Little Mix are releasing a greatest hits album to celebrate a decade since their X Factor win – how old do you feel right now?
The group, consisting of Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and formerly Jesy Nelson, who left the group in December 2020, have revealed that the new album ‘Between Us’ will be released on November 12th. The incredible tracklist includes Wings, DNA, Move, Salute, Black Magic, Secret Love Song Part 2, Hair, Shout out to my Ex, Touch, No More Sad Songs, Power, Reggaeton Lento (Remix), Woman Like Me, Break Up Song, Sweet Melody, Confetti, Heartbreak Anthem, Kiss My (Uh Oh), as well as five unheard tracks.
In honour of ten years of chart-topping hits and girl power, let’s remember some of their greatest moments, on and off stage.
Little Mix are one of the most successful British girl groups of all time – unsurprising from the first group ever to win X Factor, something even 1D didn’t manage. This year they became the first girl group to spend 100 consecutive weeks in the UK’s top ten singles chart. Their fourth album ‘Glory Days’ holds the record for the most weeks spent inside the top 40 by a girl group, and are the only girl group besides the Spice Girls to have all four of their album singles go platinum in the UK. During this year’s Brit Awards, they won Best British Group, the first girl group to do so in the 43 year history of the award. Their acceptance speech was emotional, to say the least, and they used the opportunity to make their commitment to female empowerment clear.
“It’s not easy being a female in the U.K. pop industry,” Pinnock began. “We’ve seen white male dominance, misogyny, sexism and lack of diversity. We’re proud of how we’ve stuck together, stood our ground, surrounded ourselves with strong women, and are now using our voices more than ever.” Thirlwall ended the speech by dedicating it to the many female musicians who had gone before: “The fact that a girl band has never won this award really does speak volumes, so this award isn’t just for us, it’s for the Spice Girls, Sugababes, All Saints, Girls Aloud, all of the incredible female bands. This one’s for you!”
The cover art for Little Mix’s self-love anthem ‘Strip’ was criticised by Piers Morgan, the nation’s least favourite hateful pile of old ham. The photoshoot showed the band posing naked, covered in words and phrases that had been used against them, or they had used against themselves – body-shaming, slut-shaming, and other insults that would be familiar to any woman, not just those in the public eye. Morgan was not impressed – which is usually a sign you’re doing something right.
“They’re stripping off to sell albums. Let’s just call it what it is. It’s not about feminist empowerment, it’s about ‘Let’s all get naked, everyone will run the pictures, we’ll sell more records.”
In response to this, when asked about the feud on Radio 1, Jesy called him a ‘bloody twat’. What more is there to say, really?
This isn’t the only example of Jesy not being afraid to defend herself and the group – after Spice Girl Mel C called the band ‘too provocative’ Jesy responded by wearing a dress with that exact phrase proudly across her bum. Iconic.
Since the very beginning, Little Mix have made excellent use of their platform to raise awareness of and support issues that matter to them. They are loudly body-positive, feminist, pro LGBT rights and anti-racist.
The group frequently dedicate performances of Secret Love Song to their LGBT fans – once during a performance in Dubai, where homosexuality is still illegal while waving a rainbow flag. In 2018 Jade Thirwall marched at the front of the Manchester pride parade along with 50 young LGBT people, and in 2019 raised £10,000 for Mermaids UK, a charity that supports trans and nonbinary young people, with Michelle Visage.
Leigh-Anne Pinnock and her fiance Andre Grey have launched The Black Fund – a charity inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to help black people get into creative industries by providing finance and support to other charities like theirs.
“The Black Fund collates donations from like-minded contributors who are passionate about the elevation of the Black community,” read a post on the charity’s Instagram. “All donations are collected and then distributed to Black-led charities through our funding initiative, The Give Back Fund.”
Both Leigh-Anne and Jesy have starred in groundbreaking and successful documentaries for BBC Three. Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out (2019) won the award for Factual Entertainment at the National Television Awards and explores issues surrounding social media, body shaming, trolling and mental health. The award-nominated Leigh Anne: Race, Pop & Power (2021) is about Leigh-Anne’s personal experiences of racism and colourism in her life and in the music industry, and her difficulties with being the only black girl in Little Mix.
Speaking to the Guardian, about the documentary, Leigh-Anne said: “There’s only so much you can take of feeling like you are the invisible one, or you’re being overlooked. There had to come a point where I see this as my power and I now do. It is. Being Black is my power. And I want young Black girls around the world to see that.”
We are so lucky to have Little Mix.
Does any song really capture the energy of a women’s bathroom in a nightclub at 2am better than Hair? Is there anything young girls need to hear more than the lyrics of Wings, a song reminding them that they can achieve anything and that they shouldn’t listen to bullies? Even when handling heartbreak the group do it with humour and strength. Shout Out To My Ex is a song that acknowledges pain but refuses to mope, making it clear to their fans that a partner does not complete you: you complete yourself, and learn from everyone along the way.
A generation of young women have grown up with a girl group that wants them to believe in their own beauty, be true to themselves and not settle for less. The Little Mix generation have seen four complete strangers in the most 2011 outfits you can imagine go from nervously singing in front of Tulisa, to performing live every week in front of the whole country, to selling out stadiums, growing into powerful, independent and confident women in front of the whole world. The sort of women who build themselves and other women up – exemplified by the inclusion of their mums in the music video for Power. It’s TOO MUCH.
After their first-ever X Factor live show performance – a cover of Super Bass – judge Gary Barlow said they were already the best girl band to have ever appeared on the show. Ten years later those words still ring true.
Here’s to at least another decade of growth, refusing to be silenced and absolute bangers.
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