Considering even JLS and One Direction couldn’t do it, Little Mix must have something pretty special to become the first group to win The X Factor.
But with the show’s runners-up increasingly outperforming champions, a win could well be construed as the proverbial albatross. So as Little Mix step out on their own, they can no longer rely on emotive VTs or Tulisa making tactical pleas to the viewership – their debut album DNA needs to be able to cut it.
Of the three singles Little Mix have presented thus far, DNA takes its lead from the slinky RnB track of the same name – as opposed to the addictive, hater-baiting call-to-arms of Wings. (Mercifully, the autocue-led, coffee-break cover of Damien Rice’s Cannonball has been ditched altogether.)
With placid, feline production, tight harmonies and breezy beats, much of DNA ambles along the well-trodden path of the temperate demi-ballad. But it’s the ventures away from this that prove Little Mix function far better either side of mid-tempo.
Going Nowhere, an end-of-the-night sway-along with Spanish guitar, drops everything to accommodate beatboxing and an attitude-laden rap, and to great effect. Meanwhile, Perrie Edwards’ intense, rich vocals prove a powerful weapon, best demonstrated on the lovelorn Turn Your Face.
And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s military drumbeats; De La Soul samples; an appearance from T-Boz; and, most enjoyably, the swizzled strings and give-away-the-farm magnitude of closing track Madhouse. Thankfully, such ventures carry enough gusto to prop up the more neutral moments.
DNA is not a big statement piece in the vein of Survivor, Spice or CrazySexyCool; but in fairness, it’s not trying to be. It’s a sensible and substantial launchpad for a group – who let’s not forget, are little over a year old – providing an opportunity to find their collective feet. And with the group’s name peppering the writing credits, it’s a challenge they’ve admirably stepped up to.
Whether the unforgiving masses will allow Little Mix to build upon DNA’s plus points remains to be seen, but if they survive the winners’ curse, could prove a very interesting prospect indeed.
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