Playlist: Girl Power

With Fifth Harmony taking a hiatus, it’s time go down memory lane, look at the past three decades, and give tribute to 15 girl groups that have managed to be powerhouses in the music industry.


Spice Girls

Let’s start with the most obvious choice. No set of women has made the commercial and cultural impact they have managed to make and leave behind. Their first two studio albums, “Spice” and “Spice World”, are two records that I can finish from start to listen. And it’s heartbreaking how short lived their career was and how averse some are in reuniting for another record.

Even though Victoria Beckham recently shared a photo of the ladies being together in the same room, she was quick to crush any hope of new music, specifically a tour. When you’re a fashion icon, married to one of the hottest men alive, and enjoying family life, why would you want to live in the past? However, the fivesome have confirmed they are in talks to voice an animated superhero movie based on their Spice Girls personas. It’s  considering how awful their last film turned out for them and now doing motion pictures is what they’re set to do.


TLC 

It would be hard to speculate how the untimely passing of Left Eye affected TLC’s success in the succeeding years of their career. Could she have reversed the lukewarm reception of their follow ups? In any case, they have nothing to prove as they remain to be the best selling girl group to originate from the USA. To top it all off, No Scrubs remains a staple offering of DJs in their R&B setlist, at least of the bars and clubs I’ve been to.

In June 2017, Chilli and T-Boz released TLC’s fifth and final studio album. I’m not inclined to believe it’s the last and I would want them to be lying. The funding for its production was by a Kickstart campaign that met its target within 48 hours. It received donations from fans to celebrities, including Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry. Most people have not heard the duo’s latest effort. But considering they had the public finance it, it’s a failed investment they can probably live with.


Destiny’s Child

Having gone through multiple iterations with the composition of its members, it’s impressive how they reached greater heights with each new permutation. Breaking up was an inevitability. But since they did it on amicable terms, a reunion from time to time was something the fans could count on. I was personally thrilled to see them back for “Destiny Fulfilled” and it spawned one of my favorites from the trio, Lose My Breath.

Initially, Kelly Rowland enjoyed the most success as a solo artist with the release of Nelly’s Dilemma, on which she was featured on. But we get to learn that was a fluke, and so was the reception for Beyonce’s Work It Out. Now, Beyonce rules not only the trio, but the entire industry. In the last few years, they’ve shown up on each other’s solo records, live performances and music videos. My only plea is that they do not let 2013’s Nuclear be the last single they record together.


Pussycat Dolls

It’s been a decade since The Pussycat Dolls broke out. For perspective on just how big they were, Rihanna was the group’s opening act in the UK when they did the PCD Tour.  Compared to other girl groups, I always felt their chemistry was manufactured and that only a record label was keeping them together. I’m sure that’s the case for most. But in my head, that idea resonated the strongest with them.

No amount of sales can control the egos that clashed and Nicole’s role as the lead was at the center of their fight. In the end, everyone, including Nicole, had a hard time making their solo ventures successful. Now, it seems they are willing to put all the scars behind. At the end of 2017, there have been speculations they will reunite for new music and to promote “Doll Domination”, which would turn 10 this 2018.


Fifth Harmony

After Camila Cabello left, it was only a matter of time until the remaining members disbanded. Recent news confirmed this theory. I just watched them live last February 2018! Even though I was expecting it, the news still hurt a little bit. I guess adjusting expectations do not always shield you from pain. But I digress. It’s a disappointment, considering they are the biggest talent to come out of X Factor USA, and one of the only few to break out of a talent competition.

In the near future, say until 2023, I am not expecting them to get back together. Camila Cabello just scored a number one hit with Havana. The rest are just beginning to explore the music industry on their own. The moment they all hit a wall at the same time is when we will expect them to reunite and forget about the fallen mannequin at the VMAs.


 Little Mix

Just like their contemporary Fifth Harmony, it’s worth noting that Little Mix is also the product of a reality singing competition. This time, it’s the UK and original version of X Factor. Unlike their counterparts, Little Mix managed to win the eighth installment of the franchise. I personally believe they keep getting better with each material they release. Am I the only one who thought Black Magic and Touch are pieces of evidence they are at the top of their game? Until another girl group comes into our radar, I guess Little Mix has the demographic all to themselves

. I have not heard much about fighting within the group. I hope that’s an indication that the honeymoon lasts a bit longer. Now recording their fifth studio album, it is quite an accomplishment, given how short-lived most groups stay together and how relevant they continue to be.


Atomic Kitten

Nothing is more remarkable than Natasha Hamilton dancing to the Tide is High while sporting a baby bump. You can even spot it in the thumbnail! For that alone, the group deserves recognition. Personally, I am averse to remakes, including the trio’s rendition of Eternal Flame. But I must admit, Tide is High is great.

Unlike Destiny’s Child which entered stabilization once the third configuration was in place, Atomic Kitten continues to evolve, even to this day. There’s been talks of Atomic Kitten performing at the middle of this year. However, that would come months after Kerry Katona announced her departure from the group (the second time it has happened!). The duo is now just made up of Natasha Hamilton and Liz McClarnon. Will they recruit a new member or get a former member to join them yet again?


Sugababes

The Sugababes had a commercially successful career in the UK. But they also had the craziest amount of reorganization. All original members ended up being replaced. Heidi Range, who joined the group in 2001, was originally from Atomic Kitten. If I am being honest, I barely noticed. I look at my ignorance on a positive light. Maybe because it was always about the music.

The original members of the Sugababes have now reunited. “Mutya Keisha Siobhan” is the catchy name they selected for this new team. Their comeback was slated a few years back. Besides their debut single “Flatline” being released in 2013, there has not been much progress. However, the trio does reinforce they are still together.


All Saints

The monologue of Shaznay in Never Ever is one of the most memorable ones  in music history. It’s a badge you’d wear on your shoulder if you manage to memorize it. And the melody and hook of both Pure Shores and Bootie Call are just insane. I even remember voting for the latter in a local radio music countdown. But just like most artists in this article, good things come to an end. They eventually split.

Earlier this decade, Melanie Blatt was quoted saying the group will never get back together again. It’s interesting that since then, they have performed several times, including supporting the Backstreet Boys and Take That on their respective tours. They also released an album in 2016. Supposedly, they are now in the process of recording their fifth studio album.


B*Witched

I’ve always imagined B*Witched as kids. It’s kind of like how it’s hard to picture Hanson members as adults. This is as kid-like as a girl group can come. They use lines from children’s fairy tales as lyrics. Anyone remember “I’ll huff, I’ll puff, I’ll blow you away”? It’s easy to dismiss their material as silly. But do not forget their first four singles all hit number one in the United Kingdom – C’est La Vie, Rollercoaster, To You I Belong and Blame It on the Weatherman.

They eventually split. But where have they been recently? It was only after researching I found out they have released a new song in 2013 entitled Love and Money and an EP in 2014, “Champagne or Guinness”. Honestly, I have not given it a listen. I don’t know if their new output is as catchy as their original releases. Maybe I’ll get around to it one day. But I’m afraid I will be let down.


Honeyz

Growing up, the music of Honeyz was inescapable. MTV kept Finally Found and End of the Line on heavy rotation. The latter especially, was a declaration of heartbreak I felt so connected to, even if I’ve experienced none of it.

Because they were not as big as Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child, it came as a surprise that up to five people have taken a role in the group, including Mariama Goodman who was once a member of Solid Harmonie, and Heavenli Denton, who has quit the band three times. Recently, they joined the reality TV series The Big Reunion, alongside Five, 911, Atomic Kitten, B*Witched, Blue and Liberty X. The show focuses on the bands who made it big in the 90s and early 2000s as they perform together for the first time in concerts that would showcase their comeback. They’ve released a song since but have not had much activity outside of it.


Solid Harmonie

When I was a kid, I remember dancing to I’ll Be There for You for either a field demo or a church event. I’m unsure which one, but I am certain I’m embarrassed at the thought of it. More than cringing at the thought of jamming along to one of their most successful singles (maybe the only one), I could not believe I found nothing wrong with the spelling of the group’s name. It’s just the ultimate throwback of how cool that used to be and how much time has changed.

Apparently, they have reunited. They had a comeback single entitled “Circus” in 2014. It’s not surprising a lot of us have not heard of it. To be fair, not everyone remembers Solid Harmonie. That is probably for good reason.


Girls Aloud

Before Little Mix and Fifth Harmony came out of X Factor, Girls Aloud was already the product of a reality singing competition, Popstars: The Rivals. It’s a disappointment that the huge success they amassed in the United Kingdom did not spill over to other parts of the globe. Even their inclusion in this list has little to do with my appreciation for their music, and more to do with paying respect where it’s due.

It hasn’t been that long since they formed and split (unless you count the three year hiatus that began in 2009). For sure, in time, they will find the time and energy to reconnect. I am willing to bet on it. Quite frankly, the trend of reuniting among girl groups that split cannot be denied.


En Vogue

En Vogue made it to mainstream consciousness way earlier than I had any consciousness at all. But their signature hits Free Your Mind and Don’t Let Go (Love) are some of the classics that all residents of this universe will one day be exposed to. The latter paved the way for one of my favorite battles from Team Alicia in the latest season of The Voice.

This April, En Vogue will release their first studio album in over 14 years. I expect it to be a commercial disappointment. But for a group that has been in existence for close to three decades, charting successfully is a bonus.


Danity Kane

As I am writing this piece, I begin to realize how many of the girl groups that gained mainstream attention are function of reality TV shows. Making the Band was responsible for their breakout and Diddy signed them on. A few years prior to their formation, the record producer was also behind Dream, another girl group that eventually disbanded. Maybe Danity Kane should have seen the writings on the wall? I personally wasn’t a fan but knew a lot who were.

Most girl group breakups and reunions have been messy. But rarely does it involve fights with physical violence (allegedly a punch in this instance). Now they have gone from a fivesome, to a foursome, to a threesome, and now to a twosome named “Dumblonde”. All of their solo careers have not made it big, which leads me to believe they will eventually reunite.


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