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From Girl Group Veteran to Solo Star: How Camila Cabello Scored Her Biggest Hit Yet With 'Havana'
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Camila Cabello attends the 2017 Latin American Music Awards - press room held at Dolby Theatre on Oct. 26, 2017 in Hollywood, Calif.

Camila Cabello, solo star, has arrived.

With "Havana" ft. Young Thug surging to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, the 20-year-old pop star has not only achieved the highest Hot 100 ranking of her solo outings, but she bests the previous peak she reached with Fifth Harmony (both Fifth Harmony's "Work From Home" and Machine Gun Kelly's "Bad Things" ft. Camila Cabello peaked at No. 4). That means nearly 11 months after officially parting ways with 5H – and a full five years after the group reached the semi-finals on The X Factor (despite Britney Spears' confusion) -- Cabello is soaring higher than ever before. And unlike her time on Simon Cowell's reality show or in 5H, this is all on her own terms.

How did Camila go from girl group refugee to solo star with a bona fide hit in less than a year? By making a series of smart career choices, both in terms of public image and musical styles. Here's a run-through of her career savvy so far.

High Profile Features

Cabello first dipped her toes into the solo game in Nov. 2015 with the Shawn Mendes duet "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Whether that song's success (it reached No. 20 on the Hot 100 and afforded her the chance to perform on The Tonight Show and the People's Choice Awards) was a conscious testing of the waters or merely intended as a one-off diversion from her main gig, it effectively laid the groundwork for the idea of Cabello as a breakout star from 5H in the public's mind.

But it was her featured vocal turn on MGK's "Bad Things," released just two months before the split, that was the stroke of genius. While Cabello is the featured artist on that hit (whereas she shared equal billing on her Mendes duet), her turn on the Fastball-interpolating track would prove to be far more fruitful. Even though it's MGK's song, it's the vocal hook in "Bad Things" that latches onto your ears for days – and her aching, sultry delivery steals the show. Sure, she's the second-billed name, but you walk away from "Bad Things" wondering whose voice breathed new life into a 17-year-old alt-rock hit. Thus the name 'Camila Cabello' became familiar to those outside the Harmonizer realm, allowing that when she released her proper solo debut, fans outside the teen pop demographic might pay attention.