at number one. On 6 November 2009, BPI certified the album Platinum, denoting shipments of over 300,000 units. It later tripled this feat. The first single from the album, “Fight for This Love”, was written by Andre Merritt, Steve Kipner and Wayne Wilkins, and produced by Steve Kipner and Wayne Wilkins. According to Cole, it was released as the lead single because she “connected with the song so well”. Following a performance on The X Factor live results show, “Fight for This Love” became the fourth best-selling single of 2009 in the UK. It charted at number one on both the Irish and UK Singles Chart. In 2010, “Fight For This Love” went to number one in Denmark, Norway and Hungary. “Fight for This Love” gained positive to mixed reviews. Ruth Harrison from ‘Female First’ was impressed by the song after initially being worried that Cole would not be able to cope going solo. She said “Whilst it does sound just a little big Girls Aloud-y, we still love it, and can see it being a huge hit on the club circuit up and down the country … we think this is going to send her well on her way to global superstardom.” The single was later certified silver in the UK. Cole’s second single “3 Words”, which features will.i.am, went to number 4 in the UK and seven in Ireland. In 2010, the single was released in Australia and charted at number 5 and was certified platinum. The third single, “Parachute”, charted in the top five in both the UK and Ireland. The single was certified silver in the UK. From May to July 2010, Cole was the opening act for The Black Eyed Peas at the British shows (as well as some European dates) of The E.N.D. World Tour. Chris Johnson of the Daily Mail wrote, “she was supposed to be the support act. But as it turned out, Cheryl Cole ended up being the main event”.
2010–2011: Messy Little Raindrops
In March 2010, Cole stated that she had begun working on a follow up album to 3 Words, which she hoped to release “later on in the year”. Cole’s second solo album, titled Messy Little Raindrops, was released on 1 November 2010. The album’s first single, “Promise This”, was released on 24 October 2010 and became her second number-one hit in the UK. “Promise This” is an up-tempo dance-pop song written by American songwriter Priscilla Hamilton, British music producer Wayne Wilkins, who was responsible for Cole’s debut single “Fight for This Love”, and Christopher Jackson. It is written in the music key of C minor with a time signature in common time and a tempo of 151 beats per minute. Cole’s vocal range spans from G3 to E♭5. The basic chord progression of the song is Cm, Cm7, Cm6, Cm, E♭, B♭, F, Cm, E♭, B♭ and F. The song sees Cole singing some of the lyrics in French, referencing the children’s song “Alouette”.
The album was largely produced by Wayne Wilkins, but Cole also reunited with will.i.am, with collaboration from J. R. Rotem, Starsmith, Al Shux, and Free School for the first time. The album also features guest vocals from August Rigo, Dizzee Rascal, Travie McCoy, and will.i.am. Cole started recording sessions for her second album in February 2010 though in an interview on Alan Carr: Chatty Man she admitted that some of the songs submitted for the record dated back to 3 Words (2009). The album’s title is taken from a lyric in the song “Raindrops”. Cole said, “when it rains, everything she’s washed […] it feels hopeful.” Cole is seen in a bright pink and orange off-the-shoulder dress and ﬁve-inch animal print Christian Louboutin heels on the album cover, which was unveiled on 14 October 2010. It also features the album title and her name scrawled in orange text. Cole’s barbed-wire and rose tattoo, located on her right thigh, was airbrushed out of the shot. Messy Little Raindrops has received generally mixed reviews from music critics. A predominantly positive review came from Jon O’Brien of Allmusic who awarded it four out of five stars, saying that “Messy Little Raindrops is a cohesive and adventurous follow-up that will undoubtedly continue [Cole’s] ascent into pop’s premier league”, and praising the songs “Promise This”, “Amnesia” and “Happy Tears”. Johnny Dee of Virgin Media noticed that with Messy Little Raindrops Cole is “returning to base” and described it as “good, clean, family-friendly fun”. Promotion of the album; In addition to her role as a judge on The X Factor, she performed her single “Promise This” on the show. Cheryl Cole made a high-profile appearance on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, in which she discussed her marriage and divorce with Ashley Cole and her life-threatening battle with malaria. The show’s ratings reached an all-time high. Polydor Records worked with advertising firm MediaCom to create various marketing strategies to promote the album, such as the usage of Facebook Places.
2011–present: Third album
In July 2011, it was reported that Cole had begun work on her third studio album. The same month, Far East Movement stated that they had been in the studio with both Cole and Will.i.am. In late July 2011, MTV reported seeing Cole meeting up with singer Usher where they were spotted outside her hotel, also Perez Hilton said that Cole and Christina Aguilera were spotted having dinner together and they had been discussing a collaboration. Producer David Guetta is working on the album. In early September 2011 Taio Cruz revealed that he had been working on Cole’s new album. He told radio station “Yeah, I can’t say too much about the songs, but it was great to see her again,”.
[pullquote_right]In September 2011 Cole was in the studio with Hip-Hop producer Alex Da Kid.[/pullquote_right]
Cole was given a one-off television programme for ITV1 titled Cheryl Cole’s Night In, which aired on 19 December 2009. The programme, hosted by Holly Willoughby, featured music and interviews with Cole and some of her favourite performers. Alexandra Burke, Rihanna, Will Young, Snow Patrol and will.i.am made appearances. Cole told the press, “I couldn’t be happier that ITV have asked me to round off the year with my own show, working with some of my favourite artists”. The programme attracted 5 million viewers on its first airing, substantially less than the 8.1 million viewers that Strictly Come Dancing received during the same time slot. Cole was interviewed during an episode of the fourth series of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. The show, which aired on 23 October 2010, drew an audience of 7.2 million: the highest figure in the chat show’s history. As a member of Girls Aloud, Cole has also appeared in the fly on the wall documentary Girls Aloud: Home Truths, the E4 documentary series Girls Aloud: Off the Record, an episode of Ghosthunting With…, and a one-off variety show entitled The Girls Aloud Party.
In June 2008, it was announced Cole would replace Sharon Osbourne as a judge for the fifth series of The X Factor. Cole was given the girls category (made up of female contestants between 16 and 25) and subsequently ended up as the victorious judge when Alexandra Burke was crowned the fifth winner of The X Factor on 13 December 2008. Cole returned for the sixth series in 2009 and was given the boys category (made up of male contestants aged 16 to 25). Cole emerged as the winning judge for a second consecutive year after Joe McElderry was crowned the sixth winner of The X Factor. Simon Cowell, the show’s creator, said, “I knew she was going to be good because she speaks like normal people speak. People can relate to that. And I think that is the best sign of a judge.” Cowell has referred to Cole as “one of the best I’ve ever worked with.” She returned for a further series in 2010 to mentor the girls category (made of female contestants aged 16 to 28). On 5 May 2011, it was officially announced after months of speculation that Cole would appear as a judge alongside Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, and Paula Abdul on the American version of The X Factor. However, after only three weeks as a judge and completing the auditions in Los Angeles and Chicago, Cole was fired from the show by Fox. Additionally, it later been confirmed that she woould not be returning to the UK version of the show either, as Tulisa Contostavlos has taken her place on the judging panel.
Merchandise and sponsorship deals
Cole contributed to the book Dreams that Glitter – Our Story, an autobiography with her Girls Aloud bandmates, in October 2008. The book was written with a ghostwriter and published by the Transworld imprint Bantam Press. The book featured unseen photographs, included insights into the members’ personal lives, their success together, style tips, and “everything [they]’ve learned about life, love and music.” The book was previewed and serialised by OK! prior to its release. Girls Aloud held a book signing at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly, London to promote the release. The title Dreams that Glitter comes from a line in the group’s 2007 single “Call the Shots”. Cole’s first official book, entitled Through My Eyes, was published on 30 September 2010 by Bantam Press. The book is described as “a series of stunning exclusive new photos plus informal shots from her own personal collection … a revealing and intimate portrait of the world of Cheryl Cole”. Through My Eyes offers a glimpse of Cole in the recording studio, backstage on tour, behind-the-scenes at The X Factor, at photo shoots and at award ceremonies. She said the book is “filled with pictures that capture those moments, [her] memories and the people [she’s] closest to”. Cole is the subject of several unauthorised biographies, as well as books detailing her relationship with and divorce from Ashley Cole. In February 2009, Cole appeared on the cover of British Vogue. The media coverage of her appearance in the magazine boosted the magazine’s circulation to 240,000: its best ever February figure. She also appeared on the November 2009 cover of the UK’s Elle magazine. In late 2009, Cole became the new face of L’Oréal. However, her recent advertising campaign promoting the L’Oréal Elvive shampoo and conditioner range attracted criticism amid claims that she had deliberately deceived persons wishing to buy the product, since it shows Cole with hair extensions. As a member of Girls Aloud, Cole has endorsed Barbie, Kit Kat, Nintendo DS, Samsung, and Sunsilk.
In March 2009 Cole climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Comic Relief. The trek raised £3.4 million for the charity. Between 3 February and 23 March 2009, Cole raised money for Comic Relief by providing the voice for the BT Speaking Clock.
In February 2011, Cole launched her own charitable foundation with The Prince’s Trust following a meeting with The Trust’s President, HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. The Cheryl Cole Foundation will provide vital funds for The Trust in the North East, helping disadvantaged young people from Cole’s region. On 13 June 2011, she auctioned 20 dresses with ASOS to raise funds for the foundation.
Cole is set to make a cameo appearance, alongside Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez, in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
On 11 January 2003, Cole was involved in an altercation with a nightclub toilet attendant, Sophie Amogbokpa, at The Drink nightclub in Guildford, Surrey, England. Cole was subsequently charged with racially aggravated assault (she had allegedly called Amogbokpa a “Caribbean jigaboo” and a “black bitch”)and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. During her trial, Cole claimed she acted in self-defence (claiming she had been punched first) and denied using racially abusive language. The jury found her guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but cleared her of racially aggravated assault. The judge sentenced her to 120 hours of community service and ordered her to pay her victim £500 in compensation, as well as £3,000 prosecution costs.
Cole began dating England and Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole in September 2004, announcing their engagement after he proposed in Dubai in June 2005. The couple were married at a ceremony at Barnet, North West London on 15 July 2006. They signed an exclusive deal with OK!, reportedly worth £1 million, regarding the rights of the photographs. In January 2008, a hairdresser named Aimee Walton alleged in The Sun that she had engaged in drunken extramarital sex with Ashley Cole. Subsequently, glamour model Brooke Healy claimed that she had spent the night and had sexual relations with Ashley Cole in December 2006. The couple, however, reconciled. In early February 2010, news broke that her husband had cheated on her with five more women. On 23 February, Cole announced she was separating from her husband. On 26 May 2010, Cole filed for divorce at London’s High Court citing “unreasonable behaviour” of estranged husband Ashley as the reason for their break-up. She was granted a decree nisi on 3 September. In October of that year, Cole stated in an interview with The Guardian that she would continue to use her married name, saying that changing it back would make her seem “ashamed” of her marriage.
On 3 July 2010, Cole was admitted to hospital with suspected acute malaria after a visit to Tanzania. During an X Factor photoshoot in Cardiff, Cole has said that she noticed her lips were blue.