By MIKE CHAIKEN
The fans of Little Mix, affectionately dubbed as Mixers by the group, were obviously biting at the bit for the English quartet’s latest.
As soon as the album, “Salute,” was released on Feb. 4, it quickly shot up the iTunes charts.
Leigh-Anne Pinnock of Little Mix, in a call from New York, said she and the other members of Little Mix, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, and Jade Thirlwall, watched as their sophomore released leapt all the way to No. 3 as soon as it was made available to the U.S. public.
Leigh-Ann said she thought to herself, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t expect that.”
The album didn’t stop there, however, said Leigh-Anne. “Salute” subsequently went up to No. 1 for the day before settling in at No. 2 on day 1.
Not bad for the band that first earned recognition back home in Britain as contestants (and subsequent victors) on the U.K. version of Simon Cowell’s “X-Factor.”
“We couldn’t process coming here (to the States) and seeing the support we have… We’re so thankful,” said Leigh-Anne.
Little Mix is coming to Connecticut on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9 when they open for the red-hot Demi Lovato at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford on “The Neon Lights” tour.
“Salute” is the group’s follow-up to their debut, “DNA.”
Press materials for Little Mix explain the members feel the album is a step forward for the foursome.
“It’s much more mature… There’s more R&B,” said Leigh-Anne. Also, the band took a bigger role in the songwriting as well.
“DNA” was about experimenting, figuring out what worked, said Leigh-Anne. It also helped expand and build Little Mix’s fan base.
Leigh-Anne said the new album represents the essence of who Little Mix is. “We’ve found our sound.”
And what is that sound? You definitely can hear how the group builds upon the musical templates left by acts such as En Vogue, Destiny’s Child (including Beyonce’s solo material), and Mariah Carey. Like those acts, the focus is put on vocals rather than the machinery of production.
“At the end of the day, we are a vocal, harmony group,” said Leigh-Anne. “That sets us apart. We love to harmonize together.”
En Vogue and Destiny’s Child are definite influences, said Leigh-Anne. And girl groups in general are key to the Little Mix’s sound.
“One of my main inspirations is Beyonce—as a performer and what she stands for and her energy,” said Leigh-Anne.
When Little Mix hits the road with Demi Lovato to jaunt across the States, Leigh Anne said it will be first arena-type tour for the group as an entity unto themselves. She said the group hit the road to play arenas with the British “X-Factor” crew back home. But this will be their first trek across America.
“It’s going to be amazing,” said Leigh-Anne. “It’s time to see our fans and gain new fans.”
Sometimes when a group depends on harmonies for their sound, arenas can be tough venues to perform. Members can’t hear each other as well across a large stage and in front of screaming fans.
But Leigh-Anne said fans of Little Mix shouldn’t worry. “We trust the sound guys (first of all),” said Leigh-Anne. More importantly, however, “We trust each other.” As the group grows, the harmonies get “closer and closer and tighter and tighter.”
Little Mix got their start on the U.K. version of “X-Factor.” Initially, they auditioned as solo artists. But a suggestion was made for them to pull their talent resources together and compete as a group. Thus, Little Mix was born. The group tne went on to win the 2011 cycle of the televised talent competition.
“X-Factor,” said Leigh-Anne, “was absolutely incredible. It was a roller coaster of emotions. We learned so much.”
On the show, their mentor was Kelly Rowland of Leigh-Anne’s heroes Destiny’s Child. “She was amazing.” And she pulled no punches, offering constructive criticism for Little Mix to build upon.
After The Neon Lights Tour, what’s next for Little Mix? Leigh-Anne said the group will be heading back home to the U.K. Then they will begin the process of recording their follow-up to “Salute.” The songwriting hasn’t begun for that future release, said Leigh-Anne. But the ideas are percolating.
Little Mix opens for Demi Lovato on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford. For tickets, go Oakdale.com
For more information about Little Mix go to http://www.little-mix.com/
To see the video Little Mix’s single, “Move” go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwD4eJGxPc4.