Elisabeth Woronzoff: “Love to hate me, praise me, shame me / Either way you talk about me” is the essence of Little Mix’s appeal. The lyrics come from their single “Wasabi”, a track reminiscent of ’90s girl pop-groups mixed with contemporary club beats. “Wasabi” isn’t good musically; it’s scattered. The jumpiness between genres is unsettling, especially the transition from spoken word to rock riffs. But being considered a musical masterclass has never been Little Mix’s purpose. Rather, they have always advocated for combing empowerment with fun — and this is certainly where “Wasabi” finds its allure.
A missive directed toward their haters, “Wasabi” is defiant and confident. It’s a musical reminder to ignore the critics and strive towards authenticity. In the video, Jade wears a t-shirt bearing an image of famed and esteemed British telejournalist Trevor McDonald. The juxtaposition of McDonald and Little Mix is an audacious reminder of the group’s self-awareness. Here Little Mix deflects postmodern cynicism and the shade thrown at their contributions to popular culture. [6/10]
Jessica Brant: The world is growing increasingly more hostile over human rights injustices, a plummeting stock market, and this “End of the World” lockdown we’re experiencing because of COVID-19, but our dance music doesn’t have to be, no matter how rough the ride gets. Downshifting isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Americans to do right now, in whatever aspects of their lives they are unhappy with. Everything we say or do can be spit right back in our faces, and our thoughts and actions are being closely monitored on social media through our peers, contributing to an agitated state of living. What we don’t need right now is more stress, so we might as well brush off those cancel culture vultures and accept the times for what they are. Sashay Shante those fears away, honey, just as Little Mix does by sharing footage from their LM5 Tour last year in this video. [7/10]
Karen Zarker: First glance of this poppy punch bowl and it’s looking really pink. Just go ahead, take a sip. It seems like Little Mix has spiked this drink with a bottle full of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”, doesn’t it? That’s OK. The Latin dance-pop will fizz you up, and the more swallow, the more your sassy little self will feel emboldened. “Wasabi” burns hot and fast. It’s a quick, fun little shot of hot attitude. [6/10]
Kyle Cochrun: What’s with the ’90s-esque breakbeat-laden hard rock for the bridge? I’d like to experience this song in a nightclub with a high-end speaker system. At home, with headphones on, without wasted partygoers lurching all around me, I can tell I’m not getting the intended effect. This one was made for the club, and I’m sure there are clubs nearby that would play it, at least on request. But, for me, at least, the Covid-19 pandemic has shut those spots down and robbed the song of its context. It’s still unclear how the coronavirus will alter club music, if at all. If anyone decides to write a book on this subject years down the road, they should call up the members of Little Mix. [5/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: Classical R&B vocal harmonies add some much-needed warmth to the sharp beats on “Wasabi” for a comfortingly predictable dance-pop track that steps on Little Mix haters with heels on. This is a formulaic version of empowerment, no doubt, but it’s tried and true for a reason: it feels good. Ultimately, it’s relatable, too, and this is as much a song for the club as it is for boosting your self-esteem with a bedroom dance party. A banger, if not particularly inspired. [6/10]