The Spice Girls used to be the biggest British girl group in Billboard history–until two weeks ago. That’s when British girl group Little Mix’s debut album, DNA, took the fourth spot on the Billboard charts and became the highest charting debut for a British girl group in history.
The rise of Little Mix comes on the heels of One Direction’s massive takeover of the pop music market, and the two groups have a lot in common. Both started out as groups put together on Great Britain’s The X Factor, but unlike One Direction, Little Mix actually came in first place in their season. Since then, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson and Jade Thirlwall, have gone from being unknown teenaged girls with dreams of singing to international superstars.
Their song “Wings” has been covered on Glee, their dating lives make the tabloids, and their X Factor mentor, Tulisa, has been dragged into an epic drug dealing scandal back in the United Kingdom.
The girls are literal pop superstars, with all the glamour and the baggage that comes with it, and yet they each still come across as humble and down-to-earth that’s truly refreshing and endearing. (Example: Jade offered me her popcorn before the interview even started.)
We got a chance to talk with the lovely and loquacious ladies of Little Mix on their last day stateside and we got all the scoop on how they deal with the pressure of pop stardom, who they want to work with next, what they really think of being compared to the Spice Girls and what Mariah Carey’s movie Glitter has to do with their dreams.
VH1: So, how has America been treating you guys?
Jade: We’ve had the best time and we’ve been here for like two weeks and we’re going home today so we’re really sad, but it’s been the best trip ever. There’s been thousands of fans here and we found out we got a number four on the charts. We broke a record! So I think this has been probably one of the highlights of our career so far being here.
VH1: Now, everyone has been comparing you guys to the Spice Girls. Do you guys like that comparison or–?
Jesy: WE LOVE THAT COMPARISON!
Jesy: We all like loved them growing up as kids. We had the big covers, posters, everything possible. So, to be like compared to them—they were the biggest girl group in the world—is just like absolutely amazing.
Leigh-Anne: Absolutely amazing. First off, T-Boz, like TLC—they were such an inspiration when we were younger. They are amazing! So, yeah, to be able to work with T-Boz and to say that you’ve worked with one of your inspirations is pretty amazing. Missy Elliott, like we’ve all grown up listening to her as well. She’s incredible. It’s just amazing.
Perrie: Yeah, for the first album we’ve been so lucky because obviously we’re a girl group and we were new. Like, at the time that we came out there wasn’t really girl groups around and on our album we had—I don’t know if you know like Girls Aloud–we had Nicola [Roberts] from Girls Aloud on a song. We had Shaznay [Lewis] from All Saints on a song like helping us write stuff. We were really lucky to have so many [people from] girl bands have so much input. It was lovely to work with them.
Little Mix: Awwwwwww!
VH1: Yeah, she said you guys were “incredibly beautiful” and that you can “sang” with an “a.”
Little Mix: Awwwwwww!
Jesy: God Bless Her!
VH1: And she’s wants to work with you on your next album. Who, besides Kelly, would you want to work with on your next album?
Leigh-Anne: We always say Nicki Minaj, don’t we? We’d love to collab with Nicki Minaj. She’s amazing and I think she’d really fit in well with us and what we do. She’s so quirky.
Jesy: I’d like to work with Timbaland.
Jade: He’s a legend.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
VH1: On The X Factor, you all auditioned as solo artists and now you’re in a group. Do you ever worry that one or more of you might try to break off from the band and start a solo career?
Little Mix: No.
Perrie: No, we’re not going anywhere.
Jade: The healthy thing I think about this group is that we’re all individual and we’re all equal as well. And I think that’s really important, and yeah, I think we have a really healthy relationship.
Perrie: Pity any one who wants to leave because I think we’d all handcuff them.
Leigh-Anne: If one of us left, then there would be no Little Mix. It has to be the four of us. Four pieces to the puzzle.
VH1: Do you think The X Factor was a good training ground for what pop stardom is?
Jade: It was the best platform ever. I mean, it was such a whirlwind. Like, it happened so quickly, but I feel like it was the best way for us. We just got thrown in and you learn to deal with it straight away. I mean, luckily for us, we’ve got each other. As a solo artists, it might have been scarier, but because we’ve got each other to keep each other grounded and everything and to support each other, it was a lot easier.
VH1: Awkward question, but what is going on with Tulisa?
Little Mix: We don’t actually know!
Perrie: We haven’t been home!
Jesy: Yeah, we don’t know anything about all that, but all we know is that we’re always going to be here for her. We love Tulisa. She’s like our sister.
Leigh-Anne: Whatever happens, we’re here.
VH1: You all seem to be pretty down-to-earth. How do you still have time to be normal?
Jesy: Aw. We are still normal! We still get to do normal things apart from when we’re working. Obviously, when we’re working it’s crazy, but when we get our days off we get to do all the normal things that we used to do like our shopping, hanging out with our friends, just chill…so yeah.
Leigh-Anne: Like Jesy says all the time, it’s true, we don’t feel like pop stars at all. Like, we are so normal. Yeah, I think it’s good that we ‘re always going to stay grounded. We’re never going to change. We’re never going to be too big for our boots.
VH1: How do you handle all the scrutiny in the press about your personal life or your looks?
Jesy: I think, just literally, you’ve got to take it with a pinch of salt because it’s just what comes with this industry. Every single celebrity gets it and it’s literally what comes with it. So, yeah, you have to, like, water off a duck’s back, really. You just have to ignore it because at the end of the day any press—what’s the saying?
Jade: “Any publicity is good publicity.”
Jesy: Any publicity is good publicity, I say.
Leigh-Anne: It’s not just papers, as well. It’s like people being like haters or just being rude and horrible. And it’s like, we’re just going to continue to make music to make people feel better about themselves.
Jade: It’s better to be talked about than to be not talked about at all.
Perrie: Yeah, I think at the start it was hard because we’d never had it—
Jade: But it’s like normal girls, isn’t it? Like, if you’re on Facebook or on Twitter, having a normal lifestyle, even if you see one comment from someone, you can get really upset and like you don’t understand.
Leigh-Anne: Imagine that plus a hundred.
Jade: Yeah, and this industry magnifies it by a hundred and if anything, I think being in this industry has really toughened us up.
Perrie: Yeah, but you do it to be a singer, not to be scrutinized, and then you just have to realize that it comes with the territory and you just get over it, really.
Leigh-Anne: Everything has consequences and sacrifices.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
VH1: We heard that your goal is to play at Madison Square Garden.
Little Mix: Yup!
VH1: Where did that come from?
Jesy: We’ve had it since we watched Glitter.
Jesy: It’s all been our dream.
Leigh-Anne: And you know, what the weird thing is, as well…had you seen it, Jade?
Leigh-Anne:…we all said our goal, we all said it was the Madison Square Garden thing from watching Glitter, but before we even knew each other. Do you know what I’m trying to say?
Perrie: Yeah, I know what you mean because we all watched Glitter when we were younger and was our dream individually and then when we got together we realized it.
Leigh-Anne: I said it was my dream to play Madison Square Garden and then we all said it!
VH1: So what is next for you guys, besides going home?
Jade: Well, we’ve got a lot of festivals coming up. A lot of summer festivals which we’re very excited about. We will be returning here to America to do a few things. So, we’re very excited to come back again and yeah, we’ve just started out on our new album which is pretty weird considering we’ve still got DNA. We don’t want to let DNA go and we’re really happy we get to promote it in other countries. But yes, we’re very busy, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.