Initially surpassing the achievements of One Direction and JLS by becoming the first group to win The X Factor in the U.K., Little Mix was the biggest success story to emerge from the competition's eighth season in 2011. Jade Thirlwall (who had auditioned for two previous series) and Perrie Edwards (both from South Shields), Jesy Nelson (from Romford, East London), and Leigh-Anne Pinnock (from High Wycombe) had all originally auditioned as solo artists, but like fellow acts Nu Vibe and the Risk, were put together as a group at the boot-camp stages. After impressing Jessie J and mentor N-Dubz's Tulisa Contostavlos at Judges' House, they made it to the live finals, where their engaging personalities, girl-next-door image, and contemporary song choices saw them outgrow their initial underdog status.
Originally dubbed Rhythmix, the girls were forced to change their moniker in week four after it was found that there was already a Brighton-based children's charity of the same name. But following stellar performances of En Vogue's "Don't Let Go," Katy Perry's "E.T.," and Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music," they beat the Conway Sisters and Hope's previous record to become the first girl band in the show's history to make it past week seven. After contributing to the high-profile M&S TV ad campaign and the finalists' charity cover version of Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star," they eventually went on to triumph over Marcus Collins in the finale. The 2011 debut single from Little Mix, a rendition of Damien Rice's hit "Cannonball," went on to top the charts but scored the lowest first-week sales by an X Factor winner since Steve Brookstein's "Against All Odds" (2004), and later lost the coveted Christmas number one spot to the Military Wives Choir. DNA, featuring the singles "Cannonball" and "Wings" (also a U.K. number one), was released in late 2012, and eventually became the U.K.'s highest-charting debut album ever by a British female group.
In 2013, Little Mix returned with their sophomore album, Salute. Featuring production from such names as Future Cut, TMS, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the record showcased a more mature, R&B-infused direction. A string of U.S. dates in support of Demi Lovato took place in early 2014 before the summer brought the group's largest U.K. tour to date. "Black Magic," the first single from third album Get Weird, became Little Mix's third U.K. number one in 2015. Around the same time, Britney Spears released "Pretty Girls," a single co-written by the group, which reached number 16 in the U.K. Get Weird followed later that year, peaking at number two in the U.K. and number 13 on the Billboard 200.
The group's fourth studio album, the Electric-produced Glory Days, arrived in November 2016. It topped the U.K. albums chart and reached number 25 on the Billboard 200. Included on the release was the single "Shout Out to My Ex" as well as the track "Oops" featuring Charlie Puth. An extended version of the album arrived a year later. Little Mix promoted the effort into 2017, supporting Ariana Grande and headlining their own trek. After concluding a 2018 international summer tour, they returned with their fifth album, the aptly titled LM5. The first single from the effort, "Woman Like Me," featured an appearance by rapper Nicki Minaj and helped the album reach number three in the U.K. and 40 on the Billboard 200.
Early 2020 saw the group issue the single "Break Up Song," which was followed by "Holiday" in July. Both tracks appeared on their sixth album, Confetti, which arrived that November, hitting number two in the U.K. and reaching number 85 on the Billboard 200. A month after the record's release, founding member Jesy Nelson left the group to focus on her solo career. That September brought the group's own TV show to BBC One. As it progressed, Little Mix: The Search gave competing groups the chance to win a place on the quartet's Confetti tour. Also in 2021, they released the MNEK-produced single "Love (Sweet Love)" as part their greatest-hits compilation Between Us. ~ Matt Collar & Jon O'Brien, Rovi
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