Nicola Roberts

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For the murderer named Nichola Roberts, see Murder of Michael Gilbert.
Nicola Roberts
Nicola Roberts cropped.jpg
Background information
Birth name Nicola Maria Roberts
Born (1985-10-05) 5 October 1985 (age 28)
Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
Origin Runcorn, Cheshire, England
Genres Pop, dance-pop, synthpop
Occupations Singer, songwriter, actress, presenter, recording artist
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2002–present
Labels Polydor, Fascination
Associated acts Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Henry Holland, Rihanna, Cheryl Cole, Little Mix
Website nicolarobertsmusic.com

Nicola Maria Roberts (born 5 October 1985) is an English recording artist and entrepreneur. After auditioning and successfully completing the reality television series and competition Popstars The Rivals, Roberts became part of girl-group Girls Aloud. Their debut single "Sound of the Underground" topped the UK Singles chart. This success helped them win the competition and they were later entered in Guinness World Records as the most successful reality television music-group. The five-piece band enjoyed 20 consecutive top ten singles, spawning five albums and positive critical responses. For a time during her time with the band, Roberts received negative press attention for her pale skin tone and ginger hair which left her depressed with her fame derived from the time with Girls Aloud.

In 2008, after releasing a pale skin make-up collection titled Dainty Doll, Roberts advocated the ban of underage usage of tanning beds with the documentary Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning. Her public stance with a British MP led to a bill which banned under 18s from using tanning beds. In 2011, Roberts released her debut solo album Cinderella's Eyes and her debut single "Beat of My Drum". Both releases received critical acclaim but had mixed commercial success. Two follow-up singles "Lucky Day" and "Yo-Yo" both gained equally positive critical responses but failed commercially. The album was described as electronic-influenced and garnered positive reviews and peaked at number 17 in the United Kingdom. In November 2012 Roberts reformed with her band Girls Aloud and toured for the first time in over four years in 2013, Girls Aloud, embarked on their "Ten: The Hits Tour", which saw Girls Aloud split up at 00:07 on 21 March 2013 hours after their final concert in Liverpool.

Early life[edit]

Nicola Roberts was born on 5 October 1985 in Stamford, Lincolnshire when her mother was 17.[1] At the time of her birth her father was working for the RAF and the resulting pay led to financial struggles which saw her father move to work for company Ford whilst her mother became a photographer to help the family monetary problems.[1] Roberts grew up in a "rough" council estate; despite this she never felt threatened but expressed concern with her younger siblings exploring the area as they "probably wouldn't come back".[1] Despite a history of drugs in the estate she called the situation a minority and found that estates in 2010 were much worse than her own.[1] Aged 11 Roberts and her family moved from her council estate into a middle class area which Roberts believed was "too posh" for her and she found herself returning to the council estate to spend time with "mischievous" children from lower-class backgrounds.[1]

In school Roberts found herself shying away, in contrast to her home life where she was outgoing, even gaining the nickname Cilla from her family after singer Cilla Black.[1] Academically, Roberts performed well, leaving school with ten GCSEs, but she declared her dislike with school and began discussing a musical career which led her to work with several girl groups recording demo tracks in several cases.[2] Roberts acknowledged she had always wanted to be a singer and had been entering competitions and auditions with her father accompanying her and gaining support from other family members also.[3] In an interview with Closer magazine, Roberts spoke about how she started off her musical career at a local disco, as part of a girl band called The 5 Musketeers.[4]

Music career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Still a teenager, Roberts auditioned for the reality television series Popstars The Rivals. Participants checked into a hotel in Kensington, London before performing to a panel of celebrity judges with Roberts finding she "didn't really have much life experience" up to that point.[5] During the auditions Roberts coincidentally sat next to Kimberley Walsh who completed the competition to become one of five in the final line-up of the girl-band, and the two spent time rehearsing before their solo audition.[5] Roberts felt confident before the audition, but during the actual audition she was "terrified" and was unable to smile until celebrity judge Geri Halliwell complimented her performance stating "I think you're great, you're an individual, you really stand out".[6] Roberts found her clothing and personality were different to the other participants of Popstars The Rivals; most were well-trained vocalists and were well dressed whilst Roberts' clothing was less fashionable due to lack of funds, and she was not as vocally well-trained as the others.[6]

Further down the process of the competition, Roberts was left as one of 15 remaining participants but found that the reality show was becoming increasingly based on personality instead of vocals.[6] Roberts found her personality to be more concealed than others but was "confident" with her performances.[7] One notable incident during the competition was when a show-producer expressed to Roberts' mother that she wouldn't win as she was not "outrageous" or as outgoing as others stating that vocals were secondary; this left her mother shocked with the politics of the show.[7] After the final ten participants were selected Roberts was eliminated from the competition, but in the following weeks she was enlisted as a wild-card to return to the show despite reservations from judge Louis Walsh who didn't want her to return. However, he was overruled by judges Geri Halliwell and Pete Waterman.[8] Her return to the show stemmed from participant Nicola Ward quitting[4] and Roberts then made it through to the final where she sang the track "I'm So Excited" by The Pointer Sisters; she was the second contestant to be selected for the group after member Cheryl Cole.[9] That night the band was formed, and a party involving promotional photographs saw their introduction to band manager John McMahon who would become more of a personal friend for the group.[10]

Roberts described her time on the show Popstars The Rivals and her successes within the show:[11] "Every week before I went on stage I used to go to the toilet, to the same cubicle, and pray, just ask God to please let me have this. Even though I was confident in my singing ability, and I knew I had a stronger voice than most at the time same time I still had a little bit of insecurity because I'd been told Louis didn't want me. I was never in the bottom two, though, and the producers told me I always came in the top two or three in terms of votes each week, which was great."

2002–09: Girls Aloud and disbandment[edit]

Nicola Roberts performing with the group on their 2009 Out of Control Tour.

"The people we knew, that I'd grown up with and had relationships with, just didn't see me as Nicola anymore; it was like I was this famous person and they didn't know how to speak to me. Even the boy I liked - all that had gone. I'd had such happy times there, having parties loads of us sleeping on the beach, and it just wasn't the same. People treated me differently."

Roberts describing her return to her childhood holiday home in Cornwall.[12]

After winning Popstars: The Rivals, the group went onto record their debut music video. In addition to that, a large stint of publicity left the band exhausted, since band manager, John McMahon, continually pressured them to promote the single "Sound of the Underground".[13] At this point, the competition with Popstars: The Rivals was still ongoing with the two bands; Girls Aloud and boy-band One True Voice competing to outsell each other with their debut single releases.[14] Girls Aloud ultimately won the competition with their single topping the UK Singles Chart and gaining a record deal from Polydor Records. In the following days, however, news broke that the group's manager had died in a car accident, shortly after texting Roberts, who was too busy to respond.[15] The death of McMahon had a large impact on Roberts, who found herself increasingly emotionally unstable and came at a time when she moved in with colleague Cheryl Cole becoming the first time she had lived without her family.[16] It was at this time that Roberts was in the midst of several problems, including the death of the band manager and leaving home. The most problematic, though, was the constant media criticism of her image, in which critics labelled her "unattractive".[17]

Girls Aloud as a group enjoyed many successes, including two entries into the Guinness Book of World Records for "Most Successful Reality Television Group" and "Most Consecutive Top Ten Entries in the UK by a female group".[18] In addition to this, the band gathered five BRIT Award nominations, winning Best British Single in 2009 for "The Promise".[19] The group earned four UK number one singles, twenty consecutive UK top ten singles and critically they have been well-received with most albums, although Roberts found at times critical opinion was "less than desirable".[20] Their debut album, Sound of the Underground, peaked at number two in the UK and was certified Platinum. Their second album, What Will the Neighbours Say?, was certified double platinum peaking at number six. The third album, Chemistry, saw a critical improvement, but failed to enter the UK top ten. The fourth album, Tangled Up, became another Platinum certified album, peaking at number four. Finally, their fifth record, Out of Control, became their first studio album to reach number one in the UK.[20][21] In 2009 Girls Aloud took a break after embarking on their 2009 Out of Control Tour in support of the Out of Control album which became their most extensive tour and following this each band-member took time to work on solo projects.[22]

2010–13: Cinderella's Eyes and other ventures[edit]

Nicola Roberts performing at G-A-Y in support of Cinderella's Eyes in 2011.

"I’ve been looking at my album reviews today and, honestly, I could cry. It’s a bit of a shocker. Someone tweeted me all of the mark-ups – the stars that the various papers had given it – and when you see them all collected like that, 4 out of 5 and 5 out of 5, it was just like: ‘Oh my fucking god! That’s incredible.’ I could cry. It’s quite amazing. And now the album’s out there and I just have to hope that people like it. That’s all I can ask for.

—Roberts discussing the acclaimed reviews for Cinderella's Eyes.[23]

In the Girls Aloud 2008 biography Roberts expressed an interest in writing and recording her own material, wanting to experiment in the studio for better understanding of the process.[24] She then started work in the recording studio, with producers such as; Dragonette,[25] Diplo[26] and Joseph Mount.[27] Roberts after a year of recording announced that she would be releasing her debut album, Cinderella's Eyes.[28] The first single "Beat of My Drum" had an on-sale release meaning it had little promotion beforehand[29] and commercially it peaked at number 27 in the United Kingdom[30] but critically it garnered acclaim from critics which Roberts described as "amazing".[31] A second single "Lucky Day" was released shortly after and whilst gaining positive reviews[32][33][34] it failed to make an impact commercially peaking at number 40 in the UK.[30] The album was then released on 23 September 2011,[35] Roberts described the album as "electronically led",[29] and the album was inspired by her time performing with Girls Aloud - "It would have been stupid for me to make an album that meant nothing" she said.[26] For Roberts the album was about making a risky record, where there wasn't a guaranteed commercial success, explaining to The Guardian: "It's taken every last bit of confidence just to release this record, or maybe I've just brainwashed myself into feeling more confident. I don't know if it's good, or if I've just told myself it's good."[26] The album was released to universal positive reviews from critics,[23] reviewers such as Ludovic Hunter-Tilney of the Financial Times,[36] James Lachno of The Daily Telegraph,[37] Emily Mackay of NME,[34] Hugh Montgomery of The Independent and others hailed it as the best solo record from a member of Girls Aloud.[38] Commercially in the United Kingdom the album peaked at number 17[39] whilst on the Digital charts it peaked at number 13,[40] in Scotland it charted at number 21[41] whilst in Ireland it peaked at number 48.[42] On 6 January a third single from the album was released, titled "Yo-Yo" the song was described as a "shining example of her pop sensibilities".[43]

In January 2012, singer Rihanna chose Roberts to co-host Styled To Rock for Sky Living HD, Roberts will act as an executive-producer and will search "for the next generation of undiscovered designer talent".[44] The show will last ten weeks premiering in summer 2012, Roberts discussed the show saying "I am so excited to be working with Rihanna on finding a new British up and coming designer. I was so flattered when she asked me to work with her on this show. I'm so excited for us to get started on finding a new up and coming British designer who just needs a chance, a little bit of help in getting their skills noticed."[44]

Nadine Coyle confirmed the Girls Aloud will perform shows around the country at the beginning of 2013 to celebrate their tenth anniversary.[45] On 11 March, Kimberley Walsh announced that Girls Aloud had started work on a new album.[46] Roberts was at the time a judge and mentor on Sky Living series "Styled To Rock" alongside fashion designer Henry Holland and Rihanna. Roberts co-penned a track for girl group Little Mix's debut album DNA. The track is entitled "Going Nowhere." [47] In December 2013 she received disc award for her help with writing the album. The award was presented to Nicola for her contribution to Little Mix’s first album ‘DNA’, as it has sold more than 700,000 copies worldwide.[48]

After months of speculation, Girls Aloud's reunion would occur in November 2012.[49] The reunion is said to coincide with their tenth birthday and the release of a charity single for Children in Need. On 31 August 2012, Cheryl Cole confirmed on BBC Radio 1 and Capital FM that the group's new single will be released in November, teasing the lyrics "I just wanna dance".[50] Girls Aloud reunited for the group's 10th anniversary. On 18 November 2012, the group released their new single, "Something New" which was the official charity single for Children in Need. The single peaked at number-two on the UK Singles Chart.[51] The group released their second greatest hits compilation, Ten on 26 November 2012. The second single taken from Ten, "Beautiful Cause You Love Me" was released on 17 December 2012.[52] A documentary special entitled 10 Years of Girls Aloud aired on ITV1 on 15 December 2012.[53][54][55] In 2013, the group embarked on Ten - The Hits Tour 2013.[56][57] At the conclusion of the tour, they announced their disbandment.

2013–present: Upcoming second studio album[edit]

In October 2011, Roberts stated that she had started work on a second album.[58] On 13 January 2012 Nicola commented on her second album, stating, “Maybe. I'm not sure. There's lots of stuff coming up and I think there always has to be a right time. I'm always working on music and if a second album came out then that would be a great thing to happen.”[59] In June 2013, following the Girls Aloud split, Daily Mail reported that Roberts was working on a second album that might be released in 2014.[60] It was reported in September 2013 that Roberts may collaborate as a writer on former bandmate Cheryl Cole's upcoming fourth studio album, due in 2014. As well as writing a song for Little Mix's first album, Nicola has written a further two songs for their second album Salute, entitled "See Me Now" and "They Just Don't Know You".[61] In January 2014, producer Fred Ball confirmed he was working with Roberts on a new album, due for release sometime in 2014.[62]

Personal life[edit]

Despite a large amount of success as part of Girls Aloud, Roberts found time away from her family increasingly difficult; but, after her parents divorced and conflicts with her boyfriend, she found herself in a depressed state.[17] Her hectic schedule led her to dissolve relations with family members and, after stating her frustration at her living situation, she started frequently returning to her home town near Liverpool.[63] Her work-life and home-life saw her split into two different personalities and despite appreciating a career in the music industry the conflicts with her personal life made her question her career.[63]

Throughout her music career Roberts was coping with hypoglycemia which restricted what foods she could eat; whilst spending time on the road touring, she found it difficult not to indulge in convenience food.[64] Her illness was diagnosed after extensive touring in which time Roberts complained of weakness and sickness which made it difficult to perform live concerts.[64]

Whilst she was on her Tangled Up Tour, her dog Elvis died just months after he was given as a gift to Roberts who found his death troubling finding she couldn't cope as she was on her Tangled Up Tour at the time.[65] After her amicable split from long-time boyfriend Matt Smith in 2006, Roberts struggled with being single but found herself evolving into a more "independent" and "mature" woman. In 2008, she met Charlie Fennel and slowly built a relationship with him.[12][66]

Other ventures[edit]

In 2007 Roberts had started a limited production of a make-up range called Dainty Doll aimed at the pale-skinned market whilst producing the Girls Aloud-related television series The Passions of Girls Aloud.[67] Then in the following 18 months Roberts expanded the collection which saw a major release with prestigious store Harrods in London exclusively stocking the items.[67] The success led to a release across the United Kingdom with Roberts explaining the concept of Dainty Doll saying "The reason behind me doing this is because I had a point of difference and that was because of the pale skin and it was something I obviously felt really passionate about. I was aware that there weren't many make up brands that catered for women for extra pale skin so I feel proud that I've been the person to do it."[67]

Philanthropy[edit]

Anti-tanning activism[edit]

With the start of her music career, Roberts starting noting that other girls were dressing more "glamorous" than she was, and at aged 16 during her auditions for Popstars: The Rivals she wished to look like them.[6] It was at these times that Roberts would feel unattractive due to her pale complexion and soon began using fake-tan to darken her skin tone into what she later described as a "dirty mess" but at the time made her feel more attractive.[17] Due to her pale skin tone Roberts found herself easily burning in the sun which led to chronic pain and during the shoot of the Girls Aloud single "Love Machine" she had trouble filming due to severe burns which left her wanting to visit the hospital.[68] During her time with Girls Aloud she filmed a television special titled Passions for which she travelled to Taiwan where she learnt about natural skin products, something she had been interested in due to her pale complexion and led her to develop the make-up line Dainty Doll.[69] Following this Roberts began a stance against tanning which saw her produce and star in a BBC Three investigative documentary titled Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning in which she revealed her own personal tanning issues and those of men and women throughout the UK who have excessively used tanning beds.[70] She met families of those deceased from melanoma who were actively pushing for a change in law for a ban on tanning beds for under 18s[70] which provoked Roberts to become an advocate for the ban of underage usage of tanning beds, and with the help of British MP Julie Morgan the pair produced a bill to ban under 18s from using sun-beds.[71] At the launch of the bill Roberts said "Going into the streets of Liverpool and interviewing the young girls who are obsessed with having a tan and feeling like they had to be brown to be seen as attractive, that whole mentality that they had gathered was just a bigger problem than I ever thought it was."[71]

Anti-bullying activism[edit]

"The internet has really highlighted this issue. It shows us how easy it is for people to pass judgement on others and it also shows us that people now have a place for expression. Whether it be twitter or blog posts it gives people a place to offload. Whenever I have bought somebody's record I always flick through and search for the ones that I really relate to at that time, they become my favourites, I play that song to death and then the rest of the album gets its chance. Music is there to milk an emotion I think. Whether it be a party track when you want to feel sky high or an emotional song when you need something to draw out how you feel inside. That's my sticks+stones and it's so comforting to know that it's yours too. I'm going to try my best to speak to Micheal Gove the educational secretary about how we can work out a better support system in schools for people finding themselves in unbearable situations every time they walk through the school gate… I'll keep you posted on that. Wish me luck!

—Roberts discussing Cinderella's Eyes track "Sticks + Stones" and her advocacy for anti-bullying which stemmed from writing the track.[72]

After winning Popstars: The Rivals, becoming one fifth of Girls Aloud, Roberts soon found herself subject to bullying.[73] She was branded "the ugly one" of the group, and would often "cry herself to sleep" finding herself to be a victim of "faceless" bullying fuelled by celebrities such as Chris Moyles and Lily Allen.[73] Soon after the comments had an effect on her mental stability after suffering from an "identity crisis" the taunts brought her close to a breakdown leaving her feeling "miserable and confused" and finding comfort in alcohol.[73] Prior to her fame Roberts never found flaws with her red hair calling it a "prized possession" but after critics picked on her image she saw it as a flaw with Roberts explaining "I hated it and I hated people judging me. I'd put on the telly and there'd be someone saying something cruel, or I'd open up a magazine and read it. Normal people don't have people telling them day to day they're ugly or miserable. [...] I'd think, "stop being so vain, you've got this amazing job" but it wasn't enough. It didn't stop me feeling bad".[17] "People feel they can say nasty things and have anonymity behind the net – as they did with all the nasty comments about me – without fear of recrimination", Roberts said, and five years after the bullying she found herself in a "better place", with critics commenting on her image positively with writers such as Clemmie Moodie from British newspaper Daily Mirror saying "the 25-year-old radiates confidence and, with a string of fashion successes has blossomed."[73]

Roberts then wrote the track "Sticks + Stones" in response to these times, finding herself cautioned by the serious subject matter, she wanted to write a track that was not self-indulgent featuring a "universal" chorus" and lyrics such as "I was too young for so many things. Yet you thought I'd cope with being told I'm ugly".[73] After the release of her debut album Cinderella's Eyes which featured the track Roberts appeared on the British television show BBC Breakfast to discuss bullying in relation to the track.[74] Soon after she advocated the issue on BBC News where they discussed the lyrical themes of the track, and during the interview Roberts named social networking site Twitter as being a tool of which highlights the severity of the bullying issue finding the problem to be "out of control" in a schooling environment.[75] Roberts continued to advocate the bullying-issue and with an interview to Rolling Stone Roberts stated she was "sick" of an image-driven society.[76] After her success with the anti-tanning bill Roberts took a similar stance with bullying saying "it doesn't need to happen" and found that British laws were failing to combat the issue with Roberts saying "People are still scared to go to school, kids are threatening to kill themselves; it's disgusting that it persists. So, again, I'm giving a voice to a cause, to hopefully affect change."[76] Roberts then progressed to the British education secretary Michael Gove to raise the issue.[75]

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Popstars The Rivals Herself Winner
2005 Girls Aloud: Home Truths Herself
2006 Girls Aloud: Off the Record Herself
2007 St Trinian's Herself Cameo
2007 The Friday Night Project Herself Presenter
2008 The Passions of Girls Aloud Herself
2008 Britannia High Herself Cameo
2008 The Girls Aloud Party Herself Presenter, performer
2009 Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning Herself Presenter
2010 Britain's Next Top Model Herself Guest judge
2012 Girls Aloud: Ten Years at the Top Herself
2012 Styled to Rock Herself Mentor, judge
2013 Ten: The Hits Tour Herself Girls Aloud live from the O2 Arena and last ever interview as a group.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Roberts 2009, p. 218
  2. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 220
  3. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 217
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  8. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 28
  9. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 60
  10. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 63
  11. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 59
  12. ^ a b Roberts 2009, p. 148
  13. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 65
  14. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 70
  15. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 78
  16. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 95
  17. ^ a b c d Roberts 2009, p. 100
  18. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 308
  19. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 312
  20. ^ a b Roberts 2009, p. 171
  21. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 173
  22. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 250
  23. ^ a b Roberts, Nicola (26 September 2011). "Guest Blog: Nicola Roberts - Lucky Day 5 - G-A-Y and Hair". Holy Moly. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  24. ^ Girls Aloud 2009, p. 217
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  42. ^ Irish Albums Chart. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 3 October 2011{{inconsistent citations}} 
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  45. ^ Girls Aloud reunion plans confirmed by Nadine Coyle. Digital Spy. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2012{{inconsistent citations}} 
  46. ^ Girls Aloud will record new album, says Kimberley Walsh. Digital Spy. 11 March 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2012{{inconsistent citations}} 
  47. ^ Smart, Gordon (7 October 2012). "Nic and Shaz in the mix". Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
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  60. ^ Daily Mail Reporter (7 June 2013). "Not such a Dainty Doll! Nicola Roberts has a wardrobe mishap as she displays her underwear beneath a sheer dress". Daily Mail. Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
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  63. ^ a b Roberts 2009, p. 101
  64. ^ a b Roberts 2009, p. 138
  65. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 261
  66. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 213
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  68. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 297
  69. ^ Roberts 2009, p. 293
  70. ^ a b "Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  71. ^ a b "Government and Girls Aloud star back under-18 tan ban". BBC News (BBC). 13 January 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  72. ^ Roberts, Nicola (11 October 2011). "What's happening lovelies". Polydor. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  73. ^ a b c d e Moodie, Clemmie (27 September 2011). "Nicola Roberts: I was bullied for four years over the way I looked". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  74. ^ Roberts, Nicola. "Guest Blog: Nicola Roberts, Lucky Day, Sticks + Stones". Holy Moly. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  75. ^ a b "Nicola Roberts: 'Twitter highlights bullying problem'". BBC. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  76. ^ a b Nika, Colleen (11 October 2011). "Nicola Roberts, One-Fifth of Britain's Biggest Girl Group, Talks Solo Record and Style Ambitions". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 

External links[edit]