He imagines them doing a stadium tour where they trade songs for an evening, much like the one Jay Z and Justin Timberlake did a few years ago. “She would be there if everything ended for me,” Sheeran says. “Taylor is kind of an anomaly in that sense.” He’s been annoyed at the backlash against her lately: “She’s omnipresent because she’s the most famous woman in the world, so she can’t make the decision to not be in the press. I always stick up for Taylor.”
Ed Sheeran on Taylor Swift in Rolling Stone (March 2017) (x)
As Billboard celebrates its annual Girl Group Week, we’ve got Fifth Harmony on our cover, but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the U.K.’s beloved quartet, Little Mix.
Back in 2011, the band came together on The X-Factor, so killer covers and fresh, new renditions of pop classics have always been in their wheelhouse. Six years later, we join Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards for a video history of their best cover songs.
1. Fergie - “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (2011)
The Little Mix ladies first auditioned for the U.K.’s X-Factor individually. Former judge Kelly Rowland suggested they be placed into a girl group, and the band we know today – then called Rhythmix – was born. This was their first performance together. Consider it iconic and ironic, as their rendition of Fergie’s 2003 single not only made them tear up by the by the end of the song, but even made Jessie J quite emotional. “I’m slightly in love with them,” she said.
2. En Vogue - “Don’t Let Go” (2011)
The girls have mentioned that their take on En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go” was the turning point of their X-Factor journey to stardom. “That was the moment when people looked at us and thought, ‘Wait a moment. These girls actually stand a chance,‘” Edwards recalled. Little Mix delivered a powerful and vocal-dominated rendition of the ‘90s hit, inspiring some to think they really could become the next big girl group.
3. Beyoncé - “End of Time” (2012)
Months after taking the crown as X-Factor’s season eight winners, the quartet opened up its own official YouTube channel with one of Beyoncé’s singles, 2012’s “End of Time.” Without instruments accompanying them but their own vocals and snaps, Little Mix gave a cover that would sure make Queen Bey, herself, proud. (Peep Leigh-Anne and Jade at 1:30 killing it with their harmony.)
4. Fun. - “We Are Young” (2012)
Racking almost 11 million views and counting, the acoustic cover of Fun.’s “We Are Young” justifies Little Mix’s vocal abilities and talents. After covering female artists or pop songs frequently in the past, this was one of the first times Little Mix took an indie pop/rock track and made it their own. Compared to Nate Ruess’ vocals, Little Mix gives this catchy tune a youthful and innocent feel; check that breakdown at the 3:15 mark. The group performed this cover again on SiriusXM months after Perrie had her tonsils taken out.
“Remember when cats used to harmonize like…” Well, the British babes are the cats that brought it back. Mashing it up with Lumidee’s 2003 summer hit “Never Leave You,” Little Mix throws it back to the bops of the old days. This mash-up also showcases Jesy’s skills in beatboxing, giving an extra dose of nostalgia to the ears. (Watch the 1:09 mark!) “Their voices harmonize together like slicing butter with a hot knife. Holy god,” as how the top YouTube comment would say.
As Little Mix has proven that they can switch from genre to genre, the group turned down the tempo of this Mumford & Sons hit to a ballad listeners could cry along to, in the most elegant way possible. Accompanied by a small orchestra, piano and guitar, “I Will Wait” becomes a heartfelt and sad love song the brokenhearted can listen to for days.
7. “Holy Grail”/“Counting Stars”/“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (2013)
From rap to pop/rock to grunge, the ladies became Justin Timberlake, JAY-Z, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain all in a matter of four minutes and six seconds. In a mash-up medley they performed at BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, the group starts off with “Counting Stars” into “Holy Grail,” then finally transitions to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with hints of “Counting” in between.
Though this wasn’t the first time Little Mix performed a Katy Perry hit, it sure became one of the first covers to flash their mature side. Performed during their Salute Tour, the gals busted out in synchronized harmony and choreography, giving the original Aphrodite a run for her money… or throne.
One of their musical favorites when it comes to female empowerment, Little Mix embraced its inner T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli for an a capella of the all-time classic. However, this short a capella rendition wasn’t the first time the girls performed “No Scrubs.” Just like “Dark Horse,” Little Mix has performed a longer version of this cover (with choreography!) – but on the DNA Tour back in 2013.
What was meant to be for Z100 and Elvis Duran’s “Pay My Bills” promo turned out to be one of the coolest and shortest covers Little Mix has done. And it left me wanting more. Jesy with the beatboxing while the girls come through with the harmony, 17 seconds is a total cliff-hanger that makes you want to hear more! Nonetheless, it is a cover that gives the Destiny’s Child classic justice and makes their X-Factor judge Kelly Rowland proud.
11. Jason Derulo - “Want to Want Me”/Whitney Houston - “Dance With Somebody” Mash-Up (2015)
Let’s be real. Nothing beats a whole choir when you’re turning two catchy pop/dance songs into a gospel mash-up. As each member took turns crooning the first verse of “Want to Want Me,” the cover gradually takes it to church when the choir joins in for the chorus and smoothly transitions into Whitney Houston’s “Dance With Somebody” (with hints of Natalie La Rose’s revival, “Somebody,” towards the end). It was after seeing this cover that Jason Derulo collaborated with the group for their famous ballad, and LGBTQ anthem, “Secret Love Song.”
Considering the last time the ladies performed doo-wop-inspired tracks was during their Get Weird days (“Love Me Like You” and “The End”), it was refreshing to hear the quartet come together and tackle Rihanna’s ANTI single. Jesy, Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne perfectly showcased their vocal abilities (individually and as a group) with their sultry rendition filled with runs and harmonies. Knowing that the bad gal is one of their fashion icons, all four made sure to come clutch for their cover by serving some looks. Trust. This cover will make you say “YAAAS QUEEN!” just like Perrie did at the end. Again, prepare to be slayed.
Though this is obviously not Little Mix, let’s shout out Ed Sheeran showing some love. As he covered the dancehall-inspired pop song during his “Shape of You” promotions, he mentioned that the hit single was originally for the British girl group. Now, with that thought in mind, one can only imagine how Little Mix’s cover of “Shape of You” would sound like (if you’re reading this, Little Mix, nudge nudge).
If that wasn’t enough for you, check out this playlist YouTube user Allison Hernandez made that mixes 30 of the many acoustic performances and a capella covers they’ve done!