Simon Cowell Signs 'The X Factor' 's Fifth Harmony

The girl group Cowell created placed third in season 2 – just like the U.K.'s One Direction

Photo: Scott Kirkland/Picturegroup

Fifth Harmony and One Direction have a lot in common.

Both groups auditioned as five individuals before being put together by The X Factor mentors. Both groups went on to place third on their seasons. And, now, both groups have been signed by their X Factor mentor Simon Cowell.

“I knew from the girls’ first performance at the judges’ homes that we’d done the right thing,” Cowell, in an exclusive statement, tells PEOPLE of Fifth Harmony. “The chemistry between the girls both on stage and off is fantastic, and they are incredibly talented.”

Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke, 19, Camila Cabello, 15, Normani Hamilton, 16, Dinah Jane Hansen, 15, and Lauren Jauregui, 16, developed a loyal fan base of “Harmonizers” during the Fox reality show’s second season and have now signed a recording deal with Cowell’s Syco Music and fellow X Factor mentor L.A. Reid’s Epic Records.

“The fact that we’re being given the opportunity to make music that we want feels like a dream we never want to wake up from. I literally have to pinch myself,” says Cabello, who is known to fans for her signature hair bows.

The group’s debut album will be executive produced by Julian Bunetta (whose credits include One Direction, Boys II Men and Leona Lewis), but the girls seem most excited to be reunited with each other in the recording studio after being apart for the holidays.

“I am going to have a blast working with my girls,” Brooke says. “I promise we are going to bring it.”

One of Fifth Harmony’s most memorable performances was a cover of Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Can Happen” – and how true that is, given what has taken place for a group of girls who, less than a year ago, were total strangers.

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