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Goodbye to Little Mix, The Unsung Pop Icons

The crowd at the O2 Arena wore their best rainbow suits to bid farewell to Little Mix on their last show on May 14th

In a crowd that glittered and sparkled stood two groups of people; now-adult men and women who were introduced to Little Mix as children and the kids who found them along the way. Ready to say their final goodbye, the sea of rainbow-coloured gathered at the O2 Arena for the final night of the Confetti tour.

The most magical aspect of Little Mix’s success is their ability to make anyone who listens to their music feel like they play an indispensable role in a world that can otherwise be cruel and unkind. From Little Me, More Than Words, Wings and Power to Salute, Wasabi, Sweet Melody and Between Us, Little Mix have easily created one of the most underrated catalogues in pop music, and that has never been more evident than now, as they take their last bow.

Their music is as grandiose as it is personable, a feat that could only be achieved by the girls’ chameleon-like artistry. As they executed each performance with infectious energy, delivered unbelievable vocals and bawled their eyes out in-between, those watching – at the arena, or through their global Livestream – realised that, with this unlimited hiatus, Little Mix would be leaving behind a very evident void in the industry. 

Ever since becoming the first band to win The X Factor in 2011, Little Mix have prided themselves in their genuine approach to music and performance. The manufactured ideal attached to pop music was always something Little Mix tried to combat by making it a point to write most of their own music, sing live (and incredibly, at that) and never shy away from showing their most vulnerable sides.

In the process, they sold 70 million records worldwide, became the most streamed girl group on Spotify, the first girl band to win ‘Best Group’ at the BRITs and attained five UK #1s. In a career spanning almost 11 years, the group released six studio albums, one compilation album, 33 singles and 40 music videos. Little Mix toured the world, corner to corner, and grew a devoted fan base that they empowered and uplifted through every larger-than-life track, flawless acoustic live performance or comedic sketch they would release online for fans’ amusement (the world deserved a Little Mix movie – those girls are even great at acting).

But, Little Mix have also always refused to bend to anyone’s rules, especially if they thought them unfair or unfit. As they grew as women and people, they also became some of the most irreverent and outspoken celebrities. Jade, Perrie, Leigh-Anne, and Jesy became advocates for feminism, LGBT+ rights, civil rights, equality, mental health and body positivity.

Little Mix Confetti Tour

© Georgie Gibbon

Jade has worked with Stonewall UK for years now, Leigh-Anne created The Black Fund to support black communities across the UK, Perrie opened up about her deep struggle with anxiety in the hopes to demystify the topic, and Jesy defied bullying and online trolling. As a group, through music like Strip, Woman’s World, Salute and Little Me, they made it loud and clear where they stood – and it was not going to be in support of the same “pitting women against each other” standards pop culture had been feeding the public for decades. Little Mix were here to shake things up. 

Challenging the status quo always comes with its fair share of backlash and the girls were soon under fire for what they wore, how much skin they showed and who they were dating. Online trolling was frequent, and even famous media personalities couldn’t help but feel attacked by their irreverence and self-love. The group also shared how they were told to flirt with music executives by their US team in order to get their music played in the country, which they daringly refused. The relationship with their first label is another sore spot in an otherwise brilliant career, as quotes from the girls over the years give the impression their needs weren’t always met, resulting in the stagnation of their US and international expansion. As a result, Little Mix have never gotten their rightful dues outside of the UK. 

No, Little Mix never reached worldwide cultural phenomenon status like the Spice Girls or most recently Blackpink, purely because they never broke the US. The girls themselves have admitted to this being one of their biggest career regrets, but it’s hard to reach such a faraway destination when you’re left rowing alone. Regardless, their message, pure talent and charisma meant that, even if the general public would, unfortunately, be missing the train, their fans were ride-or-die and going all the way.

In December of 2020, Jesy announced she’d be leaving the group and what followed sadly tarnished a decade of rare intimate friendship shared by the Little Mix members. Despite some unnecessary drama involving Nicki Minaj, the three remaining girls stayed as classy as ever as they announced their celebratory compilation album Between Us, with a lead single that sang “When the curtains close and all of the lights go down, safe to say I’ll stay, I will always stick around”. The move left fans wondering whether the fate of fellow X Factor groups like One Direction and Fifth Harmony – where the announcement of a hiatus followed soon after the news of a member leaving – would see another reiteration. And so it did.

At the end of 2021, Jade, Leigh-Anne and Perrie informed the world they would be taking a break from Little Mix. In the statement they were adamant that “Little Mix is forever”, and hey had “plans for more music, tours and performances in the future”. It’s true reunions always eventually happen for groups as massive as Little Mix, but they’re usually quite a few years down the road. And so, their goodbye was set for end of their Confetti Tour

An emotional night for everyone at the O2 Arena, but for none more than Little Mix themselves. The megastars couldn’t help but break down in tears every time they had to address the public. A feeling that was reciprocated tenfold by every mixer in the audience and watching at home. The farewell to a magnificent career spanning a decade felt more like an intimate gathering between friends or a nostalgic goodbye before a long trip abroad. Above all, it was one hell of a party.

Despite their success, Little Mix never stopped being mixers’ well-kept secret – a band that fans felt privileged to get to support when the rest of the world seemed to be oblivious. Little Mix had always been more like friends than celebrities. Their approach to fans was so familial, it was like they were in it together, every step of the way. 

“Every single one of you have made such a big impact on our lives and our careers, and we wouldn’t be standing here now if it wasn’t for you,” a choked-up Perrie said at the midpoint of Saturday night’s show as she thanked mixers around the world for their support over the years. “We love you all so, so much and we are the luckiest girls in the world,” she concluded as Jade and Leigh-Anne looked on in agreement and similar sentiment. 

The big emotional climax came with the performance of Between Us, a song Little Mix had been struggling to sing for the entire tour, dreading the moment they would sing it last. The ballad, which is a tribute to their friendship, warranted beautiful love declarations between the three artists and didn’t leave a dry eye in the room. “We’ve created some of the most amazing memories,” Jade shared just before her voice cracked with tears fighting to come out. “I just want to say, you girls changed my life and no amount of words or songs will show just how thankful I am for that. You’ve really made me a better person and I can’t live without yous,” she cried. 

Safe to say, half of the song was sung by the audience with Little Mix struggling to get their notes out. After the show had wrapped up with Sweet Melody, Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne came back on stage to sing Between Us one last time. Wearing black Little Mix: The Last Show hoodies, and holding each other tight, the three women from High Wycombe and South Shields who took over the world sang their vows one last time:

“I swear that we won’t lose this thing we’ve found

Love will never leave us,

Nothing comes between us, between us.”

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