Normani Kordei is having a moment. The Fifth Harmony singer is dancing circles around the competition on “Dancing with the Stars,” and she and her bandmates completely killed their first performance sans Camila Cabello earlier this year. The group is also working on their next album, due later this year.
We spoke with Kordei about her “Dancing with the Stars” performances, the girl groups that inspire her and the future of Fifth Harmony.
We’re so excited for new Fifth Harmony music. How has your sound evolved since the last album?
It’s definitely evolved tremendously. I think that’s just because of experiences that we’ve had. Over the past five years, we’ve been creating bodies of work that we’re proud of, but at the end of the day they weren’t a full representation of who we are as artists. I think this time around we’ve been given more of an opportunity to sit down in the studio with producers and songwriters and start from the ground up. This album will have more of an edge. We’re all in our 20s, so we’re not girls anymore.
When can we expect this new album to drop?
It’s dropping in 2017, but I can’t give you a specific date because we don’t even know yet. So when we find out, then you’ll find out! We’re in the final process right now getting features and sprucing some things up and adding harmonies, all that good stuff.
Which song is your favorite to perform on tour?
“Brave Honest Beautiful.” It’s really cool to bring some of the fans on stage. There were these two little twin girls, and you could tell it just meant the world to them, you could see their eyes light up because of the excitement they had.
What other girl groups, past or present, inspire you?
We love Destiny’s Child, of course. I personally love En Vogue, SWV ... I’m an old soul, I really love the ‘90s vibe. I’m really grateful for those strong, powerful women with brilliant ideas, who were courageous enough to conquer and be the best that they could possibly be in such a male-dominated industry. At the end of the day, we probably wouldn’t even have this opportunity if it weren’t for groups like those.
You all inspire a lot of female empowerment and girl power among your fans. Will this theme be a part of your new music?
Girl power is a topic that we’ve always touched on, whether it’s in an interview or in our album. We live by everything that we talk about on a daily basis. Girl power will definitely be an underlying message.
You’ve been killing it on “Dancing with the Stars.” What’s the most challenging dance you’ve had to learn so far?
It’s crazy because it feels like a new challenge each and every week! I’m always like, “Okay this is the toughest dance. No this is the toughest dance!” So far the actual toughest dance would probably be the rumba.
What’s it like dancing with Valentin Chmerkovskiy? How many hours do you practice together?
He’s amazing! He makes sure that I work extremely hard in rehearsal. Iwork really hard in rehearsal and I just want to get it right. I’ll stay there for as long as I can to make it the best that it can possibly be. But there’s something that happens on a show day, where it’s a whole other thing that I just turn on. It’s frustrating for him because I’ll be in rehearsal thinking I’m killing it and going full out, and then when it’s showtime Irealize I could have given it 50% more. So he realizes when I’m slacking or not being fair to myself.
When Fifth Harmony performed “Impossible” on “The X Factor” at the judge’s house back in 2012, it was a major turning point in your career. What was it like dancing to that same song on “Dancing with the Stars,” with the girls singing?
It was such a moment and it was memorable. It was also scary in a way. There were so many different elements. The girls were singing live, I had a long dress that initially was too long and my heel kept getting caught in it, and then I had to learn this routine literally on a Thursday to perform on Sunday. So I learned it fairly quickly. We made it work! Just the dance style in general is very vulnerable and emotional, which I tend not to be in front of people. So to do that in front of millions of people was a bit of a challenge for me.
Well, you look like a professional ballroom dancer. You make it look so easy!
Sometimes I look back at the video and I’m like “Who is that?! I didn’t do that, there’s no way!”
What are three qualities a guy must have to date you? ️
Respect for my family, be intellectual, and have a big personality. Somebody that can make me laugh.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Yeah, he’s hot.
What’s your go-to nail polish color?
Well, I currently have on a neon-ish orange color. It’s in between pink and orange. It reminds me of Easter!
What’s one song you can’t get enough of these days?
Honestly I’m still listening to Solange’s last album. Her whole album.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Somewhere tropical. I would probably go to Jamaica, or Barbados - somewhere in the Caribbean.
You’re turning 21 in May, which is super exciting! Do you have anything fun planned for the occasion?
I’m going to Vegas! I can’t wait! I’m like, “What actually happens in Vegas?!” Because every time I go I’m underage. It’s going to be a group of my girls and we’re going to have fun!
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
What’s one piece of advice you wish you could’ve given yourself at the beginning of your career?
To not take everyone so seriously. So many people have opinions. At the end of the day, you have to go to sleep at night feeling absolutely confident in the decisions that you make. Ultimately it’s you on that stage, it’s you on that red carpet. So listen to your own voice. Stay true to yourself.
If you weren’t in the music business, what kind of job do you think you’d pursue? ️
Probably acting, which is something I want to cross over into. If not, something to do with my church. Another thing I want to do is go on mission trips and just help.
What’s one junk food you can’t live without?
Hot Cheetos! They’re addicting, I could eat a whole bag of them.
What’s your least favorite food?