After becoming the first group to win The X Factor in 2011 and having their first number-one single in the United Kingdom with "Cannonball," the group began recording "Wings" with the song's producers, TMS. The recording was made while Little Mix were on the X Factor Tour in the United Kingdom at the Music Shed in London.In a January 2012 interview with British newspaper the Daily Mirror, Perrie Edwards said "We're going a bit urban, old school with a bit of pop. We wanna bring back old school harmonies. And Jesy beat-boxes and Leigh-Anne raps, so we're trying out different things." On 9 March 2012 Little Mix met with Syco Music label owner Simon Cowell; Cowell was impressed with their progress, saying it was the group's input that made the song good. The recording of "Wings" was described by Edwards: "It was just such a good time and a really cool experience to be able to go into the studio and have a laugh." According to her, the group knew on first listen that the song had to be a single. In writing "Wings", the group were inspired by Beyoncé Knowles and Michael Jackson.
"Wings" was acclaimed by music critics. Robert Copsey from Digital Spy awarded the song a four (out of five)-star rating, saying it lived up to its expectations and is a "seriously promising start" for the group. Copsey also praised the song's beat and the group's vocals. Rachel Aroesti of Time Out called the single "[a] dancefloor-friendly hit". "Wings" was called "addictive" by Al Fox of BBC Online. Popjustice felt that the song was the best single by a girl group since Girls Aloud's "Call the Shots" (2007), and the outro is so "astounding that it will probably be the best outro of any song to be released this summer." The website also likened the song to Christina Anguilera's music, concluding "There's enough intense greatness in this song to launch Little Mix in at least eight countries that aren't the UK." Daily Mirror reporter James Robertson wrote, "Little Mix have made history by becoming the first X Factor winner to have a second single that is actually really good and loads better than their debut track." Robertson further opined that "Wings" is "infectious" and "exactly what made the girls so popular."
"Wings" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart – for the week ending 8 September 2012 – with first-week sales of 106,766 copies, becoming Little Mix's second consecutive number-one single on the chart after 2011's "Cannonball". The single fell to number four in its second week, selling 59,355 copies. The group became only the third winner from The X Factor (UK), after Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke, to follow up their winner's single with a second number one single. By the end of 2012, "Wings" had sold more than 380,000 copies, placing at number 40 on the year-end chart.
The track had similar success in Ireland where it bowed at number one on the Irish Singles Chart. It marked Little Mix's second consecutive number-one single and accumulated a total of 25 weeks on the chart. The song became the group's highest-charting single in Australia, debuting at number 34 and peaking at number three on the ARIA Singles Chart in its fourth week. "Wings" debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 98 for the week ending 11 April 2013. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the single had already sold 97,000 copies prior to its chart debut. Brian Mansfield of USA Today wrote that "Wings" was poised to become "[2013's] 'What Makes You Beautiful'" in the US. However, it stalled at number 79 and spent a total of nine weeks on the chart. The single fared better on the US Mainstream Top 40 chart where it reached number 26. 
The song's accompanying music video was directed by Max & Dania, and was filmed over a period of 22 hours at an abandoned warehouse (Elstree Studios in London). It was released on July 25, 2012
It follows no storyline, and sees the group dancing and performing the song in front of a number of colorful backdrops and a pink Union Jack flag. The video features Little Mix wearing urban-styled outfits which correspond with the backdrops the group perform in front of. It received favorable reviews from critics, who praised the group's fashion sense, dancing abilities and confidence in the video.
Usage in the Media
- English pop rock band Scouting for Girls performed a cover of the song for BBC's Live Lounge on August 30, 2012.
- On May 1, 2013, American Idol Season 12 finalists Candice Glover, Angie Miller, Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb performed "Wings" during the quarterfinal round of the live shows.
- The dance troupe of Lancaster, Lancashire performed a routine to "Wings" joint appearance with the dance troupe of York in the 2013 Roses Tournament.
- The song was performed by Jessica Sancchez in the fourth-season finale of Glee, "All or Nothing", which aired on 9 May 2013.
- "Wings" was featured during the 21st episode of the third series of Hawaii Five-0.
- Contestant Ellona Santiago sang "Wings" for her audition on The X Factor US in 2013.
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