Little Mix Embrace The F-Word On Their New Album & It’s About Time

Something is brewing with Little Mix. On the British girl band’s fifth album, L5, there’s a new theme to be found among the songs about love on the dance floor and boys who break your heart. On this LP, the women invoke girl power 2.0 with a sex- and friends-positive message for their generation.
The group hand in a solid pop album, with heavy British influences in the style and songwriting, that dips a toe further into the world of hip-hop sounds. By looking at the album credits, it’s easy to see what Little Mix themselves are vibing: the girls wrote many of the most feminist anthems on L5, including “The National Manthem,” a 30-second intro track that lauds a bad bitch; “Strip,” which is dedicated to self-love (“Jiggle all this weight yeah / You know I love all of this”); and “Joan of Arc,” an ode to more masturbatory self-love that manages to name-check some famous, historical bad bitches and on which the girls declare they are “on that feminist tip.” Despite their past beef with some Spice Girls, the songs they’re writing sound like the idea of empowerment, specifically as encapsulated in the phrase “girl power,” made a major impression on them when they were girls; now, their own mics in hand, they’re bringing the message to Gen Z. They take it one step further, however, by actually embracing the identity of feminist, rather than holding it at a distance as their predecessors, the Spice Girls, did. On these songs, as well as “Love A Girl Right,” a message to a girlfriend who has been jilted by a cheating man, there is a strong message of empowerment for young women, urging them to put themselves ahead of their romantic relationships and to develop a healthy sense of self-confidence rather than try to find their identity in a relationship.
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The message continues in another one penned by the group, “Motivate,” about the very good sex you can have when you get it “any way that [you] want it” from a man who “never let me down when he go lower.” Jade Thirwall isthe most prolific songwriter of the group, turning in a particularly fun bop with “Wasabi” (“Spit me out like hot wasabi / Lick me up / I’m sweet and salty”). The album’s lead single, “Woman Like Me,” features a verse from their former tourmate Nicki Minaj and boasts a songwriting (plus guitar and bass playing) credit from Ed Sheeran, along with Jess Glynne. Throughout the album, Little Mix straddle the line between clean, ambigious pop songs that the youngest of their fans can hear and a dirtier, more grown up sound that owes an auditory debt to West Coast hip hop production with lyrics that present a very strong, feminine point of view on womanhood.
The album hits its peak with “Woman’s World,” another track co-written by Thirwall. It’s rare to hear a pop song address inequality in the workplace for women, let alone the way women’s words and bodies are policed. This is a step beyond packaging feminism and selling it back to us; it is (finally) a step forward in the level of discourse in pop music.
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