By Josh Schonfeld
Fresh off their surprising MTV Video Music Award win for Artist to Watch, X Factor USA girl group, Fifth Harmony, attempts to cash in on their recent popularity. “Sledgehammer” brings together a pulsing backtrack with witty lyrics and dynamic melody filled with twists and turns. The song describes the feeling one gets when first falling in love through the use of a sledgehammer metaphor. This genius metaphor hits the nail on the head in explaining the sadistic pain that accompanies euphoric pleasure, and is amplified by the slamming beat. The deafening chorus is followed by a rapid-fire line that is nearly incoherent, yet adds to the silly puppy love aspect of the song. The same goes for the helium-filled “whoa-oh-ohs” as the girls soar into space over their schoolyard crushes. The song reaches a crescendo as the bridge slows down the tempo only for the girls to push fast-forward and belt out the final bars of the song with incredible runs.
The song is not without its faults, of course. The name, “Fifth Harmony,” is clearly a misnomer as you’ll find more harmonies on a Britney Spears track than on this one. A Destiny’s Child-style harmonization would have come in handy during the slowed down bridge. Because of the lack of varying vocals, the track plays out as a handful of solos strung together instead of a cohesive female ensemble.
The production itself is a retread of Nicole Scherzinger’s 2011 UK #1, “Don’t Hold Your Breath,” but it is still innovative and new for the struggling girl group searching for a defining sound. It’s clear that “Sledgehammer” will be their ticket to the top of the charts and rightfully so. The girls of Fifth Harmony pour their hearts out on the track and delve into the universal theme of falling in love with maturity and grace.