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7/27 is Fifth Harmony's second studio album that was released on May 27, 2016 by Syco Music and Epic Records.

It was the last album to feature member Camila Cabello, who left Fifth Harmony in December of 2016 to pursue a solo career.

TracklistingEdit

  1. That's My Girl 3:24
  2. Work From Home (featuring Ty Dolla $ign) 3:34
  3. The Life 3:23
  4. Write On Me 3:39
  5. I Lied 3:23
  6. All In My Head (Flex) (featuring Fetty Wap) 3:30
  7. Squeeze 3:33
  8. Gonna Get Better 3:36
  9. Scared Of Happy 3:23
  10. Not That Kinda Girl (featuring Missy Elliott) 3:11
  11. Dope 3:32
  12. No Way 2:57

Deluxe edition tracks

  1. Dope 3:32
  2. No Way 2:56

Album BackgroundEdit

Fifth Harmony's debut album "Reflection" (which was released in January 2015 through Epic Records and Syco Music) introduced the group into the music industry and gave them credibility and popularity.

The tracks: "Boss", "Sledgehammer" and "Worth It" were released as singles, the latter being the most successful, reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album was also supported by the group's first headlining concert tour called The Reflection Tour, with various live performances in the North America, Europe and Asia. In 2015, they were awarded "Group of the Year" at the Billboard "Women in Music" event.

Due to Fifth Harmony's positive commercial performance and accomplishments that year, Epic Records decided to develop the group's career, managing new recording sessions for its second album in September 2015, for which a release date of December 2015 was announced.

The date was abandoned so Fifth Harmony could spend more time recording and organizing material. In conversation with Brennan Carley from Spin, Lauren Jauregui said the album would be released in "early 2016" and they were "putting final touches on it".

Epic announced a release date of May 20, 2016, but this was later postponed by a week to May 27th to keep with the theme of 27.

The following day, digital music platform iTunes updated the track list with two tracks under the explicit label, making this Fifth Harmony's first release to contain explicit lyrics. Each track was announced hourly through the group's Instagram page on April 28, 2016.

RecordingEdit

In an interview with Billboard on September 21, 2015, Camilla Cabello said Fifth Harmony was about to start the recording the album, that they had received some demos and the members were "super excited" about some of them.

After finishing the second leg of its summer tour in October 2015, the group entered a studio in Los Angeles to start recording the second project.

The group's initial sessions were at Max Martin's writing camp, where they worked with several music producers, including Martin, Lukas Loules, Dr. Luke, Mitch Allan and Jason Evigan.

In a studio with Martin, they recorded four to five songs a day to experiment with sounds and vocal techniques. Jauregui said Martin was in "great spirit the whole time", creating a "good vibe for recording". 

As of November 2015, the group had finished six tracks for the album but these were ultimately removed from it. Only two songs created at MXM Studios: "That's My Girl" and "The Life" (both of which were written by Tinashe and Alexander Kronlund, and produced by Lukas Loules) were included on the final cut.

Searching for a more "soulful" and "emotional" project, the group wanted to focus its energy on songs about heartbreak and romance.

Fifth Harmony worked with Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, known collectively as Stargate, who had produced "Worth It".

They recorded a considerable number of tracks produced by Stargate at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, two of which were finished by Norwegian DJ Kygo, who added his characteristic beat to "Squeeze" and "Write on Me".

During the sessions at Westlake Studios, the group had more involvement with co-writing the song, "All In My Head (Flex)".

Priscilla Renea, Simon Wilcox, Benny Blanco, Julia Michaels, Brian Garcia and Nolan Lambroza were included in the production team that helped structure the album. American singer-songwriter Victoria Monét produced the vocal performances for more than half of the songs in the album.

American producers Ammo and DallasK created the lead single "Work from Home" with Jude Demorest, Alexander Izquierdo, and Brian Lee.

The song came to the group after its A&R Joey Arbagey played it during a meeting to discuss the album direction; the members responded positively to the song, mostly for its "laid-back" and "chill" atmosphere that featured "a kind of urban pocket". They immediately recorded the track at Windmark Recording Studios.

"Not That Kinda Girl" was written by Aaron Pearce and Jared Cotter. After completing the track, the group felt it was "incomplete" and suggested the presence of a rapper would fit the production; the group members contacted Missy Elliot, who accepted their invitation to write and record a verse for the song.

The production team for the album was The Monsters and the Strangerz ("I Lied"), BloodPop ("Scared of Happy"), Jack Antonoff (who wrote "Dope" with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter) and Tommy Brown ("No Way").

CompositionEdit

The album's opener track "That's My Girl" delivers a message of female empowerment. Its instrumentation includes "brassy horns, heavy bass, and an electronic drumroll." Gerrick D. Kennedy called the song a "horn driven bombast."

The second track and lead single "Work from Home" incorporates elements of trap music with tropical beats. The song conveys a sexual tone using "work" as a euphemism for sexual seduction with synthesized hand-claps and heavy bassline.

It contains a guest appearance by Ty Dolla $ign, who complemented the song's lyrical content using several sexual references.

"The Life" has been described as a "danceable production, with a tropically-tinged drop building to a purely-pop chorus."

According to Peter Meister from Sputnikmusic, it contains "eurodance-inspired beachhead synths that zoom across the bustling bass whilst they're singing of how far they've come." Its lyrics celebrates self-love and lifestyle with Fifth Harmony singing about "getting down on a beach in Dubai".

"Write On Me" is a tropical house song that has a characteristic soft production that blends acoustic guitar chords, pan flute synths, finger-snaps and tambourines. Lyrically, the song uses the human body as a metaphor to tell a lover to write their strengths, flaws and truths, exposing their true selves to the narrator. The fifth track

"I Lied" is an upbeat trap song that makes use of heavy kick drums, finger-snaps and a minimalist piano during the pre-chorus and bridge. Lewis Corner of Digital Spy noted that the song "centres around high-pitched squiggles Diplo and Skrillex like to use".

"All In My Head (Flex)" features hip hop recording artist Fetty Wap and contains an interpolation of the 1995 song "Flex" recorded by Mad Cobra. Fifth Harmony cowrote the song, which was initially developed by Priscilla Renea, Simon Wilcox, Benny Blanco, Julia Michaels, Brian Garcia and Nolan Lambroza.

In contrast to the tropical sound of the album, "All In My Head (Flex)" blends reggae and pop music with elements of trap music. Additional instrumentation on the song includes a plucky guitar, synths and industrialized percussion.

Another tropical house song, "Squeeze" is built on a rousing kickbeat and features the group harmonizing over pulsating piano notes and auto-tuned vocal samples. It has been described as "a breezy, generic foot-stomper".

"Gonna Get Better" is a remake of Vybz Kartel's song "Gon' Get Better" that contains a pulsating dancehall beat backed by acoustic guitar, synths and snaps. The song serves as a female representation of Kartel's version in which the protagonist says she will not leave her lover for another person. These interpretations are shown mainly in the chorus: "I won't leave you for a money man/No matter what we go through".

According to Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic, the lyrics of "Gonna Get Better" find Fifth Harmony singing about "sticking with a guy even when he can't pay for nice things."

Matt Collar from AllMusic wrote that songs like "Squeeze", "I Lied" and "Write On Me" have a pleasant, mid-tempo, adult contemporary vibe.

"Scared of Happy" has an uptempo beat that draws from soca and house genres; Lewis Corner described it as "vibrant house-pop fizz". The track's lyrics express vulnerability; the group sings about being scared of a response to a real love.

The tenth track "Not That Kinda Girl" featuring rapper Missy Elliot is a funk-inspired song with 1980s synths that string together with clinking clapping bass. Its retro sound received comparisons with works by singers Prince and Janet Jackson that have similar aesthetics and throwback "funky" sounds.

The lyrics express an empowered feminist attitude and the group asserts they are not "that kind of girls" and warn men not to incorrectly classify them based on their attractiveness. The verses from Elliot support the message: "See, I'm not the kinda girl you can freak on the first date/I'm straight, that's right, I'll make ya wait".

The slow jam track "Dope" features Jauregui singing ,"I don't know what else to say but you're pretty f****n' dope/just so you know" with contradicting emotions, culminating in spacial harmonies that surround and abide with the pulsating synths.

The deluxe edition of the album concludes with the track "No Way", in which the group sings over a tumbling beat and light electronic effects; the track is downbeat compared with the rest of the album.

Album Artwork & TitleEdit

The album's title "7/27" refers to July 27, 2012 (the date on which Fifth Harmony was formed on "The X Factor"). It was based on the members' identification with the music of the album, which they felt is more mature and personal than their previous release and selected a title to represent their growth as a group.

Dinah Jane told Spin: "It's a side of Fifth Harmony that no one's really seen. In the beginning, we were super happy. Our first album was very jumpy. This time, we're showing who Fifth Harmony really is behind closed doors."

The album's artwork and promotional pictures were photographed by Sasha Samsonova in a Californian desert; stylist Zoe Costello designed the costumes, the group's hair was styled by Clyde Haygood and Randy Stodghill, and makeup was done by Mylah Morales and Clarissa Luna.

Samsonova said: "I love being on an all-girl set as it feels like a little family. When girls come together on set with an urge to create something great, there's nothing that can stop them."

The artwork shows the group on a desert road with a black car against a backdrop of mountains and a blue sky.

In an interview with Music Choice, Camila Cabello said the group was "really excited" about the album cover and proud of the visuals on the photoshoot because it represents the members' individuals aesthetics, describing the image as "kind of like a super glam fashion shot" that shows every member's style harmonizing with the others.

The album's booklet contains photographs of each member posing in front of a gray t-top car.

The title and the cover of the album were unveiled on February 25, 2016, on the group's official Instagram account with the caption: "We know there has been a lot of talk, but we wanted you to hear this from us ... Our new album 7/27 is coming May 20th."

Chart PerformanceEdit

In the United States, "7/27" debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, earning 74,000 equivalent album units (49,000 in pure album sales) in its first week and becoming the group's highest charting album to date.

As of August 2017, according to Nielsen SoundScan the album had sold over 200,000 copies and over 800,000 album-equivalent units in the United States.

As of October 2018, 7/27 has sold over 1,932,000 in album equivalent sales to date in the United States.

In Europe, the album debuted at number six on the United Kingdom's Official Charts Company, marking the group's first top-ten debut, and has since sold 40,000 copies there. The album also reached number one in both Spain and Brazil, becoming the group's first album to top both charts.

It charted in the top tens of 13 other countries and the top 20's of three countries.

"7/27" has accumulated 1.6 million equivalent album units worldwide as on November 2016, according to Billboard.

The album debuted at #20 in Japan on the Oricon Albums Chart, making it the group's first album to chart in Japan; it dropped to #22 in its second week on the chart.

Critical ReceptionEdit

At Metacritic, "7/27" received an average score of 70, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 7 reviews.

Matt Collar of AllMusic was positive, calling it a "sophisticated production that finds the all-female outfit nicely transitioning from the brash ingenues who finished third on the second season of The X Factor into reliably mature pop divas".

He noted that while the album "isn't quite as loose or as fun as one might hope", Fifth Harmony prove they can balance "youthful swagger with grown-up sophistication".

Praising the mature environment, Nolan Feeney of Entertainment Weekly named it "deep, vulnerable, personal--these were some of the quintet's stated goals for 7/27. It's not a bad look by any means."

Maura Johnston of The Boston Globe stated that "the group's power has always come from its Spice Girls-like ability to form a massive unit of self-actualization, and the peppy 7/27 has no shortage of that, both lyrically and musically".

According to Lewis Corner of Digital Spy, "while the debut album Reflection was a mixed bag in terms of styles, 7/27 is a cleverly structured collection. The uptempo numbers pop off with confidence, while the slower tracks barely detract from the overall energy of the record. There's sass, there's vulnerability, there's sexiness; it draws upon all the emotions a great pop album craves."

Christopher R. Weingarten of Rolling Stone said the album "isn't a massive step forward, but with a constant bombardment of hooks, high energy and incredible harmony there's not much time to catch your breath to compare".

While reviewing the album along with Ariana Grande's album, "Dangerous Woman," Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic discussed the tendency to portray one gender's goodness and badness as being tied to promiscuity and material desperation present in pop music, and wrote that "Not That Kinda Girl" is a "rare finger-wagging formulation of a viewpoint otherwise contained in affirmations".

However, some reviews about the album were less than positive. 

In a mixed review, Brian Josephs of Spin referred to "I Lied" as the point where the album "regresses into blandness". He also comments on the way the group faced a "personality crisis" on Reflection that was not resolved in this record.

Pitchfork editor Katherine St. Asaph shared similar sentiments, commenting that several songs "suffer from brutally protracted lyrical metaphors that function as near-parodies of pop song form" and that the group establishes neither a "sonic identity, nor a lyrical identity beyond vague empowerment".

She notes how the album "dutifully triangulates every trend and radio format of the past couple years" and praised the group for their distribution of vocals.

Writing for Renowned for Sound, Christoper Bohlsen disliked the tropical house genre on the record, saying this musical style "doesn’t suit" Fifth Harmony because they sound "anonymous" singing over "Kygo-styled beats".

Bohlsen called "7/27" a "solid pop album that manages to stand out from the crowd, with catchy singles, and a sense of confidence that can’t be found anywhere else."

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