THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Channeling their “girl power” into an artistic force.
It’s weird that Fifth Harmony decided to name their sophomore album “7/27” (Epic) to commemorate the date in 2012 when their group was formed on “The X Factor.”
Camila Cabello, Dinah Jane Hansen, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Lauren Jauregui and Normani Kordei were all set to be eliminated from the show when “X Factor” judge Simon Cowell decided to toss them together One Direction-style to manufacture a new group.
Who knew the quintet would blossom into pop’s biggest girl group even before their second album was released? Their current Top 5 single, the infectious ode to, um, telecommuting, “Work From Home” has become the biggest pop hit by an all-female group since the Dixie Chicks hit No. 4 in 2006 with “Not Ready to Make Nice,” and Fifth Harmony could still pass that.
And that’s what makes the decision to call attention to the group’s prefab roots so confusing. One listen to “7/27” makes it clear how much Fifth Harmony has grown, clearly taking up the Destiny’s Child mantle of both female empowerment and R&B-tinged pop anthems.
As good as “Work From Home” is, “Not That Kinda Girl” is exponentially better. Building on a “Take Me With U”-era Prince groove, Fifth Harmony shows off both their vocal chops and street-wise attitude to turn the catchy pop song into a cool bit of theater. And then Missy Elliott shows up and takes it all to the next level.
The new single, “All in My Head (Flex),” featuring Fetty Wap, cranks up the reggae guitar and island phrasing for another surefire hit.
It’s a good sign that Fifth Harmony can turn even lesser songs like the bland “Squeeze” or “Gonna Get Better” into something enjoyable, which is what makes them unstoppable on songs like “Scared of Happy” when they are firing on all cylinders. Fifth Harmony shouldn’t be looking back any more when their future is so promising.
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