2012: The X Factor
In 2012, Ally Brooke, Camila Cabello, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane and Lauren Jauregui auditioned as solo contestants on the second season of the American televised singing competition The X Factor. They failed to progress to the "Teens" category, with Brooke failing to progress in the "Young Adults" category and were put together to form a five-piece girl group at The Fillmore, in Miami, Florida on July 27, thus qualifying for the "Groups" category. Judges Demi Lovato, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears and Simon Cowell helped form the group. For their qualifying song at the "judges' houses", and their first song as a group, Fifth Harmony sang an acoustic version of "Impossible". Afterwards, Marc Anthony called the performance "unbelievable" with Cowell sharing similar sentiments saying that they were "clearly one great group". Initially, the group's name was "Lylas" (an acronym for Love You Like a Sister), but another group called "The Lylas" (which consists of four of Bruno Mars' sisters) claimed that the show stole their name. Thereafter, Lylas changed their name to 1432 (a colloquial term for I Love You Too), which was announced on the first live show on October 31, during which 1432 performed "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift. Cowell and Reid were critical of the new name, and Cowell suggested that the group be renamed again. During the first live results show on November 1, 1432 performed "Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato in a sing-off with three-piece girl group Sister C. Cowell decided to send 1432 through to the Top 12 and announced that they would be renamed via the viewers online. The name chosen by the public was announced: "Fifth Harmony".
In the semi-finals stage of the show, the group performed Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen" as well as Shontelle's "Impossible" for the second time during the competition. Their performance of "Anything Could Happen" was "a finals-caliber performance" according to Reid and described as "magic" by Britney Spears. However, their performance of "Impossible" received mostly negative reviews from the judges because the group had previously performed the song at Cowell's home (although not on The X Factor concert stage). Three members of the group (Camila, Lauren, and Ally) sang parts of the song in fluent Spanish. The following night's public vote results advanced Fifth Harmony to the final three along with Tate Stevens and Carly Rose Sonenclar. On the Top three live show, Fifth Harmony performed "Anything Could Happen" for the second time as their "Song of the Series" song. Their second song was a duet with The X Factor judge Demi Lovato singing "Give Your Heart a Break". Their final song of the night (and their last on the show) was "Let It Be" by The Beatles, billed as their "$5 million song". After the first round of the finals they did not receive enough votes from the public to advance to the Top two, and they finished in third place on December 20, 2012.
2013–2014: Better Together
Fifth Harmony performing on their Harmonize America Mall Tour, August 2013.
Approximately one month following The X Factor season two finale, on January 17, Fifth Harmony was officially signed by their mentor Simon Cowell to his record label Syco Music, in a joint deal with fellow judge L.A. Reid's label Epic Records. Popdust awarded them the "Next Pop Superstar of 2013" recognition, an annual competition held for rising artists. They began recording covers of songs which were uploaded on the video sharing platform, YouTube. Three of their covers received public praise from the original artists, including Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Mikky Ekko. Fifth Harmony was also featured on Boyce Avenue's extended play, Cover Collaborations, Volume 2, singing covers of "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake and "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars.
Their debut extended play Better Together was released October 22, selling 28,000 copies in its first week and peaking on the Billboard 200 at number six. Spanish versions of the extended play, Juntos and Juntos Acoustic were released on November 8, peaking at number 2 and 12 respectively on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. The lead single from their extended play, "Miss Movin' On" peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 76, the highest charting single from a The X Factor contestant to appear on the chart. The song was certified Gold in the United States for selling 500,000 digital downloads and streams combined. The extended play's promotional single, "Me & My Girls" charted on the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart at 53.
Throughout the months of July and August 2013, Fifth Harmony performed at various shopping malls across the United States in a promo tour titled "Harmonize America". On August 5, 2013 the girl group celebrated their one-year anniversary by performing five shows in New York City. The pop-up concerts throughout the city included performances at the iHeartRadio Theater and Madison Square Park. The group was one of the opening acts for Cher Lloyd during her I Wish Tour which started on September 6, 2013. On September 11, 2013 the group announced their first concert hall tour titled "Fifth Harmony 2013", playing in concert halls in Canada and the United States. Their opening act was indie pop band AJR. On November 24, they performed "Better Together" on the red carpet at the 2013 American Music Awards. They supported Demi Lovato's Neon Lights Tour as one of three opening acts playing 27 arenas across North America. On January 23, 2014, Fifth Harmony headlined the MTV Artists To Watch concert, an annual concert which showcases breakout artists that will be promoted by MTV during the year. The concert also featured performances by Tori Kelly, Rixton, Echosmith and Jake Miller.
2014–2015: Reflection and breakthrough
Fifth Harmony performing at the annual National Christmas Lighting Ceremony at the White House
In early 2014, Fifth Harmony confirmed reports that recording had begun for their full-length debut album with record producers Julian Bunetta, Daylight, Joe London and multi-instrumentalist songwriter Ricky Reed. The group stated the album is less pop, "more rhythmic" and has a more mature sound than Better Together. On December 4, 2014, the group was invited to sing at the White House for the National Christmas Tree Lighting, where they performed a cover of Mariah Carey's hit Christmas song, "All I Want for Christmas Is You". Fifth Harmony's fourth headlining promo tour was revealed at the end of March 2014, titled Fifth Times a Charm Tour, with dates in Puerto Rico and the United States. It was announced by Billboard that a representative from Epic Records had confirmed that the album release was moved from December 16, 2014 to January 27, 2015.
Due to delays in production, their debut studio album, Reflection was ultimately released on February 3, 2015. After a full week of sales, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number five with 80,000 units (with 62,000 of that coming from traditional album sales) and was eventually certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in February 2016. The album's lead single, "Boss", released on July 7, 2014, peaked at number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with first-week sales of 75,000, and received a platinum certification by the United States for selling a million digital downloads and streams combined. The second single from Reflection, the Meghan Trainor-penned "Sledgehammer", went on to become the group's first top 40 entry on the Billboard Hot 100, and was also certified platinum in the United States with the third single from the album, "Worth It", featuring American rapper Kid Ink, became the group's most successful single at the time, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and earning the group a triple platinum certification. The song charted in the top ten in thirteen countries and received certifications from twelve countries. The success of "Worth It" was largely impacted with televised performances on the season finale of Dancing with the Stars and their debut late night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on June 18, 2015, alongside Kid Ink for the first time.
Critically, Reflection landed in several mid-year and end of year lists, including Rolling Stone and Complex who ranked the album at 39 and 9 in the exclusively pop category, respectively. Several critics noted the group's experimentation with grungy hip-hop and retro R&B that was previously not heard on their extended play. The album was supported by the group's first major headlining tour, the Reflection Tour, visiting 63 cities in North America and 6 cities in Europe
Fifth Harmony returned to the White House on April 6, 2015 to perform at the annually-held White House Easter Egg Roll, where they sang "Happy Birthday" as part of the Fifth anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative.
Later that year, the group released "I'm in Love with a Monster" on September 25, 2015, a song for the film Hotel Transylvania 2 which was featured in the trailer and included in the movie as well. On December 11, 2015, Fifth Harmony received the "Group of the Year" award at Billboard Women in Music 2015 ceremony, honoring the industry's most influential women.
2015–2016: 7/27 and Cabello's departure
Fifth Harmony performing on their 7/27 Tour, in 2016.
On September 23, 2015, the group announced they had started recording for their second studio album. Band members Lauren Jauregui and Dinah Jane had co-written a few songs for the album along with the likes of Mitch Allan, Jason Evigan, Aaron Pearce, Tayla Parx, etc. After a winter break, it was announced on February 25, 2016, that Fifth Harmony will be releasing their second studio album 7/27 on May 20, 2016. The album is named after the day they were formed on The X Factor. It was later announced that the album's release had been pushed back a week to May 27 to keep with the album's theme of 27. The lead single, "Work from Home", which features American rapper Ty Dolla Sign was released on February 26, 2016, along with its music video. The single peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the group's highest charting single in the United States, while reaching the top 10 in twenty-two other countries. The single also became the first top-five for an all-female group in almost a decade, following The Pussycat Dolls' song, "Buttons" which peaked at number three.
7/27 was released on May 27, 2016, debuting at number four on the Billboard 200 with 74,000 album-equivalent units (49,000 in pure album sales), making it the group's highest charting album to date. The album also marked the group's first debut in Japan and South Korea, while also managing top ten peaks in fifteen other countries. By November 2016, the album had sold 1.6 million equivalent units, that included sales, streaming and album tracks consumption. The album was supported with The 7/27 Tour which commenced on June 22, 2016 in Lima, Peru, visiting South America, North America and Europe with supporting artists Victoria Monét and JoJo. The group won two MTV Video Music Awards for "Work from Home" and "All in My Head (Flex)" and was named by Billboard the "hottest young stars" under 21 for 2016. They performed their third single "That's My Girl" on the American Music Awards and won their first award from this show in the Collaboration of the Year category for "Work from Home". The group's last performance of 2016 and as a quintet was on the previously-taped Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, during which they performed "Worth It", "Work from Home" and "That's My Girl". On December 18, 2016, the group announced that Cabello had left the group and that the remaining four members would continue as a four-piece.
2017–2018: Fifth Harmony and indefinite hiatus
Fifth Harmony performing on their PSA Tour, September 2017.
The group made their first appearance since Cabello's departure at the 43rd People's Choice Awards on January 17, 2017. There, they performed an edited version of "Work from Home", and went on to win the award for "Favorite Group" for the second consecutive year. On May 29, 2017, the group announced their new single, "Down", featuring guest vocals from rapper Gucci Mane. The song was released on June 2, 2017 and peaked at number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100. On July 24, 2017, during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the group announced that their third studio album would be titled Fifth Harmony. The album was released on August 25, 2017, and debuted at number four on the Billboard 200. The girls performed on the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, where they started with the promotional single "Angel", before transitioning to "Down" featuring Mane. On August 9, they announced that they would embark on their third official concert tour in support of the album. The group released the second single from the album, titled "He Like That". The music video for the song was released on August 25, 2017, and as a single to radio on September 19, 2017. The group performed their hit single from the album for Good Morning America and The Late Late Show with James Corden. Fifth Harmony recorded a song, "Can You See", for a biblical computer animated movie The Star. They released a lyric video for the song on October 17, 2017. The soundtrack album for The Star was released on October 24, 2017. On October 26, they released "Por Favor", a duet with rapper Pitbull, as the third single from the Spotify re-release of the album and performed it at the 2017 Latin American Music Awards. The group performed their song, "Can You See" for The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration on November 30, 2017. They performed the song again for the Showtime at the Apollo Christmas special hosted by Steve Harvey on December 14, 2017. The group began their PSA Tour on September 29 in Santiago, Chile, with Becky G serving as opening act in several Latin American countries, including Mexico and Argentina. Lost Kings were also planned to support the group on their Australian tour dates before the dates were canceled. The group performed their single "Por Favor" with Pitbull on the Showtime at the Apollo show hosted by Steve Harvey on March 1, 2018.
On March 19, 2018, the group announced their decision to take an indefinite hiatus to pursue solo projects. Before their hiatus, the group completed a final run of shows, and released a music video for their song "Don't Say You Love Me".