Words: Joe Passmore; Image: RCA
Since they shot to fame on The X Factor 10 years ago, the girls have continued to go from strength to strength. In 2021 alone they have won their third Brit Award, making history as the first all-female group to win Best Group, secured their fifth UK Number One single with ‘Sweet Melody’, as well as racking up another three UK top 10 singles.
It’s safe to say that after years of hard work as well as six albums of bangers, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards have earned their place in the hall of fame as UK pop royalty. We thought there’s no better time than now to cast our eye back over all their stellar singles so far...
Straight off the back of making history as the first group to ever win The X Factor came the inevitable winner’s cover ballad. The song raced in at Number One on the Official UK Single Chart, but despite a great vocal effort and being one of their five chart-toppers, it’s not one we're in a rush to go back to and the girls themselves have somewhat disowned it too… It didn’t even manage a spot on (most versions of) their Greatest Hits!
31) Word Up!
The second and thankfully last cover to appear in the Little Mix singles catalogue is ‘Word Up!’ This somewhat forgotten rendition of Cameo’s 80s hit was a charity release for BBC Sports Relief back in 2014. Though this doesn’t really add much to their singles discography, it gets extra points for its over the top, corny but charismatic music video.
30) One I’ve Been Missing
While bridging the gap between albums 5 and 6, Little Mix were feeling festive, releasing their first-ever Christmas song (No, the ‘Love Me Like You’ Christmas mix does not count). ‘One I’ve Been Missing’ is a nice, Leigh-Anne penned festive ballad, but we’d love to hear a more up-tempo Christmas song from the girls in the future. Just imagine Little Mix on their own ‘Santa Tell Me’, ‘Underneath the Tree’ or ‘One More Sleep’!
29) How Ya Doin’? (feat. Missy Elliott)
‘How Ya Doin’?’ was the first time Little Mix ever collaborated with another artist on a single, and what better way to start than with the legendary Missy Elliott herself?
"Hey, how ya doin'? Sorry you can't get through," they sing in their now instantly recognisable and playful tone. It might not be their most celebrated hit, but it showed Little Mix’s fun and colourful brand really beginning to flourish.
28) Little Me
Little Mix’s sophomore album Salute was full of potential single choices, but ‘Little Me’, while a lovely album track, didn’t really feel like an immediate single choice.
There’s a nice, uplifting sentiment here but in terms of reflective moments, the superior ‘Towers’, and ‘These Four Walls’ were screaming for a release (Though ‘Nothing Feels Like You’ is the true Salute single that never was).
27) Only You (with Cheat Codes)
After a break from the relentless Glory Days era, the girls helped bridge the gap between that and LM5 with a collaboration with DJ trio Cheat Codes.
‘Only You’ is a cute, if slightly uninspired little song. But it at least gave fans the LGBT themed video they’d been asking for for so long, in the form of the uplifting but somewhat strange lesbian, mermaid-themed video.
26) No Time for Tears (with Nathan Dawe)
This Nathan Dawe collaboration has an undeniable stomper of a chorus and would have benefited hugely from clubs being open back when it was released in 2020.
#26 feels almost too low for such a good song, but the only issue with it is that it feels a little faceless and it doesn’t have that Little Mix zest that makes it as special or memorable as most of their other hits.
25) Kiss My (Uh Oh) (with Anne Marie)
When we heard Little Mix were going to be on a track that samples Lumidee, we knew it was impossible to be bad, and this Anne Marie collaboration is a solid, catchy track. The girls take on the movie Bridesmaids in the video and they make it just as entertaining as they do most things
24) Bounce Back
Sampling ‘Back to Life’ by Soul II Soul, we have standalone single ‘Bounce Back’, the first single recorded after the girls moved to a new label RCA. While it gave us a nice taste of what was to come, most of the singles that have followed have been bigger and better.
23) Change Your Life
A somewhat forgotten gem in their singles discography, ‘Change Your Life’ is arguably one of ‘Little Mix's most underrated singles and ballads.
As well as the vocals, the girls’ distinct personalities really soar in this tear-jerking yet still anthemic track, ‘Change Your Life’ really captures the sweetness of early Little Mix.
22) Hair (feat. Sean Paul)
During his renaissance back in 2016, getting Sean Paul on your remix was a sure-fire way of making it a hit and it was no different for Little Mix.
'Hair' may have frustratingly just missed out on the top ten in the charts, peaking at number 11, but it was still a huge hit, much helped by a chaotic slumber party video in which the girls order pizza, jump around in their pyjamas and attempt to ignore Sean Paul’s persistent Facetime calls.
21) Love (Sweet Love)
The lead single from Little Mix’s Greatest Hits – Between Us seems to divide fans. However, there is so much joy here. From the funky ‘Wings’ throwback feel to the way Leigh-Anne nails that pre-chorus. The video may be one of their more simple moments, but power to the girls for doing yet another music video while two thirds of them were about to pop.
The second single from Little Mix’s Confetti and the first to appear here is ‘Holiday’, a breezy summer bop in the same vein as 2018’s ‘Only You’, but this time with not one, but two much catchier choruses. It’s a little more low-key in its vibe compared to the other singles on Confetti, but it still has a great replayability factor.
Here we have the first proper single from the girls and their second Number One (and first remembered Number One). Sticking to the theme of empowerment that runs through their entire discography, this belter gives us everything from harmonies to horns.
‘Wings’ did a really great job of defining what their sound was from the get go, it didn’t ever feel like it was jumping on any other trends and sounded instantly like a Little Mix song. Though ‘Wings’ remains a classic and gave us a glimpse of what Little Mix really had to offer as a group, I think it’s safe to say that the foursome outdid themselves numerous times over the course of the six albums that were to come.
18) Think About Us (feat. Ty Dolla Sign)
Because of the mid-campaign label change, we sadly only got a short two singles off of LM5 (three if we include Only You)… and while ‘Wasabi’ will always be the smash that got away, ‘Think About Us’ was still a perfectly respectable banger of a song, for the adlibs alone.
17) Reggaeton Lento (wth CNCO)
Riding the Latin remix trend that was at its peak in 2017, with songs like 'Despacito' burning up the charts, Little Mix jumped on CNCO’s ‘Reggaetón Lento’, it was already a great song, but Little Mix added some extra pizazz, making it one of their most memorable hits.
16) Secret Love Song (feat. Jason Derulo)
With lyrics like ‘Why can’t you hold me in the street? Why can’t I kiss you on the dancefloor’ the third and highest ballad to appear here is often interpreted as a homage to Little Mix’s LGBT fans, something Jade ‘Queen of the Gays’, where it’s dedicated to them on tour every single night.
However, despite ‘Secret Love Song’ being a big hit for the girls, when it was released Jason Derulo’s feature didn’t quite click with the tone of the song, especially when you see him busting out the robot during the music video. If we were judging on the more stripped back, solo version - ‘Secret Love Song Part 2’, it would probably place a little higher.
15) Woman Like Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)
Nicki Minaj was a long time career goal collaboration for the girls and she finally joined them on LM5’s lead single, ‘Woman Like Me’, which still seems to be one of their most divisive singles ever.
While not having one of those sugary, sing out the car window choruses Little Mix were known for at the time, we still love this, and it clearly went down well with the public, being one of their seven songs to sell over a million copies!
14) Love Me Like You
Here we have the Motown-infused ‘Love Me Like You’. The modern do-wop sound doesn’t always land, but this takes the vintage sound of The Ronettes, complementing the '60s sound, whilst giving it a modern edge with those filthy innuendos. To think this was originally called ‘F**k me like you’!
13) Confetti (feat. Saweetie)
We’re getting to the really great stuff now. ‘Confetti’, another new entry here and the first-ever Trio-mix single. ‘Confetti’ was a standout on its parent album. The added production and adlibs on the single mix made it slicker, cooler and more memorable, making it an instant hit and one of many future classics for Little Mix.
Brand new single ‘No’ is an immediate favourite. It takes a lot of its structure and production cues from ‘Sweet Melody’, and while not quite as good, not many songs are. I promise those “No no no”s, will be stuck in your head by the third listen.
11) Heartbreak Anthem (with Galantis and David Guetta)
Back to trio-mix, and the highest new entry on this ranking, ‘Heartbreak Anthem’ is by a long distance Little Mix’s best dance collaboration. That's no surprise, given it’s now one of their biggest smashes and is turning out to be their biggest worldwide streaming hit ever. Galantis’ vocal production is crisp, unique and euphoric and the three of them are serving some of their best looks in the music video.
10) Black Magic
So much of the ongoing success of Little Mix is owed to ‘Black Magic’. Even though it feels a touch cheesy looking back on it, we still have a huge soft spot for it just how brilliant and undeniable that chorus is. Around the time of ‘Black Magic’, the girls were in an uncertain place, with fears of even being dropped. But this came out of nowhere and stormed in at Number One for an impressive three weeks, kick-starting new level of stardom for the girls.
It’s not exactly difficult to work out why the British public took to this the way they did, from the first time hearing the opening line ‘All the girls on the block knocking at my door’, we just knew it would be huge.
9) Shout Out To My Ex
Back in 2016, ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ became that middle finger of an anthem that everyone was singing. Though sticking to a very simple pop formula, the blissful chorus still works as that fist-pumping earworm it’s meant to be and remains the girls’ biggest and highest-selling single ever.
In at #8 is with some fighting girl power is ‘Salute’ in all its military-themed glory. It was the third single off the album with the same name and has one of Little Mix’s ongoing empowering themes of women sticking together standing up and for themselves.
If you’re ever been lucky enough to see the girls live, ‘Salute’ is always a huge highlight – their choreo always snaps just as much as the song does.
7) No More Sad Songs (feat. Machine Gun Kelly)
I would say this is underrated based on its chart peak (despite it being a huge hit overall) but then again pretty much everyone seems to adore it. There is no doubt that Glory Days gave us Little Mix’s strongest singles run (though Confetti gives it a run for its money). And the girls’ mid-tempo sad-banger ‘No More Sad Songs’, was an immediate highlight and obvious single from the moment the album was released.
6) Break Up Song
With its original video shoot cancelled and coming right at the start of 2020’s dreaded lockdown, the girls were unable to do any proper promotion, so ‘Break Up Song’ didn’t have the big launch that Little Mix usually give us for their lead singles.
But that doesn’t stop ‘Break Up Song’ being a discography highlight. Slotting in nicely with a lot of 20/21 pop, those captivating synths and that joyous post-chorus make for a perfect slice of modern '80s-styled pop.
In terms of quality, ‘Wings’ was immediately eclipsed in quality by its follow-up, ‘DNA’. This is an addictive, moody and rarer example of Little Mix showing us their darker side, as well as being the estranged sister to Katy Perry’s 'E.T.'
Vocally, it really showed off their early potential, where Perrie really shines with those big notes and Leigh-Anne gives us a unique and spooky talky-rapped middle-eight.
Though this feels a little lost in their discography, as Little Mix went from strength to strength, we still remember ‘DNA’ as one of their best and we pray that they perform it for the first time in years on their next tour.
4) Power (feat. Stormzy)
It’s one of the weirdest songs on their discography, given its unusual structure (sounding like about five songs in one) and bizarre lyrics; including a full-on rap section from Jesy and that bonkers ‘Motorbike motorbike, motorbike, motorbike, bike, bike bike bike bike bike, bike bike bike bike, whoop!’ line (which still makes little sense to this day).
‘Power’ was always a standout on Glory Days and though it seemed to invoke a marmite reaction from some when released, it is now a huge fan favourite, especially with Little Mix’s huge gay following. Naturally, we love it.
Pop fans rejoiced when ‘Power’ was finally announced as a single, and it was accompanied with another of their best videos, full of fiery girl power, pride and guest-starring RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Alaska, Willam and Courtney Act.
3) Sweet Melody
This got some severe reactions for being put this high on the last ranking, but were we wrong? ‘Sweet Melody’ was an instant girl group classic and went on to be their latest #1. It’s one of those songs with little details in the production and vocals that open itself up to you more and more each time you listen. You think it’s just the chorus that’s catchy, but then the verses get stuck in your head and before you know it you’re even singing along to the do-do-do-dos.
‘Sweet Melody’ is accompanied by the impeccable choreography-based video we’d been asking for for years and includes the career-best lyrics “He would lie, he would cheat, over syncopated beats”.
Despite a polarising reaction to the vibrant, corset-wearing video that accompanies the song, listening to this hypnotically repetitive track never gets old.
‘Touch’ is a club staple as well as a genuine all round crowd pleaser. Everything from MNEK’s sublime production, to the sensual verses, as well as the euphoric “golden” middle 8, makes listening to 'Touch' a truly religious experience.
Still at the top of our list is Little Mix’s still most daring and intricate single, ‘Move’. It may not have been the immediate hit that their other lead singles became, but it's the epitome of a grower.
Releasing ‘Move’ is the kind of risk we wish mainstream pop acts did more often (Cow bells?!): This R&B infused track relies less on a big catchy chorus and instead is a slinky, sexy little bop that slowly creeps up on you and once it does, becomes an unforgettable moment in pop.
Little Mix’s Between Us is out now.