With her pale skin, striking red hair, and quiet personality, Nicola Roberts may have been the less tabloid-friendly member of Girls Aloud, but thanks to her songwriting skills, eclectic taste, and effortlessly cool demeanor, her solo career was far more interesting than bandmates Nadine Coyle and Cheryl Cole's.
Born in Runcorn, Cheshire in 1985, Roberts began singing at the age of 11, attended her local dance school, and formed her own girl band, the Five Musketeers, before auditioning for the ITV talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. Although she originally didn't make it to the live stages, she was drafted in as a replacement when fellow contestant Nicola Ward pulled out, eventually finishing second and earning a place in the group that became Girls Aloud. The five-piece scored an impressive 20 consecutive Top Ten hits (including three chart-toppers), six Top 20 albums (including Chemistry, where Roberts became the only member to receive a sole writing credit, for "It's Magic"), and a Brit Award for Best British Single ("The Promise") over a seven-year period before the group members decided to pursue various solo projects. Roberts launched a makeup line for girls with fair skin called Dainty Doll, presented the BBC3 documentary The Truth About Tanning (about the dangers of tanning beds), and became an outspoken advocate of legislation that would outlaw unmanned tanning beds for minors. In 2010, she became the group's third member to launch a solo career when she signed a deal with Universal and began working on material with the likes of Metronomy's Joseph Mount, Dragonette, and Diplo. Her debut single, "Beat of My Drum," was released a year later and was followed by its parent album, Cinderella's Eyes. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi