“It’s insane,” Fifth Harmony’s Dinah Jane tells Billboard of the group’s schedule during the week of their third album release. “But it’s a good insane. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
For the third straight year, Fifth Harmony has released a full-length and concurrently flooded U.S. televisions with performances and promotion; for third album, Fifth Harmony, however, the girl group has returned as a quartet following the departure of Camila Cabello last December. The schedules of Dinah, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Lauren Jauregui and Normani Kordei are as packed as ever, but the girls sound the most excited they’ve ever been to give a new body of work to fans.
The self-titled set is the most exploratory of their releases thus far, from the buttery “Deliver” to the calls for social inclusion in “Bridges” to the Hammer interpolation on “He Like That” to the Skrillex production on “Angel.” Led by first single “Down” featuring Gucci Mane, Fifth Harmony finds the girls celebrating their artistic freedom and standing together as a united front.
With the new album out now, Dinah and Ally went through each song on the 10-track release. Read their thoughts, feelings and remembrances of each song below:
1. Down feat. Gucci Mane
Ally: We definitely wanted to start off the tone with ‘Down.’ It’s very rhythmic, but it has the fun pop elements to the song, plus that urban vibe and feel, especially with Gucci on the track. He was so amazing. We love his verse. We think it’s such a sweet song, and he really made the verse so personal to him and his life and his situation. We wanted to set the tone with what’s to come for the album, and we thought ‘Down’ was perfect because it has a mixture of everything in one.
2. He Like That
Dinah: We were recording these other songs, and our A&R guy Chris referred the song and he was like, ‘Guys, you have to do this on the track,’ so he played it for us. The first time we heard it, we were like, “Woah, this is so different.”
Honestly, I didn’t know where ‘Pumps and a Bump’ came from. I didn’t know what it meant, and then I told my mom about it and she was like, ‘Girl, you don’t know nothing about this. This is from my time — “Pumps and a Bump”!’
Ester Dean wrote the song as well, and it made the song even more special to me because I’m a huge fan of hers. She just flavored it up, and we couldn’t help but take the chance on it. Once we all tried out the song, we were like, ‘This is the one we’re going to ride with for this next album.’ It just shows — it’s different.
3. Sauced Up
Ally: This is one of my favorite records on this album because it’s so much fun. It’s such a good party song — getting together with your friends, knowing that you’re going to have a good time when you put on this record, or if you just want to dance and feel good, get that inner wild side to come out. Lauren and I, we helped write it with Harmony Samuels, Candace Shields and a few other people. It was so much fun because we started off with the beat — Harmony was creating a beat that’s really infectious and just grabs you. The beat is almost a little dirty, but it’s so much fun and the melodies are pop, especially on the chorus.
It’s one of my favorites because it’s the one where we have our fun little characters on, and we’re confident in our attitudes. We’re saying, “I know what I want. Tonight I’m going to have fun.” I think the lyric Lauren sings is, “I know you’re trying to get to me, I’m fluid in the bro-code,” which translates to, “I know what you want, but no, I’m here to have a good time.”
4. Make You Mad
Dinah: It’s so dope. I love that chorus drop. You’re like, “Oh, this is cute,” and the lyrics are so sassy as well.
Ally: We love [co-producers] Dreamlab. They have some really fantastic Australian accents, and they bring so much energy to the studio. Whenever you walk into the room, you feel their presence and their vibe. With this record, Normani and I were involved went into the room with them and we had, like, literally 40 different passes of melody ideas. We were there for hours trying different creations for the melody, but it just wasn’t working. And then finally we came up with the melody of the chorus and the verses, and pretty much everything came together. It has this really great drop that’s unexpected.
Dinah: Let me just say that [producer/songwriter] Taylor Parks delivered on this song — like, she wrote this song when we were in the room with her. She was there with us when we did ‘BO$$,’ and this is our second record with her, so once we played her some of our songs, she immediately came up with this direction. It definitely gives off the Mariah Carey tones — a little bit of R&B but modernized, and I think that’s why I love it so much. I love me some Mariah Carey, I grew up on that because of my mother. It’s just so special to me, especially melodically, it’s so thick — like, the little pre-chorus, it’s like you’re bouncing off of the melody, but you’re not.”
6. Lonely Night
Dinah: Okay, so Mani and I wrote this one. We were in the room with The Monsters and the Strangerz and I asked them, “Hey, you know, what if we changed this? I want to do something different.” We went a little rocker-reggae on them, and then did something unexpected in the chorus where it just drops.
“Lonely Night” is something about your man — you’re basically warning him, like, “If you try to do this, just know that you’re going to have to have a lonely night. And if you want me, you’re going to have to do this to have me, to keep me.” It’s something personal to us. [Normani and I] spoke about it, and I think that’s why it’s so raw and real to us, and why all the girls and our team vibe to it very well, because it’s so honest and true. Maybe it’s happened to you before, maybe you have a friend that’s going through something and you were there for her and you’re backing her up. I just love it so much, especially in the bridge when Ally has to spell “L-O-N-E-L-Y.” Just the way Ally delivers it is my favorite, because she becomes so hood out of nowhere. [Laughs]
7. Don’t Say You Love Me
Dinah: Well, I was actually sick that day. Thanks to me being cold because I wouldn’t have done that pre-chorus. I was like, “I sound like a toad right now. Like, I don’t even know how or why you guys want me to sing this part because I feel like I’m dying,” and then somehow I was able to come through. But we were sick. A lot of us were coming down with something around that time, too. It kind of gives you Destiny’s Child and En Vogue vibes, the little elements in there, so we made sure to deliver some of that.
Ally: With this record, it’s definitely our favorite. We remember talking to our A&R Chris, and we told him, “Oh, my gosh. This is special.” … When I got into the booth, I went to a very, very vulnerable place, and you can really hear that in the record. What I really loved, which is a special memory for me, was my dad was able to be in [the studio] to listen as well, be there while I was recording and he was so proud and he was getting chills. He was getting touched. He was like, “This song is so beautiful.” You don’t really get to see that side of us often. You really see us going onstage being fierce and confident and dancing upbeat, but this record, you really get a closer look at who we are.
Dinah: We were in the studio with Poo Bear and Skrillex, and Poo Bear was just like, “Just so you know, this song is a little hard.” He played the record and at first I thought it was a ballad, and I was like, “Oh, he’s joking around,” and I come to find out when that drop came in, I was like, “Yo, this is a game-changer right here.”
This is honestly the direction of where we wanted to go, because it kind of reflects on who we are and what our style is. Fifth Harmony is known for their edgy, poppy tones, but this is the type of edge we’ve been looking for, and have been wanting for a while now, and so the fact that he wrote this song specifically for us, it was perfect. Conceptually, I just love the way he wrote this: “Who said I was an angel?” Sometimes I also feel the same way, where I feel like my kindness is taken for granted or taken advantage of. Sometimes you just become ‘no angel no more, and you just break through and you just become this badass girl and you’re just standing up for yourself, singing your heart out and not giving an F about anything.
Ally: This is another one that Normani and I co-wrote with the Dreamlab. This was such a special one. We first started with the music and we were in there vibing, thinking of concepts, talking about what we’ve been going through and what our story is. We had a moment where we were vulnerable and then we wrote this. I’m in love with the message of it because we’re saying, “Listen, I can be hot to handle, dance around the house with nothing but the radio on, I can be such a scandal … and then crying on the bedroom floor.’ And then in the chorus it shows you, “You know what, you just say it. You just say, ‘I can be messy.’” Like, that’s it. “I can be messy.” You just say it, you just admit it. It’s true because we can be messy, just us as people, as humans, as women. We have a lot in ourselves, and it’s a beautiful part of us and who we are, and the music fits perfectly with it. It’s so magical.
Dinah: “’Bridges’ is definitely one of the heart-wrenching ones. It’s definitely a message that needs to be shared out there into the world. Something we wanted to share with everybody and let them know is that we know love can conquer hate. I feel like everybody just needs some love, and it’s all about unity right now and it’s all of us uniting together as one and being there for one another. We were definitely going with the Michael Jackson vibe of ‘make a change,’ and it was just one that we wanted to change up and definitely speak up on what’s going on out there, because we aren’t blinded by anything. We know what’s going on and I think we want to make people know that we know, and all we can do right now is share something in the music to make them have hope and make them feel loved, and make them know that love does exist.”
Stream Fifth Harmony in full below.