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"DNA" is a song by British girl group Little Mix from their 2012 debut studio album of the same name. The song was written by the group members, production team TMS and songwriter Iain James, and was inspired by the band's performance of Katy Perry's song "E.T." on the eighth UK series of the British television talent show The X Factor. "DNA" is a mid-tempo electropop and techno-pop song that has a pronounced beat and is led by spooky synths. The track features a music box introduction, spoken-word middle eight and elements of dubstep. Stemming from the group members' experiences with love, "DNA" is a love song with a theme of obsession.

"DNA"
A grayscale image of Little Mix laying next to each other centered around the title "DNA" in red.
Single by Little Mix
from the album DNA
Released9 November 2012 (2012-11-09)
Format
Genre
Length3:56
LabelSyco
Songwriter(s)
  • Thomas Barnes
  • Peter Kelleher
  • Ben Kohn
  • Iain James
  • Perrie Edwards
  • Jesy Nelson
  • Leigh-Anne Pinnock
  • Jade Thirlwall
Producer(s)TMS
Little Mix singles chronology
"Wings"
(2012)
"DNA"
(2012)
"Change Your LIfe"
(2013)
Music video
"DNA" on YouTube

Syco Music released "DNA" as the album's second single on 9 November 2012; it charted at number three in the UK and at number eight in Ireland, making it Little Mix's third consecutive top-ten hit in both countries. It also reached number 10 in Hungary and number 48 in Australia. The song received generally positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its synth production and choral interlude. The song's music video, which was directed by Sarah Chatfield, depicts the group as female assassins who stalk and kidnap a man, and was inspired by the comic books Sin City and Watchmen. Little Mix promoted "DNA" with televised performances on the ninth UK series of The X Factor, Loose Women and T4. The song was performed as part of four of the group's concert tours, including The Glory Days Tour in 2017.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Little Mix co-wrote "DNA" with production team TMS, and songwriter Iain James.[1] The song was inspired by the group members' personal experiences with love; Perrie Edwards said the group "perform better when the lyrics mean something to [them] when [they] sing them."[2] The song was intended as a darker and more mature contrast to the group's previous single "Wings", in a style akin to their 2011 performance of Katy Perry's "E.T." on the eighth UK series of the British television talent show The X Factor.[3] Jesy Nelson said, "'Wings' was very upbeat and fun and colourful, and we wanted to show how versatile we were".[4] According to Jade Thirlwall, the group "just wanted to write about a boy, but without making it typical. We came up with the scientific idea and then started matching science words with love."[5] It was one of two songs being considered for release as the album's second single; the group chose "DNA" believing it better showcased their vocals and a more serious side to their personalities.[6]

CompositionEdit

"DNA" is composed in the key of E minor using 4
4
time
and a tempo of 70 beats per minute. Little Mix's vocal range spans from E3 to C5. The verses follow a chord progression of Em–C–G–Bm/F.[7] It is a midtempo,[8] electropop and techno-pop song,[9][10] with a pronounced, grinding beat[11] and elements of dubstep.[12] The track is led by spooky synthesizers[13][14] and features drums and guitar.[1] The first verse is introduced by a tinkling music box and pumping heart rate monitor, and is performed by Edwards in a low vocal register.[8][14] After a pre-chorus by Thirlwall, all four group members harmonise the pounding refrain,[11][15] which is backed by slamming and smashing noises. After Nelson's second verse, Thirlwall's second pre-chorus and the second chorus, the song nearly stops.[8] It then enters into a spoken-word middle eight performed by Leigh-Anne Pinnock in a modulated, robotic style, which is followed by a choral interlude.[11] The third and final chorus is preceded by brief rave klaxons and a high note sung by Edwards.[8][16]

According to Pinnock, "DNA" is "not just a love song, it's about being obsessed with someone to the extreme. And sometimes when things go bad you do go like that, you stalk them on Facebook ..."[5] Nelson said the group play a character in the song and portray themselves to be darker than they are.[4] Edwards said that when stripped of its scientific words, "DNA" is just a love song[5] about "when a girl first gets with a boy, that kind of romance makes you feel really giddy and happy".[2]

ReleaseEdit

Details about "DNA" emerged after music industry insiders previewed it at a conference held by Sony Music Entertainment on 11 September 2012.[17] Little Mix shared the single's cover art on Twitter on 30 September 2012.[18] On 1 October 2012, a lyric video was posted on Vevo and the song premiered on Nick Grimshaw's The Radio 1 Breakfast Show eight hours later.[19][20] A digital extended play (EP) was made available to pre-order from the iTunes Store the same day.[21] The EP features an instrumental version of the song, a remix by Eyes and a club mix by Kat Krazy. Syco Music released the song in Ireland on 9 November 2012 and then in the UK two days later.[22][23]

To promote the song, Little Mix held a YouTube competition in which fans shared dance routines for the song. Three entrants won tickets to the group's DNA Tour, a copy of their book Ready to Fly, a copy of the album and a dance tutorial in London with the group's choreographer.[24] A two-track CD single featuring the Kat Krazy radio edit that was exclusively available from the music retail chain HMV was released on 19 November 2012.[25][26] An acoustic version of "DNA" is included in the deluxe edition of the album.[27] On 22 November 2012, the song was sent to contemporary hit radio in Australia.[28]

Critical receptionEdit

 
Little Mix performing the song during their 2013 DNA Tour.

"DNA" received generally positive reviews from music critics upon release. Lewis Corner of Digital Spy wrote, "Spooky synths, pumping heartbeats and a gothic choir finale make this pop perfection".[14] In his review for the same website, Robert Copsey gave the track four stars out of five and said, "the epic, operatic middle eight is a pop moment this time they can claim entirely as their own".[29] DIY magazine's Laurence Green called it a "great pop tune by any mark" that "sounds quite a bit like a Girls Aloud song" and "a sign of just how embedded Girls Aloud have become in the fabric of contemporary British pop".[30]

Mark Davison of No Ripcord rated the track eight out of ten, calling it "giddy, glitzy pop which would do Girls Aloud, or at least The Saturdays, proud", adding; "You'll know exactly what 'DNA' sounds like before you hear it, and that's no bad thing".[31] In a review of the album DNA, AllMusic's Matt Collar cited the song among the "truly catchy, infectious cuts",[32] while Malcolm Jack of The Guardian called it the album's best track, saying it "finally tests cautiously U-certificate boundaries".[33] Another reviewer from The Guardian described the song as a "sprightly synth banger".[34] Los Angeles Times pop critic Mikael Wood appreciated the song's distinguishable, British sound.[35]

In a less enthusiastic review, Eve Barlow of NME called the track "a banger" but said it sounds exactly like Katy Perry's "E.T." and from "Tulisa's school of 'ballid'".[36] John Murphy of musicOMH commented, "It's woeful. It sounds dated, dull and auto-tuned to death. The chorus sounds like t.A.T.u, there's a completely pointless yet apparently now obligatory rap, and unlike 'Wings', which was instantly memorable, this isn't."[37] Eoin Butler of The Irish Times gave the song two stars out of five writing, "'It's in his DNA, his DNA.' (Y'know, it's actually probably his haircut.)"[38] Stuart Heritage of The Guardian said "DNA" is "not a good song by anyone's standards", calling Pinnock's middle eight "weird".[39]

Digital Spy placed the track at number 19 in its 2012 year-end list.[40] Michael Cragg and Kieran Yates included it in their 2012 year-end top-ten lists for The Guardian.[41] In 2013, "DNA" was shortlisted for the Popjustice £20 Music Prize.[42]

Chart performanceEdit

In November 2012, "DNA" debuted at number three on the UK Singles Chart with first-week sales of 72,044 copies, becoming Little Mix's third consecutive top-three single in the UK.[43] It fell to number 12 the following week, selling 38,386 copies, and spent a total of 13 weeks on the chart.[44][45] The song was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for selling 400,000 units in the UK.[46]

Elsewhere, "DNA" entered the Irish Singles Chart at number eight, making it the group's third consecutive top-ten single in Ireland.[47] It also reached number 10 on Hungary's Single Top 40 chart published by Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége (MAHASZ).[48] In Australia, the song peaked at number 48 and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for sales of 35,000 copies.[49][50] Following the album's Columbia Records release in the US in June 2013, "DNA" charted at number 14 on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100.[51]

Music videoEdit

Development and releaseEdit

 
The rooftop scene background was created using a matte painting and visual effects software Flame.[52]

The music video for "DNA" was directed by Sarah Chatfield and produced by Tiernan Hanby.[53] It was filmed on 12 September 2012 at British production company Blink's Colonel Blimp location in London and uses chroma keying and post-production.[17][52] The video was inspired by the comic books Sin City and Watchmen; Chatfield viewed the video as "an unrelenting torrent of bold imagery and epic performances".[52] She worked with visual effects artist Pete Young, her frequent collaborator, to develop the look she wanted for "DNA".[52]

Little Mix's driving scenes were filmed in front of a green screen. The video's rooftop scene was developed using a matte painting by Johan Gay; the painting was separated into different layer depths then composited into the scene using the visual effects software Flame's 3D tracker. 3D modelling artist Greg McKneally developed computer-generated backgrounds, police cars and helicopters that were composited with reflections and light effects.[52] Thirlwall said, "we took the theme of the song, the whole love and obsession thing, and just took it to an extreme".[54] The group released a teaser trailer daily during a four-day countdown to the music video's Vevo premiere on 19 October 2012.[55] A making of video was released on 29 October 2012.[56]

Synopsis and receptionEdit

The music video is in monochrome and red; it depicts Little Mix as female assassins who kidnap a man named Ryan.[52][57] The video starts with a music box playing. During the first verse, Edwards, accompanied by a bound and gagged Ryan, travels at a high speed in a vintage car. In the next scene, Thirlwall balances on a ledge outside Ryan's bedroom window. All four group members perform a dance routine in black outfits with ammunition belts on a rooftop for the chorus.[52][58] During the second verse, Nelson speeds in a convertible car while being chased by police.[52] In the next segment, Pinnock is shown masterminding the group's kidnapping plan in a secret room filled with maps and clippings about Ryan that are intercut throughout the video.[59] In the final scene, Ryan is tied to a chair in a warehouse; Little Mix stand in front of him and then walk away.[4][52]

Digital Spy's Lewis Corner named it the eighth-best pop music video of 2012 and "one of the most diva-worthy videos from a girl group in years".[60] Eve Barlow of NME said it "looks a little (exactly) like Sin City."[36]

Live performancesEdit

 
Little Mix performing "DNA" on The Get Weird Tour in 2016.

For "DNA"'s debut live performance on 7 October 2012 at BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards, Little Mix dressed in monochrome sportswear.[61] On 11 November 2012, the group performed the song on the ninth UK series of The X Factor. Backed by a troupe of male dancers, they performed in matching black, gold and blue outfits with ammunition belts.[62] The group performed an acoustic rendition of "DNA" for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on 13 November 2012.[63]

Little Mix performed the track on British daytime television programme T4 on 18 November 2012,[64] and sang the acoustic version on British television panel show Loose Women on 23 November 2012.[65] In Ireland, they performed the song at the ChildLine Concert that aired on TV3 on 1 December 2012.[66] On 8 December 2012, the track was included in their set list for Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball. Backed by a flashing heart rate monitor and sporting star-themed black-and-pink outfits, the group performed without Edwards, who was recovering from a tonsillectomy.[67]

During their 2013 DNA Tour, Little Mix performed the song before the encore with a live band; they were wearing monochrome outfits.[68] "DNA" was also performed during the group's set at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend on 26 May 2013.[69] Little Mix made their US television debut with performances of "Wings" and "DNA" on Good Morning America on 7 June 2013.[70][71] On 8 December 2013, they performed the track again at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball.[72] For 2014's The Salute Tour, the group performed an extended version of the song; they wore black leather ensembles and were accompanied by male dancers wearing leather capes.[73][74] As part of Little Mix's 2016 The Get Weird Tour, they performed an alternative version of "DNA" with a Viennese waltz introduction, enchanted forest backdrop and male backing dancers in bondage attire and muzzles.[75] During their 2017 The Glory Days Tour, the song was performed as part of a medley with "Freak", a track from the group's fourth album Glory Days.[76]

PersonnelEdit

  • TMS – production
  • Daniel Aslet – additional vocal engineering
  • Ben Collier – additional vocal engineering
  • Thomas Barnes – drums
  • Ben Kohn – guitar
  • Peter Kelleher – synths
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing
  • John Hanes – mixing engineer
  • Phil Seaford – mixing assistant
  • Tom Coyne – mastering

Credits adapted from the album liner notes of DNA.[1]

Track listingEdit

Digital EP[22]
No.TitleLength
1."DNA"3:56
2."DNA" (Kat Krazy Club Mix)5:33
3."DNA" (Eyes Remix)4:57
4."DNA" (Instrumental)3:57
CD single[77]
No.TitleLength
1."DNA"3:57
2."DNA" (Kat Krazy Radio Edit)3:49

ChartsEdit

Charts (2012–13) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[49] 48
Euro Digital Songs (Billboard)[78] 8
France (SNEP)[79] 177
Hungary (Single Top 40)[48] 10
Ireland (IRMA)[47] 8
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[80] 3
Slovakia (Rádio Top 100)[81] 46
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[82] 3
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[51] 14

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[50] Gold 35,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] Gold 400,000 

^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release historyEdit

Country Date Format Label Ref.
Ireland 9 November 2012 Digital download (EP) Syco [22]
United Kingdom 11 November 2012 [23]
19 November 2012 CD single [25]
Australia 22 November 2012 Contemporary hit radio [28]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit