The Solo Normani – Why this moment was inevitable
The Billboard Music Awards 2018 put a major spotlight on Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei. Now named just Normani, the former X-factor star found herself the talk of socials following her performance with Khalid. Social media crowned her “The next big breakout star”, but was this inevitable moment really that surprising? Normani has been plotting since the impetus of her stardom, one just has to look at who her biggest idol is (Beyonce) to quickly learn that this artist has had the wheels turning ever since her first taste of fame.
Early signs of Normani’s blueprint, come from her visuals released in 2015. Dubbed as a collaboration project with longtime choreographer Sean Bankhead, the talent introduced the world to the solo Normani Kordei, and gave the world a teaser as to what was to undoubtedly follow. While publicly, this appeared to be an innocent exploration of a childhood passion (dance), it’s clear that the singer was subtly edging fans towards a manifestation of the individual artist.
Following this, Normani continued to usher in solo highlights, all while maintaining the Fifth Harmony aesthetic. Traces of this can be found in the groups 2017 MTV VMA’s performance. During the performance, the then Fifth Harmony member hits the splits position, again this moment was an instant viral sensation, with peers in the industry visibly in awe of her star presence. Normani, being the best dancer of the group, clearly utilised slots given to her by Sean and maximised her chances to shine. It’s almost as if she was using the Fifth Harmony era as a testing ground, preparation for the main event.
Normani didn’t just fall into a solo career as some acts do out of desperation following group success, even her management and recording contract can be viewed strategically. The power-house is now the first lady of heavy-weight A&R Tunji Balogun’s Keep Cool imprint, on top of this she’s jointly signed to RCA, a label which is home to breakout R&B successes SZA, H.E.R and Khalid (because of Tunji in most cases). Teaming with such a mutually beneficial middle-ground, Normani positions herself at optimum levels (for an R&B act in 2018) to shine. Proof of this can be found in the singers formal solo debut, which is a collaboration titled Love Lies. Though a collaboration record with best-friend Khalid, clearly, the song and its accompanying performances are catered to introducing the industry to the bonafide, official post-Fifth Harmony solo star.
Lastly, the strategy going into Normani’s debut album launch demonstrates an unprecedented attention to detail and clear passion that surpasses that of an artist that unexpectedly falls into a solo arena. The singers team sent over an inspiration playlist that is being used to guide Normani throughout her current recording process to Spotify. The music streaming platform were so impressed, that they invited Normani to their ‘Secret Genius’ workshop, where, over a couple of days, the entertainer spent time with prominent songwriters and producers including Jude Demorest and J White to create and plot the forthcoming record.
With all of these components it’s clear that the rise of Normani started a long time ago. Although the world got its first taste at the Billboard Music Awards this year, this moment was always in the works for an artist of her calibre. The foundations have been in place for years now, the byproduct of all of Normani’s hard-work is beginning to be seen as her first project post-Fifth Harmony (Love Lies) penetrated the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 last week (#36). The possibilities are endless with the R&B climate as a whole moving towards a healthy place at the moment, the arena hasn’t been this exciting since the mid 2000’s. Watch this space, because if the work ethic that Normani has put in since the beginning continues, the birth of a new urban star is about to take place.