Pop & Hiss
Q&A

Fifth Harmony's Ally Brooke talks latest single 'Work From Home' and edgy new album

Fifth Harmony is back to “work.”

The pop girl group — composed of Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Kordei, Lauren Jauregui, Camila Cabello and Dinah Jane — is fresh off promoting its stellar 2015 debut, “Reflection,” and the quintet already has its follow-up mapped out.

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Titled “7/27” — the date the group was created during the second season of “The X Factor” in 2012 — the album arrives May 20.

The new album — which The Times got a small preview of earlier this week — shows the young women have matured as a group and are fully embracing their newfound pop stardom. The first single, “Work From Home,” is proof.

Produced by Ammo (Beyonce, Britney Spears, Katy Perry), “Work From Home” picks up where the group’s breakout hit “Worth It” leaves off. The beat is slinky, the melody is sexy and the hook is addictive, with a catchy line about persuading your partner to skip the office.

"You don't gotta do work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work / Let my body do the work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work,” the ladies sing before rising R&B/hip-hop artist Ty Dolla Sign pops in for a verse.

And the video — which, like the single, premiered Friday morning — dials things up a few notches. The Director X-helmed clip sees the women building a house but distracted by sexy construction workers and the serious need to dance.

Following the multi-platinum success of “Worth It” — the infectious hit was the first single from a girl group to break the top 20 since the Pussycat Dolls in 2009 — the group is embarking on an aggressive push in which each member travels to designated radio markets, culminating in nearly 100 stations visited. The single will get its live debut Monday when the ladies will perform on the “Live With Kelly and Michael” annual post-Oscar show.

While headed to the airport to fly to New York — where the single premiered on Elvis Duran’s morning show — Ally Brooke (with the ladies chiming in from the background) phoned The Times to talk about the single and the upcoming album.

What did you learn from the experience of recording the debut album that you then either wanted to do more or less of for the sophomore record?

Coming off “Reflection,” what we really wanted to do was be more vulnerable. On the last album, we had a lot of high energy, empowering songs. But we wanted to hone in more on our emotions and talk about love and heartbreak and some of the experiences that we’ve been through.

We’re all really happy because we’ve been able to do that and be more open and honest. I’m excited because I feel like a lot of our fans, and the world, haven’t really been able to see that side of us and I think it’s good to show. It’s good to unpeel layers of yourself, and we’re unpeeling layers of the group. We are growing and evolving. It’ll reflect in the music.

Wanting to peel back those layers, is that what led to the title? It feels introspective.

We came up with it because, of course, 7/27 is the day we were born, and it symbolizes a lot for us. It’s us looking back on that day and looking at where we are right now.

It’s crazy; so much has happened for us personally and in our career, and Fifth Harmony has really evolved. We’re standing strong and showing the world that this is who we are. We don’t forget where we came from, but we’re also women and this is a whole new era for us. Our lives changed in the moment on that date, and I think it’s really cool that we’re able to incorporate that into the title.

There’s usually added pressure on a sophomore record, but I can imagine it’s compounded by being in a group, and adding another layer of it being a girl group and you guys have already been hit with so many rumors. Did you all feel any of that in the studio?

Well, I feel like where we are right now, the stakes of this being our second album, of course everybody wants it to be a success. Of course there’s that pressure. But we also put pressure on ourselves to fight for what we believe in and to speak up for what we wanted to say.

We really wanted to make sure we were really proud of this album and we had as much input as we could, and that is what happened. We had a conversation with the label, we had a conversation with A&R, the songwriters and producers, and we told them, “This is who we are. This is what we want to talk about. And this is what we are going through, so let’s create the best album we can create for ourselves.”

We wanted to create the best music for us, and our fans, that really represents us today, and I think that’s what we did. We created something that shows our evolution and our growth, and we are so proud of it. It’s funny because we listen to our music on our own in the car, and we’re like, if we like it, we know our fans will like it. We know what our fans like.

What inspired the first single?

We were meeting with our A&R [Joey Arbagey], and he played us “Work From Home.” We were blown away when we heard it. We loved the beat. It captures you, and the melodies are sick. They are so simple, but less is more. The simplicity makes it stand out and makes a statement almost. We had to have it.

Ammo produced the first single, but who else did you work with on the album?

Oh, my gosh, we worked with the most incredible people. We worked with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, who are, of course, the best writers ever [both have contributed to past Fifth Harmony projects].

We worked with Max Martin’s team, MXM, who are the best in the business as well. We worked with Stargate, which was phenomenal, and Victoria Monet.

We have an incredible list of people that we collaborated with on this record and that was insane. To be in their presence and to feel included in the work that they were doing and we were doing — for it to be a collaborative effort — was so amazing. We were working with these people who made some of our favorite songs. It was such an honor. It was a really special experience with this album, I will tell you that; it was so special.

If you had to describe the new album in five words?

Edgy, colorful, powerful, a party — that’s two words — and elevated. 

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy

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