Get Weird (Deluxe Edition)
While Little Mix’s musical output has always transcended its talent-show beginnings, there were moments during the group’s early years when it felt like the members were stuck on a pop conveyer belt. Little Mix’s 2012 debut, DNA, was released less than a year after the group won the top prize on the British version of The X Factor; a follow-up album, Salute, arrived not long afterwards. So far, so seamless. But Little Mix’s third effort, Get Weird, was held up for a year—with the band members later revealing that nearly an album’s worth of material had been scrapped along the way. Still, while the protracted recording of Get Weird was unusually tortuous, you wouldn’t know it from listening to the record. Unlike the moodier, more experimental Salute, the light and buoyant Get Weird finds the band members leaning into a pure pop sensibility. The lead single, “Black Magic,” has the effervescent bounce of 1980s teen pop, featuring a killer chorus and an instantly catchy call-and-response bridge (“All the girls on the block knocking at my door (I got the recipe)/Wanna know what it is, make the boys want more (Now you belong to me)”). “Black Magic” doesn’t reinvent the wheel. But the song stormed the charts and solidified Little Mix’s status as the globe’s most reliable hitmaking girl band. And there are plenty of hits to be found on Get Weird. While previous Little Mix singles owed a debt to En Vogue and Destiny’s Child, “Love Me Like You” harks further back, with its harmonized “Sha-la-la-la” verses and doo-wop stylings recalling The Ronettes and The Supremes. But if “Love Me Like You” features a retro sound, its lyrics are surprisingly suggestive: “Used to get it when I wa-a-ant…Now I’m dealin’ with these bo-o-oys/When I really need a man who can do it like I can.” Things escalate even more on the naughty “A.D.I.D.A.S.,” which features such to-the-point lines as, “Excuse me, do me or lose me/Get me to the bedroom, do your duty.” When pop groups try to grow up with their fanbases, the results often come off as contrived; on Get Weird, though, such diversions are executed with a welcome, knowing wink. Elsewhere on the album, Jason Derulo lends his tremulous vibrato to “Secret Love Song,” dedicated to the group’s LGBTQ+ fanbase, while Sean Paul makes a typically spirited appearance on thumping single “Hair.” It all makes for an effort that, despite its title, isn’t particularly weird. But it is certainly wonderful.