Feature

The Rise and Rise of Little Mix

Spot the odd one out...

Spot the odd one out…

Serial girlband botherer Sean “Sean De Paul” Paul is back on it again, this time with Britain’s favourite girlband and occasional Tulisa fraternisers Little Mix. But let’s not kid ourselves, the brilliance of ‘Hair’ comes despite, rather than because of, Sean’s dubious contributions.

Although it seems like just yesterday we watched ‘The Female Boss’ try and take all the credit for their reality show triumph, Little Mix have been throwing out bangers for literally years now. In a pop landscape where we finally have accepted that Girls Aloud are unlikely to reform, and even loyal pop servants and trendchasing tryhards The Saturdays seem to be conspicuous only by their absence, Little Mix are literally the only glimmer of light when it comes to British girlbands. Yes, Fifth Harmony’s very carefully orchestrated recent success throws down the gauntlet for modern day girlbands, but as Brits we have to take pride in the very British nature of girlbands. Little Mix, like their forebearers The Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, and the Sugababes, are quintessentially British. Yes, the ‘Black Magic’ video may have been filmed (shudder) in an American High School. Yes, they may have ‘collabed’ with Jason Derulo. But the perky and eccentric vibe of their music is undeniably British. We’re going to talk you through five pivotal moments in Little Mix’s career.

Wings
FIRST HIT: Wings
The post winners single (i.e. the second single) for winning X Factor acts tells you literally everything you need to know about their career prospects. It is essentially a statement of intent to the larger pop world. Take for example largely forgotten warbler Alexandra Burke. ‘Bad Boys’ proudly announced her as a pop force to be reckoned with. Leon Jackson’s ‘Don’t Call This Love‘? Syco may as well have not even bothered. ‘Wings’ came out of nowhere and hit us all like a brick in the face. Bursting with more sass than Zooey Deschanel and more handclaps than a graduation ceremony, the girls brought us a genuinely fresh sound, with a colourful and attention-demanding video to boot. This was their mission statement to us all: we are here to stay and we mean business.

This is the defining image of DNA

This is the defining image of DNA

SECOND HIT: DNA
‘DNA’ was a triumph. Displaying a darker side to the girls, and allowing them a chance to demonstrate their considerable vocal skills, the lyrics were extremely well written by the girls themselves (they have a co-write on the track). The video was again visually stunning. The use of the heart monitor beep was truly exciting, whilst the breakdown and the middle 8 were truly amazing, providing one of the most memorable pop moments in 2012.

Is this too much?

Is this too much?

THIRD HIT: Move
After the post winners single, the first single from the sophomore album must surely be any pop act’s most important release. Little Mix knocked it out of the park with bonkers ‘Move’. Sounding like Xenomania Girls Aloud meet sassy Sugababes on steroids, we cannot praise ‘Move’ enough. The track, the video, absolute pop perfection. Enough said. ‘Move’ importantly took the girls out of ‘generic girlband’ status and injected a healthy dose of personality into the equation. No longer could we feel so apathetic about the band.

Dressed in leather = we mean business

Dressed in leather = we mean business

FOURTH HIT: Salute
Perhaps best known to viewers of the UK X Factor as the music picked for those annoying Talk Talk sponsor adverts where ‘normal people’ could dance and appear on TV, ‘Salute’ is nonetheless an important stop in our journey through the universe of Little Mix. ‘Salute’ proved that the girls could not only do bubblegum pop; they could also do early-noughties-influenced R&B. Whilst starting a song with an air raid siren is always a risky move, the ‘call to arms’ girl power theme of the video excuses it. Hearing the girls “rap” rather than sing was a pleasure, whilst the dark video yet again notified us that there was more to these particular girls than your standard girlband. As the girls themselves sing in ‘Salute’, ‘If you think we’re just pretty things / You couldn’t be more wrong.’ Message received, girls.

'We're laughing cos we're best friends'

‘We’re laughing cos we’re best friends’

FIFTH HIT: Black Magic
Let us just say that ‘Black Magic’ single handedly restored our faith in pop music at a time when we felt very negative about the world of pop. That is no mean feat. Sonically the song cannot be faulted in the slightest. We have probably used this phrase too much in this article already, but it really is pure pop perfection. A masterclass in how to do pop. We do have slight issues with the video; obviously it is shot for an American audience, with the aim of widening Little Mix’s US fanbase. Fair enough, but for a very British band to be larking around a Southern California university campus just seems a little at odds with the very British sound of this very British band. Do we think it makes much sense with brand “Little Mix”? Does it ring true? We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one…

'Are these mics turned on?'

‘Are these mics turned on?’

KNOCKOUT BLOW (DING DING DING DING): Hair
Is ‘Hair’ the best thing Little Mix have ever done? Possibly not. Is the video for ‘Hair’ all sorts of amazing? Yes. Is the ‘da-da-da-da-do’ bridge the best thing ever?

The girls have successfully converted us to actually reach a point when we consider ourselves fans of the band. That is a stage of acceptance, we’re not too proud to admit, that we never thought we would reach. That they have managed to turn us is testament to the quality, consistency, and fore-thought of much of their output. We have deliberately only outlined certain songs from Little Mix’s discography. Whilst happy to concede that we are not the usual target group of Little Mix, the fact is that certain other single releases have been uninspiring choices. Nonetheless, whilst the releases are like the ones above, we are completely aboard the Little Mix train.

The only problem now, girls, is that we have come to hold very high expectations of you. Please don’t let us down. The trials and tribulations of being a pop fan.

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