x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

More Fifth Harmony albums on the way, says Kordei

In an exclusive interview ahead of Fifth Harmony's RedFest appearance, Normani Kordei tells us the group has plenty more to achieve before they go their separate ways.

The Fifth Harmony. Photo by Ted Emmons
The Fifth Harmony. Photo by Ted Emmons

In the world of pop music, nothing lasts forever – least of all, girl-groups. The internet is awash with fresh rumours that the members of Fifth Harmony are preparing to go their separate ways, after feisty fan favourite Normani Kordei dropped a sudden solo debut last week.

But fear not, the 19-year old scene-stealer – affectionately dubbed American quintet’s “Beyoncé” – pledges that there will be “two or three” more 5H albums to come.

“That seems pretty decent and pretty accurate. We want to win Grammys – so until we win a Grammy, there you go,” she told us in exclusive interview, two days after the February 4 unveiling of a smouldering cover of rapper Tory Lanez’s Say It.

“I feel that was representative of who I am and what kind of music I want to make for myself, beyond the group,” she says, speaking from Los Angeles, late in the evening after wrapping up rehearsals for Friday’s RedFest gig.

The story of Fifth Harmony is an increasingly familiar 21st century musical fairy tale. In 2012, five unsuccessful solo entrants to the US version of X Factor were publicly repackaged as a group – viewers even voted to choose the name.

After hitting the core teen market with their early singles, worldwide fame followed with last year’s triple-platinum Worth It, an unlikely pairing with 2015 RedFest headliner, Kid Ink.

Officially the most successful alumni of the US X Factor, Billboard named Fifth Harmony last year’s Group of the Year. As success builds, going solo isn’t just an option, but an inevitability. And Kordei knows it.

“After Fifth Harmony succeeds to the fullest of its capacity, one day we can go off and do our individual things,” she says with refreshing frankness. “Because we are different people. It’s all about the timing.”

Which is why a pledge of two or three more albums is no small matter. Last year’s well-received debut, Reflection, impressed fans and critics with its feel-good optimism (it made “high self-esteem feel like a party”, noted stuffy Rolling Stone).

Work on the follow-up is underway, with production from certified hitmaker Max Martin. That Grammy could come sooner than Kordei – who describes herself as “diva of the group” – expects.

“It’s definitely a bit more mature,” says the 19-year-old. “We’ve been through so much this past year. We want to show people just that, how much we’ve grown, and our story.”

A recent sad chapter in the group’s story saw bandmate Lauren Jauregui calling on her 1.8 million Twitter followers to help her harass a troll who sent her horrible messages following the death of her grandmother.

“It really did hurt her,” says Kordei. “I was texting her the whole time it was happening.

“It really sucks. People forget that at the end of the day we are people just like them. We see everything [that is posted] – I may not comment on everything, but I see it all. And it affects me, in the same way it affects them, because we’re all human.”

• Fifth Harmony perform on Friday at 5.40pm

rgarratt@thenational.ae