I’m going to put this out there straight away: I love Little Mix. I don’t know where it came from, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but it’s happening and I’m embracing it. I think what I like about them – apart from the fact that they all have great voices on record and live – is that they seem reasonably normal, aren’t overly sexualised, and generally seem quite sweet. I did actually vote for them on the X Factor way back when, so maybe this is a little of my seventeen-year-old self coming through. I feel like the hype around Little Mix has been bigger than ever with this album, and not just because Perrie and ex-One Direction member Zayn broke up this year. It seems that the girls have had more fun making the album and promoting it, than their previous efforts (which, in all honesty, I’m not very familiar with) and it shows.
The band themselves seem to have carved out their place in the market as the fun ones who don’t take themselves too seriously, which is evident from the title of their latest album, Get Weird. Unlike their contemporaries, such as American X Factor equivalent Fifth Harmony, they don’t come across overly sexual in their videos, instead choosing to follow narratives that seem to take the piss out of themselves more than anything (such as Love Me Like You). This is reflected throughout the album, on tracks such as Grown, Weird People, or A.D.I.D.A.S, which are, more than anything, a bit of fun. In my opinion, their strength lies here, with these tracks standing out against the comparative flops of the slower songs, such as I Love You or Secret Love Song featuring (randomly) Jason Derulo. These fall into the trap of over-produced and pretty crap pop ballads, which I think are too bland for Little Mix’s image. While they may not be completely irredeemable tracks, often in the heart felt songs there’s a little too much warbling and screeching to take them seriously. However, I don’t necessarily judge them for including these. If they came from a different background than X Factor, they would probably be able to put out an album full of cheerful pop bangers, but being what they are, they need to pander to their market which expects a variety of upbeat and low tempo tracks; love songs at their simplest.
That being said, more risks are taken throughout the album than I would have expected. Lightning, for example, is this dark and stormy (sorry) with a strange quasi-dubstep drop. There are rain sound effects, there are violins, there’s the deeply intelligent paradox of lightning burning “like ice”; it’s the darker, moodier side of this band which comes out once an album, such as in fan favourite from the last album, DNA. It might not achieve the level of cool that they were trying to achieve, but I appreciate them trying. With these modern tracks that are so in right now, there are also plenty of songs with a strong vintage or gospel vibe. Second single Love Me Like You, for example, puts a modern twist on a Supremes-Ronettes-style ballad, and Weird People definitely has a noticeable 80s influence. The End and I Won’t draw from gospel influences, again with a modern beat, which I think works well.
In a way, Little Mix are the perfect modern girl group. They incorporate all sorts of influences in their album, filtering them through a pop lense; they love sex and aren’t afraid to say it (A.D.I.D.A.S stands for “All day I dream about sex [with you]” and Love Me Like You was reportedly meant to be Fuck Me Like You); they also aim to represent the people who are a little different. Actually, the whole album seems to be based around the idea that the girls represent all the misfits, as they encourage everyone to Get Weird. Honestly, I don’t think they’re as weird as they like to think they are; they’re all attractive women with nice figures, hot boyfriends and mainstream pop tunes. If Little Mix were colours, they’d be the primary ones.
Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with this album as a whole as I thought I would be, having heard the singles. Admittedly there are great moments, and strong songs such as summer Number 1, Black Magic, or Hair (although I mainly like this for giving me the chance to shout “He was just a dick and I knew it!” at the top of my voice when the chorus hits). Mostly, the fast moving, beat driven tracks are thoroughly enjoyable if you like a good old pop tune. While the slower songs do get better after a few listens, I feel they drag the album down. There are also moments, such as in Clued Up, where the target audience seems to shift from late teens/early 20s women to young girls. More consistency in the tone of the album would have improved it. That being said, I’m still going to be embracing my fan girl status because, as they say in their last track, they’ve come so far “but it’s just the beginning”.