Girl groups have a very different legacy than boy bands. Many of them were formed and promoted the same way as the guys were in the 80s and 90s, but the girls started off practically faceless with revolving door line ups and innocent appeal. Over time, girl groups become bonafide megastars. In stark contrast to the Boy Band Mania list, Girl Power presents 10 groups that are brilliant both in the context of musical ability and superstardom.
10. THE CRYSTALS
One of Phil Spector’s greatest creations, the Crystals may not necessarily be the most famous girl group of all time, but their music continues to be held in high esteem. Hits like “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “He’s A Rebel” were monumental tracks at the time, with impeccable melodies and second-to-none production, but the girls themselves, most notably Darlene Love, completely sold it.
09. EN VOGUE
Members: Terri Ellis, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson
The 90s just wouldn’t have been the same without En Vogue. The pitch-perfect quartet weren’t just pretty faces or pop superstars, they were fierce songstresses with big voices to back them up. Tracks like “Free You Mind” and “My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It)” made them radio staples and earned them the respect of critics and R&B fans all over the world. Quite simply, they just made great music.
08. THE SHIRELLES
Members: Doris Coley, Addie Harris McPherson, Beverly Lee, Shirley Owens
The Shirelles are really the original of the species. With the immaculate Goffin-King penned “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” in their possession, the girls broke down both gender and racial barriers. In fact, it was the first song performed by an all-girl group to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The ladies were even rightfully welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their contributions to music.
Members: Sheryl “Salt” James, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, DJ Spinderella
Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella will forever by the first ladies of hip hop. In a genre that was just beginning to gain momentum in the mainstream, for 3 females to come in and school their almost exclusively male peers is still a triumph today. The trio has even gone on to be cited as the “Female Run-D.M.C.” With hits in the 80s and 90s such as “Push It” and “Shoop,” their legacy lives on in a big way.
06. MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS
Members: Rosiland Ashford, Annette Beard, Betty Kelly, Lois Reeves, Martha Reeves
Despite seemingly playing second fiddle to the Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were certainly no background act. The ladies were one of the finest groups Motown ever produced, and they’ve performed some of the label’s biggest and most iconic hits (“Dancing In The Street,” “Heatwave,” “Nowhere To Run,” etc.) Martha & The Vandellas were one of the first girl groups to start having something more to offer than just great harmonies.
05. DESTINY’S CHILD
Members: Beyoncé Knowles, LeToya Luckett, LaTavia Roberson, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams
They may have had more lineup changes than anyone even remembers, but it will always boil down to Kelly (can you handle this?,) Michelle (can you handle this?,) and Beyoncé (can you handle this?) …I don’t think WE can handle this. The sometimes-quartet-sometimes-trio dominated the late 90s and 2000s with their R&B-pop tunes all with class, sass, and bootylicious ass! It just doesn’t get much bigger than the children of destiny.
Members: Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins
It was up to T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli to bring a new, urban flair to girl groups. With the addition of rap verses and hip hop beats, their addictive tunes became international megahits and earned them widespread acclaim and unparalleled sales. They became a definitive sound of the 90s, and tracks like “Waterfalls,” “Creep,” and “No Scrubs” still resonate today.
03. THE RONETTES
Members: Estelle Bennett, Veronica Bennett (Ronnie Spector,) Nedra Talley
The Ronettes were easily the most significant entity Phil Spector every got his hands on (in more ways than one.) In a sea of girl groups who were so run-of-the-mill, these 3 ladies were wildly exotic, different, and their talent was a cut above the rest. Hits like “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You” have stood the test of time, and are bonafide classics, while lead singer Ronnie Spector is cited as an influence to everyone from Amy Winehouse to Beyoncé.
02. SPICE GIRLS
Members: Victoria Adams/Beckham, Melanie Brown (Mel B), Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm (Mel C), Geri Halliwell
“Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh, Sporty, yes now, that’s your lot!” The world had never seen a phenomenon quite like the Spice Girls before the mid-90s, and nothing has been the same ever since. These five young British ladies had no fear introducing us to “Girl Power” and filling our ears with the catchiest pop tunes you could ever hope to hear. It was far more about a mentality than it ever was about great vocals or dance moves, but it’s important to give credit where credit is due.
01. THE SUPREMES
Members: Florence Ballard, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson
It’s hard to argue with the legacy of the Supremes. The sheer volume of hits alone speaks for itself. Motown’s ultimate girl group really broke from the mold in a big way, much like Martha & The Vandellas, featuring members that weren’t so “revolving door” and faceless. Obviously, Diana Ross was the standout star, but the trio of talented ladies managed to achieve a level of success that all of their peers couldn’t touch. The racial barriers they were able to break down alone is enough to call them the greatest girl group of all time, but it really boils down to their fantastic music that still touches us today.