Can Fifth Harmony Fill The One Direction-Shaped Hole In Pop Music?

Fifth Harmony and One Direction share many things. Like 1D, Fifth Harmony was unearthed by Simon Cowell’s X-Factor, albeit it on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Fifth Harmony placed third on the 2012 season of the show, as did One Direction, albeit a couple of years earlier. Fifth Harmony was signed by Simon Cowell’s SyCo, and Cowell has been masterminding their career, just as he did for One Direction.

Both Fifth Harmony and One Direction had five members, at least until Zayn Malik quit One Direction. Fifth Harmony also sing radio-friendly pop tunes that are largely written for them by others, and they share a clean cut, manufactured image. The similarities do not stop there. Fifth Harmony and the 1D boys are almost identical in age.

Like One Direction, the Fifth Harmony girls auditioned for X-Factor as solo artists. The girls were all dumped at the “bootcamp” stage of the show, but were called back and formed into a girl-band by Cowell, an exact mirror image of One Direction’s story. Being thrown together in such a way ensured that Fifth Harmony had to get to know each other pretty quickly if they were to bond and become credible as a group.

Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabello admits on the band’s website that “Our friendships with each other sort of happened backward. We just wanted to make it to the next round, so we ended up bonding pretty fast because that was our survival.”

Of course, the big difference between Fifth Harmony and One Direction is gender. Gender works both for and against Fifth Harmony. The girls are not likely to engender the same sort of loyalty amongst the young female demographic that their styles of music is aimed at. By being young, good looking, and likeable, One Direction was able to build a huge and very strong fan base very quickly. More importantly, they have been able to retain and grow this fan base.

If it can be seen as any measure of popularity, each of the One Direction boys has over 20 million Twitter followers, whilst Camila Cabello, the most followed member of Fifth Harmony, has just 2.1 million followers. There are, however, signs that Fifth Harmony is beginning to attract fan loyalty. Camila Cabello recently shared an Instagram picture that showed Fifth Harmony fans who had camped outside the group’s hotel for days.

As the Daily Mirror points out, Fifth Harmony are able to trade on their sexuality and have become known for promoting a positive body image amongst their young fans.

Fifth Harmony have flown in to London for the first of two sold-out shows in London and Manchester. One Direction just completed the final night of 24 sold out shows in the U.K.’s largest arenas. Whilst Fifth Harmony’s shows are sold out, the venues they are playing hold less than 2,000 people.

Whichever way you look at it, Fifth Harmony has a very long way to go if they are to fill the hole left by One Direction going on an extended hiatus. That said, as reported by MTV, there are signs that Fifth Harmony is beginning to gain traction. The group’s debut album, Reflection, scored them a top five hit and was generally received favorably.

Having released just a single album and one E.P. since 2012, Fifth Harmony hasn’t achieved the virtually instant global success that One Direction enjoyed. After three years, they are still touring theaters.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the gap between Fifth Harmony and One Direction so much as Dinah Jane Hansen’s tweet yesterday. Dinah told her fans that when Fifth Harmony arrived in London, she was able to go to eat at Nando’s. I wonder when One Direction last had the freedom to do something so simple.

[Photo by Chelsea Lauren / Getty Images]

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