HomeMusicWill Leigh-Anne Pinnock become the breakout solo star of Little Mix?

Will Leigh-Anne Pinnock become the breakout solo star of Little Mix?

After 11 years together, Little Mix went on hiatus in 2022 to pursue solo projects and take a break from the group that transformed them into global superstars.

Originally formed on ‘The X-Factor’ in 2011, Little Mix – Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall, Jesy Nelson and Leigh-Anne Pinnock – went on to become the first group to win the show. In the 11 years they were together, Little Mix sold more than 60 million records and released six Top 10 albums. The band became a trio in December 2020 when Jesy departed to focus on her mental health, something she’s struggled with following years of abuse by online trolls.

After completing their ‘Confetti’ Tour in May 2022, it’s been relatively quiet for the trio. All are believed to be pursuing solo music projects and it looks like Leigh-Anne is going to beat Perrie and Jade in her bid for solo stardom as just started teasing her debut solo single ‘Don’t Say Love’. From the small snippet that’s been released, it sounds like the song is going to be a garage banger that doesn’t sound like something we’ve previously heard from Little Mix.

Will Leigh-Anne find success as a solo star though? Historically, when bands split to pursue solo careers it’s the first one out the gates that finds success. Robbie Williams emerged as the big star from Take That, Geri Halliwell bagged the most number ones as a solo artist from the Spice Girls, and Louise has just celebrated 30 years in the music business after leaving Eternal after one album in the 90s.

Leigh-Anne’s former bandmate Jesy, the first of Little Mix to launch a solo career, has had a tough time. Her debut single ‘Boyz‘ featuring Nicki Minaj was surrounded by controversy thanks to accusations of ‘blackfishing‘ and despite going in at number 4, Nelson soon parted ways with her label Polydor. In April, Jesy returned with her second solo single ‘Bad Thing‘, released independently, and despite a better reception it didn’t make the Top 40.

Prior to releasing her debut solo single, Leigh-Anne has tried her hand at acting in the well-received ‘Boxing Day’, which also saw her singing, and she’s been releasing covers on her YouTube channel of R&B songs such as SWV’s classic ‘Weak’ and Coco Jones’ current smash ‘ICU’. It’s not gone unnoticed that Leigh-Anne has really worked on, and strengthened, her voice since the early days of Little Mix. She’s able to wrap his vocals around an impressive riff and it seems that R&B is the direction she’s going to be heading off in.

Signed to Warner Records for her solo venture, not her Little Mix label home of Sony, early signs are looking good for Leigh-Anne. The hashtag #leighanneiscoming has been trending on social media and fans are excited about the teaser released for ‘Don’t Say Love’. Some Little Mix fans have complained that Leigh-Anne was overshadowed throughout her time in Little Mix, and Leigh-Anne herself spoke about that in her BBC documentary ‘Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop & Power’.

As I mentioned earlier, ‘Don’t Say Love’ seems to have a throwback 90s/00s garage/two-step sound and it certainly feels like it’s geared towards radio play and TikTok. The release date for the song is 16th June so we can expect more teasers before then.

I think that we can count on ‘Don’t Say Love’ being a smash for Leigh-Anne but the real test will come with the follow-up. The buzz around her will be enough to help the song chart regardless of fan reaction, but whether she can maintain fan interest beyond that to a full album remains to be seen.

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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