Inside Cheryl’s emotional West End comeback as she ‘overhauls brand’ after album flop and shock L’Oreal axing | The Sun

NOT so long ago, Cheryl was on the front page of every magazine, selling millions of records and fronting some of the biggest shows on TV.

But once she left the X Factor, became a mum to five-year-old Bear and broke up with Liam Payne, she took a big step back from the spotlight.

The Girls Aloud singer last released new music in 2019, but it failed to hit the top of the charts, and soon after she was axed by L’Oréal following nine years as their spokesmodel.

However, since making a surprise comeback in 2:22 A Ghost Story – for which she’s making £1,000 a night despite no acting experience –  it seems everyone is talking about Cheryl again.

The stunning return hasn't gone unnoticed by industry insiders, who explain the 39-year-old has worked hard to rebuild her brand after a tough "wake-up call".

Here, culture and brand expert Nick Ede and celebrity PR guru Ed Hopkins talk us through the ups and downs of Cheryl’s showbiz career.


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Record-breaking pop star

Cheryl first shot to fame on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, as part of Girls Aloud, and went on to have six UK Top 10 albums with them, as well as 21 Top 10 singles.

But in 2008 she started making a name for herself, joining the X Factor judging panel alongside Simon Cowell.

The following year, she released her first solo single Fight For This Love and album 3 Words – both of which peaked at number one.

And she went on to become the first British female solo artist to have five number-one singles in the UK, holding the record for the British female solo artist with the most UK number-one singles until Jess Glynne overtook her in 2018.

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She was at the top of her game until 2016 when she decided to quit The X Factor to focus on her music career.

However, the following year she became a mum to Bear, now five, with then-boyfriend Liam Payne, taking a break from the spotlight in the process.

Ed notes: "If anything Cheryl has become more popular by making this decision, it makes her so much relatable to the public and reminds everyone that she is only human.

"This was a great decision as she has been firmly in the public eye since 2009 and I'm sure just needed a break.

"However, I do think she was expecting a comeback similar to the style that Adele has when she disappears and then returns with another popular record."

Comeback flop

Cheryl previously vowed to quit music if her comeback failed to dent the top 80.

"If the song goes in at 80 [in the charts], it's time for me to move on with my life," the star told The Guardian.

But, when she did release new music in 2018, it failed to hit the top of the charts.

Her comeback single Love Made Me Do It limped in at No19 as it was released before nosediving to No48 in official chart figures.

Returning with her first stage performance in four years with the song, fans were left unimpressed.

Appearing back on The X Factor, viewers slammed it as "embarrassing" and "painful" after she licked her own hand during the routine.

Her most recent single in 2019, Let You, was also a commercial flop and she never released her much-awaited fifth album.

Nick adds: “Her reintroduction into the music scene didn’t go as well as she had hoped.

“But she carefully managed to keep her LGBTQ+ fans happy by making successful appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race and performing at Mighty Hoopla and Manchester Pride to hundreds of thousands of fans.

“Cheryl knows her music career may have moved on but her popularity isn’t going anywhere but up.” 

Band reunited

Despite attempting another TV comeback as a judge on BBC’s The Greatest Dancer, the talent show was axed after just two seasons due to low viewing figures. 

In 2018, Cheryl was also dropped from her lucrative L’Oréal deal after a nine-year stint with the French beauty brand.

"Aside from a huge financial loss, this would have flagged alarm bells for any future projects with other brands with Cheryl on their radar," says Ed. "Like everyone else, they would be wondering what happened."

Following another two-year hibernation, Cheryl attempted to enter the podcast platform last year with a 12-part series, You Me And R&B, which attracted criticism for not being hosted by a black artist.

Cheryl cancelled the podcast following the tragic death of Sarah Harding, which she and bandmates Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh were left devastated by.

But Sarah’s death was also the catalyst for Cheryl and the rest of Girls Aloud to get back together and step back into the spotlight as a four.

They've raised thousands of pounds in Sarah’s honour with a Race for Life and launched a charity pyjama collection with Primark.

Cheryl previously said her and Sarah had discussed their spirituality, with Sarah promising to come to Cheryl following her passing.

She said: “I think of myself as a spiritual person, and I guess Sarah does too, so there's been an honesty between us when we talk about what might be.

“I've always believed that the end of our life on Planet Earth isn't the end of everything and that we go to an incredible place once it's over.

“We've also made a pact that if and when she's left us, she's going to come back and visit me.

“We haven't decided exactly what form she might take, or what sign she might give to let me know it's her, but I said I don't mind as long as she doesn't come when I'm on the loo.”

Brand Cheryl

Last year, Cheryl truly announced her return after it was revealed she had bagged a huge £100,000 deal for her West End debut in 2:22 A Ghost Story – and she’s getting standing ovations.

Ed believes that Cheryl should now "steer away from TV talent shows and focus on a stage career", alongside carefully chosen brand campaigns that allow her to still spend time with Bear.

Nick adds: “It’s a clever move to go into acting and develop a new fan base but also please her army of loyal fans who may not buy her music anymore but love her and have been loyal for many years.

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“Cheryl isn’t concentrating on her music and has now rebranded herself as her own brand.

"I can see her carefully doing more acting, perhaps in TV dramas, and then also going into the wellness and beauty market with lifestyle products, beauty and lots more that she owns, develops and is the face of."

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