Arts & Style

Fifth Harmony returns with new album and confident sound

Despite former member Camila Cabello’s departure in December 2016, Fifth Harmony, an X-Factor established group, has made its comeback. Instead of breaking apart, the group repositioned its roles to remain persistent in the upper echelon of girl groups.

Critics claim that the group shows its capability to bounce back with its newest album, Fifth Harmony. Although the group struggled to hide its disappointment with Cabello’s solo debut four years into the group’s formation, they came back with a steady and strong release. Fifth Harmony kept its style intact after its success with its first billboard hit, “Worth It,” and last year’s single “Work From Home.” Fifth Harmony’s singles continue to carry upbeat, ego-boosting anthems—a recurring subject in all three of its albums. Taking on the album as a quartet, Fifth Harmony sounds indistinguishable from the group’s previous albums.

Now down to a group of four members, Ally Brooke, Dinah Jane, Lauren Jauregui and Normani Kordei, the group wrote more than half of the songs in its third album. Despite some struggles with readjustment, the group was excited to announce its new album, with help from different artists to establish a strong comeback. The album only features one collaboration with rapper Gucci Mane in the lead single “Down.” The song introduces the basic premises of a relationship, and the beat goes for the groups usual style of pop, featuring a famous rapper in hopes that the single will receive recognition like last year’s biggest hit, “Work From Home.”

“Angel” is co-produced by Skrillex and Poo Bear and amplifies hard bass and slow trap as the song progresses. Perhaps one of the most fulfilling and confident songs from the album, “Angel” induces the most excitement from fans for its attempt to keep Fifth Harmony’s style but incorporate slow trap throughout the whole song. Just like their previous hits, “Sauced Up” and “Make You Mad” instigate a clamorous party scene. The beats are still contemporary with their emphatic sassy pop melodies, providing a suitable scene for a carefree night out.

Without Cabello’s contribution to the album, a strong vocal is eliminated and the vocal power within the group is now equally distributed among the four singers. Her disappearance from the album is rather inaudible, as the remaining four manifest their compatibility. The girls have more potential to receive equal spotlights as the powerful vocal diva exits the group. Collaborating with radio-friendly artists such as Shawn Mendes and Machine Gun Kelly, Cabello has been making gradual steps toward her solo stardom long before her withdrawal from Fifth Harmony.

After the announcement of her departure from the group, 2017 was the beginning of Cabello’s redefined career, as she was featured in J Balvin’s and Pitbull’s “Hey Ma,” and Cashmere Cat’s “Love Incredible.” After announcing her solo career, Cabello released her single “Crying in the Club” in May during the Billboard Music Awards. Her single will appear on her first solo debut LP The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving.

In “Crying in the Club,” Cabello describes herself dancing on the club stage with the grief of a breakup but later turns the heartbreak into a triumphant stage. The song plays out as a gentle ballad with a melancholic cello, and then changes into an upbeat pop song where Cabello, in the music video, transforms into a powerful figure as the scene changes into a club. Cabello describes her newest single as “the story of my journey from darkness into light, from a time when I was lost to a time when I found myself again.”

Fifth Harmony’s disappointment impacted Cabello’s career but she found redemption as she began to make solo appearances about half a year after her departure. The six months of latency period gave Cabello time to regain enthusiasm for her music and mature toward a successful career.

Fifth Harmony is currently No. 2 in Top Album Sales, while consumption tally scores No. 4 on Billboard. Sales were up to 32,000 pure United States copies during the first week of release. While the sales cannot yet compare to Fifth Harmony’s biggest hit, “Worth It,” this album can certainly be a declaration for a new beginning. The group’s self-titled album set the expectations high and is undoubtedly the girl group’s most synchronized, cohesive album. It is a new era for both Cabello and Fifth Harmony; the group and the solo artist have now redefined themselves through new debuts and albums, making a clear statement about the next stages of their careers.

September 11, 2017

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