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Litte Mix' Glory Days: The secret ingredients of Little Mix

“You’d never think getting four random girls together would work, but it really did,” says Perrie Edwards

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Mark Hunter

With their fourth album, Glory Days, out now and an upcoming tour with Ariana Grande, the women of Little Mix are ready to take America. Below, members Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall break down what sets them apart from girl groups past.

Their influences are all over the place

When they were first assembled on the U.K.’s The X Factor in 2011, the foursome didn’t appear to have much in common, at least musically. “Perrie [Edwards, 23] likes rock music, Jesy [Nelson, 25] loves hip-hop, Leigh-Anne [Pinnock, 25] loves R&B,” says Jade Thirlwall, 23, a Motown fan. But instead of trying to smooth out those differences, they embraced them. On their 2015 album, Get Weird, they channeled everything from doo-wop to ’80s pop. “There’s something for everyone,” Edwards says of their eclectic sound.

They have natural chemistry

“You’d never think getting four random girls together would work, but it really did,” Edwards says of their instant camaraderie. “We all felt very passionate about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to be perceived by our fans and by the media.” Aesthetics don’t hurt either. Adds Thirlwall, “We’re all the same height and [look] really good together.”

They’ve co-written much of their material

“When we were on The X Factor,” Edwards recalls, “contestants were walking into the room with the producers, saying, ‘What should I do, what should I sing?’ [We] would walk in and say, ‘This is what we want to do, this is the harmony, this is the arrangement.'” Proving that they’re not just a prefab girl group was important to them: “You don’t have to be in a rock band to write your own music,” says Thirlwall.

They’re extremely honest with fans

In addition to a new album, the group just released a book of autobiographical essays, Our World, which chronicles their career highs and personal lows: Thirlwall opened up about her struggle with anorexia as a teenager, while Edwards addressed her 2015 breakup with ex-fiancé Zayn Malik. “It was hard,” Thirlwall says, “but it was important for us to show our fans that we are normal girls and go through things a lot of people go through.”

They’re still hungry for more

Little Mix are pop royalty overseas—Get Weird has been certified double platinum in the U.K.—and they’re hoping that an opening slot on Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman Tour will broaden their U.S. fan base. “We won’t stop until we’re as big as you can possibly be,” Thirlwall says. “We want to convert people. We’re going to pull out all the stops—a lot of dancing, a lot of crowd involvement. We’re quite cheeky, and Americans love that about us British people. We’re ballsy.”

A version of this story appears in the Nov. 25 issue of EW, on stands now.