The Singles Bar: Nicola Roberts, "Lucky Day"

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Nicola Roberts' "Beat of My Drum" is a fantastic song. It was also a total fluke. Roberts' membership in Girls Aloud was enough to make her single known to the U.K. and Popjustice's court, but the U.S. picking up on it was largely due to producer Diplo replicating his "Run the World (Girls)" pizzazz, the boldface question mark that still stood in for the year's summer jam and the Internet's reflex to seize upon anything flashy or great. But the blog reflex and the public's collective hit-making reflex are not the same; the single didn't even make the U.K. top 10, let alone the States.

Now what? Well, Nicola Roberts has an album, Cinderella's Eyes, coming out, for which "Beat of My Drum" was only the first promotion. But is follow-up single "Lucky Day" good enough for people to care about Roberts' career past the initial wow? Listen below. (Apologies for Perez; it's all we can find.)

Nicola's team certainly has the song order down: a splashy track to spark interest at first, then a solid radio-friendly song with which to coast. "Lucky Day" could be "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" without the bacchanalia, or something that bloomed from David Guetta's recent plot of dance mulch. There are dozens of songs that sound enough like "Lucky Day" to pique memories, but Roberts' track thankfully falls much farther toward the pleasant than the grating end of the spectrum, and more than that, the lyric is downright charming. (Sample: "Kisses on my pillow / I've hundreds of those, though--I want something more.")

"Lucky Day"'s greatest strength, depending on who's listening, might also be its biggest obstacle to success: Roberts' presence. Her voice, nimble as a superball, flings itself all over the track with springy vibrato, air-puffed background vocals and sound-effect tics like "MWAH-MWAH-MWAH-MWAH." She doesn't sing so much as collide into her notes and knock them off-kilter. You're either going to find this absolutely wonderful or absolutely unlistenable. Our opinion? A track this staid needs a dynamic vocalist to enliven things. For what is Nicola better qualified?

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