That Fifth Harmony flex

By Martin Yambao

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The future of pop is female: American girl group Fifth Harmony brought the house down at the SM MOA Arena.

MANILA, Philippines - When Camila Cabello announced her early exit from Fifth Harmony early this year, I was, for the lack of a better word, shook. 

Even though we all saw it coming: Camila always had the vibe of a baby Beyoncé in the making, a post-Spice World mini Geri Halliwell jonesing for her own “Mi Chico Latino” moment. You don’t have to look too far in music to know that member shakeups never bode well for pop bands (Google: Zayn and One Direction), but could Fifth Harmony be the exception? If the #727Tour in Manila (presented by PLDT and Smart) last April 5 showed us anything, it’s that the foursome’s chemistry without she-who-must-not-be-named may prove bigger than her exit.

In less than five years since their top three finish on The X Factor US, the girls have two albums under their belts as the reigning American girl group (“Reflection” in 2015 and their current “7/27” in 2016), two top five Billboard Top 100 hits (Worth It and Work from Home), and the supposed promise of a third album as the OT5 — that’s stan-speak for “one true five”; meaning the founding group of Camila Cabello, Normani Kordei, Lauren Jauregi, Ally Brooke and Dinah Jane — Camila’s abrupt departure felt too early for the group’s big picture, announced on the eve of their Asian tour, no less.

But the foursome is determined to take their debut single to heart (cue Miss Movin’ On, a modern classic from 2013) and soldier on with a top-grossing tour starting from South America, North America, then Europe, and now Asia — the girls brought their #727Tour to life in Manila with a packed show at the SM MOA Arena.

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The sing-off: Fil-American boy group The Filharmonic warmed up the crowd with a mix of accapella covers and original songs. Photos by JASPER LUCENA

The roaring crowd was warmed up by the stylings of California-based The Filharmonic — an a cappella group composed of all-male Filipino vocalists. Singing a mix of original songs and top 40 covers, the group was flown in from their hometown of Los Angeles specifically to serenade Filipino harmonizers.

The #727Tour main event officially kicked off with the girls appearing in a burst of confetti, punching the air to the beat of their current single That’s My Girl — the girls opened the concert in all-red and blue jerseys — an ode to our flag and our shared love for basketball, perhaps? The word “PILIPINAS” was emblazoned on their chests and the girls’ names on their backs.

Hit after hit, Ally took the lead with their 5H classic Sledgehammer, then Dinah Jane sang her lungs out with fan-favorite ballad Scared of Happy, Normani showed off her sultry dancing to the reggaeton mood of All in My Head (Flex), and Lauren was more than fit to take over most of Camila’s signature parts in Worth It. Fifth Harmony closed out the show with an encore of their chart topper (and forever earworm) Work From Home.

“With seven million US digital downloads sold and 1.6 billion US on-demand streams,” as reported by Billboard.com, this can only be the beginning for Fifth Harmony. Seeing the electric chemistry of Lauren, Normani, Ally and Dinah Jane onstage, the girls prove themselves a force bigger than any member shakeup. Harmonizers rejoice (and Camila truthers can go and suck it); the girls are here to stay and given their sheer talent as a foursome, moving forward to a new album or a new sound won’t be their biggest challenge — it can only be their first.

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