Little Mix Shatters Sophomore Slump Expectations with “Salute”

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Artwork for Little Mix’s sophomore release “Salute”

Rachel Spang

Artwork for Little Mix's sophomore release "Salute"
Artwork for Little Mix’s sophomore release “Salute”

The second album of any band, group, or individual has gained a bad reputation for becoming a ¨sophomore slump,” generally failing to live up to the expectations created by a first album. A sophomore album can make or break a musical artist— if it is a disappointment, it can set the tone for the rest of his or her career as a downward slope. Musicians are faced with the tremendous burden of staying true to their original sound while maturing and expanding upon the primary tone of the first album. Fortunately for English girl group Little Mix, their second album, Salute, successfully hits all the expectations created from their successful first album, DNA.

Salute smashes any expectations of a “sophomore slump” album from the “X Factor” winning girl group— while the album is not a complete 180° on their sound from DNA, it also is not a simple rehash of their previous music. Little Mix expands upon their previous hip-hop influenced pop by incorporating more of an R&B feel while keeping the songs upbeat and dance-worthy. In particular, the tracks “Move” and “Salute” have a unique hip-hop sound distinguishable from modern Top 40 pop, and more reminiscent of early 2000’s artists like Ciara and Eve. They also incorporate unique tribal-esque beats with overlapping audio tracks in “Nothing Feels Like You” and “Stand Down,” categorizing the girl group as a completely separate entity from typical, hackneyed pop music. Little Mix’s upbeat songs are just as infectious as contemporary electronic dance music, and even more addictive in terms of the beat.

While the album certainly has it’s share of upbeat dance anthems, it also showcases an increased complexity in lyricism in the album’s powerful ballads. Partially due to band members Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall having a greater contribution to songwriting in Salute, ballads such as ¨Little Me,¨ “Good Enough,” and ¨These Four Walls¨ display the group members’ powerful voices as well as complex lyrics that contradict expectations of pop songs riddled with trite cliches.

Although the catchy beats and lyrics certainly help the album earn acclaim, the vocal talent of the four women is what carries the group’s success. Their start and immense success on the “X Factor” proved to the world that they were perfectly adept at performing live, which is where some pop artists usually fall flat in more ways than one. The ballads of the album allow each member a chance to show off her individual talent with plentiful solos against simple piano melodies. Although individually talented, Little Mix’s strength is in their tight four-part harmonies in almost every track of both DNA and Salute. In particular, the track “Boy” shows off their talent in harmonies, as most of the song is sung a cappella.

With their steadily maturing sound, Little Mix is sure to continue on their uphill climb to success.