“Salute” to Girl Power

Many kinds of performers have made a comeback in the last few years: the boy band genre is alive and kicking, as well as the female singer-songwriter and the pop duo. There is one category, however, that is in dire need of an overhaul. I’m talking about the lack of an international, unstoppable girl group. You may say, “We’ve had the Pussycat Dolls, and what about The Saturdays? Danity Kane? Girls Aloud?”

Dear Reader, what I’m asking for is on a whole other level, a different dimension entirely. I hunger for a girl band with the energy of the Spice Girls, attitude that rivals TLC, and vocals that can compete with (dare I say) Destiny’s Child. Unfortunately, this fantasy of an all-female ensemble existed only in my dreams… until now, that is.

Courtesy of Columbia Records

Courtesy of Columbia Records

With “Salute,” Little Mix delivers an album that blows the half-hearted attempts of all other post-millennial girl bands out of the water. The harmonies are airtight, the beats are infectious, and, most notably, the album is an entirely cohesive unit. Not one song feels out of place, which is definitely surprising for a pop release. It seems the dames of Little Mix have never heard a ‘sophomore slump,’ presenting a sound that makes their first album look like child’s play. It also helps that the militaristic theme that runs through every song on “Salute” packs an unforgettable punch. Drawing influence from the greats of the past while providing their own little kick of musical innovation, Little Mix sets themselves up for meteoric success with this new release.

Just like Fifth Harmony, Little Mix is of “X-Factor” stardom. They also carry the title of being the only group to ever win the music-based reality show. After their victory on UK “X-Factor” 2011, they went on to release “DNA,” a sugary-sweet pop album that dropped in 2012. While little time has passed since their last release, the members of Little Mix (Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall) showcase incredible musical maturity and growth in “Salute.”

The first single off the album, “Move,” is a fantastic representation of what Little Mix is here for: moments of beautifully intricate harmonies interspersed with a beat that literally can’t be ignored. Resistance is futile.

Along with a military theme, the theme of female empowerment is found in the strongest songs on the album. “Salute,” the song the album is named for, is quite literally a feminine call to arms (“Ladies all across the world/ Listen up/We’re looking for recruits”).  Even in moments of vulnerability (“Good Enough”), the ladies maintain an unbreakable sense of confidence, a projection of the idea that even the best of us have our moments of weakness.

It’s obvious that Little Mix’s strengths lie in the upbeat, flirtatious sound that rules this album. Songs like “About the Boy” and “Nothing Feels Like You” are effortlessly sexy, potential chart toppers without even trying to be. Despite the fact that “Salute” seems to be throwing a perpetual dance party, Little Mix finds a killer ballad in “These Four Walls,” a heartbreaking track that helps to round out the playful tone of the album.

What makes Little Mix stand out so much is how easily they are able to communicate a message of self-love without it feeling contrived or manipulative. The song “Little Me” really encapsulates this idea; the girls sing about how they wish they could go back in time to tell their insecure younger selves how ‘beautiful’ and ‘wonderful’ they are. As their target audience is made up mostly of adolescent girls, this message could not be more relevant. It’s important to hear the people you look up to confess to having vulnerabilities, and to see them be successful and iconic in spite of those vulnerabilities.

It’s true; the golden era of the girl band is over. We will never again witness the novelty of Beyoncé before she was Queen B, or the curious spectacle of Victoria ‘Posh Spice’ Beckham doing something other than posing broodily. However, with this new release from the ladies of Little Mix, it seems a spark has been ignited. While we will never return to the days of yore, it’s nice to know that the ‘girl power!’ motif of the 90’s is being reincarnated into something a little cleaner, a little classier, and just as relevant as ever before.


RECOMMENDED: Looking for some new power anthems to shout along to in the car? Little Mix’s “Salute” has got you covered.