2010–11: The X Factor
Lloyd had previously auditioned for The X Factor before (when the minimum age was lower) singing ballads, but did not make it through. Lloyd has previously performed at holiday camps and said she gets a mixed reaction to her music, but was a big hit with X Factor judges at the time. She auditioned singing the Keri Hilson version of “Turn My Swag On” by Soulja Boy. At bootcamp she sang a rap version of “Viva La Vida” At the judges’ houses she performed “Cooler Than Me”. but suffered from tonsillitis and was unable to complete the song.
Lloyd sang a rendition of “Just Be Good to Me” in the first of the live shows. In the second live show she sang “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”. In the third live show, she sang a mashup of “No Diggity” and “Shout”, and in the fourth live show she sang “Stay”. This was the first time Lloyd did not rap in her performance, and Cowell even called it “the performance of the season”. In week five, Lloyd sang “Empire State of Mind”, but judges stated that after the previous week they were disappointed. However, the judges agreed that she redeemed herself with her rendition of “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” mixed with “Mockingbird”, by Elton John and Eminem respectively, in week 6. In the seventh week, Lloyd was in the bottom two for the first time after her rendition of “Imagine”, but Cowell, Cole and Walsh all saved her in the final showdown, resulting in Paije Richardson being eliminated. In the following week Lloyd performed “Girlfriend”, followed by “Walk This Way”. Both performances were credited by the judges and she was saved by the public vote the following night, securing her position in the semi final. In the semi-final, Lloyd performed “Nothin’ on You” and “Love the Way You Lie” and was in the bottom two with Mary Byrne. She was saved by the judges again and put through to the final, even though voting statistics after the show revealed that Lloyd had the fewest votes. In the final she performed a mash-up of “The Clapping Song” and “Get Ur Freak On”, followed by a duet with will.i.am, which was a mashup of “Where Is the Love?” and “I Gotta Feeling”. Lloyd was then eliminated in fourth place, having received the fewest public votes.
After the final it was announced that Lloyd had been signed by Syco Music. Lloyd and nine other contestants from the series participated in the X Factor Live Tour from February 2011 to April 2011. The tour saw Lloyd performing for 500,000 people throughout the UK.
2011–12: Sticks + Stones, worldwide breakthrough and modelling
Songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer RedOne worked on her debut album, scheduled for release in November 2011. Her debut single, “Swagger Jagger”, received its first airplay on 20 June 2011 after it had been leaked onto the internet on 15 June 2011 however, this version was later confirmed as only the demo of the track on Lloyd’s Twitter account. The single was released on 31 July 2011 and peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart on 7 August 2011.
On 28 July 2011, Lloyd previewed five tracks from her upcoming album during a Ustream session, including tracks featuring Busta Rhymes, Mike Posner, Ghetts, Mic Righteous and Dot Rotten. Lloyd confirmed on Twitter that “With Ur Love” featuring Mike Posner was to be released has her second single. The single was released on 30 October 2011. The single received its first radio airplay on 21 September 2011. The music video premiered on 1 October 2011, on morning show T4. The single sold 74,030 copies in its first week becoming the highest-selling number four single since Rihanna’s “Only Girl (in the World)”, which sold 74,248 copies in October 2010. Lloyd confirmed the album’s title Sticks + Stones on her Twitter. The album was released on 7 November 2011. The album peaked at number four and has sold 198,199 copies in the United Kingdom as of January 2012.
In November 2011, Lloyd announced her debut headlining UK tour, the Sticks and Stones Tour, which took place in March and April 2012. In December 2011, two more dates were added due to popular demand for tickets. “Sticks + Stones” will be released in 2012 through Epic Records in the United States On 13 December, a music video for “Dub on the Track” featuring underground artists Mic Righteous, Dot Rotten and Ghetts, who also all appear in the accompanying video, premiered on SBTV. The song will not serve as the third single.
In October 2011, Lloyd signed to Logan Media Entertainment under the management of Craig Logan, John Black and Christie LaRocque. In December 2011, Lloyd signed a record deal with L.A. Reid to Epic Records in the United States; “Want U Back” was confirmed as the third single from the album. The single version features vocals from American rapper Astro and was released 19 February 2012. Following the release of the music video on 6 January 2012, the single peaked at number twenty-six on the UK Singles Chart, due to digital downloads from the album.
On 10 April 2012, Lloyd announced she had started work on her second album. Lloyd also announced plans to re-release her single “Want U Back” in the US without Astro and has also recorded a remix with Snoop Dogg. L.A. Reid also plans to introduce Lloyd to American media in New York, hoping Lloyd will make a breakthrough in America. Her single “Want U Back” was released in the United States on 22 May 2012, without Astro or Snoop Dogg. The song peaked at number 4 on the US iTunes chart and 5 on the Billboard Digital Songs, being the 5th most downloaded song of the week selling 128.000 copies. On 25 July 2012 Lloyd made her US television debut when she performed the song live on America’s Got Talent results show. As of November 2012, the single has sold 2,000,000 copies in the US and has been certified platinum. In the UK it has sold over 100,000 copies.
On 24 February 2012, it was announced that Lloyd had signed a modelling contract with the Select agency. Lloyd has been featured on the cover of RWD Magazine, and her modelling appearances have included Wonderland magazine.
Lloyd’s next single, “Oath”, was released on 2 October 2012 as the second single from the American version of her debut studio album, Sticks + Stones, and the fourth single overall. “Oath”, produced by Dr Luke and Cirkut, was played for the first time on New York radio station Z100 FM. The track was released as single in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand only. “Oath” was not as successful as Lloyd’s previous single, “Want U Back”, in the United States, debuting at No. 99 and peaking at No. 73 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In October 2012, Lloyd supported American band Hot Chelle Rae on the Australian leg of their Whatever World Tour.
2013-present: Sorry I’m Late
On January 2013, Lloyd announced that she would guest star on Big Time Rush. In February 2013, Lloyd confirmed that she is working on her second studio album, which was supposed to be due in October 2013.
In March 2013, American singer-songwriter Demi Lovato announced her fourth album, Demi, which includes a track, “Really Don’t Care”, featuring Lloyd. On 18 May, Lloyd joined Lovato on-stage for a duet of the song at Kiss Concert ’13 in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Lloyd later said during her interview with Paradise.com about her friendship with Lovato “I’ve formed a very nice friendship with Demi Lovato. She’s someone I can really relate to. She’s also a very positive and powerful person.” In April 2013, Lloyd announced she and Ne-Yo are to collaborate on a new Fruttare song, “It’s All Good”.
Lloyd announced that her I Wish Tour will take place in fall 2013 and will also feature girl group Fifth Harmony. In August 2013, it was announced that her new single was titled “I Wish”, featuring American rapper T.I. The song was premiered on 31 August 2013, and was released as a digital download on 2 September.
On 16 October 2013, Lloyd told Billboard that the title of her forthcoming second studio album would be Sorry I’m Late. She explained, “I think it has two meanings. […] It’s been a long time since I’ve actually done anything new, but for me, it’s as a person. I mean, I’ve spent a whole lot of time trying to figure out who I am, and I think everybody goes through that.” In November 2013, during an interview with Larry King, Lloyd confirmed that she had left Syco Music after she and Cowell disagreed about her career path in music. Lloyd also confirmed that Sorry I’m Late, which was originally due for release in November, was pushed back until early 2014, despite the record being done. She remarked, “My album got pushed back and I’m not happy about it. It’s all done, but I am currently in the studio for the rest of this week to try and find some more magic. […] It was meant to be coming out in November. Now I think it’s going to be early next year.”
Lloyd confirmed via Twitter that her second album Sorry I’m Late would be released on May 27, 2014. The second single from the album is “Sirens,” and was premiered on March 14, 2014. It will be released digitally along with the pre-order of the album on March 17, 2014.