first person

Was My Joke the Final Nail in Fifth Harmony’s Coffin?

Left to right: Ally Brooke, Dinah Jane Hansen, Camila Cabello, Lauren Jauregui, and Normani Hamilton of Fifth Harmony perform onstage during Power 96.1’s Jingle Ball 2016. Photo: Marcus Ingram/2016 Getty Images

Last week I appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and talked about my love of Fifth Harmony. I love this band so much that, given the chance to talk on television for five minutes, I dedicated about three of those minutes to them. See for yourself, starting around the 3:30 mark:

Monday morning, the band announced they’re taking a hiatus to pursue solo projects. I found out via a handful of tweets directed at me, saying things like, “Did you do this?” and “R u a sorceress?” An editor from Vulture even emailed asking if I thought my joke was the final nail in their coffin. I believe the answer is no: I am not a sorceress (regrettably), and my bit did not induce the breakup of a multiplatinum girl group. Their split was bound to happen from the moment Camila Cabello went solo, because it’s pretty goofy to be a four-membered band called Fifth Harmony. (It would’ve just been confusing to change it to Fourth Harmony, because even their original name seems to be a reference to … nothing?)

While I’m sad to see them call it quits (at least until the reunion cash beckons them back in a few years), the thing about Fifth Harmony is that we never should’ve had a Fifth Harmony. They auditioned for The X-Factor as solo artists and were grouped together out of convenience, because god forbid they let five separately talented young women make their own music at the same time. They shouldn’t have had to make it work, but they did, for six whole years, which is longer than I’ve ever kept any job.

For a band formed so inorganically, they were amazing. Most of their songs were insanely catchy, and they all appeared to be having a ton of fun even as they settled for a watered-down version of their dreams. I related to their struggle of wanting to be individuals while not disrupting the delicate balance of the whole. I tried being in a sorority in college and only lasted for about a year for this very reason — and we never had to do a choreographed dance in ass-less chaps on Good Morning America. These girls were troopers. They sacrificed their identities so they could lack identity together. The first time I played “Work From Home” for my boyfriend, he said, “this is music made by computers” — but I prefer to say they were a machine.

Their music cheered me up during spells of depression. I’ve gone for a run approximately one time in the past three years, and it was because I was genuinely uplifted by the song “He Like That.” The run lasted about four minutes, but a run is a run, and I felt the change in my brain chemicals.

I dare anyone to listen to the song “Worth It” without shaking their ass a little. Hell, there is video footage of Guy Fieri autographing Lean Cuisines at a festival where that song is playing; he’s tossing them out into the audience like frisbees and people want them. That’s how good Fifth Harmony is: People wanted frozen prison dinners with Guy Fieri’s name on them in the middle of a field on a warm day with nary a microwave in sight, because they heard this Fifth Harmony song blasting, and decided, yes, they were worth it. That was their awesome power, and may they rest in peace.

Fifth Harmony: Was My Joke the Final Nail in Their Coffin?