SOMETIMES people think we’re just another girl band. But actually we’re feisty and we’re honest. We’ll say it how it is… in a nice way.’ Jesy Nelson, 25, one quarter of Little Mix, is bang on. Because the foursome aren’t ‘just another girl band’, or even just the biggest British girl band since The Spice Girls. Jesy, along with Perrie Edwards, 23, Jade Thirlwall, 23, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 25, are one of the biggest pop acts in the world today, and they’re on track for a No.1 with their new album Glory Days.
I catch the 2011 X Factor winners, who’ve sold more than 7.5million records worldwide, each looking impossibly glam in the slightly less auspicious setting of a suburban Holiday Inn, jetlagged to the extreme after flying in from Australia. I suspect they’d love nothing more than to be wrapped up in a duvet watching Towie, but they sit up and perform like troopers the moment I walk through the door, giggling and finishing each other’s sentences.
With three albums of tight, catchy pop under their belts, Glory Days now invests Little Mix with a new maturity,from the raw heartbreak of Nobody Like You, to the gloriously Abba-esque Nothing Else Matters. The girls seem to have poured everything they’ve been through over an insane half-decade into the record. ‘It was nice to just do a bit of therapy,’ says Perrie. ‘Whack it all in.’
Storming lead single Shout Out To My Ex seems to heave with multiple cloaked references to Zayn Malick (‘Heard he in love with some other chick, yeah yeah, that hurt me, I’ll admit’), who infamously broke off his engagement with Perrie over text message. Questions about the ex-1Der are off the table but she’s happy to talk about break-ups in general. ‘I think everyone would prefer it if you could both walk away being friends, being civil,’ she says. ‘But when it ends messy and bitter…
that’s the worst.’
Many don’t realise that Little Mix co-write much of their own music. I bring up the ‘Hope she ain’t fakin’ it like I did’ line in Shout Out To My Ex. ‘If there’s a woman out there who’s never done it, well done to them!’ says Jade. I wonder aloud if the girls have heard that a surprising number of men supposedly somehow fake orgasms too, and I’m met with a chorus of ‘No way! I never knew that! How?’ I try to explain, whispering and swiveling round in my chair to make sure the Little Mix team aren’t about to throw me out for being too lewd, too soon.
‘So, do you think that some men just prefer quickies?’ asks Perrie, while point-blank refusing to be drawn on whether she does herself. Our conversation spins at dizzying speed over the kind of topics I might only normally bring up with strangers after half a bottle of house white. This has taken a turn for the worse, hasn’t it?’ hoots Perrie. In an era of over-sensitive pop diplomacy, their fun frankness is welcome. When I ask their opinions on this year’s X Factor anomaly Honey G, I get the first flat silence of the interview. ‘Oh, we’re sick of talking about that,’ says Perrie. That’s me told, then.
They don’t pretend to be angels but Little Mix still make exemplary role models by virtue of their confidence and obvious female solidarity. Finding fame in their late teens and early twenties, they had to do a lot of growing up in public.‘When you’re younger, you go through stages of looking like s***,’ says Jade. ‘But we have to do all of that in the public eye.’ ‘But we’ve grown a thick skin and we just don’t give a s*** any more,’ says Jesy. ‘As cheesy as it sounds, we really love and support each other.’
‘We’re definitely going to look back at this time of our lives and say these were the glory days,’ agrees Perrie. ‘We’re travelling the world and we’re doing it together. It’s the happiest time of our life.’
Glory Days is out now on Syco