Fifth Harmony: Why this is probably the end

On March 19, 2018, Fifth Harmony announced their indefinite hiatus.

"Reflecting over the past six years since we started on X-Factor, we've realized just how far we've come and we appreciate everything so much, more now than ever. We've really had one hell of a memorable journey together and can't begin to express our gratitude to y'all for coming along with us on this ride," the band wrote on Twitter. "After six years going hard, non-stop, we also realized that in order to stay authentic to ourselves and to you, we do need to take some time for now to go on a hiatus from Fifth Harmony to pursue solo endeavors."

The statement continued, "We are all very excited and grateful to be able to take this time to learn and grow creatively and really find our footing as individuals. In doing this, we are allowing ourselves to gain new experiences, strengths, and perspectives that we can bring back to our Fifth Harmony family. To our Harmonizers, thank you for everything we have been able to build as Fifth Harmony. With your love and encouragement, we will continue to build on ourselves, support one another in everything we do, and keep making you proud, each other proud and ourselves proud. We do have some upcoming shows through the end of the year which will still happen as planned, and we can't wait!"

While their announcement implies there may be a reunion sometime, don't hold your breath.

Camila Cabello set the stage for a breakup

Let's rip off the band-aid everyone is thinking about anyway: Camila Cabello, who was once the undisputed frontwoman of the group, has had far more success with her solo efforts than the band has had as a whole on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cabello's duet with Shawn Mendes, "I Know What You Did Last Summer," peaked at No. 20, her "Bad Things" collaboration with Machine Gun Kelly at No. 4, "Never Be The Same" at No. 19, and "Havana" at No. 1.

Conversely, Fifth Harmony's chart history is less than stellar: Their highest-charting hit was "Work From Home" at No. 4, followed by "Worth It" at No. 12, "All In My Head (Flex)" at No. 24, and "Sledgehammer" at No. 40. Their only charting track without Cabello was "Down," which peaked at No. 42.

What this suggests is that perhaps the whole of Fifth Harmony isn't actually greater than the sum of its parts … at least not this one specific part, anyway.

What's more, in October 2017, a source told Life & Style magazine (via Hollywood Life), "[Fifth Harmony] is on the brink of splitting up. They feel like they're on a sinking ship and are each trying to work out their next move. Seeing Camila do so well is like a punch in the gut for the girls. They are seething with jealousy over her success. The other girls are worried about their futures, and all wish they'd have been the one to quit first."

They're all pursuing their own solo endeavors

Before announcing their hiatus, Cabello wasn't the only member of Fifth Harmony to embark on her own solo endeavors.

In May 2017, openly bisexual Lauren Jauregui featured on fellow bisexual singer Halsey's song "Strangers," about a relationship between two women. In November 2017, Jauregui dropped her collaboration with DJ Steve Aoki, "Up All Night." Billboard reported that Jauregui signed with Columbia Records for her upcoming solo efforts (via iHeartRadio).

A month later, Ally Brooke Hernandez featured on the Lost Kings' "Look At Us Now." In January 2018, Hernandez was featured on the song "Perfect" with Topic. In March 2018, just days before the group's hiatus was announced, Variety reported that Hernandez signed a management deal with Larry Rudolph.

In October 2017, Dinah Jane Hansen released her collaboration with Daddy Yankee and RedOne, "Boom Boom."

In February 2018, Normani Kordei featured on rapper Khalid's "Love Lies." In addition to her music, Kordei also came in third on Dancing With The Stars in 2017.

They were oversexualized at a young age

Before her exit, Cabello hinted that the girls in Fifth Harmony were objectified and oversexualized in their music and image, even before some of them were 18. (Think of when Cabello, then 16 or 17, recorded lyrics like "I like it a little rough" for "Worth It.")

"Especially with being a girl group, there's been a lot of times where people have tried to sexualize us to just get more attention. Unfortunately, sex sells," she told Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter in January 2017 (via People). "There's definitely been times where there's stuff that I have not been comfortable with and I've had to put my foot down … I definitely think being a young girl, there's a time where — like when you're in middle school or when you first start liking boys — you don't really feel comfortable. You remember that time when you first got your period, or when your boobs started coming in, that you were like, 'This is weird.' You have to grow into yourself. I feel like it's been tricky because we've had to grow into ourselves while being in front of the world and while making songs that did have a lot of sexual undertones."

Though Cabello was the first to speak about it, chances are the other girls, especially Hernandez, who wears a purity ring, were uncomfortable with some of their record label's input on their image.

They lacked creative control over their music

The members of Fifth Harmony didn't feel like their music represented who they actually were.

"We were little girls coming off of a TV show and had a team of people trying to sculpt us into something we weren't," Hansen told Billboard. Jauregui concurred, "They took advantage, like, 'Get in there and record this, you thing.'"

After her exit, Cabello told Vulture, "I couldn't just sing other people's words and be totally happy with that … We didn't write our records … and I don't think anybody felt individually represented by the sound."

Jauregui specifically admitted to Billboard in 2017 that even if she wrote songs for Fifth Harmony, they may not reflect her true life as a bisexual woman and that she'd have to do so via potential solo ventures "because it has to do with me personally. It doesn't speak for everyone in the group, which is its own entity as an artist. That's the whole reason for doing your own thing."

The girls' lack of songwriting credits on their albums didn't just mean that they were stifled creatively — it also means they didn't collect a big portion of the royalties from their music.

They don't make much money as a group

Despite Fifth Harmony's fame and success, the girls didn't actually make many coins for all of their hard work together. In December 2016, just days after Cabello announced she'd quit the group, an audio clip leaked allegedly of Jauregui sobbing to Hernandez about the group's workload in comparison to their paychecks, as well as frustrations with their management. "They are making decisions on a regular basis to f**k us over, to make us literal slaves, like literally slaves Ally," Jauregui laments in the snippet. "We're doing f**king labor every day and we see nothing."

The group previously alluded to frustrations with their contracts, which many of them signed as teens while on X Factor. Jauregui told Billboard in May 2016, "They sell you this present of rainbows and butterflies, and as a 16-year-old that's what I bought. It's why I did X Factor and why I ended up in a group. But then you're working so hard, so young." When asked about the audio in May 2017, Jauregui admitted to Billboard, "I don't know where that came from, but that's what the game does to you sometimes: runs you dry."

They saw the light with the help of a lawyer

The band's attorney, Dina LaPolt, told Billboard in 2017, "I sat the girls in a hotel conference room and for five hours educated them on trademarks, copyrights and rights of publicity. Then I educated them about every agreement they signed, which [were] the worst I've ever seen in the music business." LaPolt got the girls new management under Maverick, which also represents stars like U2, Miley Cyrus, and Madonna.

LaPolt helped the band successfully transfer the Fifth Harmony trademark from Simon Cowell to the actual members of the group, granting them rights to decide how and if they'll profit from the band's name and use in any potential deals. The lawyer also aided the band members in restructuring their contract with Epic Records, which LaPolt described as an "adversarial process," but that she says ended amicably for all parties involved. LaPolt's help and enlightenment for the band may have empowered them to finally walk away from an arrangement that they weren't happy about for a long time.

Their tours aren't doing well

In October 2017, Billboard reported that Fifth Harmony bailed on their entire Australian tour. The tour promoter said in an announcement, "TEG Live, the promoter of Fifth Harmony, has regretfully advised, due to a change in scheduling, it has become necessary to postpone the tour until March 2018."

It wasn't the first time a 5H tour flopped. In summer 2016, the girls' 7/27 tour still had a lot of open tickets for huge shows, with each venue only selling one-third of their available seats. As a result, a slew of dates were canceled, Digital Spy reported, including four in the United States, as well as stops in Berlin and Munich, Germany; Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland; and Marseille, France. Dates in Paris, Frankfurt, and Cologne, Germany, were reportedly rescheduled.

Touring and live performances are where most artists make the bulk of their income, so the fact that the girls' tours weren't selling likely also contributed to their aforementioned financial hardships.

They're bitter about Camila's success

One issue Fifth Harmony faces is constant scrutiny on Cabello's exit. In August 2017, the band got into a Twitter beef with journalist Dan Wootton of The Sun when he asked them if they thought they'd ever be friends with Cabello ever again. The girls' publicist stepped in and threatened to pull the plug on the entire interview after one of the girls responded with, "What is this? We want to talk about music, we don't want to be shady."

Wootton later called the interview a "nightmare" and said the girls were 90 minutes late, News.au reported. Wootton also tweeted afterward, "Sad but somewhat amusing when you see a young music group you've supported turn into total divas!" Jauregui replied, "I'm not sure how trying to avoid answering probing questions meant to start drama b/w women is being "diva"..but thanks for the support."

Of course, Wootton's questions weren't entirely unprovoked: They shaded her quite a bit since her exit, most famously at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2017, where they kicked a shadow fifth member offstage. They later boasted, "We wanted to show the world in an artistic way that the four of us are Fifth Harmony. We're stronger and better than we've ever been — and honestly it was such a monumental moment for us. We were at the VMAs! We had rain! We had the splits! We had a mic drop!"

They've been unhappy for a while

Aside from issues with their money and their contracts, the members of Fifth Harmony seemed unhappy in other areas of their lives and seemed to miss just being normal young girls.

In spring 2016, Jauregui cried as she told Billboard, "My friends are in college, ­telling me about their days and what they're studying. You're having to put on a smile on a red carpet. It's like, 'Who am I? Am I for myself or for this?' I rekindled a ­friendship I hadn't had in a long time and I was reminded of all the parts of me that had left. I was like, 'Wow, I love to paint and to write, and to be outside.'"

Hansen added, "I love touring, but the schedule ­traumatized me. I was like, 'What kind of job are we doing?' I watched my great-grandmother be buried on FaceTime. We're all so family-oriented, and we've all lost people on the road."

Still, they recognize how far 5H has taken them despite their self-described struggles with mental health while in the band. "It has been an incredible journey, and it'll continue as long as it can," Jauregui told Billboard in spring 2016. "But [Fifth Harmony] will be that chapter that got us wherever we needed to go. We're learning the business, meeting people we need to know, getting knowledgeable about our craft. This is basically us being in college for our majors."