Fifth Harmony Demonstrates Everything That's Wrong With TV Singing Competitions
Fifth Harmony is a girl group from Texas who finished third in Fox's second season of the imported British talent show The X Factor. All five people in the girl group are pretty in a still-relatable sort of way, and all five people in the girl group do the wavy arm gestures expected of our pop stars today (including the emotional fist bundle and that hand-fan thing that Mariah Carey does all the time). They can all clearly sing and some of them have upsetting back-stories, which, frankly, makes them an X Factor dream come true.
Fifth Harmony this week released its debut video, for a track called "Miss Movin' On." This is what it looks and sounds like:
"Miss Movin' On" is an age-appropriate, angry-but-optimistic pop song. It's got a feisty edge, but not so much as to actually make it stand out. It's catchy, but not so much that you can distinguish it from any number of other pop songs that we've heard so far this year. If you heard it on the radio, not only would you not recognize that it's sung by more than one vocalist, you would also assume it was Selena Gomez. Or Taylor Swift -- because the chorus of "Miss Movin' On" bears a striking resemblance to "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."
We don't blame anyone in Fifth Harmony for any of this, because teenagers now frequently think that going through a TV show is the only way to have a music career. Of course, the second these girls got accepted onto one, their free will was no more. When you come from a talent show, it is a given that someone else will be styling you, someone else will be picking what songs from the pop factory you sing, and someone else will have absolute control over your entire career. Did we mention the band's name was chosen by the public because Simon Cowell didn't like the old one? Yeah. That happened.
"Miss Movin' On" by Fifth Harmony isn't the worst song we've ever heard, but it is a really solid representation of what is so, so, very wrong with televised singing competitions. This thing is so incredibly middle-of-the-road and safe and salable that any semblance of personality the girls may have has effectively been erased. Watching the video, we might as well be watching a commercial for this season's teen line at JC Penney for all it tells us about the people in it.
Acts coming from singing competitions do have very real talent most of the time -- as we're sure the members of Fifth Harmony do. But what ends up being produced, released, and sold to the masses is disposable, lowest common denominator pop. And "Miss Movin' On" is the most solid example we've seen of that for a long while. The greatest irony of all is that we're sure this group of young ladies is nothing but eternally grateful to X Factor for launching their careers -- but truthfully, they might have been better off going it alone.