If you don’t already know who British girl group Little Mix are then take note. After winning The X Factor U.K. in 2011 and releasing a debut album that has been certified platinum in the U.K., they’re ready to make a bigger impression in the U.S. Statistically speaking, they’ve done a pretty good job breaking into the U.S. market considering that their first album DNA debuted at #4 on Billboard and broke records for being the first girl group to reach the top five with a debut album, replacing the Spice Girls as highest entry chart position for a British girl group. Even with these impressive numbers, their names have not reached household status yet, still eclipsed by long-established U.S. female solo pop stars.
The group is comprised of four young women who originally auditioned as soloists on The X Factor: Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jesy Nelson. The girls were later grouped together by the judges. Once Little Mix was formed, they went on to dominate the reality singing show, becoming the first group to win the competition. After signing to Syco Records, their debut album DNA was released in November 2012 and steadily climbed to the top 10 on British, Japanese, Irish, Australian and Swedish albums charts. The album is pure pop perfection, at times almost a bit too sugary and theatrical, but there are a lot of standout tracks that will keep Little Mix from fading into reality show oblivion. Each girl adds something valuable to the group: Pinnock has clever rhymes, Edwards’ vocal improvisations soar, Nelson can beatbox like nobody’s business and Thirlwall’s voice is a solid foundation. Also featuring powerful female artists like Missy Elliott and T-Boz from TLC, the album is also an homage to girl groups of the past and perhaps a preview of what girl groups can continue to be in the future.
The fourth single off the album “How Ya Doin’” samples The Whatnauts’s “Help is on the Way” and mirrors the chorus of De La Soul’s “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey),” giving the song an old school almost R&B vibe. The song opens with a phone ring and the girls singing in unison, starting the chorus of what may possibly be the coolest answering machine message. When the beat starts, Pinnock begins singing with an attitude that sets the feisty tone of the song, her voice complementing the funky instrumentals that drive the song forward. With a playful verse from Missy Elliott, this song is full of flair and sass, an appropriate comeback song after a bad relationship.
“Stereo Soldier” is a fantastic pump up song. The track is full of dynamic percussion and energetic trumpets, giving off the feeling of a marching band at an awesome pep rally. The girls’ tight harmonies during the song show their musical cohesion, their voices blending and weaving together that throws out any doubts on their singing abilities.
To really appreciate their musical talents, “Going Nowhere” features a Spanish style acoustic guitar and simple rhythms to let the girls’ vocals really shine. Not only are their harmonies on point but the added bonus of Pinnock’s rapping and Nelson’s beatboxing makes this track stand out from their other tracks that may easily be found on some other pop star’s record. But this song really solidifies Little Mix’s originality; as much as they find inspiration from the past and will have the constant comparison to their predecessors, Spice Girls, they aren’t just a carbon copy of other groups and have the ability to make tracks unique to them.
Their sophomore album, Salute, will be released on November 11 in the U.K. and February 4 in the U.S. The first single off the album, “Move,” was released last September and is an appropriate sneak peek to how their second album will sound. The group was more involved in developing this album this time around, veering toward a more R&B sound. Featuring bass synths and cowbells, it’s a fun dance track that will have listeners moving. It’s ridiculously catchy but at times, it does get busy with all the vocal layers and beats. However, the girls’ sharp, punchy singing make it worthwhile and without realizing, the replay button is pushed once more.
By Teta Alim