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What girl band? The singer who left Fifth Harmony has, against the odds, really come up with the goods – from affecting piano ballads to breezy reggaeton
For connoisseurs of the piquant moment when a manufactured pop band goes awry, Camila Cabello’s acrimonious 2016 departure from US X Factor runners-up Fifth Harmony provided rich pickings. It had it all. First, the curious sound of a manufactured pop band member huffily protesting that being in a manufactured pop band is stifling their capacity for self-expression, as if they mistakenly thought they were joining an experimental free-improvisation quintet along the lines of the AMM. The brief period where everyone involved starts behaving as if a member of a manufactured pop band leaving is a global humanitarian tragedy that must be prevented at all costs: according to a report in Billboard magazine, Fifth Harmony’s management did everything short of demanding the United Nations deploy a peacekeeping force, insisting the band took a therapist on the road with them and organising something referred to as a “come to Jesus meeting” with then-Epic Records CEO LA Reid. The entertaining mutual slanging match reached a peak when Fifth Harmony performed at last year’s MTV VMAs with an anonymous figure in Cabello’s place, who immediately fell backwards from the stage, as if they’d employed a sniper and had her shot.
And finally, there’s the enticing prospect of an album from the departee that bitterly picks over their recent past in the manner of Robbie Williams’ early post-Take That oeuvre. At one point, Cabello’s solo debut was going to be released under the winningly portentous title The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving, while a track scheduled to appear on it, called I Have Questions, let her former bandmates have it in no uncertain terms: “Why don’t you care? I gave you all of me … I should never ever have trusted you”, etc.