Justin, living in Australia wanted to go on a holiday. He booked a holiday for June over the phone for Christchurch New Zealand, but also booked via the internet for Wellington just in case his credit card details weren’t written down word for word by the clerk on the other end of the phone. He then packed his suitcase full of woolly jumpers and jackets as he heard that the weather was cold, snowing and windy but also packed his trunks and swimmers just in case he wanted to swim in the Cook Strait, if the weather was up to it. He installed burglar alarms the month before leaving, just in case the 40 he already had were faulty and he had to buy some more. He also enlisted his friend to take care of the place for him, and bought a black Doberman to guard his house as well, just in case his friend was unreliable. He then packed his laptop as well his i-Pad just in case he wanted to use one more over the other. He also paid for Foxtel in his hotel rooms in New Zealand just in case he wanted to watch the England vs Australia Ashes series on TV. He disconnected his SIM card from his international mobile phone as he didn’t want people to disturb him, but also bought another phone with international roaming just in case he changed his mind. And finally, perturbed by the possibility of another Cyclone Larry, or another Bali Bombing that could occur in NZ, he decided to cancel the much-anticipated holiday, just in case.
Oh how we are all like Justin Case. So, so, so indecisive on which way to go, that ultimately, we do nothing. I know, I’m sounding a bit harsh. Well, maybe very harsh. But I reckon it’s true that because of all of the information right in front of us- from social media, from Youtube, from friends, family, co-workers, from the government… it may be overwhelming to figure out which piece of information is right and accurate- hence which course of action to undertake… and maybe that’s why in the end we do nothing (which is in and of itself a decision nonetheless); but regardless, I reckon we all can feel like Justin Case from the story above. I reckon we all do right now, cooped up and home, wondering what the right thing is to do in regard to quarantine and social distancing in the light of COVID-19 still ravaging on and on. See, I don’t know if you guys remember this parable, or story or metaphor or whatever this piece that I have just quoted. I remember this story from when I was younger- perhaps I was told this in Sunday School at church, or primary school… but how I heard about this story is irrelevant in this case. For I knew that my brother Jon was blogging about a topic way back in 2014 or 2015 or 2016 (I wasn’t sure which year, nor which blog type!), and therefore I got started onto trying to source this story). I couldn’t, except for Jon’s blog. Perhaps he paraphrased the story and now I couldn’t remember the story to quote from the original source. But that doesn’t matter. Here’s what matters. That sometimes being indecisive is helpful, and in other cases it isn’t helpful at all. So what does this have to do with the artist in this blog- British girl group quartet Little Mix? Let me break it down for you a bit…
I’ve heard the question being posed somewhere, from my friends, or family or someone else… and that question which has come up time and time again, goes something like this. If I was stuck on a desert island (like the one in Cast Away with Tom Hanks, or Lian Yu in Arrow), and I only had one artist or album to listen to, what would I choose. Now bear in mind, this is a hypothetical question that I don’t really like, as it pits several favourite albums of mine against each other- for which I have no standardised criteria as to which album/artist wins and which loses. All for the grand prize of…being that album that is able to inspire and encourage when I’m on an island by myself away from people? What, should I be listening to that album on my spotify (why would my mobile or laptop be on an island, and how could it charge or get service or WiFi?) instead of myself wanting to be rescued and putting all my energy into building a life raft or a fire or something like that…so that I could live? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard people say numerous times that ‘this song changed my life’, ‘this song saved my life’, ‘I would be dead without this artist in my life’, and so on and so forth. I’m not knocking the ability of music to make a difference. Because it does. It’s just that this example of ‘stuck on a desert island’ is a terrible example. But I have heard that around as a precursor of us trying to whittle down our favourite artists into a few. Yet now with all of us locked up in the house under quarantine (either self-imposed or government imposed)- the time has now indeed come. For us to be inspired and encouraged.
On a desert island, which is an unfamiliar environment, we are trying to survive the elements, trying to stay alive in the feeble hope that we can make it until rescue comes to us. But in our homes under quarantine, this is a familiar situation. Sure we can’t go outside for exercise or shopping for non-essential goods, but we do have things at home that are familiar to us. Movies, CD’s, TV shows, food, board games, books, our phones still work…and if we’re all out of ideas of stuff to do, maybe we can talk to the person in the same house as us. Because after all, this quarantine will be for a while, and we might as well get used to spending time with our family (or roommates/friends), even if they annoy us to death on the surface. And the point that I’m getting at, is that when we are in a familiar environment… we can have the option of listening to whatever type of music we want to, or maybe explore different types of music that we never explored before, but now have the chance to. Country, rap, pop, rock, metal, Christian pop, worship, folk, alternative…the list of genres of music to listen to in this time, is endless, if you want to have a figure of speech. So what shall we all listen to, if the slate is clean, if we remove all preconceived ideas of what certain genres sound like, if we remove all of our dislikes and likes from our head, and if we are looking at someone to guide us as to which music during this time can uplift and encourage us that we can make it in the end (because trust me during this time of the virus, we need all of the encouragement we can get!)? What then?
Should we listen to a type of music that deliberately irritates our parents just because we can? Or should we listen to the fast-paced rockers, or slower paced ballads depending on your mood? Or music from a different religion that what you normally practice, just so that you can open your mind? Well the answer isn’t going to be given today. That’s not what I’m here for- holding you down and forcing an artist down your throat. Because that would not be your choice. And when music is your choice, is sounds so much better, doesn’t it? In fact today, let me tell you about Little Mix, who of late have impacted my life immensely and have given me hope and reassurance in this life that it will get better and that we are not alone. We’re all in this life together (believe it or not!), so with civility and poise and grace, let me outline the songs from the group, as well as the parts of their career, that have stood out. Then I’ll let you make that decision for yourselves as to whether you want to listen to their discography or not. Think of this blog as something of a quarantine music recommendation. This is going to be a long road, and perhaps by next week or the week after you’re all out of music that you know you will instantly like. Maybe by then you’d like recommendations? Yes? No? well strap yourselves in guys, because you’re going to be glimpsed into the lives of probably the most inspiring girl bands ever. Yep, I do mean ever, and yes that is a bold statement. If by the end you are like ‘well Little Mix isn’t for me, Josh wasted his time!’… well I’m cool with that. But hopefully you’ll find something gold and good to hold onto and run with during this crazy time like I have. And here’s hoping that you can find that summer anthem that stirs your soul and makes you come alive. Because there are a handful of songs of theirs that have done that for me recently.
Maybe girl groups aren’t your thing. Maybe you have been sick of boy bands like Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Westlife, *NSYNC, Anthem Lights… and you’re done with at genre all together. Perhaps you’re a guy and you think that listening to girl bands, while that may be your guilty pleasure, makes you sound sissy-ish or gay. And perhaps that stigma is there, and valid and of course as a guy you are entitled to listen to artists that are…manly I guess (because I can’t find a better word right now that doesn’t sound sexist…). But if you reckon for a moment that you can only listen to artists of your own gender that champion your views- so that you can feel good about yourself and that you yourself can definitely be encouraged by, well then I’d say that you are indeed mistaken. There’s a blog that I have written from a couple of years ago about how God can use anything to draw people closer to Him. While that is true, the same applies to music. For me all throughout my teenage years I was under a view similar to what many of you are facing- I can only listen to what I’ve grown up with, I can only be inspired by what I’ve grown up with…and if I deviate from that and actually find an artist outside of my own ‘norm’ that excites me and encourages me and uplifts me, and makes me feel happy, or maybe less sad; well rather than ‘hey maybe my views could change so that I can explore what’s out there’, it’s ‘maybe there’s something wrong with me, and maybe I should just stick to my lane, and everything will be fine’. All throughout my teenage years, it was only Christian music for me that I listened to and was inspired by- and while I am still inspired and encouraged by that… over the past year from Jon’s many Momentous Mondays blog posts, I have found that all types of music can help each one of us in whatever walk of life we’re from, in whatever we’re facing. Just because a song does not have ‘Jesus’ in it, doesn’t mean that God can’t use it to aid us in whatever it is we’re going through. So that’s my journey, and my round about reason as to why you all shouldn’t and cannot dismiss any type of music that is on the surface different from your own comfortableness. Delirious? said it best in their song “Kingdom Of Comfort” when they ask God to save them from being comfortable- that even though what you know about life can be safe, sometimes being safe isn’t the right thing to do in order to gain life experiences, to gain other information that can help you in your walk of life, and to just overall feel alive. As Delirious? has said to God to ‘save me from the kingdom of comfort where I am king…’, sometimes taking a risk, on this case a girl group when it goes against one’s preferences, is beneficial as you’re dropping your preconceived notions and allowing God to speak in whatever means necessary. Little Mix may not be your favourite band. And that’s ok. But they just might be the most needed band in this season of quarantine. I truly, truly, truly believe that.
Even though Little Mix have been around for ages, the fact that they haven’t fully broken into the US market yet, and are probably well primed to do so in the coming months and years- is the only reason why these girls are in my category as opposed to Jon’s. And now that we’ve got that elephant out of the way, let me give you all a history on Little Mix, and they formed as a band. That story in itself is a miracle and God’s providence on them. The fact that these girls are still together after being a band for 9 years and 5 albums later is remarkable and astonishing and out of this world. The fact that they’re together means that God’s not finished with them yet. God’s not finished with any one of us yet while we’re still breathing. Anyway, I digress…let’s see how my storytelling and recounting details are.
So Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall auditioned as separate solo acts for The X Factor UK in 2011- the show’s eighth season. All four were knocked out pretty early in the auditions, but all four were brought back and given another chance to compete- this time as part of two separate groups created by the judges. These two groups failed to make it through to the next stage, however Kelly Rowland, who was a judge of the X Factor at the time, gave these four vocalists yet another lifeline- thus Little Mix was born (although they were originally called Rhythymix which they later had to change due to trademarks and copyrights on another UK children music charity which had that name originally), and the rest is history. They won the competition in the end, and signed to Simon Cowell’s label Syco Records (in the UK) and Columbia Records (in the US). What resulted, according to the data and the numbers, is the most popular girl group this side of the century- yes even greater than The Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child and The Pussycat Dolls. They’re the first girl group since the Pussycat Dolls to reach the US top five with their debut album DNA in 2012, and DNA was the highest debut US chart position for a British girl group’s first release, breaking the record held by Spice Girls. The 2013 album Salute broke into the US market also, and as of August 2018, the group has achieved four platinum certified albums and sixteen certified singles in the UK. But as we know that popular doesn’t equate to influential… it is the deeper analysis of these songs, the lyrics, and what the tracks mean to the group as a whole, that to me determines their influence or budding influence- and boy is it big and ever growing.
I first heard about Little Mix strangely on Hope 103.2. On the surface you’d probably think that these big pop bands have nothing much in common lyric-wise with a Christian radio station- after all I’d say the most discussed topic lyrically in pop songs are about relationships and more-so about sexual relationships. Not every song is about that though, and it’s true that I am generalising quite a bit. But with me hearing “Change Your Life” from Little Mix’s debut album DNA many times on the radio, I was intrigued. Later on this year I did some research (as in, listened to almost every song in the group’s discography thus far) and came to a conclusion, as to how I know that these four girls are special, that they aren’t like any other pop band currently. It’s because there are different categories (not listed though, just in my head) of pop songs, and surprisingly Little Mix has covered them all. There’s the inspirational pop songs that can lift you up when you’re down, as well as the gender-specific pop songs (in the case of Little Mix, they have quite a few female empowering songs- songs that encourage women in their own specific journeys), and not to mention there’s the emotionally charged songs that make you cry (generally piano prominent slower ballads). Break up songs as well as celebratory pop songs are the other ‘categories’ I have found Little Mix to be diving deep into. And guess what- every category of pop song that these girls venture into… they excel at, greatly. As evidenced by “Change Your Life”, where the quartet emphatically encourage us to remember that ‘…you’re not the only one so let them criticize, you’re untouchable when you realize…change, change your life, take it all, we’re gonna stick together, know we’ll get through it all…you’re gonna use it to become what you’ve always known…’; Little Mix have delivered to us a anthemic song of self-worth and identity. As we remember that hateful words by others are just a reflection of them rather than us, we can change our life with confidence and our outlook so that people can see a joy and a contentment inside us that is infectious and contagious. With the track not even referencing Jesus, as a Christian I reckon the subtle inference here is that Jesus can be the source of our joy. Though the band may not have intended the song to be read in a religious way, the beauty of ambiguity here is that you can take whatever you want from a song and yes it’s still valid. But just one song doesn’t make a career instantly great. Just one inspirational song doesn’t mean much. Several inspirational songs over the span of a career, on the other hand…
If you’d want to dissect the career of Little Mix, of Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade, and really dive deep into their songs; you might argue that relationship style songs are their forte, given their history with their collective numerous ex-boyfriends and ex-fiancés (which you can read about here). You might argue or assert that the best style of songs from Little Mix in terms of inspiration is via singing about their lost loves, and the pain their going through. That may be true, but I myself have been inspired the most through their heart warming and poignant pop songs, which are applicable to all of us no matter where we are in life. Debut single “Wings” from DNA is a straight up pop song, with a vibrant picturesque music video, and one that fills me with joy and happiness, as the girls perfectly sing in harmony across powerful hand claps and faint brass instruments of the peace that they’ve found in not letting words define their own self-worth. The saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words would never hurt me’ is a saying that’s partially true, given how deep hurtful wounds can go; however Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade fervently relay to us that their resolve is concrete. That because of the roots they’ve formed down deep with their friends and family, no amount of harsh words would ever break them nor bend them. In the chorus all the girls cry out to their haters and detractors (maybe the people who weren’t even rooting for them during the X Factor in 2011) that ‘…we don’t let nobody bring us down, no matter what you say, it won’t hurt me, don’t matter if I fall from the sky, these wings are made to fly…’; and while sometimes it’s hard to see past the negative opinions of those who don’t agree with us, Little Mix reassure us all that sometimes banding together as a tight group of friends and family and going through life together, can be enough to ease the pain of rejection or any other type of suffering. “Wings” doesn’t literally mean that we have wings, but it means that we have determination and courage like a bird in flight.
Another hit song that speaks about not caring what the haters think and inspiring us to live a better life despite our current less-than-ideal circumstances is the poppy lead single of their 2015 album Get Weird, titled “Black Magic”. On the surface, this song sounds like a heretical blasphemous song promoting witchcraft, but despite the misleading title and the presence of a spellbook and magic in the toe-tapping and impressively filmed music video, the essence of the song is quite different. A deeper look reveals that the ‘secret potion’ that the girls are giving out to other girls in order for them to get their man, is in fact confidence. Confidence to be better than the person who you were yesterday- and with this message that is often needed by everyone at different points in time; this track is one of their most important, even now. “The Cure” from their 2018 LM5 album, isn’t a single, but yet is another inspirational melody, this time driven by the piano, and also plays out like a gospel song, with the track revealing to us that the girls have finally had a spiritual revelation, that ‘…I was a little messed up, but I’m not anymore, I was a little locked out, but I’m not anymore, I was a little far gone, but I’m not anymore, yeah, it’s alright now, baby, I got the cure…’; while the confronting and in-your-face R&B style “Move”, from their 2nd album Salute, encourages the guys especially the make the first move on the girls they like- but also beyond that, encourages us all to get up off of our feet and move forward, to do the things that we all want to do but after afraid to. Confidence isn’t the absence of fear. It’s taking a step and taking a risk despite the fear, knowing that we have our friends and family to catch us when we fall.
If I stop and write and write about every song from Little Mix that has been inspiring which I have listened to in the past…I’d be here forever. And I mean literally. Because every song that I have heard has been inspiring one way or another even if on the surface it’s sad or angry. “How Ya Doin” is one of these emotionally charged songs. Present on 2012’s DNA, and featuring rapper Missy Elliot on a captivating rap bridge, the girls fervently sing cheekily like a voicemail, telling the other person that they’re not available right now and that they can’t talk and they’ll talk later. In reality, this intense, no-nonsense track is really about (and this is just my opinion!) setting boundaries in place in your life and not crossing them for any reason. Even though this song sounds like an obnoxious greeting, it’s really not, and in essence is a declaration of ‘hey this is where I’m at in my boundaries, and that’s that’. Considering this information and revelation, “How Ya Doin’” is actually quite a strong, inspirational track! “More Than Words”, a piano prominent track of lamentation, beautifully examines the core relationship between the girls and an unknown person, as each girl credits them for getting them through the toughest part of life (and that person could be God, I guess it all is open to interpretation!); while one of the group’s most underrated yet so inspiring tracks ever is “Strip”, a near acapella track where the girls shatter the current preconceptions of outward beauty, as they declare that women (and by extension men) of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and worthy of love and appreciation- a song that was controversial back in 2018, given that the girls actually stripped and filmed a portion of the video naked. The electronic Owl City-like upbeat anthem “Nothing Else Matters” is another highlight for myself, as the offering from Glory Days celebrates the love the girls have for each other as friends and ‘soul sisters’ as well as the love they have for their fans also; while “Your Love” is a pure pop song that speaks about the indescribable feeling of true, unconditional love (again a possible allusion to God if you squint really, really hard!).
Sometimes when you are flooded with all of this positivity and inspiring things in front of us, sometimes that’s good for us, but sometimes a change of pace is necessary. Where Little Mix come in is that they do not sing about sunshine and rainbows, or even overcoming adversity, all the time. In fact, a number of songs that have hit me hard over the past few weeks have been songs that are sad and have no resolution. And that is part of life, a part of life that can’t be fixed this side of heaven. While Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade emphatically sing out positive numbers for singles, the more emotional ones are in fact the underrated tracks which aren’t promoted that well, proving to us that there’s more to an artist than their singles and hits. “Nobody Like You” is sung from the woman’s perspective of a very twisted and abusive relationship, in which the quartet emphatically proclaim across stirring keys that they still long to be with that person, as they’ll always make excuses for them. A track with sadly no resolution, the tear-jerkers keep on coming, with “Turn Your Face” and “Pretend It’s Ok”, both from DNA, also emotional and also with no clear cut resolution; as the former is another track, led by the piano, about an abusive relationship where the woman doesn’t want to leave, and the latter is a piano led pop tune about a warning to a good friend who is acting unlike themselves and so out of character but still putting on a mask for the whole world to see. Tracks like these with no resolution used to bother me, but now when I’ve heard enough of these ‘sad songs’, I’ve come to realise that these melodies have their place in society as well, usually through comforting listeners who are in the midst of their trials.
“I Love You”, “Love Me Or Leave Me” and “Lightning” are another group of sad songs that once again showcase the girls’ amazing vocals and inspiring songwriting prowess- this time these tracks are all from 2015’s Get Weird… And if you were sad before, then you’ll really be bawling your eyes out, as these songs all speak about the demise of a relationship, but a yearning from the persona still that they love them and can’t shake that feeling of want and need even though they need to, as well as a wondering of what went wrong in the relationship. “Love Me Or Leave Me” is an ultimatum, while “Lightning” tempts the persona with a former lover even though they are destructive and unhealthy for them (again, there’s no resolution!). “These Four Walls” and “Towers” are also emotional rollercoasters, as Little Mix again deliver quality songs that can relate to everyone- with the former being a tearful admission of struggling with a loved one’s death, so much so that ‘…I tried to eat today but the lump in my throat got in the way, I tried to smile today then I realised there’s no point anyway…’; and the latter being a mid-tempo piano led ballad where the persona telling their lover than its over because ‘…everything could’ve been ours, but you left it too late, now my heart feels nothing, nothing at all…’. “Think About Us” carries on from “Towers” and the moment of breaking up with someone, as this song speaks about the jealousy one feels from seeing their ex with someone else, and wondering if the ex ‘thinks about us’ when they’re with their new lover. It’s a rather sad song seeing that the persona can’t move on…but that’s the reality of life sometimes. Relationships are messy and hard, and it does take time to move on from them, and Little Mix has shown us the complexities of life in these next batch of songs that can make you run through a box of tissues with the click of a finger.
Do you reckon I’ve gone a bit too gloom and doom? Perhaps, but it’s only to show you how versatile Little Mix is in tugging at our emotions and making us feel different things in different circumstances. While the girls have inspired us and have also brought us through the journey of listening to sad songs, they have also provided us silly/celebratory and joyous music, as well as empowerment songs for females (which hopefully males can latch onto and claim for themselves!). “Hair”, featuring Jamaican singer Sean Paul, is a tongue in cheek silly song sung that speaks about needing to fix up your hair to distract yourself from ridding yourself of your ex- as the girls try to get a guy ‘…out [of] my hair…’; while rapper Machine Gun Kelly joins the girls in the experimental electronic and dance “No More Sad Songs” for a night of fun that pays homage to the movie Coyote Ugly in the music video. With the group declaring that their baggage from before can be ignored and the night can continue as a night of letting loose and fun as now’s the time where they don’t want to hear any sad songs, Little Mix once again defy the box of what pop music should sound like. The power-pop anthem “Power” features British rapper Stormzy, as the quartet authoritatively declare that women are allowed to have the power- reminding us all that we shouldn’t make harsh judgements and jump to conclusions based on our own preconceptions over gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and other aspects of life that make us all different and unique; while “Woman Like Me”, featuring rapper Nicki Minaj, is a spiritual sequel to “Power” and hones in on the concept of men thinking that women are inadequate, as the girls squash the rumour that men are superior in every way. A feminist song through and through, this track has reminded me of the many myths that are in circulation in society, that hopefully Little Mix can crush, one by one by one. And if “Woman Like Me” is the confident girl-power anthem that it is, then it is definitely evident in 2013’s “Salute” (and also through the story behind the song!) that the seed of the female empowerment movement was sowed around that time, resulting in a hard-hitting melody that reminds us all to treat everyone, especially females, with respect.
Men have always been seen as the stronger gender, the one that fights for the women. Salute represents women as fighters, as strong individuals, as their own person, someone that doesn’t need a man to know who they are. Salute isn’t about taking over the world and it’s not about stomping on men, it’s about that we can’t let men call us sluts because we wear short skirts, and we can’t let them call us boring because we get angry when they touch us without consent. It’s not right to let someone control you, and this goes out to all women. No matter who you are or what you do, don’t let anyone bring you down. Stand strong and be a role model, stand up for yourself, get your favourite shoes, skirt, pants, dress and let the world know that you don’t need a man to tell you who you are. You can make your own decisions and let everyone know that so can they!
I think when you go through a breakup, the first initial thing you do is put on music. I think everyone can relate to music. It doesn’t matter who you are in the world, where you are in the world. Your initial reaction is to listen to really sad songs and get upset and get emotional. But I feel like we’re kind of missing that anthemic, I don’t really care anymore song that makes you feel amazing and makes you feel empowered and it’s inspirational. And everybody in the world can relate to it, because everybody’s got an ex, and everybody needs a little pick me up I think, which is nice, so that’s why we did it. We want everybody to feel great about themselves
Can a break-up song sound actually empowering and freeing and uplifting? Because that is exactly how the explosive, impressive anthem “Shout Out To My Ex” sounds like- as the four girls ardently relay to us that sometimes a break up can be just what we need in order for us to learn more about ourselves and grow as people. Turning a sad song into a song of celebration is a clever way for us to think about what we really value in life, and as the girls deliver a ‘…shout out to my ex, you’re really quite the man, you made my heart break and that made me who I am, here’s to my ex, hey, look at me now, well, I, I’m all the way up, I swear you’ll never bring me down…’, it isn’t really known if the whole song is sarcasm, or whether there’s true gratitude in here for dodging a bullet. Sometimes in the midst of the situation we can’t see the issues, but on the other side, where there is hindsight, we can see that what happened is for the best. While “Shout Out To My Ex” on the surface can be a hard song to champion, Little Mix reminds us that sometimes the hardest songs to sing about may be the most necessary, as this the case with this one!
With the COVID-19 virus dampening everyone’s spirits right now, putting a smile on everyone’s faces is paramount as we discover that joy is one of the most important things right now. Never fear everyone, because Little Mix has answered the call and delivered greatly. The bilingual dance number “Reggaeton Lento”, the sensual and danceable pop tune “Wasabi”, and the party themed high octane “Weird People” all encourage us to dance our worries away, as we remember that life is to be lived to the full and not just coasting through as a spectator. Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade also deliver to us the emphatic empowering “Bounce Back”, a single from 2019 which relays to us that the persona longs to be back in a summer fling with no strings attached- and though the subject matter is slightly more explicit that I reckon is needed in a time like this, there’s no denying that the girls worked hard on their impressive music video that debuted last year. This fact alone is reason enough to listen to the song and try to decipher another meaning except for the obviously sexual one. “Touch” and “DNA” are other musically busy pop anthems. The former is a nearly-explicit pop tune that on the surface sings about the longing for the touch of a lover, but I reckon is a deeper calling to be just loved, wanted and accepted; and the latter being an obsessive song about a lover, where the female persona goes so far to say that it’s in his DNA to love her- very extreme but a warning nonetheless behind the glitz and glamour, that loving someone needs to be kept in check, and one needs to know the difference between puppy love or affection and true unconditional love. “Joan Of Arc”, another celebratory anthem, doubles up as a female empowerment track, as the girls name drop famous female historical figures, and declare that they feel like them when declaring that they are beautiful; while the 80’s themed ABBA-style “Love Me Like You” is indeed another head banger, but delivers a powerful message also, as Little Mix declare that no one else can love them like the person they have a crush on. In the music video (the sequel to “Black Magic”), this person that all four of them like is the same person- and the tragic music video reminds us that sometimes going headstrong into a relationship can be a good, but sometimes slowing it down to know the other person as friends is best, as it avoids complications like the one in the music video.
Sometimes a song just hits you, coming out of nowhere, and upends your thought process of a certain topic you’ve thought you’ve always known about and been right about. Little Mix do that for the track “Secret Love Song”. The song is a quasi-break up song from their 2015 album Get Weird, yet is refreshing and revitalising in that is speaks about the relationship from the viewpoint of the mistress- the other woman so to speak. Sung with Jason Derulo, the girls channel raw emotion and honesty in one of the most heartfelt and heartbreaking songs from their whole career, with each of Jesy, Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne giving probably the best vocal performances of their entire career. We’re not meant to root for the ‘other woman’ but with this song, it’s super hard not to- not rooting for her as a homewrecker or anything like that, but as a real human being. Relationships are complicated, as evident in this song, and perhaps empathising with someone as a person that has a different viewpoint than ourselves is needed once in a while. It doesn’t mean we condone the actions, but rather we love the people as people. We are all flawed, we all have our screwups and hangups, and this song has indeed served its purpose as it has gotten us to think about our preconceptions of the ‘other person’ being an evil person. Sure, a man can’t leave his marriage, but perhaps when faced with a situation like in the song, maybe all sides need to be listened to. “Good Enough” is another hard hitting ballad that is similar in impact to “Secret Love Song”, as the persona asks her ex whether she is good enough for him- a heartwrenching plea of closure that is brutal to even listen to- that’s how emotional the four girls are when they sing.
While the breakup song ‘genre’ and the empowerment ‘genre’ collide in the most recent “Break Up Song”, their first song to be released on RCA Records. On the surface, this 80’s musically inspired dance track is about the breakdown and goodbye of a relationship, and the confidence that the persona is filled with when realising that it is good to be single and independent for a season in life. However, there is indeed a double meaning here that may have been intended by the girls, but maybe not. If you’re a big, big fan of Little Mix, or if you’re just like myself and doing some research on Wikipedia, then if you know about Little Mix’s history, then you’d know about disagreements with their label and with Simon Cowell culminating in a split from the label and a new label change in 2018. Some would say “Break Up Song” addresses the girls’ breakup from their label- their musical home for 7 years. For newer fans, a split in the label wouldn’t concern them, so perhaps I’m reading too deeply into this song. Anyway, the track is fun to listen to, and is a great reminder than our self-worth doesn’t need to be tied to any one person. and so, for all of you, if we remember that we are beautiful the way we are, and we are beautiful regardless of who is beside us…then Little Mix have done their job here.
If you were to ask me who the most prolific, inspiring, engaging, honest, vulnerable, encouraging and hopeful girl group of the modern era, I’d have to say without a doubt that’d have to be Little Mix. Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson and Jade Thirlwall have recorded quite a lot of impressive songs- uplifting anthems and empowering pop tunes with heart and a message. As I only seriously started to listen to their discography this year; when “Break Up Song” was unveiled as the lead single of the unnamed 6th studio album- with quite heavy promotion in the lead up to the track being released- I thought I better take a listen and see what the big fuss is about. I mean, Christian singer/songwriter Philippa Hanna endorses Little Mix, and toured with the group in 2016 as well, so Little Mix have gotta be great, right?
While songs in general are great, and I myself have overall loved the songs that Little Mix have delivered to us thus far, it is the happenings beyond the stage and the studio that only cement my view further that these girls are a force to be reckoned with, with their star power only set to increase in the coming weeks, months and years. With Perrie, Jade, Leigh-Anne and Jesy having released a cover version of Cameo’s song “Word Up!” as the official single for Sport Relief 2014, as well as a Christmas single in “One I’ve Been Missing” last year, as well as a collaboration with electronic group Cheat Codes (“Only You”) and a duet with Japanese pop group Flower (“Dreamin’ Together”); the girls have toured the world, headlining and supporting various other artists: the headlining tours included DNA Tour (2013), The Salute Tour (2014), The Get Weird Tour (2016), The Glory Days Tour (2017), Summer Hits Tour 2018 (2018), LM5: The Tour (2019) and the upcoming Summer 2020 Tour (2020); while Little Mix also supported Demi Lovato (Neon Lights Tour in 2014) and Ariana Grande (Dangerous Woman Tour in 2017). Awards were aplenty for the group (which all can be viewed here), while the group had had plans to debut a new TV show in April this year called Little Mix: The Search, similar in theme to The X Factor (although COVID-19 has put a dampener on the starting air date!). In 2019, Jade and Leigh-Anne climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, while the girls have also released clothing lines, perfume fragrances as well as books (Little Mix: The Official Annual 2013 in 2012 [a children’s book- 64 pages], Little Mix: Ready to Fly in 2012 [224 pages] and Our World in 2016 [288 pages]). Each member also has their individual pursuits and passions, while Jesy told her heartbreaking story on BBC Three last year, with her record breaking, award winning documentary “Odd One Out” about her ordeal with cyberbullying leading her to almost commit suicide in 2013. There’s more extra-curricular activities that the girls are up to during quarantine, while the 6th studio album is nearly, nearly finished- and will definitely be ready for release by the end of 2020. Yet for all of the accomplishments these girls have undertaken- there actually is one other reason (above all others in my opinion) as to why Little Mix is extremely influential now, and will be into the near and far future. And that reason is a song (other than “Change Your Life” that I heard on the radio). Yep we’re going back to Hope 103.2- and to Little Mix’s most inspiring song ever!
Little Me is about how there are so many things you used to worry about when you were little. Just the stupidest little things, and then as you get older you just think back and go ‘I wish I’d have done this or I wish I’d done that.’… we really wanted to write a song basically about what we would tell ourselves if we could go back in time. It’s basically a message to the fans because a lot of them are quite young. It’s like we’ve all been through it, we’ve had haters and people telling us we can’t do it and it’s like, ‘Well I wish I hadn’t have handled it in that way, I wish I hadn’t have let them get me down’
Wish I knew back then what I know now
Wish I could somehow go back in time
And maybe listen to my own advice
I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be
Chorus of ‘Little Me’ by Little Mix (Salute, 2013)
Hands down in my opinion, the most hopeful and encouraging song from Little Mix is “Little Me”, a song directed to their younger fans, and their younger selves as well. A slower based pop song/ballad, the girls showcase their impressive vocals, as we are presented with a song that imparts to the younger generation the tools for surviving the upcoming years. As the girls let us know that they would tell their younger selves and their fans to stand up for what you believe in and be yourself, this track is firmly the epitome I believe of self-worth and identity in the mainstream media (I guess without mentioning Jesus!). No matter how many more great songs Little Mix releases, I will always go back to “Little Me” for comfort and reassurance, even though I’m a guy. Most of their songs are for girls- yes I do know this and am aware of this!- but I as a male have found myself appreciating their songs too, and I’ve found that the messages are applicable across genders. And going back to my funny but ever true story about Justin Case- way, way, way at the beginning of the blog- listening to Little Mix and their firm and decisive views on how one should tackle heartbreak, living life and everything else in between, has I reckon semi-ridded myself of my inner Justin Case. No doubt they’ll help you get rid of all of your own inner Justin Cases too! So as I end this blog and settle back into the comforts of my home for the next however many weeks having now confirmed myself to be a massive fan of the UK quartet, let me leave you with a glimpse from Perrie Edwards, into what we can expect from the girls in the future, and what they’re doing in quarantine. Sometimes we forget that our idols are just regular humans like us. So let me dispel the rumour quite quickly that these girls are gods, and remind you all that they have feelings too. So no stalking on Instagram everyone! Let’s just instead have a Little Mix marathon, and remember- no more sad songs! Well done guys for an impressive discography thus far- I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you next!
On how “Break Up Song” was recorded:
Sometimes when we do writing sessions you’re literally sat there, twiddling your thumbs, doodling on a piece of paper, pretending you’re coming up with ideas while you’re secretly going on Uber and ordering yourself a car home.
Then there’s other days when everything is flowing and it feels amazing. And this was one of those days. We went in the studio with Camille, who’s like the fifth member of Little Mix, and we wrote about six or seven songs in one day.
It was very basic at the time. The beat was all over the place and it was really, really rough – but it just had something about it. And we thought, “This has got to be the first single. Let’s just bin everything we thought of doing before and roll with this.”
And we were like, “Trust us. Let us get a really good demo together, and we’ll present it to you and see what you think”. And as soon as we did that, everybody loved it. We felt really proud because it was our baby.
On what quarantine life is like:
Yeah, [I’ve been] dancing, keeping yourself busy. I just keep putting fake tan on like I’m going somewhere when I’m not. And I’ve been knitting a little bit. I’ve knitted a blanket – and it’s come in really handy, actually.
On what is next for the band:
I honestly have no idea. I’m praying and hoping that our tour is going to happen. But I’m also putting things into perspective. It sucks for us but it’s a global pandemic, so we’re just going to go with the flow and do what we can to keep our fans happy whilst quarantining and figure it out after.
To be fair, it [the new album] was shaping up very nicely before the whole corona-situation happened. But there’s still work to be done. If it was all finished and it was sat there, we’d say, “Do you know what? Let’s get it out,” but it isn’t…
Does Little Mix make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “Little Me”, “Shout Out To My Ex”, “Secret Love Song”, “Black Magic”, “Wings” and “Break Up Song”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!