So, there we have it. After months and months of amazing singles (and LMFAO's 'Party Rock Anthem') we have crowned Nicola Roberts 'Beat Of My Drum' as the years best. You can see the full top ten here. PopDash editor David Renshaw caught up with Nicola to discuss her incredible year in 2011.
PopDash: Looking back on 2011 how would you sum it up for yourself?
Nicola Roberts: I feel like my feet haven't touched the ground. I feel like the last time my feet touched the ground was November last year when I was still getting the record finished and playing with the visuals.
PopDash: Do you feel like the year has gone really quickly?
Yeah, like scarily quickly. I think that as you get older you feel that it goes quicker and quicker. That's not a great thing to look forward to is it?
PopDash: Looking back at the start of the year, what were you doing for the first three months? Were you still finishing off the album?
Yeah, I was working on the mixing, trying to find the right mixes for each song. Most of the record was produced by then so it was just about getting the mixing right which actually took quite a long time to be honest. I think if you've written something and you hear it again and you know exactly what emotion needs to be in that song and it's all very personal I don't like where sometimes it's mixed and somebody can make it theirs when in actual fact it's not theirs it's yours. I felt like 'can you just tone this down' because that's what i was like and that takes a long time if the song's personal.
PopDash: How did you feel about the public reaction to the album?
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. The reviews I've had of the record have just been shocking really. When you're writing and you're making a record i don't know if it's because you don't want to or you just haven't got time but you don't really thing about that end day when someone has to sit there and judge it. It can be very stressful on a day to day basis just getting it finished because of every single element that has to go into it. So it wasn't really until it came out and people have to listen to it and the reviews come in that it gets judged and it was just amazing. It was an amazing reaction.
PopDash: Do you feel any differently about the album now in December than you did when it came out?
No. I feel the same because it's the same songs. There's a whole mood around the record and it feels the same.
PopDash: How does it feel to be our single of the year?
It's incredible. That is amazing. Thank you.
PopDash: I think one of the reasons that it stands out so much is that it was such a surprise. It was a really bold statement for a single -was that something you wanted to achieve with that song?
It wasn't that I was trying to achieve that it was just that I wanted to do my own thing. I like to push the boundaries of things and it was important to me that i made a record that excited me just as much as it was made for people to listen to it. There has to be some indulgement in there in order for you to be happy about it. I'm massive fan of Major Laser and Diplo just in general. Even now I'm just so proud that Diplo is on the record. It means a lot to me, I mean, I'm a fan of his and he's on my record. I'm really proud just because it didn't really sound like anything (else). I hear it now and i'm like 'that is such a good song' in terms of being a bit more sort of left of field and a bit more imaginative and not necessarily fitting in with the rules but i like that.
PopDash: What are your personal highlights of 2011?
I think the whole experience of the year, i've had a really amazing time not just professionally but behind the scenes everyday i've been working with such an amazing team of people and just being able to be creative. I've been given so many amazing opportunities. I think what this year has taught me is that you never know what's around the corner. I never thought i'd have any of the jobs I had or the lives we have even with Girls Aloud every year was a shocker it was like 'Oh you never really thought that would happen'. This year has been another one of those years where you just never know what's around the corner for you and that make me happy.
PopDash: Do you feel as though people understand you a bit better now and know who you are as a person?
I don't know because you can't see it from that side . I can't find an answer because i don't know. I don't look from the outside in I just do the things that I like to do.
PopDash: You interviewed Lady Gaga this year what was that like?
I can see how much i've changed as a person since May. Just in terms of confidence, in terms of being stronger in who I am and feeling stronger inside. I feel more sturdy on my feet. We had a photograph taken together and I remember who I was at that particular time, I can feel how I felt at that particular time. I felt shy and a bit young whereas now, looking at that photograph, it's only been six months or whatever but i can't believe how strong i've gotten from that point to this point.
PopDash: Did you find it quite intimidating?
The chips were already down at that point. I wanted to do it because I'm a massive fan of hers - it was an amazing opportunity and there's no way I could have turned it down but ultimately presenting is not where i'm comfortable. But I had the most amazing time and I would never have changed it but what i'm saying is that I can see that I'm different now.
PopDash: Because who you are has been vindicated with your success this year, it must be a really nice feeling.
I think what happens to me is that I am probably most comfortable and creative when i'm being able to be creative. If you're not able to exercise what makes you the most comfortable and the most confident and happiest a lot of the time then you're not that happy are you?
PopDash: Speaking more generally about the last year where's the best place you have visited in the last twelve months?
Probably New York. I went there in August (for a video shoot) and i'd never been before. It was funny because my choreographer is the biggest fan of New York. She dreams about New York and literally a few weeks before she was saying 'I can't believe you've never been' and 'wouldn't it be great for us to go together.' We were just taking about it and it was always one of those things that we wanted to do together because she was such a big fan and then literally a few weeks later it was like 'you're shooting a video in New York." We got there and in terms of our friendship situation we were like 'don't you think it's so weird that all these things are coming together?' 'i'm not here with my boyfriend, i'm not here with my friends i'm with you.' She was like, 'it's crazy.' And we had the best time!
And just New York in general the people were so amazing and the shoot was good so we had a great time.
PopDash: Following on from that, what's the best party you've been to in 2011?
My birthday party! It was amazing. Everybody had the best time. It was a bit messy and the pictures i've got are just hilarious. It was just really good fun. My best friends from Liverpool were there people i hadn't seen for ages, my best friends from school. It was just really really nice. And all of the people over the past couple of years, because we've been working it was nice for everybody to let their hair down.
PopDash: What about your favourite album of the year?
Beyonce. When I first heard 'Who Run The World' i was thinking oh my god, she is going to have a record full of hard, killer electro beats and it's going to blow my mind! She had major laser and Diplo working on her record and I thought oh my god this is going to be my everything so that was that. But then I got the record and it wasn't like that at all, not at all. It was totally different from what i ever thought it was going be and i'm not going to lie, because of that i did have a little bit of a sigh. Then when I got into it i totally got where she was as a person, as a woman at that particular time, what she was trying to say, what she stood for. It wasn't about any electro beats it was about her and her message. Then since i knew that, it was so much more than just ten good beats and i love it.
PopDash: What's you're favourite song is it still Run The World or is it something different?
To be honest i like them all. I like 'Countdown' I like 'I Care' I like '1+1.' I like the way she plays with the falsetto in '1+1'. You don't expect her to change to falsetto at the end of the phrasing and when you first hear it it's like 'oh my god that's really crazy' but now it's just normal.
What's the song where she changes key five times? 'Love On Top'. She changes key five times! Five times! Her voice incredible For a singer, she make me want to do my vocal exercises every single day.
PopDash: Looking ahead to next year what have you got planned. There's a lot of talk about a Girls Aloud reunion - is that happening?
Well we turn ten next year so it's a case of we'll definitely come together to celebrate our tenth anniversary. I'm genuinely really looking forward to it. It will be nice to in the band environment again and working with the girls and just being in each-others company again professionally.
PopDash: And have you and Cheryl swapped any notes on your material. Have you heard and of the new stuff she's working on?
We can't really. Our sounds are very different so we support each other and if there's anything i'll give her a quick text seeing what to do about this or she'll give me a quick text saying 'oh god this is what's happening I don't know what to do about this' and we support each other like that in that way, which is really nice because obviously we're close and we're able to do that. I'm really excited for her stuff.
PopDash: And finally have you made a new years resolution for 2012?
Have more fun.
PopDash: Have you not had fun in 2011?
I have but I want more!