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Fifth Harmony's 'Reflection' review: An appealing debut

Fifth Harmony's

Fifth Harmony's "Reflection" album. Photo Credit: Epic / Syco

Building a pop group these days really does take a village. And Fifth Harmony may be the best example of how all that works in today's major label landscape.

Fifth Harmony -- Camila Cabello, Dinah Jane Hansen, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Lauren Jauregui and Normani Kordei -- was created by Simon Cowell in 2012 for the now-defunct American version of "The X Factor" out of contestants who didn't quite make the cut as solo singers. It's the same process he used on the U.K. version of the show to build that little boy band known as One Direction.

Their debut, "Reflection" (Epic), shows what can happen when a major label gives an act time to grow and plenty of resources.

All those resources pretty much pay off. The sample of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" that drives the slinky "Like Mariah" pretty much guarantees that it will have a shot at being a single, even before Tyga's verse kicks in. Using the melody from the "Dirty Dancing" classic "I've Had the Time of My Life" for the "Body Rock" verses creates an interesting multigenerational pileup of styles. Dr. Luke gives "This Is How We Roll" the kind of Europop gloss that has marked recent hits for Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson.

But the most recognizable collaborator on "Reflection" is the in-demand Meghan Trainor, who contributes three winning songs, including the current single "Sledgehammer" and the playful "Brave Honest Beautiful," which could end up being an anthem for the group. The song shows off the varied styles of the members' vocals, name checking the current crop of female superstars -- from Beyoncé and Rihanna to Shakira and Madonna -- as they try to bring those disparate styles together.

It's what Fifth Harmony actually does best, as well as offering their particular brand of multicultural girl power. That all makes for a pretty attractive, if slightly predictable, package.


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