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A girl group is a music act featuring several female singers who generally
harmonize In music, harmonization is the chordal accompaniment to a part (music), line or melody: "Using chords and melodies together, making harmony by stacking scale tones as triads". A harmonized scale can be created by using each note of a musical sc ...
together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States to denote the wave of American female
pop music Pop is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical tra ...
singing groups, many of whom were influenced by
doo-wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a genre of rhythm and blues music that originated among African-American youth in the 1940s, mainly in the large cities of the United States, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, New ...
and which flourished in the late
1950s File:1950s decade montage.png, 455x455px, Top, L-R: U.S. Marines engaged in street fighting during the Korean War The Korean War (South Korean: ; North Korean: , "Fatherland Liberation War"; 25 June 1950–27 July 1953) was a war between N ...
and early
1960s File:1960s montage.png, Clockwise from top left: U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War; the Beatles led the British Invasion of the U.S. music market; a half-a-million people participate in the Woodstock Festival; Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Ap ...
between the decline of early rock and roll and start of the
British Invasion The British Invasion was a cultural phenomenon A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' ...
.
All-female band An all-female band is a musical ensemble, musical group in popular music that is exclusively composed of female musicians. This is distinct from a girl group, in which the female members are solely vocalists, though this terminology is not universal ...
s, in which members also play instruments, are usually considered a separate phenomenon. These groups are sometimes called "girl bands" to differentiate, although this terminology is not universally followed. With the advent of the
music industry The music industry consists of the individuals and organizations that earn money by writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...
and radio broadcasting, a number of girl groups emerged, such as
the Andrews Sisters The Andrews Sisters were an American singing group of the and eras. The group consisted of three sisters: LaVerne Sophia (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), Maxene Anglyn (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and Patricia "Patty" Marie (Febr ...
. The late 1950s saw the emergence of all-female singing groups as a major force, with 750 distinct girl groups releasing songs that reached US and UK music charts from 1960 to 1966.
The Supremes The Supremes were an American female singing group and a premier act of Motown Motown Records is an American record label owned by the Universal Music Group Universal Music Group B.V. (often abbreviated as UMG) is a global Music i ...
alone held 12 number-one singles on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100 during the height of the wave and throughout most of the British Invasion rivaled the Beatles in popularity. In later eras, the girl group template would be applied to
disco Disco is a genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally s ...
,
contemporary R&B Contemporary R&B (or just R&B) is a music genre that combines rhythm and blues with elements of Pop music, pop, Soul music, soul, funk, Hip hop music, hip hop and electronic music. The genre features a distinctive Record producer, record produ ...
, and
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

country
-based formats, as well as
pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
. A more globalized music industry gave rise to the popularity of dance-oriented pop music led by major record labels. This emergence, led by the US, UK, South Korea, and Japan, produced popular acts, with eight groups debuting after 1990 having sold more than 15 million physical copies of their albums. With the
Spice Girls The Spice Girls are a British girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States t ...
, the 1990s also saw the
target market A target market is a group of customers within a business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterpri ...
for girl groups shift from a male audience to an increasingly female one.


History


Vaudeville and close harmonies

One of the first major all-female groups was the Hamilton Sisters and Fordyce, an American trio who successfully toured England and parts of Europe in 1927, recorded and appeared on BBC radio they toured the US variety and big-time theaters extensively, and later changed their stage name to the
Three X Sisters The Three X Sisters were an American all-girl harmony singing trio, initially known as The Hamilton Sisters and Fordyce. They were on stage singing together as early as 1922, and formed their trio in 1924, which was composed of Pearl Santos (née Ha ...
. The band was together from 1923 until the early 1940s, and known for their close harmonies, as well as barbershop style or novelty tunes, and utilized their 1930s radio success. The Three X Sisters were also especially a notable addition to the music scene, and predicted later girl group success by maintaining their popularity throughout the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression An economic depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe economic downturn than a economic recession, recess ...
.
The Boswell Sisters The Boswell Sisters were an American close harmony singing trio of the jazz and Swing music, swing eras, consisting of three sisters: Martha Boswell (June 9, 1905 – July 2, 1958), Connee Boswell (original name Connie, December 3, 1907 – Octob ...

The Boswell Sisters
, who became one of the most popular singing groups from 1930 to 1936, had over twenty hits.
The Andrews Sisters The Andrews Sisters were an American singing group of the and eras. The group consisted of three sisters: LaVerne Sophia (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), Maxene Anglyn (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and Patricia "Patty" Marie (Febr ...
started in 1937 as a Boswell tribute band and continued recording and performing through the 1940s into the late-1960s, achieving more record sales, more Billboard hits, more million-sellers, and more movie appearances than any other girl group to date. The Andrews Sisters had musical hits across multiple genres, which contributed to the prevalence and popularity of the girl group form. The rise of girl groups appeared out of and was influenced by other musical movements of the time period.
Vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a of born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a dramatic composition or light poetry, mixed with songs or b ...
created an environment of entertainment in which the appearance of the girl group was not unfriendly, and musical forms like
a cappella A cappella (, also , ; ) music is group or solo performance without instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocal The human voice consists of sound Voice produc ...
and
barbershop quartet A barbershop quartet is a group of four singers who sing music in the barbershop music, barbershop style, characterized by four-part harmony without instrumental accompaniment, or ''a cappella''. The four voices are: the lead, the vocal part whic ...
singing provided inspiration for the structure of the songs and types of harmonies sung by initial girl groups. Importantly, the first successful girl groups of this era were typically white, but capitalized on using music such as ragtime that had originated in the African American community. This era was also advantageous to the beginnings of girl group music because of the newfound prevalence of the radio as well, which allowed this style of music to spread.


1955–1970: The golden age of girl groups

As the rock era began,
close harmony A chord is in close harmony (also called close position or close structure) if its notes are arranged within a narrow range (music), range, usually with no more than an octave between the top and bottom notes. In contrast, a chord is in open harmo ...
acts like
the Chordettes The Chordettes were an American female popular Popularity or social status is the quality of being well liked, admired or well known to a particular group. Popular may also refer to: In sociology * Mainstream, the quality of being commo ...
,
the Fontane Sisters The Fontane Sisters were a Trio (music), trio (Bea, Geri and Marge Rosse) from New Milford, New Jersey, New Milford, New Jersey. Early years Born to an Italian family, their mother, Louise Rosse, was both a soloist and the leader of the St. Joseph ...

the Fontane Sisters
, the
McGuire Sisters The McGuire Sisters were a singing trio (music), trio in American popular music. The group was composed of three sisters: * Ruby Christine McGuire (July 30, 1926 – December 28, 2018) * Dorothy "Dottie" McGuire (February 13, 1928 – September 7 ...

McGuire Sisters
and the DeCastro Sisters remained popular, with the first three acts topping the pop charts and the last reaching number two, at the end of 1954 to the beginning of 1955. Also,
the Lennon Sisters The Lennon Sisters are an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the Unit ...
were a mainstay on ''
the Lawrence Welk Show ''The Lawrence Welk Show'' was an American televised musical variety show hosted by big band leader Lawrence Welk. The series aired locally in Los Angeles for four years, from 1951 to 1955, then nationally for another 16 years on American Bro ...
'' from 1955 on. In early 1956,
doo-wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a genre of rhythm and blues music that originated among African-American youth in the 1940s, mainly in the large cities of the United States, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, New ...
one-hit wonder A one-hit wonder is any entity that achieves mainstream popularity, often for only one piece of work, and becomes known among the general public solely for that momentary success. The term is most commonly used in regard to musician, music perfor ...
acts like the Bonnie Sisters with "Cry Baby" and the Teen Queens with " Eddie My Love" showed early promise for a departure from traditional pop harmonies. With " Mr. Lee",
the Bobbettes The Bobbettes were an American rhythm and blues, R&B girl group who had a 1957 Top 40, top 10 hit song called "Mr. Lee (song), Mr. Lee". The group initially existed from 1955 to 1974 and included Jannie Pought (1945–1980), Emma Pought (born 1942) ...
lasted for months on the charts in 1957, building momentum and gaining further acceptance of all-female, all-
black Black is a color which results from the absence or complete absorption Absorption may refer to: Chemistry and biology *Absorption (chemistry), diffusion of particles of gas or liquid into liquid or solid materials *Absorption (skin), a rout ...
vocal groups. However, it was
the Chantels The Chantels are a pop music Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms ''popular music'' and ''pop music'' are often used interchangeably, alth ...
' 1958 song " Maybe" that became "arguably, the first true glimmering of the girl group sound." The "mixture of black doo-wop, rock and roll, and white pop" was appealing to a teenage audience and grew from scandals involving
payola Payola, in the music industry The music industry consists of the individuals and organizations that earn money by writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical la ...

payola
and the perceived social effects of rock music. However, early groups such as the Chantels started developing their groups' musical capacities traditionally, through mediums like Latin and choir music. The success of the Chantels and others was followed by an enormous rise in girl groups with varying skills and experience, with the music industry's typical racially segregated genre labels of R&B and pop slowly breaking apart. This rise also allowed a semblance of class mobility to groups of people who often could not otherwise gain such success, and "forming vocal groups together and cutting records gave them access to other opportunities toward professional advancement and personal growth, expanding the idea of girlhood as an identity across race and class lines." The group often considered to have achieved the first sustained success in girl group genre is
the Shirelles The Shirelles were an American girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States t ...
, who first reached the
Top 40 In the music industry The music industry consists of the individuals and organizations that earn money by writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language bel ...
with " Tonight's the Night", and in 1961 became the first girl group to reach number one on the
Hot 100 The ''Billboard'' Hot 100 is the music industry The music industry consists of the individuals and organizations that earn money by Musical composition, writing songs and musical compositions, creating and selling Sound recording and repr ...
with "
Will You Love Me Tomorrow "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", sometimes known as "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It was originally recorded in 1960 by the Shirelles, who took their single to number one on the ''Billboard'' H ...
", written by songwriters
Gerry Goffin Gerald Goffin (February 11, 1939 – June 19, 2014) was an American lyricist. Collaborating initially with his first wife, Carole King Carole King Klein (born Carol Joan Klein; February 9, 1942) is an American American(s) may refer to: * ...
and
Carole King Carole King Klein (born Carol Joan Klein; February 9, 1942) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of ...

Carole King
at 1650 Broadway.
The Shirelles The Shirelles were an American girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States t ...
solidified their success with five more top 10 hits, most particularly 1962's number one hit " Soldier Boy", over the next two and a half years. " Please Mr. Postman" by
the Marvelettes The Marvelettes were an American girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States ...
became a major indication of the racial integration of popular music, as it was the first number one song in the US for African-American owned label,
Motown Records Motown Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other seller ...
.
Motown Motown Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other seller ...
would mastermind several major girl groups, including
Martha and the Vandellas #REDIRECT Martha and the Vandellas#REDIRECT Martha and the Vandellas Martha and the Vandellas (known from 1967 to 1972 as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas) were an American vocal girl group formed in Detroit in 1957. The group achieved fame in the ...
,
the Velvelettes The Velvelettes were an American singing girl group, signed to Motown in the 1960s. Their biggest chart success occurred in 1964, when Norman Whitfield produced "Needle in a Haystack", which peaked at number 45 on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100. ...
, and
the Supremes The Supremes were an American female singing group and a premier act of Motown Motown Records is an American record label owned by the Universal Music Group Universal Music Group B.V. (often abbreviated as UMG) is a global Music i ...
. Other songwriters and producers in the US and UK quickly recognized the potential of this new approach and recruited existing acts (or, in some cases, created new ones) to record their songs in a girl-group style.
Phil Spector Harvey Phillip Spector (December 26, 1939January 16, 2021) was an American record producer, musician, and songwriter who is best known for his innovative recording practices and entrepreneurship in the 1960s, followed decades later by his murde ...

Phil Spector
recruited
the Crystals The Crystals were an American vocal group based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 populati ...
,
the Blossoms The Blossoms are an American girl-group that originated from California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and te ...

the Blossoms
, and
the Ronettes The Ronettes () were an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United ...
, while Goffin and King penned two hit songs for
the Cookies The Cookies were an American R&B Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings m ...
. Phil Spector made a huge impact on the ubiquity of the girl group, as well as bringing fame and notoriety to new heights for many girl groups. Phil Spector's so-called
Wall of Sound The Wall of Sound (also called the Spector Sound) is a music production formula developed by American record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios, in the 1960s, with assistance from engineer Larry Levine and the conglomerate of session m ...
, which used layers of instruments to create a more potent sound allowed girl groups to sing powerfully and in different styles than earlier generations.
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller Lyricist Jerome Leiber (April 25, 1933 – August 22, 2011) and composer Michael Stoller (born March 13, 1933) were American songwriting and record producing partners. They found success as the writers of such crossover hit songs as " Hound Dog" ( ...
would likewise foster
the Exciters The Exciters were an American pop music group of the 1960s. They were originally a girl group, with one male member being added afterwards. At the height of their popularity the group consisted of lead singer Brenda Reid, Herb Rooney, Carolyn Johns ...

the Exciters
,
the Dixie Cups The Dixie Cups are an American pop music of the 1960s. They are best known for a string of hits including their 1964 million-selling record "", "", and "". Career The group hit the top of the charts in 1964 with "," a song that , , and h ...
, and
the Shangri-Las The Shangri-Las were an American pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway stat ...
. The Shangri-Las' hit single, "
Leader of the Pack "Leader of the Pack" is a song written by Shadow Morton, George "Shadow" Morton, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich. It was a number one pop music, pop hit in 1964 for the American girl group The Shangri-Las. The single is one of the group's best kn ...
," exemplified the " 'death disc' genre" adopted by some girl groups. These songs usually told the story of teenage love cut short by the death of one of the young lovers. The Paris Sisters had success from 1961 to 1964, especially with " I Love How You Love Me". The Sensations, , the Angels, and
the Orlons The Orlons are an American R&B Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marke ...
were also prominent in the early 1960s. In early fall 1963 one-hit wonder
the Jaynetts The Jaynetts were a girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States to denote the wa ...
' "
Sally Go 'Round the Roses "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" is the name of a 1963 hit song, hit by The Jaynetts, a the Bronx, Bronx-based one-hit wonder girl group, released by J & S Records, J&S Records on the Tuff label. Background The producer of "Sally Go 'Round the Roses", ...
" achieved a mysterious sound quite unlike that of any other girl group. In 1964, the one-hit wonder group the Murmaids took
David Gates David Ashworth Gates (born December 11, 1940) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, musician and producer, frontman and co-lead singer (with Jimmy Griffin) of the group Bread (band), Bread, which reached the tops of the musical charts i ...

David Gates
' " Popsicles and Icicles" to the top 3 in January, the Carefrees' " We Love You Beatles" scraped the top 40 in April, and the Jewels' "Opportunity" was a small hit in December. The girl group sound also extended to existing acts backed by studio musician girls performing without label credit. Examples are too numerous to mention. Over 750 girl groups were able to chart a song between 1960 and 1966 in the US and UK, although the genre's reach was not as strongly felt in the music industries of other regions. As the youth culture of was deeply immersed in Yé-yé, recording artists of East Asia mostly varied from traditional singers, government-sponsored chorus, or multi-cultural soloists and bands, while
bossa nova #REDIRECT Bossa nova Bossa nova () is a style of samba Samba (), also known as samba urbano carioca (''urban Carioca samba'') or simply samba carioca (''Carioca samba'') is a Brazilian music genre that originated in the Afro-Brazilians, Af ...
was trendy in Latin America.
Beat music Beat music, British beat, or Merseybeat (after bands from Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. With a population of in 2019, it is the List of English dist ...
's global influence eventually pushed out girl groups as a genre and, except for a small number of the foregoing groups and possibly
the Toys The Toys were an American pop girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States to ...
and the
Sweet Inspirations The Sweet Inspirations were an American R&B girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the Uni ...

Sweet Inspirations
, the only girl groups with any significant chart presence from the beginning of the
British Invasion The British Invasion was a cultural phenomenon A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' ...
through 1970 were Motown girl groups with
the Supremes The Supremes were an American female singing group and a premier act of Motown Motown Records is an American record label owned by the Universal Music Group Universal Music Group B.V. (often abbreviated as UMG) is a global Music i ...
being the only girl group to score number one hits. The distinct girl group sound would not re-emerge until the 21st century, where it would influence modern-day English-speaking pop-soul soloists who have been met with international success, such as
Amy Winehouse Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer and songwriter. She was known for her deep, expressive contralto A contralto () is a type of classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical an ...

Amy Winehouse
,
Adele Adele Laurie Blue Adkins (; born 5 May 1988) is an English singer-songwriter. After graduating from the BRIT School The BRIT School is a British performing arts and technology school located in the London Borough of Croydon, England, wit ...

Adele
, and
Melanie Fiona Melanie Fiona Hallim (born July 4, 1983) is a Canadian singer and songwriter. She was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario.
among others. In addition to influencing individual singers, this generation of girl groups cemented the girl group form and sentiment and provided inspiration for many future groups.


1966–1989: Changes in formats and genres

Entering the 1970s,
The Supremes The Supremes were an American female singing group and a premier act of Motown Motown Records is an American record label owned by the Universal Music Group Universal Music Group B.V. (often abbreviated as UMG) is a global Music i ...
had continued success with top 10 hits " Up the Ladder to the Roof" and " Stoned Love" along with six other singles charting on Billboard's top 40. Only two other girl groups made top 10 chartings through 1974 with "Want Ads" by Honey Cone and "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees (which had roots in the 1960s and in 1970, like the Chantels in 1958, began their top 40 pop career with "Maybe"). Patti LaBelle and Labelle, the Bluebelles was a US 1960s girl group whose image Vicki Wickham, their manager, helped remake in the early 1970s, renaming the group Labelle and pushing them in the direction of glam rock. Labelle were the first girl group to eschew matching outfits and identical choreography, instead wearing extravagant spacesuits and feathered headdresses. During the disco craze and beyond, female acts included First Choice (band), First Choice, Silver Convention, Hot (American vocal group), Hot, the Emotions, High Inergy, Odyssey (band), Odyssey, Sister Sledge, Mary Jane Girls, Belle Epoque (band), Belle Epoque, Frantique, Luv', and Baccara. Groups of the 1980s like the Pointer Sisters, Exposé (group), Exposé, and Bananarama updated the concept. In Latin America, there were a number of dance-oriented popular girl groups during the era, including the Flans, Jeans (band), Jeans, and Pandora. In Japan, all-female idol groups Candies (group), Candies and Pink Lady (band), Pink Lady made a series of hits during the 1970s and 1980s as well. The Japanese music program Music Station listed Candies and Pink Lady in their Top 50 Idols of All Time (compiled in 2011), placing them at number 32 and number 15, with sales exceeding 5 and 13 million in Japan, respectively. With the single "Kiss in the Dark (Pink Lady song), Kiss in the Dark", Pink Lady was also one of only two Japanese artists to have reached the Billboard Top 40. Billboard (magazine), Billboard magazine states that Pink Lady have sold over 40 million singles and 25 million albums worldwide.


1990–present: Dance pop girl group era


American R&B and hip hop

With the rise of new jack swing,
contemporary R&B Contemporary R&B (or just R&B) is a music genre that combines rhythm and blues with elements of Pop music, pop, Soul music, soul, funk, Hip hop music, hip hop and electronic music. The genre features a distinctive Record producer, record produ ...
and hip hop, American girl groups such as En Vogue, Exposé (group), Exposé and Sweet Sensation (trio), Sweet Sensation all had singles which hit number one on the charts. Groups in these genres, such as SWV, Xscape (group), Xscape, 702 (band), 702, Total (group), Total, Zhane, Blaque, and 3LW, managed to have songs chart on both the U.S. Hot 100 and the U.S. R&B charts. However, TLC (group), TLC achieved the most success for a girl group in an era where contemporary R&B would become global mainstream acceptance. TLC remains the best-selling American girl group with 65 million records sold, and their second studio album, CrazySexyCool (1994), remains the best-selling album by a girl group in the United States (Diamond certification), while selling over 14 million copies worldwide. Destiny's Child emerged in the late 1990s and sold more than 60 million records. Despite the dying popularity of girl groups in the US in the mid-2000s, American girl group and dance ensemble the Pussycat Dolls achieved worldwide success with their singles. Girl group Danity Kane also became the first girl group in Billboard history to have two consecutive number-one albums, as their Danity Kane (album), self-titled debut album (2006) and their second album Welcome to the Dollhouse (album), Welcome to the Dollhouse (2008) both topped the U.S. Billboard 200.''Making the Band''/''The Rise and Fall of Danity Kane'', ''MTV'' (2009-04-30). Retrieved on 2009-04-30. Following the disbandment of both groups, the format became a very minor format with a small number of groups achieving any level of notoriety. One such exception is Miami-based girl group Fifth Harmony, who were formed in 2012 on The X Factor (US TV series), The X Factor USA. They reached international success with their debut album ''Reflection (Fifth Harmony album), Reflection'', which featured the hit “Worth It (Fifth Harmony song), Worth It”.


The Second British Invasion and Europe

In the early 1990s, the British music scene was dominated by boy bands. The only girl group making an impact on the UK charts at the time was Eternal (group), Eternal, but even they "remained largely faceless". Amidst the American domination of the girl group format, the Second British Invasion saw the UK's
Spice Girls The Spice Girls are a British girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States t ...
turn the tide in the mid-1990s, achieving ten number 1 singles in the UK and US. With sold-out concerts, advertisements, merchandise, 86 million worldwide record sales, the best-selling album of all time by a female group,Biography - Spice Girls
Rolling Stone; ''Spice selling some 23 million copies worldwide''
and a film, the Spice Girls became the most commercially successful British group since the Beatles. Unlike their predecessors who were marketed at male record buyers, the Spice Girls redefined the girl group concept by going after a young female fanbase instead. The cultural movement started by the Spice Girls produced a glut of other similar acts, which include the British-Canadian outfit All Saints (group), All Saints, Irish girl group B*Witched, Atomic Kitten and the Honeyz, who all achieved varying levels of success during the decade. Throughout the 2000s, girl groups from the UK remained popular, with Girls Aloud's "Sound of the Underground (song), Sound of the Underground" and Sugababes' "Round Round" having been called "two huge groundbreaking hits" credited with reshaping British pop music for the 2000s. UK girl group continued to have success in the 2000s and 2010s, with acts such as Mis-Teeq, the Saturdays, StooShe and Little Mix, who were the first band ever to win the UK version of ''The X Factor (British TV series), The X Factor''.


Emergence of Asian dance-pop girl groups

Although the emergence of dance-pop focused acts in Asia paralleled their British counterparts in the 1990s, girl groups in Asia sustained as a successful format through the 2010s. Many of these girl groups practice highly choreographed dances with studio-produced playback. Japan has Global music industry market share data, the music industry's second largest market overall and the largest physical music market in the world, with the physical sales Oricon Singles Chart being dominated by J-pop Japanese idol, idol girl groups. In the late 1990s, vocal/dance girl bands Speed (Japanese band), Speed and MAX (band), Max gained prominence in Asia, and paved the way for succeeding Japanese girl groups, such as Morning Musume, AKB48, Perfume (Japanese band), Perfume, and Momoiro Clover Z. Speed sold a total of 20 million copies in Japan within three years, with ''Variety (magazine), Variety'' calling them "Japan’s top girl group", while Max still hold the record for girl group with the second most consecutive top 10 singles in Japan. Morning Musume are one of the most successful and longest running Japanese pop idol girl groups in Japan, and have sold over 18 million copies there. AKB48 have had the List of best-selling singles in Japan#Best-selling singles by year, best-selling singles of the year in the country for the past six years. The AKB48 format has also expanded to other Asian countries. Throughout the 2010s, AKB48 Group, AKB48 sister groups have been launched or will be launched in Indonesia, China, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, India and Vietnam. Several new Japanese idol, idol groups appeared in the 2010s and created a fiercely competitive situation in the music industry, which has been referred to as the "Idol ''sengoku jidai''" (アイドル戦国時代; lit. Age of the Idol Warring States). Since 2009, Hallyu (Korean wave) and K-pop has become increasingly significant in the entertainment industry, with its influence breaking the confinements of Asia and spreading to the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the Americas. Girl groups are considered one of the leaders of this "Hallyu" wave, with popular groups consistently topping the Gaon Album Charts. Popular South Korean girl groups include Girls' Generation, Wonder Girls, Kara (South Korean band), Kara, 2NE1, T-ara, f(x) (band), f(x), GFriend, Twice, Red Velvet (group), Red Velvet and Blackpink amongst others. The girl groups of Korea have been particularly effective in digital sales of music, with seven K-pop, South Korean acts comprising the List of best-selling girl groups#Digital sales, top ten in digital sales among girl groups. In 2013, Girls' Generation won the award for Video of the Year at the 2013 YouTube Music Awards, first YouTube Music Awards for "I Got a Boy (song), I Got a Boy". The influence of the original girl groups of the United States was not lost on this era of artists, as many adopted visual influences through their "retro" concepts, such as the international 2008 hit "Nobody (Wonder Girls song), Nobody" by Wonder Girls.


Themes

Girl groups have a wide array of subject matter in their songs, depending on time and place and who was producing. Songs also had a penchant for reflecting the political and cultural climate around them. For instance, songs with abusive undertones were somewhat common during the 1950s–1970s. One notable example was the song "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" by
the Crystals The Crystals were an American vocal group based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 populati ...
. During the "golden age of girl groups", lyrics were disparate, ranging from songs about mean dogs to underage pregnancy. However, common sentiments were also found in ideas like new love, pining after a crush or lover, and heartache. Some songs sounded upbeat or cheerful and sang about falling in love, whereas others took a decidedly more melancholic turn. Groups like The Shangri-Las, with the song "I Can Never Go Home Anymore" sang about the darker side of being in love.


Adolescence

An especially prevalent theme was adolescence. Since most of the girl groups were composed of young singers, often still in high school, songs mentioned parents in many cases. Adolescence was also a popular subject because of an emerging audience of young girls listening to and buying records. Adolescence was also reinforced by girl groups in cultivation of a youthful image, since "an unprecedented instance of teenage girls occupying center stage of mainstream commercial culture". An example of this youth branding might be Emma Bunton, Baby Spice from the
Spice Girls The Spice Girls are a British girl group A girl group is a music act featuring several women in music, female singers who generally vocal harmony, harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States t ...
. This was shown through flourishes like typically matching outfits for mid-century girl groups and youthful content in songs. Girl groups of the 1950s era would also give advice to other girls, or sing about the advice their mothers gave to them, which was a similarity to some male musical groups of the time (for example, the Miracles' "Shop Around"). Adolescence was also important (especially starting in the 1950s) from the other end: the consumers were "teenagers [with] disposable income, ready access to automobiles, and consolidated high schools that exposed them to large numbers of other teens. Mass teen culture was born." This was a symbiotic relationship with the girl groups in that these groups sang youthful content to appeal to their teen audience, and the teens, especially girls, bought the girl group records accordingly. Girls were also more easily exploited and more accessible to a youth, as well as broader audiences.


Feminism

Additionally, as the girl group structure persisted through further generations, popular cultural sentiments were incorporated into the music. The appearance of "girl power" and feminism was also added, even though beginning groups were very structured in their femininity. Girl groups would give advice to their audience, or there would be a back-and-forth dialogue between the backup singers and the main singer. It would be simplistic to imply that girl groups only sang about being in love; on the contrary, many groups expressed complex sentiments in their songs. There were songs of support, songs that were gossipy, etc.; like any other musical movement, there was much variation in what was being sung. A prominent theme was often teaching "what it meant to be a woman". Girl groups would exhibit what womanhood looked like from the clothes they were wearing to the actual lyrics in their songs. Of course this changed over the years (what the Supremes were wearing was different from the Spice Girls), but girl groups still served as beacons and examples of certain types of identities to their audiences through the years. Girl groups in earlier generations like the 1950s were perhaps more exploited (at least overtly) than more recent girl groups. In the 1990s through the present, with the prevalence of such groups as the Spice Girls, there has been a strong emphasis on women's independence and a sort of feminism. At the very least, the music is more assertive lyrically and relies less on innuendo. This more recent wave of girl groups is more sexually provocative as well, which makes sense within pop music within this time frame as well.


See also

* List of girl groups * List of best-selling girl groups *
All-female band An all-female band is a musical ensemble, musical group in popular music that is exclusively composed of female musicians. This is distinct from a girl group, in which the female members are solely vocalists, though this terminology is not universal ...
* Women in music * Boy band * ''Dreamgirls'', a 1981 musical and 2006 movie that covers the experience of girl groups in the Motown area


References


External links


2007 Smithsonian piece of historical influence of American Girl Groups

Fan-made site devoted to the breadth of mid-century American Girl Groups
{{DEFAULTSORT:Girl Group Types of musical groups Girl groups,