Last night, Little Mix returned to the X Factor with the best Live Show performance we’ve seen in years. It was all in the aid of their newest single, Shoutout To My Ex which is the newest in a long line of instantly iconic kiss-off anthems.
First off, lets start by saying this; Shoutout to My Ex is by no means Little Mix’s best single – its uncomfortably close to G.R.L’s Ugly Heart and their (obvious) best single Black Magic – but it is certainly their most evocative, riffing off the web publicised split between Perrie and Zayn Malik and spinning the conversation not into one about heartbreak, but to one about confidence and solidarity. Quite rightly, it sees Perrie take front and centre declaring that, you know what, yes things were pretty shit for a while but now I’m over it, I’m over you and I’m finally happy about that.
Little Mix have always thrived as a girl group because they genuinely seem to be great girls with a genuine connection who just happen to release great pop music, and that’s never been more apparent than their performance last night. They were, quite simply, an electric presence on that stage; star power and charisma dripping from every pore. Whilst that statement about being ‘the world’s biggest girl band’ maybe wasn’t completely true, they certainly proved that they are, right now, the best. Whilst Fifth Harmony continue to crumble from within and put on a chaotic shambles of a live show, Little Mix strutted onto the X Factor stage and quite simply showed everyone how to do it.
But we’re here to talk about the song, so let’s talk about the song. For a start, it uses one of the great, under-appreciated girl-band singles in recent years, G.R.L’s Ugly Heart, as quite a substantial jumping off point and it really doesn’t let up from there. It mixes several styles into a homogeneous melting pit of sonic sound; there’s the opening bars, which incorporate a ‘Move’-like disjointed, beat-box beat focusing solely on Perrie’s slick, tongue-in-cheeks vocal delivery. Then there’s the chorus, where the country-guitars come crashing in to full effect – yes, certainly ripped straight from the chorus of Ugly Heart (and who can blame them, what a bloody chorus) but stop us if you also don’t think there’s a hearty helping of Taylor Swift in the mix too, those delectable guitar beats in the chorus specially reminiscent of Blank Space and the tongue-in-cheek spoken-sung verses straight out of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. This is the type of country music we can get into – sorry, Lady Gaga.
Genre-wise, we’re still firmly in the pop-sphere, and still dipping into the ultra-pop flavour that Black Magic and the Get Weird album established, but the R&B stylings and Destiny’s Child-like vocals like peppered Salute – quite obviously their best album – are still present here. And like that closing moment of the live performance confirmed, the girls’ harmonies are still very much intact and in fighting form.
We know we’re in early days, but we would quite confidently already place Shoutout to My Ex in the pantheon of great girl-band kiss off anthems; My Lovin’ (You Ain’t Ever Gonna Get It), No Scrubs, Bootylicious, Stop, Sexy! No No No… and of course I Don’t Need A Man. Little Mix have been one of the greatest things about British pop music for the last few years, and they’ve never broken through as they truly deserve. Shoutout to My Ex, is incredibly relevant in today’s pop climate – an uber-pop spin-off of many of the themes of Beyonce’s magnum opus Lemonade and feeds directly into the continuing fascination with the end of Perrie and Zayn’s relationship, from his own solo work (sHe is quite definitely about Perrie) to his newest relationship with Gigi Hadid – which is directly referenced to in the song, with the brilliant ‘I hope she getting better sex / hope she ain’t faking it like I did.’
It’s an incredibly catchy, evocative and moreish pop delicacy that all but solidifies Little Mix’s next big jump into the mainstream with their upcoming fourth (!) album, Glory Days and we for one, can’t wait to see what the girls do after making the biggest splash possible for their impending comeback.