Normani
Normani has already left a prominent mark on the pop industry, and her debut album is still yet to come. (Illustration by Amelia Fins, Montclair State University)
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Normani

You should seriously be anticipating the upcoming debut solo album from the Fifth Harmony star.

March 16, 2018 — a day that will live in infamy. Well … maybe not to those who weren’t Fifth Harmony fans. Ever since the announcement of the girl group’s “indefinite hiatus,” all eyes have been on individual members, pondering their next moves as solo artists. Extra attention has been given to Normani Kordei, the former group’s dance powerhouse and a quickly rising star.

Although Fifth Harmony was enormously successful in its time, the group started to wither after Camila Cabello left in 2016 and the other members decided to branch out to tackle their own solo careers.

Normani isn’t letting the separation of her old girl group slow her down. Since being signed to S10 Entertainment as a solo artist in late 2017, she’s collaborated with other notable artists, such as Calvin Harris, 6lack, Khalid and Sam Smith, with some of the collabs reaching the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

On top of being busy making and performing her collaborative bops from the past year, Normani has already racked up various award nominations and a few wins from them; namely wins from the iHeart Radio Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards and the BMI Awards.

If her high-charting collabs and numerous awards in such a short amount of time doesn’t convince you, look to one of the world’s biggest current pop stars, Ariana Grande. Normani joined Grande’s enormous North American leg of her Sweetener World Tour as an opening act, showing off her star-power to thousands of fans each night.

Seeing Normani alone on stage for the first time is a sight to behold. Her typical tour outfit on the Sweetener World Tour was a skintight bodysuit dripping in jewels and shine. Not to be outdone by her extravagant costume, Normani performed her setlist with effortless grace, hitting every move and note perfectly. She exudes playfulness on stage, but intertwines more mature and sultry energy into her performances with her solo work. Normani is both every genre and genre-less, and she sells every version of herself she gives.

As if her levels of iconic-ness couldn’t get any higher, Normani shut it down at the 2019 MTV VMAs. Her first solo performance outside of the opener spot from Grande’s tour was full of her classic stunts, flips and splits, making jaws across the country drop (seriously … how does she move like that?).

From costume reveals to dance breaks to giving live vocals, Normani is continuously proving herself worthy of the pop crown. No one is really quite doing it like her right now.

Normani’s most notable feat as of recently is her single “Motivation.” The track is upbeat, easy to dance to (even if you can’t dance as well as Normani) and even inspired a viral challenge. The video is jam-packed with iconic looks inspired by ’90’s and early 2000’s aesthetics, impressive choreography and plenty of proof that she’s ready to claim her rightful spot among other pop legends.

Her impressive musical accomplishments aside, Normani is paving the way for black women in music. Not only is she setting future artists up for success, but she’s showing young dark-skinned girls everywhere that girls who look like them can exist and thrive in the mainstream scene.

She’s also not afraid to speak out about some heavier issues like race. As the only black member of Fifth Harmony, she felt that the other girls didn’t fully grasp the weight of her experiences with racism. She received harassment online from former bandmate Cabello’s fans in 2016 after they thought Normani shaded Cabello in an interview. The rest of the group attempted to comfort her, but Normani said her bandmates didn’t fully get it because they didn’t have “the tools they needed because it’s not their experience.” And while that can be tough for some people to hear and is definitely not Normani’s sole responsibility, it’s still important for it to be said (especially in the realm of pop music, which is still dominated by mostly white women).

In the same vein of bringing important issues to light, Normani is very outspoken about wanting to be a positive representation for black women. She said in an interview for Billboard that she feels she has “a responsibility as a black woman — one of the very few to have the power to kill it” in terms of using her voice to empower others like her. As much as fans love and support her music, the real admiration comes from the bravery she exhibits in her fight to make pop music a warmer and more welcoming place for all backgrounds.

In addition to being extremely musically gifted, outspoken and smart, Normani is hilarious. Unfortunately, as is common on social media, budding artists are prone to trolls that try to tear them down. Normani is no different, but it can be kind of satisfying to see celebrities completely obliterate their haters on their own. My favorite clapback was her response to someone criticizing her performance with a simple but iconic “then don’t watch.” Absolutely legendary.

One thing is for sure — Normani cannot be contained in just one box. With all of her impressive talents that she executes flawlessly, she is still just a normal 23-year-old making her way in the world (and in her case, her world just happens to include millions of adoring fans). Having a new artist come on the scene who seems so down-to-earth and relatable is a breath of fresh air, and Normani encapsulates that.

To seasoned Fifth Harmony fans and newcomers to the bandwagon alike, Normani is a force to be reckoned with. She has already more than proved herself a pop star, and her debut album hasn’t even come out yet. With such a stacked resume already, we can only dream of what other amazing things she’ll do throughout her solo career.

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