10 Little Mix songs that show why they’ve been the biggest girl band in the world for a decade
10 years of Little Mix, and they’ve never once stopped thriving
In the fastest decade any of us have ever lived through, today marks the 10 year anniversary of Little Mix. It honestly hardly seems real that it’s been a full 10 years since Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards walked into the 2011 season of The X Factor as soloists and then managed to become the first ever winning group. They are the ultimate reality TV singing competition success story, and in the 10 years that followed they haven’t once dipped in public favour or chart success. For a girl group, this is pretty much unheard of.
There’s a shelf life on girl bands, one that’s rooted in a misogynistic sell-by date put onto female pop stars. Little Mix have consistently defied it, fought back any rumours that they were splitting up or disbanding and even weathered the recent blow of Jesy’s departure. We watched four great girls grow up into four amazing women, each standing up for what’s right and being fierce allies to marginalised communities and never failing to come across as lovable and really down to earth. Couple that with all of them being INCREDIBLE live vocalists and just bloody good pop stars, and you’ve got a girl band for the history books. Here are 10 of their greatest songs that prove why we’re celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Little Mix in 2021.
Wings was the first proper debut single from Little Mix that let the world see what kind of group they were going to be. They’d done their tepid cover of Cannonball for their X Factor winner’s single, but Wings was them being Little Mix for the first time on the world stage. It’s bombastic, vibrant, incredibly well sang and a perfect feel good anthem for their young audience they were after early in their career. It debuted straight at number one.
They’ve consistently made songs way better than this, but without the solid and commercially successful debut that Wings was, we might never have got the career development we’re celebrating 10 years on today.
For the lead single of their second album, Little Mix grew up artistically and personally by YEARS. This is such a mature advancement in their sound, and probably the most well constructed and exciting song of their whole career. It’s girl band history – the vocals and arrangement is so tight and well layered. Their voices have rarely ever sounded better. It’s one of those special songs where every bit of it is better than the section before.
The build is spectacular and the pay off so satisfying. It’s a song that proved them to be more than just a girl group for kids, and elevated a slightly teenybopper sound to one that was maturer and more artistically exciting without feeling ever off brand. Sublime, and hasn’t been bettered even when we’re celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Little Mix.
Another maturer direction move for Little Mix, Salute is an empowering anthem a la Beyoncé that suits their vocals, image and brand so much. It’s got a darker and punchier feel that could have alienated fans who were looking for sugary pop, but the risk works so well and definitely paves the way for the further risks they’d take later in their career.
It’s a song that on reflection has aged even better than it was when it debuted. Well produced, great message and a video that is bursting with star quality and empowerment. Thrilling stuff.
Black Magic was a huge commercial success and became Little Mix’s second number one hit, and is their highest charting song to date in the US. It’s not one of the girls’ personal favourites, with Jesy in particular being frequently vocal about not liking it. It’s aged poorly – but is a reflection of the pop landscape at the time and I remember loving it so much in 2015. It did what it had to do, and is definitely an essential song in their career’s legacy.
Secret Love Song
Secret Love Song is a spectacular ballad, and is a song that really showcases how well these women can SING. This isn’t some thin Girls Aloud girlband vocal situation, this is four (or three) well trained, talented vocalists who have a complete grip on their abilities and range. It’s stunning to sit back and listen to, especially their recent live version from The Search at the end of 2020.
As well as it just being a bloody good ballad, its lyrical content as a song for their gay fans and one that represents the allies to the LGBTQ community that Little Mix are just elevates it to an incredibly moving level. It’s so special.
Shout Out To My Ex
Another Little Mix chart topper and their biggest selling song ever in the UK. Arguably their signature song. A perfect lead single that does everything it needs to do. It is Little Mix doing Little Mix like nobody else could. Empowering to the nth degree and an infectious shout along chorus that you’ll never be able to get out of your head. Impeccably sang, as always, and that final harmony after the middle eight when they all harmonise on the word DOWNNNN is one of the highlights of their entire discography.
The coolest and chicest Little Mix had ever been in their careers at the time. Touch was a song that made a group that to many perhaps felt like a guilty pleasure suddenly feel really cool? It still sounds cool. In that 2016 tropical pop production hype era way. An incredibly 2010s formulaic smash, it was the kind of single that was just begging to be a big hit. Bursting with replayability and pop superstar energy. A classic.
Strip was not even a single, and no big success, but I think it’s one of the most important songs of their whole career. Strip was really Little Mix taking control of their career and artistic direction and integrity. The label didn’t want to push the song, wouldn’t let them do it as a single or make a video. They did it anyway. They owned their insecurities, made a song and video that was important to them and angered Piers Morgan in the process. Power moves.
There’s something so special about Sweet Melody. I think it centres around how whenever a new era for Little Mix would start, rumours of a split would circulate. After the moderate success of Confetti’s first two singles Break Up Song and Holiday, vicious stan accounts on social media were quick to brand Little Mix flops. And then Sweet Melody arrived, shot straight to number one and shut everyone up. They weren’t past it, they weren’t about to split. They were at the top of their game.
After Jesy announced she was leaving the band, nobody honestly really knew how things were going to go down. Would the others be fine without her? Would they carry on as normal? Would they split? The single version of Confetti proved that nobody needed to worry. Little Mix would be fine and would thrive as a trio, teaming up with Saweetie to debut as a triple threat to the world. Confetti being as good as it is, and the three of them working so well as a trio, was pivotal in securing their legacy as the greatest girl band working today.
To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Little Mix, their first greatest hits album is coming out 12/11. It’s promising new songs and a look back over the hits of their career, we still have so much Little Mix to come. I hope they never stop.