The girl band — the all-female pop troupe peddling rich harmonies, synchronized dance moves, and a healthy shot of girl power — has been mostly absent from America’s pop consciousness over the past 10 years. The burlesque-gone-clubbing act the Pussycat Dolls had a clutch of hits in the mid-’00s, but other attempts at the form have experienced soft landings on pop radio.
Fifth Harmony, a five-member collective assembled on the now-defunct American “X Factor” in 2012, might break that cycle. Since Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane Hansen, Camila Cabello, and Lauren Jauregui were put together by pop impresario Simon Cowell and finished third on the show, they’ve amassed a passionate fan base (known, in the current pop-fans-as-religious-sects lingo, as “Harmonizers”) whose members have loudly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, thanks to their passion being fervent enough to move the digital equivalent of a mountain — Twitter’s trending topics list.
Tuesday’s Fifth Harmony show at the Wilbur made it easy to see why Fifth Harmony has the muscle to succeed where other girl bands failed, and why its followers, who packed the theater to capacity, are so loyal. Fifth Harmony’s brand of pop is all about making young women feel good about themselves through the power of big beats and snaky melodies, with the occasional allowance for a melismatic show of vocal strength. It’s somewhat retro, in that it recalls the days when R&B-influenced girl groups like Destiny’s Child and TLC ruled pop radio, but it isn’t so rooted in the past to not throw in a drop or two.
Opening with the pulsing, jittery “Reflection” (the title track of Fifth Harmony’s debut album, which came out earlier this year), the performers immediately established themselves as confident and not willing to trifle with unnecessary items: in this case, a guy who’s getting in the way of the members admiring their mirror images. That message of self-love carried throughout the night; the group’s first single, “Miss Movin’ On,” is a triumphant tale of being over a guy, while “BO$$” is an empowerment anthem on the level of Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women Pt. 1.”
The show was fairly seamless, with equal time being distributed among the members; even in a graceful mid-show Mariah Carey medley, diva moments were absent, with the ladies instead focusing on nailing their candy-coated harmonies and thanking the rapturous crowd profusely. The night ended with “Brave, Honest, Beautiful,” an affirmation of confidence that extended to all those singing along with it.Maura Johnston can be reached at email@example.com.