IT’S hard to recall life before Little Mix – and now their latest success officially marks them out as pop greats.
New track Sweet Melody soared to the top of the Big Top 40 chart on Sunday, making them the most successful group in UK singles chart history. Their six No1 hits beats the likes of One Direction and Clean Bandit, who each have five.
Now, too, mid-week figures reveal the girls are neck and neck with Kylie Minogue at the summit of the Official Albums Chart — with 2,000 sales in it as they head for a nail-biting finish this Friday.
But what really sets Little Mix apart is staying power. Nine years after they formed during The X Factor 2011, the four-piece are still going strong — outlasting their time with now former mentor Simon Cowell.
I have met the girls several times over the years, and their energy and steeliness are unique.
They are ready to rock the boat if needed — as shown by one of the tracks on new album Confetti, called Not A Pop Song.
It is littered with tongue-in-cheek jibes at Cowell, including the line: “I don’t do what Simon says.”
Well, that’s cleared that up, then.
Their own brand of Girl Power has lasted longer than the Spice Girls, All Saints, Girls Aloud or The Pussycat Dolls before them — while selling some 50million records around the world.
And the hits just keep on coming.
Their unprecedented success has come despite hurdles that would have tripped up lesser acts.
These have included the bust-up between Cowell and their management team, online trolling and almost a decade in the spotlight of superstardom — not to mention the trials of navigating romance as twentysomethings.
They have also gone almost ten years without major controversy or scandal and, but for the skimpy outfits, are the nearly squeaky-clean poster girls of a pop scene now rife with X-rated lyrics.
The words to Ariana Grande’s latest album, Positions, make the Kama Sutra look tame.
But Little Mix continue to champion positive messages of independence and confidence which parents can rest easy about as their youngsters tune in.
While the music industry has put challenges their way, Little Mix’s super-strength bonding has hauled them through.
A source tells me: “They’re very determined. It’s the strength of the relationships between them that has given them the confidence to stand up for whatever they want.
“Most groups would have disintegrated long before now, or at least had a member leave. Even when things turned frosty behind the scenes with their record label, the girls still stood together.
“It’s an extraordinary achievement and their record-breaking backs up how they have worked.”
This weekend saw Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall host and perform at the MTV Europe Music Awards — with comedy beard masks but without Jesy Nelson, who was off sick.
Jesy — who has bravely spoken out about the torments of pop stardom, including in a Bafta- winning documentary about online trolls — also missed out on Saturday night’s final of the girls’ BBC reality TV show Little Mix: The Search.
But the band still stole the show at the awards bash — and picked up the Best Pop prize, while paying tribute to their missing pal.
Leigh-Anne said: “We just wish our girl Jesy was here to receive this with us. She’d be so happy.”
If she’s back on stage soon, so will their fans.
How it all began
THE girls auditioned as soloists on 2011’s The X Factor but were rejected at Boot Camp and put in two separate groups.
Both failed to progress but the judges took the four girls for another band, Rhythmix, pictured.
They changed their name due to a dispute with charity Rhythmix and won the show. Their winner’s song, Cannonball, got to No1.
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Ed art raises £40k
ED Sheeran has proved himself as an artist with a paintbrush as well as in front of a mic.
The superstar sold his painting, called Dab 2, for a whopping £40,000 in a charity auction. That was double the price of a print by acclaimed artist Damien Hirst in the same fundraiser.
It is the first painting Ed has sold, having got into art after completing his Divide world tour last summer.
He said: “I painted a canvas a day for 30 days. It was really fun. It’s kind of Jackson Pollock-y.
“I bought house paint and just layered it up by flicking it. I just do my art and I love doing it.
“It’s something that makes me happy – that no one else needs to judge.”
The giant canvas was part of his parents’ Ed Sheeran: Made In Suffolk Legacy Fundraiser, which has raked in more than £500,000 for children and young people across East Anglia with disabilities and life-limiting illnesses.
Proof of Ed’s star power was the fact a handful of his childhood Lego bricks also sold for £4,150.
They’ve built up a fortune with these figures.
Things that bug Paloma
PALOMA Faith has promised nothing is off limits on her new album Infinite Things – including turbulent times with her long-term boyfriend Leyman Lahcine.
Speaking in the new issue of Overdue magazine, out today, she said: “My USP is the fact that I am brutally honest.
“Some people find it shocking and some people find it liberating.
“And I feel like this album will do both of those things.
“There are songs where I talk about how unbearable it is to be with my partner but I will still stay with him and there are songs where I talk about my child and I say things that aren’t sentimental.
“I wrote the lyrics, ‘All the joy and all the chaos I see in your eyes that life brings, those infinite things’, because being a mother isn’t just idyllic and perfect, you sacrifice a lot.”
With another baby on the way, things aren’t going to get any easier for her.
LIL NAS X has joined the race for Christmas No1 by announcing he will release a festive single this Friday.
The tune, called Holiday, will be the rapper’s first release in more than a year following the success of his US chart topper Old Town Road last summer.
In a Back To The Future-inspired trailer for the song, he’s shown as a time-travelling Santa Claus while Michael J Fox warns him: “Whatever you do Nas, don’t go to 2020.”
Anne-Marie quit fears
ANNE-MARIE has almost packed in life as a pop star despite having ten Top 40 singles.
She said: “It’s happened three times, where I’ve sat at home and I’ve been like, ‘That’s it, I’m not doing it any more’. It’s hard to talk about because I’ve always been such a sensitive person.
“Even at school, when I was treated badly by other students, I think, ‘Was I treated that badly, or am I just really sensitive?’.
“In regards to the industry, if for instance I feel like I haven’t written a good song and I feel really s**t and I don’t think I’m a good songwriter, I’m like, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
On Thursday she releases her YouTube documentary How To Be Anne-Marie, which follows her behind the scenes as she gets ready to put out new music.
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