Girl group Fifth Harmony are a band with a huge social following and are well supported on the live circuit. As any fan of Fifth Harmony will know, Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane, Camila Cabello, and Lauren Jauregui were signed by Simon Cowell’s SyCo after placing third on the 2012 season of X-Factor‘s short-lived foray into the U.S. market. Buoyed by the success of One Direction and to a lesser extent Little Mix Simon Cowell tried to repeat the same formula and manufactured Fifth Harmony from a group of young women who had entered the competition as solo artists.
Despite having the weight of Cowell behind them Fifth Harmony have not enjoyed anywhere near the level of success that One Direction achieved. Like One Direction and Little Mix, Fifth Harmony are a manufactured band who were aimed squarely at the young female audience. To be fair, Fifth Harmony have been moderately successful and did manage to attract the attention of their target audience with their brand of uncontroversial “feel good” pop music. Unlike One Direction, the Fifth Harmony girls have not managed to extend their fan base beyond their target audience, something that is essential if they are to achieve long-term success.
By the time Fifth Harmony were hitting the record stores, the music-buying public were already voting with their feet. Cowell’s X-Factor was on its last legs in the U.S., and the U.K. audience was plunging. To an extent Fifth Harmony suffered as a result of the growing discontent with Cowell and his show. The X-Factor formula was receiving a huge amount of criticism from the public, who were getting increasingly tired of the brand of manufactured pop that was being turned out by bands from the show.
One Direction were a phenomenon and became one of the world’s best-selling bands. Neither Fifth Harmony or Little Mix were able to achieve anything like that level of popularity, probably because their blend of personalities just does not work in the same way as with One Direction. As Billboard reported last year Fifth Harmony, despite a huge internet presence, have not managed to “cross over into mass cultural consciousness.”
The reason that Fifth Harmony have failed to achieve that crossover is perhaps fairly simple. Fifth Harmony and “manufactured” bands in general do not attract radio play, and without that attracting attention outside of a fairly narrow demographic is almost impossible. Fifth Harmony may also have suffered from their association with Cowell as the public grew weary of his formulaic approach.
Of course, Cowell’s approach is nothing new. In the 1980’s, Stock, Aitken, and Waterman manufactured a host of hit artists using exactly the same formula. Like Fifth Harmony, the formula relied on good, clean, safe pop songs delivered by a group whose appearance was more important than their musical credentials. The main difference, as Fifth Harmony are finding out, was that the drama was not splashed across the nation’s TV screens every week and on social media every minute of every day.
As Fifth Harmony have discovered the public quickly see through anything that is not authentic. Cowell is widely accused of being a vacuous man who manipulates bands like Fifth Harmony for his own financial benefit. More than that however the public have simply grown tired of manufactured pop music. This undoubtedly explains why, for all their social media popularity, Fifth Harmony have barely troubled the chartmakers. For example, Fifth Harmony’s recent single “All In My Head” only achieved No. 78 on the Billboard Chart and failed to enter the Top 100 in the UK.
In many ways it is superbly ironic that News Day reports that Fifth Harmony are set to headline VH1’s “Save The Music” benefit concert in the Hampton’s on August 27. The benefit aims to raise funds to help to keep music lessons alive in schools, and as such it is a very worthy cause. That said, serious music fans will find the idea of a manufactured pop band like Fifth Harmony “saving the music” simply preposterous.
Depressingly for Fifth Harmony and their fans suggestions are already being made that claim that Fifth Harmony are on their way to splitting up. The rumors have emerged after various members of Fifth Harmony were having some fun in the studio with other artists.
It is unlikely that Fifth Harmony fans have anything to worry about just yet.
[Photo by Jess Baumung/Invision/AP]