Reflection is Fifth Harmony's debut studio album that was released on January 30, 2015 by Epic Records & Syco Music.
- Top Down 3:40
- BO$$ 2:51
- Sledgehammer 3:51
- Worth It (featuring Kid Ink) 3:45
- This Is How We Roll 4:32
- Everlasting Love 3:05
- Like Mariah 3:28
- Them Girls Be Like 2:43
- Reflection 3:09
- Suga Mama 3:39
- We Know 2:57
- Going Nowhere 3:34
- Body Rock 4:04
- Brave Honest Beautiful (featuring Meghan Trainor) 3:28
After finishing in third place on the second season of "The X Factor" and releasing their debut extended play, "Better Together", Fifth Harmony announced they would be releasing a full-length album in the spring of 2014.
During the voting stages of the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, where the group was nominated in the "Artist to Watch" category, fans were asked to vote for the group a certain number of times to help unlock the album's cover art.
The title and the cover of the album were unveiled on the group's official website on August 12, 2014. After receiving negative feedback from fans, Fifth Harmony revealed a new album cover on August 23, 2014.
The album's release date was delayed several times during the last quarter of 2014 and early 2015 and was ultimately released in the United States on February 3, 2015.
Recording & DevelopmentEdit
During an interview with Billboard before the album's release, Fifth Harmony said the album would signal a more mature sound for the group, saying: "We've started recording and getting into that process, we have shifted the lane a bit and made it a more mature sound, because obviously, we're growing up too."
Lauren Jauregui also told Billboard during an interview that the album's recording was set to begin in April 2014, and said its sound would be less pop than their earlier work on "Better Together."
During the album's production, they worked with a variety of collaborators. The Norwegian production duo Stargate wrote and co-produced the song "Worth It" with musician Ori Kaplan who also played the saxophone.
It was recorded at three different studios: Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles and Windmark Recording Studio in Santa Monica, California, and The Hide Out Studio located in London, England.
Jaycen Joshua mixed the song, assisted by Ryan Kaul and Maddox Chhim, at Larrabee Sound Studios in North Hollywood, California.
Producer Dr. Luke contributed to the track "This Is How We Roll" along with Cirkut. It was recorded at Conway Recording Studios in Hollywood and Luke's In the Boo in Malibu, California. Serban Ghenea mixed the song at MixStar Studios.
They also worked with Tommy Brown who recreated a '90's R&B sound for the song "Everlasting Love" with Travis Sayles and produced the stripped-down track "We Know".
Singer-songwriter Victoria Monét wrote and produced the group's vocals on both songs and handled the co-production of the title track, "Them Girls Be Like" produced by T-Collar with additional production by Monét. "Everlasting Love", "Reflection", "Them Girls Be Like" and "We Know" were recorded at Vietnam Studios.
The album's lead single, "Boss", written by Eric Frederic, Joe Spargur, Daniel Kyriakides, Gamal Lewis, Jacob Kasher and Taylor Parks, was produced by Ricky Reed with Joe London and Daylight. It was recorded at The Venice Studio in Venice, Los Angeles, and The Record Plant also in Los Angeles.
Singer Meghan Trainor contributed vocals on "Brave, Honest, Beautiful" and co-wrote the songs "Sledgehammer" and "Sugar Mama". Chris "Flict" Aparri (credited as "Flict") handled the production for the three tracks. The three songs were recorded at Windmark Recording Studios.
Musically, Reflection explores a variety of musical genres. As noted by Matt Collar, of AllMusic, the album spans "electronic-infused dance music to synthy, rhythmically bumptious hip-hop to retro-'90s R&B."
Jason Lipshutz, from Billboard also noted the diversity present in the album's production, commenting that the group shows "that they are capable of slick synth-pop, grungy hip-hop and fluttering R&B" and adds that the "latter [is] clearly indebted to the girl groups of the '90s".
The songs share similar production and instrumentation; for example, horns can be heard during the hook on the first track "Top Down" and are also introduced in the second song "Boss", serving as support instruments. They also appear on the third track "Worth It."
The lyrics explore themes of feminism and female empowerment.
Meaghan Garvey of Pitchfork described the album as "an album of fun, feminist pop that is simultaneously wise beyond its years and refreshingly age-appropriate—and it effortlessly embodies the ideals grasped at by the girl power think piece wave, with a sharp, nuanced perspective that can only come from lived experience."
Several critics noted the influence of singer Beyoncé on the album comparing it to her work.
During the song "Them Girls Be Like", member Lauren Jauregui sings: "Do you ever post your pics with no filter, 'Hashtag,' I woke up like this, too" in a clear reference to Beyoncé's song "Flawless".
Editor Dawn Richard of The New York Times, wrote that "Them Girls Be Like" and "Boss" are both a "dutiful Beyoncé homage".
The song "Brave, Honest, Beautiful" contains portions of Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious", co-written by Beyoncé.
They also praised the singer Mariah Carey on the track "Like Mariah", produced by J.R. Rotem with samples of the hook on Carey's 1995 song, "Always Be My Baby".
The album opens with synths riffs introduced on the first track "Top Down". As well as finger snaps, it features tottering beats and a horn riff in the hook, which critics compared to Ariana Grande's song "Problem".
In the song's chorus the group sings, "Blaze it up we'll be cruisin', with the Top Down/Rev up the engine we'll be cruisin' watch it go down/Get in my truck and I'll be ridin' with my Top Down".
Brennan Carley of Spin described it as "an unknowingly filthy anthem about riding in the car". During the hook, the phrase "electric city" is repeated several times. The song's hip hop-inspired production was also compared to "Fancy" by rapper Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX.
The second track "Boss" features trumpets, handclaps and heavy bass, creating a rhythmic, militaristic sound. The lyrics feature several cultural references. For example, the song's first verse refers to hip hop dance movement "Nae Nae": "Everyday is payday, swipe my card, then I do the nae nae."
The second line clearly cites the rappers Kanye West and Ray J: "You're talking to a lady, I want a Kanye and not a Ray J." During the chorus, the group also praised female icons Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. The song was compared to Destiny's Child's song, "Independent Women".
Christina Garibaldi from MTV commented that the group "proudly sing about the fact they don't need a man as they "pledge allegiance to my independent girls in here".
In an interview with Garibaldi, the group said "the whole point of this song is for girls who are our age to turn it on and feel confident and empowered because at this age being insecure is such a common occurrence. So we think when you turn that song on, you feel sexy and feel good about yourself."
The next track, "Sledgehammer", is '80s-inspired synthpop; it features EDM beats and heavy synths. Lyrically, the song uses "Sledgehammer" as a metaphor to express the physical effects of love.
The fourth track "Worth It" features a guest appearance by Kid Ink. Written from the perspective of a woman telling a man that she is "Worth It", it implies a sexual connotation.
However, like other songs on the album, "Worth It" could also be interpreted as a feminist song. Jeff Benjamin of Fuse expands this notion by writing the song can inspire "young girls to truly believe they're 'Worth It' and can own Wall Street or any other place on which they set their sights." Its instrumentation consists of horns sample, trance synths and a trap-inspired Roland TR-808 drum machine.
Critics compared the song to "Talk Dirty" by Jason Derulo (also produced by Norwegian production team Stargate and musician Ori Kaplan) for a similar use of horns in its production.
The Dr. Luke-produced track, "This Is How We Roll", is a pop rock and electronic dance music fusion with the chorus driven by guitar chords that drop off during each EDM-influenced hook. Brennan Carley of Spin noted that a similar sound can be found on "Scream & Shout" by Will.i.am and Britney Spears, mainly during the song's breakdown.
The sixth track, "Everlasting Love", is influenced by '90s R&B music; the group sings over piano notes and chattering percussion.
The following track, "Like Mariah" samples Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby." It also features guest vocals by rapper Tyga. The group sings the chorus: "Your loving takes me higher/You set my heart on fire/When you touch my body/Got me singing like" with Carey's hook harmonizing around.
Jason Lipshutz of Billboard commented that in the song, "Fifth Harmony admirably pulls off the sunny R&B vibe and falsetto runs of the pop icon they're honoring on the track."
"Them Girls Be Like" lyrics also feature cultural references, as noted by Lipshutz who wrote, "like 'Boss', the song oozes self-assuredness, this time swatting down female rivals instead of tongue-wagging males. The millennial-friendly lyrics are an absolute blast to swim through".
During the song, the group sings: "We ain't like them girls that do too much/If you thirsty, you can't sit with us." The verse directly refers to the 2004 movie "Mean Girls". In the bridge, Lauren Jauregui belts out: "Do you ever post your pics with no filter" in a clear reference to the movement #Nofilter.
Time editor Jamieson Cox noted that with the song, the group "promote[s] a positive body image." Musically, the track is strongly influenced by Caribbean music.
The title track "Reflection" is a hip hop number with a trap-influenced chorus, where Normani Kordei sings: "You'd be rich if looking good was your profession/Think I'm in love, 'cause you so sexy/Boy, I ain't talkin' about you, I'm talking to my own reflection."
Meaghan Garvey of Pitchfork commented that the track is a "celebration of self-love without the somberness and pedantry that often comes with the topic, purring flirty coos to their own mirror images and breezily refuting the idea that women dress up for male approval."
Critics described "Suga Mama" as a 2010s update of "No Scrubs" by R&B group TLC. Jamieson Cox of Time stated that in the track, "they're affectionate but unwilling to fund their deadbeat boyfriends' lavish lifestyles."
The eleventh track "We Know" is a stripped-down song in comparison to the rest of the album and begins with Kordei singing the first verse followed by Camila Cabello. Jauregui performs the pre-chorus accompanied by a simple piano melody, member Dinah Jane & then sings the hook with the second verse sung by Ally Brooke.
Garvey of Pitchfork praised the vocal's division in the song writing that it "serves as the album's most impressive showcase of each member's solo talents." The song contains an interpolation of DeBarge's song "A Dream".
On the first bonus track included on the album's deluxe version, "Going Nowhere" is an EDM number. During the song, the group sings and a synth riff and synthesized handclaps are featured.
"Body Rock" contains an interpolation from "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. The song has one of the faster tempos on the album. It features a synthesized melody and sirens.
The deluxe edition concludes with "Brave, Honest, Beautiful" featuring Meghan Trainor. The chorus praises several female singers such as Beyonce, Shakira, Rihanna and Madonna. The song's lyrics are complemented by a moderate dance beat. Lyrically, it express a message of female empowerment and positive body image.
"Reflection" debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart with 80,000 equivalent album units (with 62,000 of those coming from pure album sales), becoming their second release to debut in the top-ten since their first extended play, "Better Together."
Its steady performance within the top fifty after its release earned them a spot in the end of year charts at #48.
As of early 2016, the album has sold 155,000 copies in the United States.
On December 12, 2017, "Reflection" was certified Platinum in the United States for combined sales and streaming-equivalent units of 1,000,000 units, after the Recording Industry Association of America introduced streams in their certification criteria.
As of October 2018, the album has sold 1,538,000 in album-equivalent sales in the United States.
Outside the United States, "Reflection" made an appearance in Canada, where it charted at number eight, becoming the group's first top ten entry there as well as in countries such as Brazil and New Zealand.
In Europe, the album entered the top twenty in both the United Kingdom and Scotland, charting at 18 and 19 respectively.
It also charted within the top thirty in five other countries. Reflection charted at number 16 in Australia, giving Fifth Harmony their second top twenty entry in Oceania after New Zealand. Elsewhere, the album made appearances within the top thirty in five other countries.
"Reflection" received generally positive reviews from music critics. Writing for Time, Jamieson Cox, in a positive review, said the group is "agile, and have intuitive understanding of how their differences in vocal texture and range can impact their songs by introducing surprise and tension".
He continued: "Reflection is certainly enjoyable on a purely musical level, but Fifth Harmony's perspective and positivity is often even more exciting."
Matt Collar, of AllMusic, gave the album four out of five stars saying that it "is a slick production showcasing the group's multi voiced approach to contemporary R&B". He noted the diversity of musical genres, "from electronic-infused dance music to synthy, rhythmically bumptious hip-hop, to retro-'90s R&B," although adding that "it is very much a savvy pop product of the moment".
Artistdirect's Rick Fiorino gave the album five out of five, saying that each song feels "massive" and has potential to be "blaring out of radios for years to come". He added that the group's "dynamic voices" fuse into "one focused pop roller coast (sic)".
Fiorino ends his review saying that Reflection establishes the group as "21st century's pop music's premier powerhouse".
Brittany Spanos, of Rolling Stone, gave the album three and a half stars out of five, calling the lyrics "infectious" and the track "Like Mariah" a standout.
Billboard's Jason Lipshutz gave the album four out of five stars saying that "most of the songs work," adding that the group shows "that they are capable of slick synth-pop, grungy hip-hop and fluttering R&B, the latter clearly indebted to the girl groups of the '90s".
Lipshutz also compares the group's message to Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Katy Perry's, noting that "the back half of Reflection is basically a misandrist constitution, with the 5H ladies brushing off lazy dudes on "Suga Mama," game-players on "We Know" and the flight-before-fight bros on "Going Nowhere".
Writing for Spin, Brennan Carley gave a rating of seven out of ten, calling the album "cohesive and modern," and "self-aware fun". He highlighted Meghan Trainor's work saying "her feel-good songwriting and female empowerment jams provide some of Reflection's highest peaks".
Glenn Gamboa, of Newsday, gave the album a grade of B (the highest being an A+), highlighting how the track "Brave, Honest, Beautiful" could be an "anthem for the group". He also complemented the extended time the album took to make, saying this allowed the group "time to grow" and "plenty of resources".
Gamboa finished his review by raving about the many pop culture icon references on the album, and how the group offers a "particular brand of multicultural girl power".
Writing for Idolator, Christina Lee gave the album three and a half stars out of five, saying that Fifth Harmony "nails every song with absolute precision, as if its members had known each other for far longer than just three years since The X Factor". She also predicted that the group is "bound to move on to the next round in this pop game" with a "No. 1 single, at the very least".
Rebecca Mattina, from Andpop, gave the album three and a half stars out of five, saying that "the lyrics are fun, strong and full of swagger, and their vocals are always on-point. If they can really hone in (sic) on their sound, it won't be long before they're dominating the charts".
She noted that "Boss" "might just be one of the best female empowerment songs since Destiny's Child's 'Independent Women'" and called the lyrics of "Brave Honest Beautiful" some of the group's "most powerful".
After releasing "Boss", Fifth Harmony released another song from the album, "We Know", during sessions for Idolator and Billboard.
They performed several songs from the album before its release during Austin Mahone's Live on Tour in the summer of 2014. The new songs included "Reflection", "We Know" and "Going Nowhere".
The group announced a headlining, 23-date tour, The Reflection Tour, commencing on February 27, 2015. The opening acts included Jacob Whitesides, Jasmine V and Mahogany Lox.
On the release of Reflection, MTV aired the "Fifth Harmony Album Release Party Presented By Covergirl" at New York's Webster Hall on February 6, 2015, where they took the stage for a private performance, filmed by fans and turned into a music video, followed by an interview.
Fifth Harmony appeared as guests on VH1's Big Morning Buzz Live for the entire week of February 16, 2015, doing interviews and performing on the show.