Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree is the debut studio album by English singer-songwriter Diana Vickers. Originally set for a November 2009 release, the album was postponed due to Vickers' leading role in the West End play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, and it was finally released on 3 May 2010 in the United Kingdom.
The lead single, "Once", was released on 19 April 2010 and peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart. On 7 May 2010, "Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree" entered the Irish Albums Chart at number 7 and on 9 May 2010, the album peaked at number one on the UK Albums Chart selling 35,951 copies in the first week of release. In August 2010, the album was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry. It has sold over 200,000 copies in the UK.
Shortly after being eliminated from The X Factor in 2008, it was announced that Vickers had been signed to RCA Records and she confirmed that she had begun working on her debut album. The album was produced from April 2009 to January 2010, and a five-track album sampler leaked in January 2010, album track Jumping Into Rivers had previously leaked in July 2009. On release of the album tracklist, it was later edited to include Me & You, and also the order of listing had been slightly edited. The album artwork also was released then edited, changing the banner from purple to pink after fans criticised the art for a previously used picture and lack of album title. The album title is however, seen down the spine of the album when purchased. The album release date was also pushed back from 26 April to 3 May to make finishing touches. The album title came from a track written by Chris Braide and Vickers called "The Boy Who Murdered Love", about which Vickers later stated:
Basically, I co-wrote a song with Chris Braide called The Boy Who Murdered Love and there's a line in there about a tainted cherry tree and I found it very poetic. It painted imagery of the forbidden fruit and Adam and Eve and this boy that's absolutely beautiful and so tempting but so wrong for you!
Upon its release, Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree generated mixed reviews from music critics. Mayer Nissim of Digital Spy awarded the album five out of five stars, stating that Vickers and her collaborators "have crafted an album that's drenched in accessible pop melodies while never sacrificing the charm and personality". Kevin Courtney of the Irish Times called it a "blend of pop and indie [that] works in her favour" along with having a "few catchy songs" that help to distinguish her from being "just another Cowell cyborg".[clarification needed] Johnny Dee of Virgin Media found it commercial but without sacrificing Vickers' "slightly eccentric charms" and noticed that it "works best when it's mixing beats with folky whisperings" concluding that "the girl's done great".musicOMH's Ben Urdang gave the album three out of five stars, stating that "Vickers manages to achieve a consistency throughout so that the album sits comfortably as a fluid piece of work". He went on to add that although the album is not "groundbreaking nor perfect", it is "a solid start to her recording career". Mike Diver from BBC Music praised Vickers' voice for the ability to "stand out from any crowd" but was not astounded by the lyrics and the album as a whole, stating that the impression it leaves is "compromised by songwriting by committee" and noticed that it would have been "considerably improved " with "a little more compositional guile".
Simon Gage of Daily Express gave the album a scathing one out of five stars, criticising Vickers' "squawky" voice and describing it as a collection of "poppy, noisy and no doubt, expensive, songs made horrid", though his own review was heavily criticised by commenters..The Independent's Simon Price thought that it "consists mostly of forgettable dance pop and folktronica" and that it "doesn't stand out", while Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music noticed that it is "too busy trying to keep everyone happy to be anything other than indistinct and polite". David Smyth from the Evening Standard felt that Vickers' voice is "almost indistinguishable" from Ellie Goulding's and concluded by saying that "her songs are blander but the public seems open to a singer who will do more interesting work than this [the debut]". Hugh Montgomery of The Observer felt that "despite employing indie-minded collaborators such as Ellie Goulding and Lightspeed Champion", the album was "given over to commercial box-ticking" and described it as "generic electro-pop with the kind of tasteful balladry that suggests a Dido in-waiting". However he noticed that it did not lack "potential hits". He also expressed the hope that Vickers' songwriting voice might in the future become as compelling as her singing one. The album was regarded as "one of the best debut albums of 2010" by Jude Rogers in The Guardian.
The album first entered the Irish album Chart on 29 April 2010 at number 7. On 9 May 2010, Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree debuted on the UK Album Chart at number 1 replacing Plan B's The Defamation of Strickland Banks but was knocked off the top spot in its second week by Keane's Night Train. With the full release of second single, "The Boy Who Murdered Love", the album returned to the Top 15 on the UK Albums Chart, rising 29 places from number 42 to number 13.
"Once" was released as the album's lead single on 19 April 2010 in the United Kingdom. Upon its release it generated mainly positive reviews from critics, with the most positive coming from Nick Levine of Digital Spy who called it a "straight up brain-invader" with a "huge chorus" that is "hard to ignore". The single achieved commercial success by debuting at number 3 in Ireland, number 5 on the EU Hot 100, number 2 in Scotland and number 1 in the United Kingdom. It also peaked at number 31 in South Korea without any promotion. In late May 2010, "Once" was added to radio playlists in Australia and New Zealand.
"The Boy Who Murdered Love" was confirmed as the second single by Vickers on Twitter on 7 May 2010. The music video premiered on 2 June 2010 via the MSN video player. Vickers' second single was officially released in the United Kingdom on 18 July 2010. The single was playlisted on Radio 1. On the week ending 25 July 2010, the single entered the UK Top 40 Chart at number 36, giving Vickers' her second consecutive Top 40 single. The following week "The Boy Who Murdered Love" charted in South Korea rising to its peak of 16.