by Kerry Torpey ’20
After shocking fans around the world with her exit from pop girl group Fifth Harmony, Camila Cabello has taken the music industry by storm. With her first solo album Camila debuting at number one in over 90 countries, the Cuban-American singer joins a small percentage of successful performers who left their bands behind for solo careers.
Since their formation in 2012 on the United States edition of The X Factor, Fifth Harmony has become one of the globe’s most recognizable and popular girl groups. From wins at the American Music Awards to international nominations at the German Bravo Otto Awards and South Korean MelOn Music Awards, the group was on a rollercoaster that only went up.
Despite their success as a collective, the group members participated in solo endeavors outside of the group. Most notably, however, were Cabello’s features on Shawn Mendes’s hit song “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and Machine Gun Kelly’s “Bad Things.” Both collaborations included widespread media coverage with performances on talk shows like The Ellen Show and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
In December 2016, Cabello announced her exit from Fifth Harmony. The band’s Twitter account told fans that they tried to “sit down and discuss the future of” the group following the release of her first solo project, but Cabello refused to cooperate. Cabello, however, tweeted that she “was shocked” after reading Fifth Harmony’s response, claiming that the group was highly aware of her feelings about going solo following lengthy conversations.
With worldwide acclaim for singles like “Crying in the Club” and “Havana,” Cabello has managed to debut as a unique and influential artist of her own. As a songwriter behind the album, the singer explained to Rolling Stone that “there’s absolutely nothing wrong” with having songs “written by other people,” but, “it’s just not for me.”
Cabello pays special attention to her Latin heritage and credits producer Frank Dukes as being “a big part of taking a classic part of Latin culture and combining it with something new and modern.” Rather than play it safe and make songs that will establish Cabello’s solo career as soon as possible, Camila stands out as a debut because of this Latin-pop fusion.
Following in the footsteps of Zayn Malik of One Direction and Justin Timberlake of *NSYNC, Cabello is a success story, as many artists who go solo end up struggling to find fame on their own. Reggie Ugwu, a journalist for The New York Times, interviewed Cabello, describing her as, “just one in a cacophony of voices aiming to break through in a harsh, post-streaming environment.”
Tom Poleman of iHeartMedia explained to Ugwu that the platform of a band like Fifth Harmony does not guarantee success for an artist going solo. He explains, “The field is so competitive that you really need the planets to align.”
Poleman feels that Cabello stands out from these solo success stories as her “sensibilities as a songwriter” will help “define her career.” With the continued success of Camila on iTunes and other streaming services, the singer has set herself up for a steady and prosperous solo career.