‘Fifth Harmony’ has reclaimed the power to have a voice | New

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A self-titled album marks a major moment in an artist’s career. For women, owning their work, body and art can be particularly powerful, even political. Throughout Women’s History Month, MTV News is highlighting some of these iconic statements from some of the world’s biggest artists. This is Eponym.

The cards were stacked against Fifth Harmony from the start. From the time Normani, Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke, Dinah Jane and Camila Cabello sparred in Girl Group by Simon Cowell as a gender-swapped One Direction after auditioning as soloists on The X factor by 2012, any intention by each member to establish separate identities as performers had been thwarted. Even if only momentarily, Fifth Harmony’s presence as key players in an orchestrated pop machine forced these women, aged only 15 to 19 at the time, to trade their individualism for a chance. to succeed before they have the chance to explore the complexities they sacrifice.

Unknowingly, Fifth Harmony also inherited the low retention rate of girl groups in American popular music, which has long been driven by the misogynistic belief that multiple women could not function on a collaborative level without falling out in a fight. for the projector. It wasn’t a good hand to be dealt, but it gave them something to prove. After spending their teenage years comparing themselves to each other while filling preformed pop molds, Fifth Harmony looked inside on their third and final album. Fifth Harmony and restored the confidence in their voices that had been hidden under years of silence.

For their first two album cycles, 2015 Reflection and 2016 24/7, the quintet worked the pop machine, producing more stereotypical chart contenders laden with timely cultural references. When the latter record’s first single, “Work From Home”, became their biggest hit to date, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, there was a faint ray of hope for Fifth Harmony’s future as titans of the genre. But when Cabello announced his departure to pursue a solo career in late 2016 in a less-than-friendly split, Fifth Harmony’s endowed prophecy of failure seemed inevitably set in motion. At the time, Epic Records had yet to wrap a third album for the band, but didn’t the quartet deserve at least a chance to show that their cadre of performers wasn’t completely dismantled?

For the first time since their debut EP in 2013 better together, Fifth Harmony was offered a significant role in the writing process for their self-titled album. In four years, on two albums, the members of the group have only been credited on one song: “All in my head (Flex)where their names appeared alongside 17 others. At one point, Fifth Harmony’s business became a hit-hunting business to establish their presence in pop music, then sacrificed the opportunity to build their skills as musicians in order to maintain that presence. “They don’t give you time to breathe or enjoy what you’re doing anymore, or even allow it to become something,” Jauregui told the “Zach Sang Showin 2018, after the band announced their indefinite hiatus. “If it hasn’t been registered within the first five minutes of its release, it’s a flop.”

Perhaps their label was afraid that giving Fifth Harmony a megaphone to express the reality of their experiences as young women of age in the band wouldn’t make for eye-catching radio hits. But by the time they had reached Fifth Harmony in 2017, the quartet were as much businesswomen as performers. They knew how to play the game. While going into the studio to put pen to paper didn’t result in hyper-personal explorations into the song, it was more about establishing and exercising authority. a vital role in this space – to prove that they could add their own twist to the formula too.

Brooke and Normani led the charge on flirting”drive you crazy,” which evenly distributes vocal stardom over a fast-paced production. The hypnotic singing of the chorus exudes power and confidence with the promise that there is no one like them. But a few spaces down the tracklist, the pair pull back the curtain for a more vulnerable lyrical performance about coming to terms with insecurities on “Messy.” Normani and Jane set the bar high on “Lonely Night,” prioritizing self-esteem over fleeting fun, while Brooke and Jauregui bring the band to the life of the party up front.”Sauce.” But it’s on “Bridges” that Fifth Harmony deftly joins as a collective to comment on a tumultuous political landscape aimed at individuality.

In late 2016, Jauregui released a letter ahead of the presidential election in which she said her identity as a bisexual Cuban-American woman would never be a point of shame in the face of hate. Throughout the promotion of Fifth Harmony, the singer more openly embraced this identity, although she felt it was too personal an experience to be shared in four voices, rather than just her own. At the same time, Normani began to speak of the isolation of being the only black woman in the group, even having to withdraw from social media after a wave of racist hatred flooded her mentions. For the group’s music to be so closely tied to trends in R&B and hip-hop — the music she grew up on in New Orleans and Houston — Normani deserved more than to have her identity diluted for collective benefit.

One of the biggest flaws of Fifth Harmony, becoming the biggest girl group to dominate since the Spice Girls, was the orchestrated need to iron out the identities of those women who somehow reflected that of their young, predominantly female audience. They were too complex to have been prevented from expressing their views, whether they were prevented from doing so altogether or simply stripped of the confidence that would allow them to do so. But once they’ve been given the chance to Fifth Harmony, in tandem with an acceptance of their sexuality and autonomy, a fire was lit that prepared each member for solo success. When they couldn’t make loud statements as writers, they locked themselves into a sense of authority as performers.

If a lyric didn’t feel right, they didn’t have to sing it. If a dance move seemed too much or too little to them, they could implement their own changes as leaders rather than puppets. When they sang, “Gotta it on a hundred with you / The original me wouldn’t fuck with you” on “Angel”, it was clear that a necessary power transition had been made. Prior to the album’s release, Jane told the Los Angeles Times“We are more respected this time. We are in a place where we know what we want and who we are. We have recognized our truth and what we have to offer – and our power.

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