Little Mix: From making X Factor history to the Brits and beyond

Almost a decade after Little Mix shot to fame by making X Factor history, band member Jesy Nelson has announced she is taking an “extended” break for private medical reasons.

As the 29-year-old steps back, the PA news agency takes a look at the quartet’s chart-topping career since they became the first group to win the TV talent show.

The girl band was born in 2011, after the four members auditioned on The X Factor as soloists, but judges placed them as a group in the later stages.

They originally performed under the title Rhythmix – but changed the name after protests from a Brighton charity of the same name which works with disabled and vulnerable children.

InStyle party – London
InStyle party – London

Little Mix – made up of Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson – said they came up with their new name after talking it over with their X Factor mentor and N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos.

She described their win as making “X Factor history”, and Little Mix have since released six studio albums and four UK number one singles.

The girl band released debut album DNA a year after their X Factor win, featuring hit single Cannonball, which shot to the top of the charts.

In 2013, they became the first British girl group to debut in the US top five, with DNA selling 50,000 copies – beating even the Spice Girls.

The quartet claimed their first number one album in 2016 with Glory Days, which included Power, a track featuring grime artist Stormzy.

Brit Awards 2019 – Show – London
Brit Awards 2019 – Show – London

With combined sales of more than 96,000, Glory Days became the second fastest-selling album of the year and marked the highest first week sales for a British girl group number one since Spice Girls’ Spiceworld in 1997.

Confetti is Little Mix’s sixth studio album which the singers said they put “so much emotion and energy” into. Released this month, it is their first album since leaving Simon Cowell’s label Syco.

The group have won two Brit Awards – the first for best British Single, Shout Out To My Ex, in 2017, for which the girls thanked their ex-boyfriends as they accepted the gong.

In 2019, Woman Like Me – a single featuring US rap star Nicki Minaj, which begins with the band travelling in the back of a riot van before dancing around a stately home – won the British Video award.

Little Mix have also gained attention and fans for reasons beyond their music, as they have been open about the ups and downs of their personal lives.

Edwards dated One Direction star Zayn Malik, but when the pair called off their engagement in 2015, Edwards said she was “so glad” to have her bandmates by her side.

Jesy Nelson break from Little MIx
Jesy Nelson break from Little MIx

Nelson has also spoken out about the pressures young girls in the spotlight can face to look a certain way, saying she had to “grow a thick skin” to deal with it.

This autumn Little Mix launched a TV talent show of their own.

BBC One programme Little Mix The Search sees the group create and mentor new bands.

A live episode of the debut show had to be postponed after members of the crew tested positive for Covid-19 – though this did not include Little Mix.

After feeling unwell on November 7, Nelson had to miss the show’s final, days before their publicist announced she had to step back from the group.