“I can feel a wave beginning behind this group,” said The X Factor creator and judge Simon Cowell before Fifth Harmony performed their version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” on the show in 2012. The music mogul knows talent and chemistry when he sees it. (This is, after all, the man who assembled One Direction.) Cowell decided that individual contestants Dinah Jane Hansen, Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Kordei, and Camila Cabello were too special to let go, so at the end of the show’s Boot Camp week, the five young women became Fifth Harmony. With their show-stopping vocals, undeniable charisma, and genuine sisterly bond, the “fearsome fivesome” (as they became known) endeared themselves to viewers across the country.
Since The X Factor wrapped and the group signed with Cowell’s label Syco Entertainment and Epic Records, Fifth Harmony have continued to grow their fanbase at an astonishing clip. This year’s winners of two Radio Disney Music Awards for “Breakout Artist of The Year” and “Best Song To Rock Out To With Your BFF,” Fifth Harmony has more than 2.8 million Facebook “likes” and 70 million combined views on VEVO and YouTube, where the covers they’ve posted on their official channel (such as Rihanna’s “Stay” and Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House”) routinely rack up millions of views. Fifth Harmony trends worldwide nearly every week on Twitter, where the girls have 1.17 million followers with whom they engage non-stop. Their fans, who span all age groups, call themselves “Harmonizers.” “We don’t really think of them as fans,” Normani says. “They’re more like friends who support us.” The strong bond Fifth Harmony has forged with their audience has served the group well as they’ve marched forward post X Factor, starting with their debut single “Miss Movin’ On,” an epic, empowering pop anthem about letting go and being independent.
“We want our songs to be fun, positive, and inspiring, and for our vocals to shine through,” says Ally. Adds Lauren: “The songs are a direct reflection of us and what we go through. Because we’ve been able to co-write, we’ve been able to personalize our music and make it relatable.” “We want to be collectively unique and yet show our individuality,” says Normani. Adds Camila: “We’re teenage girls hoping teenage girls can listen to the songs and feel like we’re saying what they want to say.”
Upon its release last October, their debut EP, Better Together skyrocketed to No. 2 on iTunes and debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. Fifth Harmony cemented their place in history when Better Together became the highest-charting album from any X Factor contestant in the U.S. Featuring contributions by such songwriters and producers as Autumn Rose (Leona Lewis, Cher Lloyd), Lil’ Eddie (Usher, Pink), Tricky Stewart (Beyoncé, Justin Bieber), Toby Gad (Beyoncé, Fergie), and multi-platinum-selling producer/songwriter Julian Bunetta (One Direction, Natasha Bedingfield), Better Together is a diverse and dynamic introduction to America’s only teen pop female vocal group. (Fifth Harmony also released four additional editions, including the Spanish EPs, Juntos and Juntos Acoustic, plus Better Together Acoustic and Better Together The Remixes.)
Since the EP’s release, Fifth Harmony has charmed audiences with performances on The Today Show, Ellen, Arsenio, LIVE With Kelly and Michael, VH1’s Big Morning Buzz, The X Factor, The American Music Awards pre-show, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They also delivered a show-stopping performance of “Miss Movin’ On” on this year’s Radio Disney Awards telecast.
The girls have also partnered up with toy retailer Mattel to deliver a new theme song for its iconic Barbie Doll collection called “Anything Is Possible,” further cementing Fifth Harmony’s image as a positive, empowering beacon for girls around the world. A lyric video debuted in January, and an official video will follow later this year. In addition, Mattel will introduce five dolls created in the likeness of each Fifth Harmony member, which will be available from retailers during the holiday season.
Fifth Harmony have also toured extensively, including a headlining tour made stops throughout the United States and Canada. During the holiday season, they performed at Jingle Ball Concerts around the country with Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Austin Mahone, and others. They joined Cher Lloyd on tour in September 2013 and spent February and March 2014 opening for Demi Lovato on her Neon Lights Tour. In May, they will hit the road for another headlining jaunt, their “5th Times A Charm Tour” before joining Austin Mahone on his summer tour, which continues into early September.
In between all the touring, Fifth Harmony is also recording their debut album, which Ally says shows growth and is a true representation of their sound. “It’s leaning a bit more urban and rhythmic, but still with lots of harmonies,” she says. “It feels more mature and grown up.” As far as the subject matter, Camila says the album is thematically focused on girl power, independence, and feminism. “We’re still singing about boys, hanging out with your gal pals, and heartbreak, but I think we’re adding a sassier element. These are songs we would listen to if we were getting ready to go to a party and needed something to make us feel confident. Insecurity at this age with girls is common so we really wanted to deliver a message of self-empowerment and self-confidence.”
“I want every girl who has ever felt unpretty or like she wasn’t good enough to play the album and suddenly feel like Beyoncé,” Dinah adds. “I want them to walk into a room and if at any moment they feel just a bit insecure, I want the lyrics to play in their head and for them to lift their chin a little higher, stand up a little taller, and talk a little louder. I want them to feel strong and fearless.”
MEET FIFTH HARMONY:
Known as the “little big sister” of the group, the San Antonio, TX-born and bred Ally Brooke packs a powerful vocal punch. Her vibrant energy and musical theatricality come from having performed at charity events, high schools, and sports events since the age of nine. “That’s when I developed such a huge passion for singing and the stage,” she says. One of her biggest inspirations is Latina star Selena Quintanilla. “Not only did she have an amazing stage presence, a beautiful voice, and a vibrant personality, but she also had such charisma and a big heart,” Ally says. “She cared for her fans deeply and always showed so much love to everyone. She made me want to become an artist.”
Camila Cabello’s unique voice gives the group a raw edge that lifts their harmonies to new heights. Born in Cuba, Camila and her family shuttled between Havana and Mexico for the first five years of her life before Camila and her mother moved to the U.S. when Camila was six. (Her dad followed a few years later.) “My mom came with only a couple hundred bucks and the clothes on her back,” Camila says. “My family brought me up to appreciate everything I had through hard work.” Growing up listening to such Latin artists as Celia Cruz and Alejandro Fernandez, Camila kept her singing to the confines of her bedroom. “I didn’t sing in front of people until my actual X Factor audition,” she says. “I didn’t want those two minutes to end. When they did, I knew performing was the only thing I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.”
With a dynamic range that has drawn comparisons to Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, Dinah Jane Hansen hails from Santa Ana, CA and is of Tongan and Polynesian heritage. Her mother sang with a reggae band and her brothers sang in church. Dinah remembers being four years old and wanting to learn to sing to impress her mother. At 11, she told her parents she wanted to pursue a singing career. “The first time I performed I remember feeling so nervous and scared,” Dinah says. “I was behind the curtains and I could hear the announcer say my name. All I could think was, ‘I hope they like me, I hope they don’t boo.’ But they applauded and I remember thinking this is definitely something I want to do one day.”
Miami native Lauren Jauregui, with her mature, smoky voice, brings a fierce and feisty flavor to Fifth Harmony. A lover of Journey, Paramore, and The Script, as well as Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera, Lauren first remembers singing at a karaoke party at age two, but other than a few school talent shows and a fifth-grade performance of the National Anthem, most of her singing was done in private. “Music had always been a huge part of me but I never had the means to do anything about it,” she says. By the time Lauren was 16, The X Factor had debuted. “I really wanted to audition for Simon and for him to tell me that I had what he was looking for in an artist,” she says.
Normani Kordei’sbluesy vocal style comes from her roots as a gospel singer. Born in Atlanta, she was raised in the rich musical tradition of New Orleans. (Her family relocated to Houston after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.) Hamilton has been performing since she was three, and was an award-winning dancer and gymnast before finding her true calling as a singer, recording her first single at age 13. She also had a small role on the HBO series Treme. Normani credits Beyoncé as her main inspiration as an artist. “I look up to her so much,” she says. “When I’m on stage I pretend to be her. Her alter ego is Sasha Fierce and mine is Beyoncé herself. This helps keep my nerves from getting the best of me because in general I am pretty shy.”