The surprisingly conservative 3 Words appeared in October 2009, featuring collaborations with will.i.am, Soulshock & Karlin, and Syience. Led by the Wayne Wilkins-produced "Fight for This Love," a number one hit and the fastest-selling British single of 2009, the album went platinum in two weeks. Cole's second album, Messy Little Raindrops, followed in November 2010 and fared similarly well, going platinum on the strength of hit singles like "Promise This." Once again, several tracks were produced by Wilkins, while will.i.am, J.R. Rotem, and Free School were involved in smaller capacities.
Cole's career in the U.S. turned into a roller coaster ride, when she was first picked by Simon Cowell to be a judge on the American version of The X Factor, then left the show under controversial circumstances after only three weeks. She then declined to return to the U.K. version of the show and decided to focus on her recording career. Her third album, A Million Lights, featured the Calvin Harris-produced single "Call My Name" and was released in June of 2012 in the U.K. As a measure of just how much the X Factor episode may have hurt her career, the album was not scheduled for American release.
During the back-end of 2012 Cole confirmed that she would rejoin her Girls Aloud bandmates for a reunion tour, which also resulted in the release of charity single "Something New," before the group confirmed in 2013 they had split permanently. After taking a break for much of 2013, she returned to the limelight in 2014 with the announcement she had married Frenchman Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini, four years after her split with English soccer star Ashley Cole. That year she regained her place on the judging panel of the U.K. version of The X-Factor, and announced the release of her fourth studio album, Only Human. ~ Andy Kellman & Tim Sendra, Rovi