Girl groups are special. And this isn’t due to their minimal appeal toward hormonal teen girls who have ravaged for boy bands since the domination of Beatlemania in the 1960s. Seeing women work together to create a body of musical work is truly beautiful, especially when the media loves to nit-pick smaller, unimportant issues such as negative vibes between group members, vocal comparisons, etc.
Little Mix’s Salute is a perfect example of an album that — while positively acclaimed — didn’t exactly receive an honorary stature for its incredible songwriting, outstanding a cappella and impressive horn-induced production abilities. Like many ’90s and 2000s girl groups, R&B became a staple sound that inspired women all around the world. Then came U.S. based acts like En Vogue, TLC and Destiny’s Child, and even All Saints bludgeoned their way to the top with the gospel-tinged “Never Ever.”
Approximately two decades later, we see that stylistic return in the form of Salute. An album that embodies the girl-power spirit which started its uniformed roots in the ’60s and ended up 30 years later within the hands of radiant powerful women, sprinkling on into the early 2000s with a cappella groove. This is exactly what we see with Little Mix’s powerful sophomore effort.
“Move” received critical acclaim by critics and for all the right reasons. Besides being named by Billboard as one of the “100 Greatest Girl Group Songs Of All Time,” its ’90s club-pop trademark made the UK go crazy. The Daily Record called it “R&B infused: full of attitude and the trademark Little Mix harmonies and melodies.” And these so-called “Little Mix harmonies” are what separate the current girl band from others and cite frequent comparisons to acts like En Vogue and Destiny’s Child.
These kinds of comparisons were further realized with songs like “Little Me” and “Boy,” the latter being an a cappella-inspired banger that roots out what gave the late ’90s and early 2000s so much appeal: clear as day vocals, vocal synergy and an R&B-pop background. “Nothing Feels Like You” likely could’ve been the smash hit that respectfully introduced the quartet to the U.S., but nothing ever goes as planned in the big old music industry. Ironically enough, Salute is their lowest selling album, but it did give them a huge pat of credibility due to their songwriting abilities.
It’s obvious now that the musical landscape has changed, but Little Mix still has time to truck down more pop hits. Without much-needed help from the U.S., they’ve been able to sell over 30 million records worldwide — a figure we haven’t seen for a girl group in approximately 10 years (that number increases significantly if you only look at European girl groups, dating almost to the Spice Girls era).
Whether it be the underwhelming amount of promotion girl groups may get or the so-called “musical landscape,” Salute will always be there to remind you that some pop gems aren’t always meant to shine bright. In fact, they are there to remind us that little things really do matter. If you’re itching to find a girl group with beautifully meshed vocals and an all-around appeal, you might’ve just run into a gold mine.