3 Words

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For the song of the same name from this album, see 3 Words (song). For other uses, see Three Words.
3 Words
Studio album by Cheryl Cole
Released 23 October 2009 (2009-10-23)
Recorded 2008–2009;
Henson Recording Studios,
Record Plant Studios,
SubZero Studios
(California, US);
Metropolis Studios,
My AutoTonic Studios
(London, UK);
Brown Sugar Studios
(New York, US)
Length 41:55
Cheryl Cole chronology
  • 3 Words
  • (2009)
Singles from 3 Words
  1. "Fight for This Love"
    Released: 16 October 2009 (2009-10-16)
  2. "3 Words"
    Released: 20 December 2009 (2009-12-20)
  3. "Parachute"
    Released: 15 March 2010 (2010-03-15)

3 Words is the debut studio album from British pop singer Cheryl Cole, released on 23 October 2009 by Fascination Records. The project is Cole's first solo release following a break from releasing material with her band Girls Aloud who, at the time of the album's release, had enjoyed five successful albums and twenty consecutive top-ten singles. Recorded in Los Angeles and London, Cole had mainly collaborated with will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas who was executive producer of the album. His influence as well as Cole's appreciation for dance music has given the album and its singles a distinctively different sound to Girls Aloud. 3 Words is predominately a pop, dance-pop and R&B album. It was moderately received by critics who on average awarded it 62 out of 100.

It was preceded by the lead single, "Fight for This Love", which became the fastest-selling single of 2009 in the UK, peaking at number one in Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Hungary and the UK. The album also debuted in pole position on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified 3× Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry for having over 900,000 copies distributed. 3 Words has also spawned two other top five singles including the title song and "Parachute". As of June 2013, the album has sold 1,000,000 copies in the UK.[1]


Cole's first foray into a solo music career occurred when she featured on will.i.am's "Heartbreaker". After having streetdancing lessons during the filming of Passions of Girls Aloud series, Cole was picked to appear in the song's video. She was later asked to sing the female vocals on the UK release of the track.[2] Cole's version is featured on her album as it wasn't featured on will.i.am's album Songs About Girls. It was confirmed on 27 April 2009 via MTV UK that Cole would be working on solo material. Cole reunited with will.i.am, and also worked with Syience, Taio Cruz, and Wayne Wilkins. 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.[3] Cruz reclaimed the song and released it as the lead single from his second album, Rokstarr. The song went on to be number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and on the US Billboard Hot 100.[4] The other song, "Stand Up", did make the album.[4]

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.[5] 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.[5] The album's cover was photographed by fashion photographer Nick Knight.[6] Knight said, "although she is photographed all the time by the paparazzi, she is not in front of the camera for a shoot in the same way as professional models are – she is less used to the process." He continued, "Cheryl was great to work with, though [...] – it is just a different kind of shoot with a model who is experienced."[7]


The album begins with its title track, a duet with will.i.am and Cole's favourite song on the album.[8] 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".[8] "Parachute", written by singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson and Marshall Altman with production from Syience, was described by Cole as "left-of-field" and "unique".[9] She cited "you are your own worst enemy, you'll never win the fight" as her favourite lyric from the album.[9] Cole also noted that it was a contender for the album's lead single.[9] "Heaven", another will.i.am production, was the first song to be co-written and recorded by Cole for 3 Words and for that reason holds "a special meaning" to Cole.[10] It contains a sample of "Is You" by D.I.M., written by Andreas Meid.[11]

24 second sample of "3 Words" showing the unconventional arrangement and throbbing progression of the melody.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Cole revealed that the lead single, "Fight for This Love", came to her in demo form with a male vocalist. Cole said she "knew instantly it was a single", having "connected with the song so well".[12] "Rain on Me", co-written by prolific American songwriters Sam Watters and Louis Biancaniello, was one of the last songs to be recorded for 3 Words.[13] Cole recorded the song in Los Angeles and said the process was "emotional" as the album's recording was coming to an end.[13] "Make Me Cry" was the first song that Cole recorded with will.i.am in Los Angeles.[14] Cole wrote verses around will.i.am's hook, which was inspired by his girlfriend.[14] Cole said that she listened to the demo of "Happy Hour", initially titled "Sweet and Sour", on repeat because she enjoyed the song so much.[15] She further noted that the song, produced by Soulshock & Karlin, had a "60s sound" and was "one of those tracks that you either really love or you don't get it."[15] It interpolates elements of Renaldo Domino's "Nevermore", written by Richard Pegue.[11]

"Stand Up" was written and produced by Taio Cruz and Fraser T Smith. Smith claims that during one day he and Cruz wrote the rejected "Break Your Heart" in the morning and "Stand Up" in the afternoon.[3] Cruz described the song as an "absolute club banger".[4][16] The song features an uncredited rap by Cruz, which was originally not present.[17] Cole said it was "one of those instant tracks that make you feel good."[17] Stand Up references the "bop bop" sung melody from Duran Duran's "Planet Earth". "Don't Talk About This Love" was written by songwriter/producer Chris Braide and Nikola Bedingfield, the younger sister of singers Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield. It was originally recorded by Nikola Bedingfield as the title track for her debut EP. Cole's A&R at Polydor had remembered the track and suggested she record it with Braide at his studio. Cole was attracted to the song for its lyrics and vibe, saying it "felt right."[18] In an interview with HitQuarters Braide said, "[It's] very emotional song. She said to me, “I really relate to this.” And I don’t know if it had something to do with her personal situation at the time, but …"[19] "Boy Like You", featuring and produced by will.i.am, samples Fleetwood Mac's 1987 single "Little Lies", which initially attracted Cole to the song.[11][20] Cole wanted to take the Fleetwood Mac sample and create something current and modern with it.[20] The album also features the clean single version of will.i.am's "Heartbreaker", to which Cole provides the female vocals.


In May and June 2010, Cole toured as support for The Black Eyed Peas on the European leg of The E.N.D. World Tour. She performed "Fight for this Love", "Boy Like You", "Make Me Cry", "Parachute", "Fireflies", "3 Words", "Rain on Me" and "Stand Up". will.i.am joined her on several occasions to sing "3 Words". She made her first solo appearances at 2010's V Festival, Radio 1's Big Weekend and Summertime Ball. A number of songs appeared in the lower regions of the chart following the album's release: the singles "3 Words" (number 26) and "Parachute" (number 116), as well as "Boy Like You" (number 105), "Stand Up" (number 112), "Heaven" (number 122), "Rain on Me" (number 135), "Make Me Cry" (number 154), "Happy Hour" (number 165), and "Don't Talk About This Love" (number 177).[21]


"Fight for This Love" is the European lead single of the album, written and produced by Wayne Wilkins and Steve Kipner, and co-written by Andre Merritt. Cole's first live performance of the song came on Sunday, 18 October on The X Factor live results show and in the following week it debuted at number one in both the UK and Ireland. At the time it was declared the best selling single of the year but by the end of 2009 was the fourth best selling single of the year and 29th of the decade. Internationally the single charted in the top-ten throughout Europe in addition to going to number 1 in Norway, Hungary and Denmark. The song is the second single in Australia. The single was certified platinum in the UK and has since become one of just 125 songs to sell upwards of one million copies in the country.[22]

"3 Words" (featuring will.i.am) is album's second single in the UK and Ireland where at peaked at number four and seven respectively. Additionally it was released as the album's lead single in Australia reaching number five and beating all previous Girls Aloud releases in the country. In Italy the song peaked at number seven. The single was certified silver in the UK,[23] and platinum in Australia.[24]

"Parachute", the third single to be released from 3 Words, has so far only been released in the UK and Ireland. In the UK it is Cole's third consecutive top-five hit rising up the charts from January 2010 and peaking at number five in March. It is also her third consecutive top-ten hit in Ireland having peaked at one position higher than the UK: it reached number four. The single was certified gold in the UK.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[25]
Attitude 4/5 stars[26]
BBC Music mixed[27]
Daily Telegraph 2/5 stars[28]
Digital Spy 3/5 stars[29]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[30]
The Independent 2/5 stars[31]
musicOMH 2/5 stars[32]
The Times 2/5 stars[33]
Nu.nl 8/10 stars[34]
Behind The Music A-

3 Words received generally favourable reviews from contemporary pop music critics, earning a rating of 62 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 6 reviews.[35] The Guardian gave the album three stars out of five but felt it was "ultimately too tentative and slight to be more than a footnote in Cheryl Cole's unstoppable celebrity story."[30] Tom Ewing argues, "Parts of this album never pass beyond conservative pleasantries. But the shift in sound was still necessary."[30] The review further described 3 Words as "a low-key, shadowy kind of pop record, whose best songs rarely take immediate hold."[30] Kim Dawson of Daily Star felt the album was "another victory" for Cole, arguing that "the simple 90s R&B/pop collection has the same charm as her huge Geordie smile."[36] Gay magazine Attitude agreed, stating that although guarded "introduces us to Cheryl as an individual – the girl behind the gloss. Very hip, very now, and ultimately very Cheryl."[26] Irish fortnightly Hot Press said "the People’s Princess pleases with Her catchy generic pop."[37] BBC Music gave the album a mixed review, but noted it "does exceed pessimistic predictions".[27]

The album was criticised in comparison to Cole's work with Girls Aloud. Digital Spy said the album was "not a bad record, but nor is it a modern pop classic to rival the best Girls Aloud albums [...] it's a collection of cool, contemporary pop-R&B tunes that takes a few plays to reveal its charms."[29] The Daily Telegraph described the album as a "selection of sexy but underwhelming R'n'B pop", noting that was "not a hint of the bubbly personality that has won over X Factor viewers" or "the electro-guitar fusion that put Girls Aloud on top".[28] Financial Times also called it a "dismayingly boring solo album, [...] swapping Girls Aloud's sparkly pop for thin R&B-flavoured songs with dreary beats and characterless singing."[38] Pete Paphides of The Times agreed that Cole's personality is "absent from mid-paced fillers" and exclaimed that "even when 3 Words gives you something to admire, the emotional temperature rarely nudges above frosty."[33] "The Independent further stated the album was "utterly bereft of imagination and risk, with tried and tested R&B producers [...] doing what they do as dispassionately as possible."[31] Pierre Oitmann of Dutch news site Nu.nl pointed out "the album is mostly being characterised by strong A&R management; i.e. thoroughly sought together songs and consistent production values", before concluding "Cheryl Cole's role is reduced almost entirely to 'hot chick' on the cover."[39]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "3 Words" (featuring will.i.am)
will.i.am 4:33
2. "Parachute"   Syience 3:40
3. "Heaven" (featuring will.i.am)
will.i.am 4:37
4. "Fight for This Love"  
  • Wayne Wilkins
  • Steve Kipner
5. "Rain on Me"  
  • Wayne Wilkins
  • Sam Watters
6. "Make Me Cry"  
  • Cheryl Cole
  • William Adams
  • Caleb Speir
will.i.am 4:35
7. "Happy Hour"   Soulshock and Karlin 4:06
8. "Stand Up"  
  • Fraser T. Smith
  • Taio Cruz
9. "Don't Talk About This Love"   Syience 3:45
10. "Boy like You" (featuring will.i.am)
  • Cheryl Cole
  • William Adams
will.i.am 4:27
11. "Heartbreaker" (will.i.am featuring Cheryl Cole) William Adams will.i.am 3:15
Total length:
Bonus content

By loading the CD into a computer the following additional content can be accessed and download:[40]

  • Videos of Cole talking about each track to watch online and download
  • Images to download and keep on your computer as wallpaper
  • "Heaven" contains samples from "Is You" by D.I.M., written by Andreas Meid.[11]
  • "Happy Hour" contains samples from "Nevermore" by Renaldo Domino, written by Richard Pegue.[11]
  • "Boy Like You" contains samples from "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac, written by Chrstine McVie and Eddy Quintela.[11]

3 Words – The B-Sides EP[edit]

A digital EP featuring the three B-sides to the three singles from the 3 Words album, titled 3 Words – The B-Sides EP, was released online on 18 April 2010 from Fascination Records.[41]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Didn't I"   Andrea Remanda, Cheryl Cole, Klaus Derendorf Klaus D 3:47
2. "Boys"   Emeli Sandé, James Murray, Mustafa Omer, Shahid Khan Fraser T Smith 3:41
3. "Just Let Me Go"   Claude Kelly, Reggie Perry Syience 3:04


Charts and certifications[edit]

The album debuted at number one in the UK with sales of 125,271.[42] It then retained the number 1 position for another week.[43] On 6 November 2009 the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified the album platinum.[44] It has since gone 3× Platinum,[44] with sales of over 1,000,000 copies.[45]

Release history[edit]

Region Release date Format Label Catalogue
Ireland[65] 23 October 2009 CD, digital download Polydor Records 2721459
United Kingdom 26 October 2009 Fascination Records 2721459[66]
HMV bonus version 2724424[67]
Italy[68] 12 February 2010 CD, digital download Universal Music 060252732483
Netherlands 0602527324838
Portugal[70] 15 February 2010
Mexico[72] 16 March 2010 602527324838
Germany[75][76] 19 March 2010 0602527214597
France[77] 22 March 2010
Australia[78] 9 April 2010 0602527324838
Denmark[79] 17 May 2010 Digital download 0602527214597


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