Just like every little girl and boy (at least the gay ones) in the 90’s, I grew up listening to a lot of girl-centric pop music. And while Britney Spears was my main object of affection, I had a lot of time for girl-bands too! With Natasha Hamilton from Atomic Kitten recently taking part on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK (she was robbed of the crown and came third!), nostalgia has hit me hard, and thanks to Apple Music, I was able to dig up the classics! In no particular order, here are some of my favourite girl-bands from the nineties and early noughties:
1 Spice Girls
I couldn’t start this list with any other band. The Spice Girls are the epitome of 90’s girl-bands. Without them paving the way, I’m not sure if some of the other acts from the list would have ever existed. Five loud and lairy Brit’s, a handful of well-chosen nicknames, and that union jack dress, put it all together and what do you get? Possibly one of the greatest girl-bands of all time.
2 Girls Aloud
Spice Girls may be the most successful British girl-band worldwide, but Girls Aloud hold that title in the UK, as well as being the biggest selling girl-group of the 21st century. Wow! Girls Aloud have made a huge impact on British pop music, with even more ‘credible’ musicians such as Chris Martin from Coldplay showering them with praises. Their innovative pop catalogue was mostly helmed by production team Xenomania, who forged a unique sound for the girls. After a long hiatus they returned in 2012 with a greatest hits collection and tour, only to take it all away and announce their split a few months later! Why, Cheryl, Why?!
3 Atomic Kitten
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Whole Again is a musical masterpiece! Atomic Kitten came onto the British pop scene at an awkward time, post-Spice Girls’ “Girl Power” reign where every girl-band was made up of feminists and Pre-Girls Aloud’s slightly edgier, moody-teenage-girl-angst phase, which meant they were both dated and ahead of their time for falling somewhere in the middle. But that didn’t stop Atomic Kitten from eventually becoming very successful and scoring 3 UK #No.1’s! Plus, The Tide Is High was in the Lizzie McGuire Movie, and there really is no higher honour than that.
Initially Sugababes were basically the anti-Atomic Kitten. Their focus on vocal harmonies and R&B influences made them the ugly step sisters of British girl-bands! After a change in the line-up (the first of many), Heidi Range replaced Siobhan Donaghy, and what ensued was an endless stream of pop classics. with the release of Freak Like Me the band were awarded their first number one and continued to go from strength to strength. Unfortunately, after two more line-up changes, Sugababes simply disappeared one day, with none of its original members still standing and no proper send off. At least we’ll always have the music!
Just this morning, thanks to my new playlist, I was seen driving down the motorway, singing No Scrubs at the top of my voice. When I was growing up I wasn’t really cool enough to be listening to TLC, so I only discovered them a little bit later in my tween years. Their slick Hip-Hop/R&B gems like Waterfalls, Unpretty and Creep have stood the test of time and continue to attract new audiences. It’s a shame that band member Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes died so suddenly, arguably at the band’s peak, as I’m sure they would have continued to have great success thanks to her talent.
6 Destiny’s Child
A.K.A. Beyoncé’s Child, Beyoncé and her back-up singers, Just Beyoncé, and Who Are Those Other Two?. Yes, It’s hard to believe that Beyoncé ever allowed herself to share the spotlight with anyone else, but Destiny’s Child is her origin story (along with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of course). DC were a force to be reckoned with on the R&B girl-band front, despite their line-up changes and dominant lead singer. Their greatest hits features songs like Survivor, Say My Name and Independent Women, but my sister and I have recently become obsessed with Jumpin’ Jumpin’ (mostly because of my rendition of Beyoncé’s ‘B-B-Balla-Balla’ adlibs).
7 Daphne & Celeste
Please tell me you remember this? Girl-bands are a guilty pleasure in their own right, but Daphne & Celeste are a guilty pleasure within a guilty pleasure (is this making sense?). With songs like U.G.L.Y., School’s Out, and the lyrical genius Ooh! Stick You (to this day I still don’t know what this song is about), they were cheesier than a chunk of brie, and I loved it! Daphne & Celeste were a flash in the pan, blink-and-you-miss-it affair, but ‘up your butt with coconut’ will live on forever.
8 The Pussycat Dolls
Just when I thought that girl-bands were a dying, washed-up breed, The Pussycat Dolls came along to revive my faith in humanity! OK, slightly exaggerated, but PCD were the best thing to happen to the almost-extinct format. Super hot, stripper-looking dancers, with naughty-ish lyrics and a hip-hop flare. What’s not to love? The group disbanded in 2010, mostly because of interior squabbles and Nicole Scherzinger’s power play to be leader of the dollhouse. I’m sure it all ended when Nicole sang ‘Don’t cha wish you had as many lines as me?’
9 The Saturdays
The latest addition to this list, and a band that is still technically active (although currently on a hiatus), is The Saturdays. Back in 2008 I saw The Saturdays open for The Jonas Brothers, and instantly took a liking to the song Issues. At the time, a modern reminder of girl-bands past, I remember thinking they would be the next big thing! Sadly, I don’t think they ever really took off, but they have made some damn good pop music and have been consistently hard-working (even with babies, husbands and boyfriends getting in the way!).
And there you have it! Nowadays bands like these are hard to come by, which is a real shame, but just goes to show how great the nineties/noughties really were! The torch has been passed on to the likes of Little Mix and Fifth Harmony, who are the only currently successful, active girl-bands of our time. They have big (platform) shoes to fill, but hopefully they can keep the fire alive until the next generation is ready to take over one day, if that day should come!