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Fifth Harmony spill their true feelings on fame, feminism and their fans

Tate Stevens and Carly Rose Sonenclare, who? Well, no disrespect, really, to the winner and runner up, respectively, of the U.S. “X Factor” season two, which finished up in late 2012. Nearly two years later, it’s clear who wound up the real winners of that televised, Simon Cowell-helmed singing competition: the young women of Fifth Harmony.

The group may have technically taken third in its X Factor season, but still scored a deal with Cowell’s Syco Records—and have, in the semi-long run, come out on top after all. Take, for example, that time this past August when the group took “Artist to Watch” at the MTV VMAs, edging out other uber-popular acts like Sam Smith and even the rabidly supported 5 Seconds of Summer. Or take, for another example, the group’s latest single, “BO$S,” an upbeat, uptempo, R&B-tinged empowerment anthem that refuses to drop from the top half of the Billboard Hot 100.

The current pop climate, as always, suffers from no shortage of beautiful young women who can sing and dance. But Fifth Harmony still manages to stand out—there’s their real, unfiltered, soulful vocal talent, for one thing. (Go back to the early audition episodes of their “X Factor” season, for instance, for early signs of greatness.)

There’s their very 2014 multiculti make-up, for another. And there’s also their maturity and decided modesty. You’re more likely to hear them talk about family and faith than about partying in a club, which, given many of their pop peers, almost seems like a radical stance.

But you also won’t hear the women of Fifth Harmony comparing themselves to anyone else—nor encouraging their fans to do so either. Their debut album, “Reflection,” due out this December, is all about female empowerment, they say—even, yes, feminism.

Edited by Jesse Swinger

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