Cassie Lomas at Creatives Agency using By Terry Skincare & Makeup
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for Little Mix over the past year, but they’re still enjoying the ride. The British girl group hunkered down with the rest of the world in 2020 when COVID-19 took over but still released an album amid it all. Now they’re rolling out their very first release of 2021, and it’s a fiery hot remix of the album’s title track “Confetti,” featuring rapper Saweetie.
The track in its original form was already so loved by the group, which made it a perfect fit for this new life. “We love the song ‘Confetti,’ it’s always been one of our favorites and we know from socials that the fans love it too!” Perrie Edwards says.
“It felt right to do an updated version of the song and give it a moment!” Jade Thirlwall adds. “We then got Saweetie, who we love, on it to add some extra flavor.” And it wouldn’t be complete without a video — which they’ve already shot. “We really feel it might be one of our best videos ever. We’re really excited for everyone to see it,” Leigh-Anne Pinnock adds.
The track drops April 30 and marks a new chapter for Little Mix, whose lives were rocked at the end of 2020 when the fourth member of the group, Jesy Nelson, decided to step away to focus on her mental health. And while this decision shook everyone, “the girls,” as they’re affectionately known by their team, their fans, and just about anyone else who knows anything about them, soldiered on.
“It’s still all systems go in Little Mix world,” Thirlwall shares. “It’s just learning to adapt. I think it’s quite exciting. And we got off to a good start as a three by having our No. 1 single in the UK. That was like, ‘Oh wow, this is a good sign, good omen, that this year is going to be good for us.’”
When I sat down with Thirlwall, Pinnock, and Edwards over Zoom earlier this year in the middle of the UK’s third lockdown, we all showed up in our best athleisure, making it feel like it was a casual video chat among friends. And that’s exactly how the girls make you feel when they’re around you — like you’re their pal they just want to have a laugh with.
And laugh we did. Despite getting into deeper conversations surrounding mental health, the uncertainty of COVID, and how hard fame can be, we still joked about how much junk food we’ve ripped into while stuck at home — Edwards jokingly calling herself a “fucking potato” because of her excessive lounging — and trying to master TikTok (which none of us have done).
Little Mix has taken the last year in stride, like many of us have. Fortunately for them, they had most of the work for Confetti done before COVID really took hold of the world, but all of their promo plans were essentially destroyed, including a tour. “We had to launch our first single campaign during lockdown, which was pretty bizarre,” Thirlwall says of dropping “Break Up Song” in March last year. “It was all on social media and we had to find a way of adapting to the circumstances. Luckily we’ve got an amazing online fanbase who will lap up any social media content. So it was just about trying to move with the times and get through it. We really committed.”
In the following months, Little Mix released “Holiday” and “Sweet Melody” before Confetti landed in December. “Sweet Melody” in particular — which shot to the top of the charts — also found life on TikTok, something that can prove to be a total game-changer for artists.
“I do like it when I see all our songs blowing up on there,” Pinnock says. “‘Sweet Melody’ is doing well. When you don’t have to do anything and it just happens. It’s like, ‘Oh, sick, good.’” She laughs off how seemingly easy it was for “Sweet Melody” to gain traction on TikTok, but all three are quick to point out that they still don’t understand how the social media app even works and especially how things go viral. For an app with a virtually impossible-to-understand algorithm that sees some songs and trends blow up and others wither away, it’s hard to know what will work and what won’t.
While Thirlwall points out that a song blowing up on TikTok almost always translates to streams and sales, Pinnock is still hesitant about how it all comes together. “It is a bit scary though. I don’t like that pressure knowing that it likely has to do well on TikTok for it to become a hit,” she shares. “It’s important for music now, though,” Thirlwall tells her. “Like ‘Sweet Melody’ taking off on TikTok, it means it will help it in the charts, which is insane that it has that power.” She also wisely points out that TikTok is the perfect platform to introduce your music to new people, bringing in new fans along the way. For artists and songs that hit, it can be big.
And “Sweet Melody” was one that worked. The song has well over 100K videos, and while it started as a dance trend, it became a song people just liked to use because it’s catchy. Edwards loves that so many of the “Sweet Melody” videos are not anything she would have expected. “Some of the videos are weird — they’re people carving ice or people sewing or they’re people doing makeup,” she laughs. “It’s complete random videos, but ‘Sweet Melody’ is on them, and I like them all.”
Following that success, Little Mix turned to TikTok again to show “Confetti” some love in preparation for the remix’s release, starting the #DROPLIKECONFETTI hashtag and trend, which is continuing to gain traction and will only get bigger once the song is out in the world to fully take advantage of.
The TikTok algorithm has absolutely worked in the girls’ favor with their music, and it’s populating their For You Pages with videos tailored for them. “I just think it’s a really positive platform,” Edwards shares. “And I think everyone goes on it to have fun and everyone has a laugh.” For other social media, though, Little Mix sometimes finds it hard to keep up with, candidly sharing that it definitely weighs on their mental health at times.
“I’m starting to feel like for me, personally, Twitter can feel like quite a toxic space,” Thirlwall says. “So I keep going through stages of deleting it for a week before going back on again.” In a world where cancel culture reigns supreme, Thirlwall says the vitriol she sees on Twitter has brought her down to a place she doesn’t want to be. “Everyone’s kind of out for blood a bit at the minute on social media it seems. I never really go on Twitter and then come off it feeling any better about myself.”
Instead, she feels drained, and once she recognized how social media was making her feel, she made a concerted effort to spend less time on it. It’s proven to be difficult, though, when it’s a large part of their jobs as artists. Though Pinnock admits there are times when she picks up her phone to aimlessly scroll through, she starts to “feel so numb” after a while, something Edwards wholeheartedly agrees with.
“It is mind-numbing, isn’t it? I haven’t posted anything since last year,” she says. “People are like, ‘Where is she? Where’s she gone?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m just living day by day.’” But Edwards spending far less time on social media — where in the past you might have found her posting far more frequently — has made her feel both a little bit guilty but also indifferent. Connecting with fans is something so important to Little Mix, but like all three girls point out, they’re not up to a whole lot, as much of their last year has been spent tucked away at home riding out lockdown.
“There’s nothing going on in our lives right now,” Edwards says. “It’s a very dull time right now. I don’t know what you want me to post — just me sat in bed all day eating crumpets? It’s not that interesting. Do you know what I mean?” Knowing how much Mixers love the girls, though, I feel like they’d happily take all the photos of Edwards lounging around eating her crumpets — they love her and the other girls that much. But they’re also understanding of the group putting self-care first.
One thing, they’ve learned, though, during these multiple lockdowns they’ve gone through, which have forced them to slow down, focus on mental health, and take a much-needed break, is getting rid of toxicity. And it started with social media.
“If I had any advice for people, it would be to only follow accounts that make you feel good about yourself,” Thirlwall shares. “Or ones that don’t make you feel like you’re not enough or compare yourself to what that person’s doing.” Pinnock adds that she thinks this year for her has really been about dumping anything toxic from her life and “being around people that make you feel good and that bring something positive into your life.”
The girls are also big advocates of therapy — individual therapy and group therapy. “We love going to therapy together,” Edwards gushes of how they handle their mental health in such a rigorous job. “We also have each other, which is huge. We’re each other’s support system in a way because we’re sisters and feel every emotion together. We can always lean on each other.”
They’ve been leaning on each other for about 10 years now. Little Mix got their start in 2011 when the four-piece set won The X Factor in the UK. When the show ended, they embarked on a whirlwind decade that’s been full of albums, singles, tours, TV appearances, meet and greets, and all the other highs and lows of being a pop star. The girls stood together as their songs hit the top of the charts, experiencing the highest of highs. But they also stood together for the lows, including difficult parts of their personal lives and a worldwide pandemic that forced them to change an entire album cycle.
If they hadn’t had each other to turn to during the multiple lockdowns, the group isn’t sure how they’d feel now. “There’s no inspiration this time,” Edwards says of the third lockdown at the beginning of 2021. “There’s no get up and go. There’s no, ‘I’m going to be passionate about this in this lockdown.’ I’m like, I’ve done it in lockdown one, did it in lockdown two. Lockdown three, you can fuck off.”
“I just don’t understand how you’re supposed to get motivation in your house that you’ve been in for the last year,” Pinnock adds.
Fortunately, with a new single rolling out now, Little Mix has something to finally put their energy into. “Confetti” featuring Saweetie puts an entirely new spin on a song that was already a certified bop to begin with. But this collab might not be the only one the girls have up their sleeves. I can’t say for certain what they might have next, but they’re definitely interested in continuing this collaborative streak.
“We are in the studio at the moment doing different collab ideas,” Edwards shares. “Because we’ve just launched Confetti, it’s nice to experiment with different artists at the moment. I think we’re really into that at the minute, just featuring or jumping on someone’s track. I think it’s nice to have that little bridge after you’ve released an album to switch things up a little bit.”
The girls’ lips are sealed on anything more than that, but having already teamed up with artists like Cheat Codes, Nicki Minaj, Nathan Dawe, and Jason Derulo over the past few years, we can only imagine where they go from here. This group isn’t afraid to dabble in a variety of genres, proving the sky is the limit for them. And they couldn’t do it without their fans, who they mentioned several times during our chat. When things got dark — not just over the past year but over the past 10 years — Little Mix knew they could count on their fans to support them and shower them with endless love.
“We just want to say a little thank you for everyone being so sweet and dedicated and patient with us through this lockdown and just being the best fans ever,” Edwards shares. Pinnock and Thirlwall nod along, agreeing with Edwards’s sentiment. All three happily called out the joy the fans bring, especially at concerts. “Our fans are so loud and just the best, in shows they’re amazing. They’re crazy. We love it,” Pinnock gushes while the three reminisced about traveling the world playing concerts.
Little Mix has played in practically every corner of the world at this point — calling the Philippines, Brazil, and Japan some of their favorite places — but the best place to put on a show is always close to home. Thirlwall says, “I feel like it’s a little special when we perform in our hometowns. Like when we performed in Newcastle, that was really special for me because ever since I was a little girl, I’d go and watch other artists perform at that arena. And then when I stand there, my family and friends in the audience, I’m like, wow this is pretty special.”
“It’s moments like that, when we get to travel and see fans that we’ve never seen before,” Pinnock says with a smile. “You just realize how big it is. We know that we’ve conquered the UK, but when we see it abroad, it’s just like, ‘Ah, this is just massive.’” It’s a surreal feeling only a small group of people will ever understand — getting up on a stage in front of thousands of people screaming your name and singing your songs back to you. Songs that you’ve poured your heart and soul into being sung in an arena by people who adore you.
“I don’t think anything feels better than that,” Edwards says. “I think when we perform things like ‘Shout Out to My Ex’ live and we say, ‘For anyone who can relate to this, go for it,’ and every single person in the crowd is like, ‘Shout out to my ex!’ Because they just feel it in their bones.” Authentic music has always been the backbone of Little Mix, and it’s something that won’t ever change. “We love writing songs that are relatable to people and that can make people feel good, empower people, make people feel more confident,” Edwards says. “And I think that’s the common thread we’ve had in our music from day one.”
The authenticity is there in Confetti and will surely be there in whatever Little Mix rolls out next. And while their canceled tour is still awaiting a reschedule, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel — the “Confetti” remix is this close to being released, and the fans are as enduring as ever. “The fans definitely keep us going during all the shit times, but, we’re going to be on a stage soon having the best time ever,” Edwards says. “It’s all going to be worth it.”