Steady bops that go overlooked: Little Mix
Most people know the band Little Mix for the silliest of reasons. They know Perrie Edwards (the blonde, for those unfamiliar with the group) for her brief engagement to Zayn Malik and may have recently heard of the group as a whole for being swept up in the Cardi B and Nicki Minaj feud. These surface-level associations do the group – comprised of Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirwal and Leigh-Ann Pinnock – a serious disservice.
The group won the “X Factor U.K.” in 2011 (the first ensemble to do so) and went on to sign with legendary cynic Simon Cowell’s label Syco Music. The group has since seen two of their albums debut in the top 10 of Billboard, but they have failed to secure the single success enjoyed by fellow girl group Fifth Harmony. With Camila Cabello’s departure from the aforementioned band and its subsequent dissolution, Little Mix stands as the only female group of consequence. They have everything (and nothing) to prove.
Their fifth album, aptly titled “LM5,” is currently slated for release on Friday, Nov. 16. The project has been preempted by two singles thus far, “Woman Like Me,” featuring Nicki Minaj, and “Joan of Arc,” one of the catchiest songs in recent memory. To be sure, the band has been steadily producing bops. Casual listeners will have probably heard “Black Magic,” “Move” or “Shout Out to My Ex,” the latter of which gained traction in part due to the obvious nods to Malik. Little Mix is a band that is brimming with talent that benefits from a bubbly optimism. Partway through their projects, you begin to wonder if they ever truly get sad, with a repertoire of such empowering and brightly crafted songs. Their topics of conversation are the usual suspects – relationships, status, wealth – but they have a distinctly feminist hue. “I don’t need a man / if I’m loving you it’s ‘cause I can,” they croon on “Joan of Arc,” which speaks volumes to the group’s overall message. It’s as if to say, “Yes, we are singing about men, but it is because we like to, not because that’s what we’re told to do.”
It’s curious that their success has not rivaled that of former competition Fifth Harmony, given that the group is doing everything right. Their discography is easy to listen to and the vibe is one of genuine fun. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of features? Two of Fifth Harmony’s biggest tracks, “Work from Home” and “All in My Head (Flex),” acknowledged the current mainstream popularity of hip-hop with features from Ty Dolla $ign and Fetty Wap, respectively. Little Mix has often opted to take matters into their own hands, thus surprising listeners when Minaj’s name appeared on one of the group’s latest singles.
While “LM5” might not gain them any new followers, the group certainly seems to be on the right track. Recruiting the reigning queen of hip-hop for the album’s lead single shows serious smarts, and they seem to be once again delivering their established brand of sultry radio hits. The group has proved to have staying power – now it’s just a matter of getting more people to tune in.