‘I feel close to Liam again’

Ch­eryl’s ex, Liam Payne, has been a shoul­der to cry on af­ter her come­back sin­gle flops and her X Fac­tor per­for­mance is slated

Closer (UK) - - News - By Rebecca Twomey

She’s no stranger to a set­back, with two failed mar­riages, a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion for ac­tual bod­ily harm in 2003 and a sack­ing from the US X Fac­tor in 2011 be­hind her.

But last week, Ch­eryl hit a ma­jor stum­bling block when her come­back sin­gle, Love Made Me Do It, tanked. It only sold 5,000 copies and dropped to num­ber 48 in the charts, while I’m A Celeb! star Nick Knowles’ sin­gle, Make You Feel My Love, reached the top spot.

UP­ROAR

But it was her sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive per­for­mance on The X Fac­tor that caused the most up­roar. Her rou­tine – which in­volved lick­ing her hand and gy­rat­ing against her male dancers – was met with a bar­rage of crit­i­cism, with view­ers brand­ing it “cringe” and “too sex­u­alised.” Of­com con­firmed they were as­sess­ing com­plaints about her rou­tine, aired be­fore the 9pm water­shed. It prompted Ch­eryl, 35, to post a rant on Twit­ter that in­cluded, “The sheer level of un­bal­anced neg­a­tiv­ity to­wards me in the tabloid press these past few days has been quite frankly shock­ing and I need to ad­dress it. This level of re­lent­less abuse should not be tol­er­ated in any walk of life.” She added, “I did watch my per­for­mance back and I LOVED IT!”

Now pals re­veal that her ex, Liam Payne – fa­ther to her 20-month-old son, Bear – has of­fered his sup­port, de­spite their split in July.

The source says, “Liam has been in touch with Ch­eryl as friends and is of­fer­ing her a shoul­der of sup­port. He told her to vent at him fol­low­ing the re­ac­tion to her X Fac­tor per­for­mance.

“He sent her a touch­ing mes­sage, telling her how great she was, how proud he was of her and that he thought she was kick-ass – he’s re­ally cheer­ing her on. There’s no chance of ro­mance right now, but he wants her to suc­ceed, be happy and find ful­fill­ment again. He knows what up­sets her and is one of the only peo­ple in her life who un­der­stands how hard it is when the world is al­ways tak­ing a bash at you.”

Pals say that in an in­ti­mate heart-to-heart over the phone, Liam – who’s had a suc­cess­ful solo ca­reer since One Di­rec­tion went their sep­a­rate ways in 2016 – urged her not to give up and told her he’d help en­sure she con­tin­ued to be a suc­cess in the mu­sic in­dus­try. He even of­fered to ac­tively get in­volved in help­ing her ca­reer and of­fer his guid­ance for her next sin­gle.

The source says, “Liam told her to ig­nore the haters and just fo­cus on all the peo­ple

❛HE SENT A TOUCH­ING MES­SAGE, TELLING HER HOW GREAT SHE WAS & HOW PROUD HE WAS OF HER❜

who love her. He’s told her not to give up and that to­gether they can try again. His ad­vice was if she didn’t want to carry on per­form­ing, she should go into mu­sic man­age­ment. She had a lot of in­put when he was launch­ing his solo ca­reer and he re­ally val­ued all her ex­pe­ri­ence. She’s not quite ready to give up yet, and not like this, but she still ap­pre­ci­ates what Liam is say­ing.

RE­TURN­ING THE FAVOUR

“Ch­eryl’s told pals Liam is help­ing her through this. And she’s happy they can be friends. It’s brought them closer again.”

The source adds, “Liam doesn’t want Ch­eryl to feel like she’s alone in any area of her life – be it bring­ing up Bear or fight­ing against the bru­tal­ity of the mu­sic in­dus­try. He will never for­get how she sup­ported him when he launched his solo ca­reer, reg­u­larly Tweet­ing and giv­ing con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. He’s de­ter­mined to re­turn the favour, even though they’re not to­gether any more.”

In a re­cent in­ter­view, Ch­eryl vowed to quit mu­sic if her come­back sin­gle flopped, say­ing, “If the song goes in at 80 [in the charts], it’s time for me to move on with my life.” And pals say she’s now re­al­is­ing that may well be­come a re­al­ity.

To make mat­ters worse, in the same in­ter­view, Ch­eryl branded be­ing ques­tioned about the in­ci­dent where she punched toi­let at­ten­dant So­phie Amog­bokpa in a club in Guild­ford, Sur­rey, in 2003 “ir­rel­e­vant” and “bor­ing.”

But hours af­ter her out­burst on Twit­ter about the neg­a­tiv­ity sur­round­ing her, co­me­dian Kathy Burke brought up Ch­eryl’s con­vic­tion on the site, say­ing, “Maybe if Ch­eryl hadn’t punched that toi­let at­ten­dant more peo­ple would buy her records,” fol­lowed with a face-palm emoji.

The source says, “One of the worst mo­ments in Ch­eryl’s life was the con­vic­tion, and peo­ple bring­ing it up makes her prickly and de­fen­sive, so to have it hap­pen twice in one week was a dou­ble hit. She feels she can’t move with­out some­one want­ing to take a swipe at her.”

Ch­eryl’s fans also no­ticed a strik­ing sim­i­lar­ity be­tween her lat­est sin­gle and Paul Young’s track, Love Of The Com­mon Peo­ple. One Tweeted, “Is it just me or does the new Ch­eryl song (Love Made Me Do It) sound a lot like your hit @ Pauly­oung­par­lez, Love Of The Com­mon Peo­ple. Es­pe­cially the verses. @ Ch­erylof­fi­cial.” An­other wrote, “Sounds canny fa­mil­iar to Love Of The Com­mon Peo­ple, just adding a very poor wardrobe.” Paul, 62, replied say­ing, “I have to say, quite a few peo­ple have said this, but I’m not get­ting it!” Now pals say Ch­eryl doesn’t know what to do next. A source says, “She re­ally thought her sin­gle would be a hit – she loves it and worked tire­lessly on the X Fac­tor rou­tine.

HU­MIL­I­ATED

“She adores per­form­ing and singing, but feels she doesn’t have much of a choice. If she can’t make a suc­cess of it, then she may be bet­ter off quit­ting now than go­ing through more neg­a­tiv­ity with the next thing she does.”

Pals say the con­stant abuse has re­ally knocked her af­ter so long away from the spot­light.

Fol­low­ing the back­lash sur­round­ing her “raunchy” track, she re­leased a clean ver­sion of the song, but cyn­i­cal fans claimed it was an at­tempt to boost flag­ging sales.

The source says, “Ch­eryl is hu­mil­i­ated. She’s a proud per­son and is de­fi­ant about ev­ery­thing she does, which is why she Tweeted her thoughts. She’s a strong wo­man, but there’s only so much fight she’s got in her – the neg­a­tiv­ity is a bit­ter pill for her to swal­low, and it makes her so an­gry. She was once the na­tion’s sweet­heart and could do no wrong, but she can’t get back to that time.

“The re­cent slam­ming touched a nerve. She was ex­pect­ing for peo­ple to say it was an ‘amaz­ing come­back’, but they haven’t and it’s got to her. She feels des­per­ate about what to do next – she doesn’t know whether to fight back with a new track or give up on mu­sic for a while.”

Liam has been of­fer­ing his ex sup­port

View­ers were left unim­pressed by her sexy rou­tine

She licked her hand dur­ing the per­for­mance

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