by Parker Kim
I think we can all agree on one universal truth: once factory-formed boy/girl bands inevitably crumble apart (or, in the words of their publicists, take an “indefinite hiatus”), we as a society tend to select one budding star as our favorite and sweep the remaining leftover members under the rug. Just look at JT and Nick Jonas: sure, we occasionally spot Lance Bass on Dancing with the Stars and hear about Joe Jonas’ engagement to Sophie Turner, but there’s always one favorite that pop culture clings to.
Whether through the channels of pop radio or social media, most of us have heard about Fifth Harmony here and there. We may recall Work From Home or their collaborations with Gucci Mane and Pitbull, but it’s likely that most can’t recite the names of all five members from memory. The group originally formed on X-Factor America in 2012 by the hand of prolific producer, manager, and executive, Simon Cowell. They gathered a terrifyingly dedicated cult following worldwide over the next few years, especially in Latin America.
Following in the fateful narrative of One Direction, Fifth Harmony lost one of its members, Camila Cabello to a solo embarkment in December of 2016. Shortly after, they released a self-titled album in the hopes to continue on as a quartet. Despite their greatest efforts, the album never managed to reach the same caliber of success as they did with Camila, the group falling apart and announcing their “indefinite hiatus” in March of 2018. One member, Normani Kordei, wasted no time dropping her last name and hopping onto projects with artists like Khalid, 6LACK, and Sam Smith.
At this point, you’d think that the other three members had absolutely no chance of entering the spotlight and seizing their own stardom and based on past girl band narratives, I probably would’ve agreed. Here’s the thing: if you choose to make peace with laying the remaining girls to rest, you’d be sleeping on potentially the most noteworthy and pivotal woman that ever came from Fifth Harmony. I’m talking about Lauren Jauregui.
Hailing from Miami, this Cuban American artist has the whole world ahead of her, not just in music but politics and activism as well. Lauren isn’t afraid to experiment with her musical sound or appear at political demonstrations to loudly and proudly profess her values. As an extremely influential figure in contemporary pop music, Lauren lived the majority of her teen years with millions of eyes on her. She could never stray from the path destined for her by her record label, her managers, and what the fans dictated. With that being said, you could imagine the absolute shock and astonishment that Lauren was met with when she came out as bisexual in an open letter to Donald Trump voters in late 2016 via Billboard’s online platform.
It’s revelatory moments like this that set Lauren apart from most girl band has-been’s. Not only did she use that letter to absolutely rail Trump about his xenophobic, racist, sexist, and misogynistic political values, but she embraced her sexuality and her gender and her ethnicity, inspiring many others to do the same.
Lauren embodies “diversity” as a queer, female person of color. Her progressive political views drive her to fight for the rights of immigrants, the queer community, and marginalized members of society with an intensity and passion that can’t be expected from most pop stars. She’s even released music with Halsey that features queer romance in a way that doesn’t seem forced or calculated, integrating queer relationships into pop culture seamlessly. Lauren isn’t afraid to risk her status in pop culture by speaking out and voicing her concerns about the state of the world and this current administration. Her fearlessness is something that we, as consumers, can’t take for granted.
Since the disbanding of Fifth Harmony in 2018, all four of the remaining members have released solo tracks and promised debut albums in the near future. That being said, watch out for Lauren Jauregui. She’s a force to be reckoned with.