Page last updated at 07:55 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 08:55 UK

I'm my own woman, says Burke

Alexandra Burke
"Alexandra Burke, version 2.0, 2009 remix"

By Liam Allen
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Alexandra Burke is in determined mood ahead of the release of debut album Overcome.

The X Factor winner is keen to prove she's not one of the "puppets paid for by Simon Cowell" that Lily Allen referenced in her recent blog about illegal file-sharing.

Within seconds of our meeting, and after warmly receiving a compliment about her shorter, slicker new hairstyle, she's recounting a conversation with her stylist which presumably proves she's her own woman.

Alexandra Burke
I think people were expecting a ballad to be honest and I was fighting for a ballad at first
Burke on new single Bad Boys

"It was me that was like, 'I want the fringe, I want the fringe, I want the fringe' and he was like, 'no fringe Alex' and I had the fringe and the label loved it," she says.

"So I made that choice and they went for it," she adds in case the point is missed.

The new hairdo is part of a record company reimaging of the singer, described in their own PR material as "Alexandra Burke, version 2.0, 2009 remix".

And the electro-tinged R&B pop of new single Bad Boys, out next week, couldn't be more different from the X Factor winner's single Hallelujah, which sold more than a million copies.

On first listen, it sounds like disposable nonsense with its chorus of "the bad boys are always catching my eye".

By the second or third, though, like it or not, the chorus is firmly implanted in the head.

"I think people were expecting a ballad to be honest and I was fighting for a ballad at first until the mix of Bad Boys came through and, I was like, 'this is the first single'." (Fans of her performances on X Factor may be disappointed to learn that only three ballads made it onto the album).

US campaign

US rapper Flo Rida guests on the song, the first single from an album largely recorded in the States also contributed to by American and US-based artists and producers including Ne-Yo, Beyonce producers Stargate and Lady Gaga producer RedOne.

The US connection is no coincidence.

I'm a bubbly person, I'm just in-your-face, I probably annoy people at times but I actually don't care, I talk a lot.
Alexandra Burke

"One step at a time, you've got to crawl before you walk, but I would love to follow in the steps of Leona Lewis and conquer America," she says. "But that all involves hard work."

The North American promotional campaign for Overcome will begin around February next year.

The sleek and shiny, big-production video for Bad Boys, featuring the group choreography so favoured by US artists, will definitely help.

Burke - who provided the jaw-dropping highlight of last year's X Factor with her stunning duet with Beyonce - has even started talking like an American.

"I'm really getting to show the crazy chick that's in there, which is great, because now I can be myself and you've got to be true to the game."

Cowell 'involved'

The 21-year-old, who talks at a million miles an hour throughout the interview, promises her album offers "a bit of everything - and that's what I like because no-one's doing a bit of everything now".

"When you hear the up-tempos, you're going to hear my personality, who I am in the day - I'm a bubbly person, I'm just in-your-face, I probably annoy people at times but I actually don't care, I talk a lot."

After spending some time with her, at least some of that statement rings true.

Alexandra Burke
Burke's X Factor duet with Beyonce was the highlight of the series

Burke repeatedly shows her determination to prove she is mistress of her own destiny. While she hasn't written any of the songs on the album, she says - at least twice - that it's "a reflection of my own personality".

"I've kept a diary since 1999 and I walked in with a diary to the studio and I would read paragraphs of it to the producers and I would say, 'can we not sing about it, can we write about this, because it's what I relate to'."

Despite her assertion that she "got an opportunity to be creative and put an opinion in and not be forced into anything at all", she says Cowell was "fully involved" in the album.

"He's the last man that makes a decision and I'm grateful for that because that man's bloody smart."

Not that she's a pushover, mind you. She says she's "always trying to test him at his own game" and that she likes "a good little fight".

"We have the same vision so it's not been hard," she says before immediately correcting herself.

"It's not been an easy ride. But it's been an enjoyable ride because everyone's on the same page."

The single Bad Boys is out on Monday 12 October. Album Overcome is out on 19 October.



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SEE ALSO
Burke signs $3.5m US record deal
13 Feb 09 |  Entertainment
Alexandra is first million-seller
09 Jan 09 |  Entertainment
Talking Shop: Alexandra Burke
15 Dec 08 |  Entertainment
Alexandra crowned X Factor winner
14 Dec 08 |  Entertainment

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