Little Mix has recently released their first single from their new album, Glory Days, due out in November. For anyone who has no idea who I’m talking about, Little Mix is a girl group from the UK that was formed on The X Factor around the same time as One Direction. They’ve produced three albums since their formation 5 years ago with Glory Days set to be their fourth album together.
This pop quartet has a track record for releasing catchy, upbeat songs and “Shout Out to My Ex” is no different. Filled with a dance-y beat, great vocals, and some real zingers for lyrics, this song has already shot to the top of the charts despite only having been released just over a week ago. Mass opinion seems to be that the song is about the break-up between Perrie Edwards of Little Mix and ex-fiancé Zayne Malik, former member of One Direction. The group has kept mum about whether or not the song really is about Zayne, instead telling curious interviewers that it was a mash-up of experiences among the four girls from the past year. I agree with the speculations that the song seems to have been written about Zayne, but I think there are other indicators to support that fact other than the lyrics themselves. There’s also the fact that Perrie seems to have the most solo singing in this song and that the first two verses of the song—which she sings by herself—appear to have the most pointed and stinging lines in the whole song. It should also be noted that Perrie seems to have the most face time in the music video which could subtly indicate that this is “Perrie’s song.”
In addition to all of the Zayne speculation surrounding the new song, “Shout Out to My Ex” has also sparked a ton of controversy following Little Mix’s first live performance of the song on The X Factor on October 18th. In the days after the performance, the group came under fire for two things: their outfits being ‘too racy’ and how parts of the song sounded eerily familiar to fellow British girl group G.R.L.’s 2014 hit “Ugly Heart.”
As far as the comments of the girls’ outfits being ‘too racy,’ I have to disagree. I saw a video of their full performance online, and I don’t think they were inappropriate. Were they too racy for the average person to walk around wearing on a random Tuesday? Yes, absolutely. But we all know that musicians and artists—particularly pop artists—don’t wear normal clothes half the time in their everyday lives and almost never when performing since the point is to put on a performance. The outfit is part of that performance and entertainment for the audience. I also don’t think it was too racy because they’ve performed in similar outfits as have most women currently in the pop industry as crop tops, boots, and high cut hot pants are what’s on trend at the moment. Perhaps the UK is simply more conservative than the States in what they feel is appropriate for performing on television.
Now, to address the larger issue that Little Mix has come under fire for—stealing the melody of their chorus from G.R.L.’s “Ugly Heart.” I’m not convinced that they stole anything and I’m not saying that just because I’m a fan of Little Mix’s music. When Clevver News covered the story, they did a good job in showing a side by side comparison of the parts of each song that people are taking issue with. While I agree that the two do sound a bit similar, I don’t think it was intentional. Anyone who can read sheet music or tab music can tell you that most songs these days use the same four chords over and over again (one example here). The same FOUR chords. Yes, some songs do switch it up and throw in a different one, or switch to a different key on occasion, but overall most songs use C, D, Em, and G chords.
So, with using only four main chords there’s only so many ways to arrange them which means that inevitably some songs are bound to have some hints of similarity to others. That’s not to say that this is the case with all songs. For example, the chorus of Rixton’s 2014 single “Me and My Broken Heart” seems to be the exact same melody, note for note, as the chorus of Rob Thomas’ 2009 hit “Lonely No More.” Little Mix and G.R.L.’s songs however, appear to me to be melodically and rhythmically different enough that they avoid this seemingly deliberate copying and instead fall under the umbrella of ‘somewhat similar’ as most other songs do.
All controversies aside, I think “Shout out to My Ex” is a fun, catchy, upbeat, kind of sticking-it-to-the-ex break-up song that will continue to stay on the charts for some time. Little Mix has a history of releasing well-chosen songs from their albums that not only give their audience an idea of what the album will sound like but also leave them wanting more which in turn gets them excited for the upcoming album. And I believe they’ve done this yet again with “Shout Out to My Ex” as I am definitely interested to hear the rest of Glory Days when it drops on November 18th.
What do you guys think?