“It’s easy to admire the rising-against-adversity message the song has, and it’s even easier to appreciate the message”
Digital Release: August 26, 2012
Physical Release: August 26, 2012
Anyone under the illusion Little Mix’s new single ‘Wings’ is anything above predictable is either deluding themselves or has not yet shown enough dedication to the workings of The X Factor or the music industry to realise that there’s very little else that could’ve been done with them. But let it not be said that predictable is always a bad thing, although when predictable is certifiably ‘good’, it often masquerades as “reliable” – P!nk is reliable as it gets and she’s never boring. Little Mix really had only one marketing angle open to them, being the role models they’re perceived as. Rather than go the way of The Saturdays and span a range of ultimately inconsequential niches from electropop princesses on songs like ‘Up’ and ‘If This Is Love’ to austere, robotic femme fatales on ‘Notorious’ and ‘30 Days’, Little Mix have their cannon aimed at a slightly more admirable target. From the moment the title was announced you could’ve bet winning lottery numbers on the odds that the song would feature the lyric “These wings were made to fly”, various references to motherly advice, ignorance of people who try to “bring you down”, and a rallying chorus chant. But what they’re missing in originality they’ve at least counterbalanced with a sprite energy and the welcoming notion that you don’t need to be screeched at by Jessie J in order to feel soothed when you’re down anymore; that’s surely award-winning musical service.
‘Wings’ starts with it’s cocksure chorus, drumming home the message that playground bullies mean nothing in the end and generally not going into too much detail beyond that. Put simply, it’s a partial success in that it’s confident and super-catchy (up until the moment the chorus realises it wants a few more seconds in the spotlight, and so the girls give a second chorus that lacks the melodic catchiness of the first), and that it’s guaranteed to bring a smile to those still bopping along to Cher Lloyd, Carly Rae Jepsen, and any other bubblegum pop acts aimed at under 16s. The music is another matter entirely, with the structure not being apparent and giving the overall impression that the army of songwriters involved in producing ‘Wings’ had too many differing ideas and no-one was there to moderate which made it to the final version. The result forms an awkward mix of hand-claps, finger snaps and foot stomps with some erratic horns and synth woops sounding like they were stolen from most likely a 90s Euro-dance/K-Pop song.
It’s easy to admire the rising-against-adversity message the song has, and it’s even easier to appreciate the message – once cynicism has been abandoned – with the use of the song’s playful chant which demands attention more desperately than a Terrier pup, particularly in those stellar verses. But it feels as if there’s not really been a proper understanding of the concept; it forms it’s own separate reality and turns away from what can actually happen in a place as basic as a school playground. It’s pop logic – that people will just “walk on by” when you’ve got no time for them or their abuse. The only thing you can really admire about ‘Wings’ as a whole pop package is how it’s precision cut and tailor-made to suit it’s target demographic to a tee – it’s got everything you’d want from a pop song in 2012.
But as deliriously catchy as it is, and as successful as it’s guaranteed to be, ‘Wings’ is hardly the epoch-defining arrival of an new pop horizon. It’s more like a residual bluster of wind left over from something big that happened a decade ago, pasted over with a slightly urban-pop noughties façade. It shows off the members of Little Mix well while knocking out a meaningful/meaningless message in a way that’ll satisfy it’s target market and do little else to bother anyone not already smitten, with the same well-mannered courtesy and inoffensive niceness it’s members possess.