Harmonious Success

Fifth Harmony

A few weeks ago the very hot female group Fifth Harmony made their way here for a South Florida performance. I describe the group as “hot”, not because of their physically attractive appearance, but because of their popularity. They are a group of young women who appeal to a very young demographic. Nothing wrong with that, as the young audience continues to be good for music buying. Fifth Harmony certainly has grown into a very popular musical act these days. The group released their début studio album, Reflection in February 2015. Two singles from the album, “BO$$” and “Sledgehammer”, have achieved Platinum certification and “Worth It” (featuring rapper Kid Ink) has achieved Double Platinum certification in the United States. This week I chose to check some of the reasons for the popularity of the young singing group.

Fifth Harmony is composed of five singers who all successfully auditioned as soloists on the second season of The X Factor USA in 2012, but failed to progress individually to the judges’ houses stage of the competition. On July 27, 2012, they were formed as a group at the end of boot camp by Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato, thus qualifying for the “Groups” category. Of course I have written a few times before about the pros and cons of the musical artist forming by way of the music executive and/or reality show. Fifth Harmony’s start on The X Factor is well documented, as with several other successful current musical artists. Therefore, I would like to start the examination of their rise after the show. Looking from that point might shed light on why they succeeded while some others have not. After all, Fifth Harmony finished third in the season 2 competition.

Approximately one month following The X Factor season 2 finale, on January 14, 2013, Fifth Harmony was voted the “Next Pop Superstar of 2013” by Popdust Magazine. The group decided to continue to work together recording various covers of original songs by popular artists. Fifth Harmony made good use of YouTube by posting videos of some of the covers receiving public praise from the original artists, namely Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Mikky Ekko. Their début six song Extended Play (EP), Better Together was released October 22, 2013 peaking on the Billboard 200 at number six, selling 28,000 copies in its first week. After this release another reason emerged as a reason I feel Fifth Harmony moved toward major global stardom. Spanish versions of the EP, Juntos and Juntos Acoustic were released on November 8, 2013 peaking at number two and 12 respectively on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart.

Even though the five young woman arrive at the group from various backgrounds, three of the members are Hispanic. This factor has helped the group sing songs in Spanish, thus widening their growing global reach. The young women are also able to use this platform to deliver a very positive message. In fact, Fifth Harmony’s debut album is a special way the young artists speak to their fan base of other young women. Inspiring girls to love themselves and follow their hearts is a major theme on Reflection, and in Fifth Harmony’s overall mission as a group. “Nowadays so many girls are really harsh online and always bringing each other down, so one of the things we try to do is help bring them back together,” says Dinah Jane Hansen. And as the group’s evolved and grown since forming in summer 2012, their girl-empowering message has become even more nuanced and true to life. “We’re all about girl power, but this time we’re showing our vulnerable side too,” says Normani Kordei Hamilton of Reflection. “We want to girls to know that it’s okay to have your soft moments—it doesn’t mean you’re not strong.”

I got an opportunity to read some of the reviews of one of Fifth Harmony’s recent concerts. Understandably, not all reviews of the young women’s performances are glowing. One of which was somewhat condemning of their vocal talent in a live performance. This particular review came from the perspective of someone well outside of the demographic of the Fifth Harmony fan base. Second, the reviewer seemed perturbed about the excitement and screaming of the fans that drowned out much of the singing. Trust me, I am not the best at critiquing live entertainment, but I allow for the fact that many artists were historically not treated kindly because of the same reasons. (ex: The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones) Also, another negative point of the review was the major use of pre-recorded vocal tracks at the live show. In the days of modern live performances the use of pre-recorded tracks is a very common practice. Therefore, the use of pre-recorded tracks is not a reason for a bad concert review for the modern pop music act.

Through all the excitement over the past year, one thing’s stayed constant for Fifth Harmony: the devoted support of the diehard fans who call themselves “Harmonizers.” Spanning all age groups and representing countries across the globe, the Harmonizers have helped Fifth Harmony rack up more than 5 million Facebook “likes” and over 2.5 million followers on Twitter (not including each member’s highly trafficked individual account). “Staying connected to our fans is really important to us,” says Ally Brooke Hernandez of the group’s heavy social media presence. “We go through all the same things that they do, so we try to be their outlet and help them out in whatever ways we can.

I took time to really listen to the Reflection album and thought it was not bad at all. I didn’t hold First Harmony to an extremely high standard vocally, because their music is not designed to reach a critical listening audience. Still I feel their début album represented Fifth Harmony music done quite well.

As they continue with their concert tour, Fifth Harmony are finding themselves more unified than ever. “Even though we’re all coming from completely different places in terms of our backgrounds, we all share the same goal and know how to work together to reach it,” notes Lauren Jauregui. Yes, these five young women have reached harmonious success.

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