THEY won the votes of a telly-watching nation, the hearts of anyone with a teenage daughter and made X Factor history when they became the first band to win the star-making talent search last year.
Having stood out from their first collective audition (each had gone into the competition as a solo performer and were banded together by the all-knowing judges), Little Mix were always going to go further than any previous girl band the contest had shone a light on previously.
And there weren’t many who would have quibbled when they were announced as the winners on the sparkly live final. There were certainly whoops aplenty in our household, but of course we couldn’t be considered exactly neutral.
Fifty percent of the four-strong line up hails from the North East (South Shields to be exact, the same as fellow X Factor victor, Joe McElderry) and we’re a sucker for a Geordie accent on the telly. Particularly when they can sing their socks off too.
There was no denying it. Little Mix were as cute as cutesy buttons holding together a particularly cute jacket for an undeniably cute child.
They also possessed top pop voices and a dollop of attitude to boot. A girlband made in Spice Girl heaven.
And this morning, the band – Geordie-talking Jade Thirwall, 19 and Perrie Edwards, 18, with bandmates Jesy Nelson, 21 and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 20 – have announced their first headline tour, which will land on the stage of Newcastle City Hall on January 30, 2013.
It’s fair to say Jade’s excitement transcends the limitations of a mobile phone conversation. “We just can’t wait to do the tour and are so excited about every bit of it.
“One of the highlights is definitely going to be coming to Newcastle.
“When we came to the (Metro Radio) Arena on the X Factor tour, it was just phenomenal. For me and Perrie obviously, it was a home gig and the crowd were amazing.
“Newcastle and the North East is such a proud place and they’re not afraid to let you know how proud they are of you. It was really special for us. It’ll also be nice to come home for a night or two. We rarely get the chance these days.”
En route to shed some light on Blackpool – the band were booked to turn on the town’s legendary illuminations – Jade said the prospect of the weekend’s top 40 countdown was filling them with excitement, nerves and disbelief. “It’s all been very hectic and we’re a bit nervous, but things sound like they’re looking good, so fingers crossed,” she said.
“To think that we’re waiting to find out if we have a second number one single sounds a bit crazy. It’s still all a bit of a dream.” As the pop-lovers among you will doubtless know, Little Mix notched up their second number one single last night with Wing, the much-awaited follow up to their post-victory release, Cannonball.
And with Wings, came the band’s first chance to shoot a video proper, the first being cobbled together from the X Factor archives, as is always the form. “That was mental,” says Jade. “We had to be up at 4am and worked straight through until 1am the next morning. We were absolutely shattered because there was so much dancing to do. And then we had to do it again. And then again. And then again. And then again after that. It was exhausting, but then you think ‘we’ve just made our first video’ and that perks you up.”
Inevitably, the arrival of the X Factor on our TV screens prompts memories of last year’s series.
“It doesn’t seem like a year ago that we were auditioning. It seems like yesterday,” says Jade. “Saying that though, I can’t believe how much we’ve managed to cram in since we won. It’s all a bit of a blur.”
Since the obligatory hysteria which followed their groundbreaking X Factor triumph last December, the Little Mixers have been on an X Factor arena tour; had two number ones; written and recorded their first album (due for release before Christmas); been to any number of premieres and red carpet gatherings (“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to being on a red carpet with Kylie Minogue,” says a still starstruck Jade), brought out an autobiography, Ready to Fly (published last week); and announced the headline tour. Jade laughs: “I know, we always say, this isn’t a nine to five job. It’s a five to nine. Or 10. Or 12.
“It’s crazy how much we get done every day. There’s interviews, photo shoots, recording, videos, performing... but none of us would have it any other way.
“We still have to pinch ourselves. This was the dream when we stood up on that stage to audition, except it’s better because we’re doing it together.
“I can’t imagine ever doing this alone. It must get so lonely. It’s so much more fun to have your mates with you and it also means if any of us is feeling low or tired or whatever, there’s always three girls there to pick you up and make you smile.
“Plus I live with Perrie, so there’s always a Geordie accent around!”
Little Mix play Newcastle City Hall on January 30, 2013. Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday. Call 0191 261 2606 or visit www.newcastlecityhall.org