Boy bands get a lot of the hype when it comes to music history, but pop would be a lot less interesting without girl groups like Destiny’s Child and Haim.
As is the case with boy bands, some of the earliest girl groups were founded in the 1950s and ’60s. One of the first ensembles to gain massive success was The Shirelles, who got their start in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1957. They had their first major hit in 1960 with “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” which was cowritten by
Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
The song went on to become the first No. 1 hit by a girl group and was later covered by artists including
Roberta Flack, Linda Ronstadt, , Smokey Robinson and Dionne Warwick . The tune is iconic now, but lead singer Leslie Grace Shirley Alston Reeves wasn’t initially sure that the track was a good fit for her group.
“I told them I didn’t think it was a Shirelles song because it was a little on the country-western side,” the North Carolina native told
in July 2016. “Our producer, Luther Dixon, said if I still didn’t like it after we recorded it then we would put it on the album instead of as a single. But when we started to do the recording and I heard the music and the strings, I fell in love with it.” The Press-Enterprise
Though doo-wop girl groups declined in popularity in the 1970s, bands including The Go-Go’s and The Bangles kept the tradition alive in the following decade. The category
hit a new peak in the ’90s, however, when the Spice Girls arrived on the scene in the U.K.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Destiny’s Child started to break through with hits including “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Bug a Boo.” After several lineup changes, in 2000 the quartet became a trio composed of
, Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland . Michelle Williams
Though the group hasn’t recorded new music since 2005, they’ve remained extremely close and supportive of each other’s solo careers.
“So many women say, ‘Oh, my God, I love your relationship with the girls.’ … And it’s because we all genuinely want to see each other be great and go after things that we’re passionate about,” Rowland told
in March 2021. “And if we feel like one needs a little push, we do that, whether they’re ready for it or not. It’s about being there and making sure they push themselves. You have to be able to have that honesty, love and admiration for each other.” Elle U.K.
Keep scrolling for a look back at the best girl groups of all time.
Debuting in 1994 with “Wannabe,” the powerhouse group — Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown, Victoria Beckham and Geri Halliwell — eventually became the best-selling female group of all time. Halliwell left the band in 1998, but the quintet reunited for a world tour in 2007. The British pop stars also performed during the closing ceremonies at the 2012 Olympics in London.
The group hit the R&B scene in the late ’90s with songs like “Say My Name” and “No, No, No.” With its original members including Knowles and Rowland, the group saw a number of changes in its lineup over the years and ended as a trio with Williams. Though they never officially broke up, the trio have not recorded as Destiny’s Child since 2005. In 2013, Rowland and Williams appeared in Knowles’ music video for “Superpower” and joined the Obsessed star for her Super Bowl halftime show, and the following year, Knowles and Rowland sang on Williams’ single “Say Yes.” The “Crazy” songstress and the Checking In author later joined the Ivy Park designer for her 2018 Coachella headlining show.
Comprised of three Texas natives, the country band with a contemporary twist found success with hits like “Wide Open Spaces” and “There’s Your Trouble.” Controversy erupted after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized former President George W. Bush in 2003, but the trio later won three Grammys for “Not Ready to Make Nice,” their song about the aftermath of the incident. In 2020, the group released Gaslighter, their first studio album in 13 years.
Finding success in the ’90s with hits like “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs,” the trio — made up of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas — released four multiplatinum studio albums. Following Left Eye’s death in 2002, T-Boz and Chilli continued recording and touring as a duo.
The rock band formed in 1980 and released the smash singles “Manic Monday,” written by Prince, and “Walk Like an Egyptian,” which reached No. 1 internationally. After their single “Eternal Flame” was released in 1988, the band split up and then reunited in 1998.
This ’80s hip-hop trio was one of the first all-female rap groups. Consisting of Cheryl James, Sandra Denton and Deidra Roper, the group was known for the smash singles “Push It,” “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Whatta Man.” Salt-N-Pepa produced five studio albums and won a Grammy before they disbanded in 2002.
Most famous for their hit single “C’est la Vie,” the Irish pop band went platinum in the U.K. for both of their studio albums and in U.S for their first self-titled album. The group went on to record songs for the movies The Princess Diaries and Bring It On.
With chart toppers like “Jump (For My Love)” and “I’m So Excited,” the girl group, made up of three (later four) sisters, was popular during the ’70s and ’80s. Their music encompassed many genres of music, including R&B, jazz, country and disco.
Starting as a burlesque group that performed at L.A.’s Viper Room, the dance-pop group (led by Nicole Scherzinger) found success on the radio with songs like “Don’t Cha” and “When I Grow Up.” The six original members left the troupe at various points, with Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin later vowing to replace them and rebrand the group. The band planned to reunite for a 2020 reunion tour, but the tour was eventually canceled in part because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The female trio consisting of Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips released their eponymous debut album in 1990, selling 10 million copies worldwide. The group was nominated for four Grammy Awards and two American Music Awards after their single, “Hold On,” skyrocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. After the group’s 10-year hiatus in 1993, they reunited for a reality show in 2012.
The Weather Girls
The pop-soul duo made up of Martha Walsh and the late Izora Armstead are most famously known for their single “It’s Raining Men,” released in 1982. The group disbanded in 1985 when Walsh pursued a solo career.
The hip-hop and R&B group, whose name is short for “3 Little Women,” is best known for their song “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right).” Their self-titled album was certified platinum and they were part of the 2001 MTV TRL tour with Destiny’s Child, Nelly and Jessica Simpson, among others. Original members Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams later reunited as part of the (fictional) girl group The Cheetah Girls.
Created in 1978, the rock band consisting of Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Margot Olavarria and Elissa Bello released their first album, Beauty and the Beat, in the early ’80s. It received a triple platinum certification in 1982. Their single “We Got the Beat” reached No. 2 in the U.S. and the group received a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The band has split up on and off since 1985 while members pursued solo careers.
The five winners from MTV’s reality show Making the Band were signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, and went on to release hits including “Damaged” and “Show Stopper.” The quintet — Aubrey O’Day, D. Woods, Shannon Bex, Dawn Richard and Aundrea Fimbres — became the first female group to have their first two albums debut at No. 1. The group split in 2009.
The ’60s were a prime time for this trio, made up of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. With Motown Records, The Supremes achieved international success and changed the face of music with singles “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.” However, after a drastic rotation of group members throughout the ’70s, The Supremes disbanded in 1977.
The English duo, formed in 1979, is made up of Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, although they achieved even more success with their third member, Siobhan Fahey. Their hits include “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” and “Cruel Summer,” their first U.S. top 10 single. By 2002, Fahey had left the group, which had sold 40 million records worldwide.
Gunter W Kienitz/Shutterstock
The R&B group, known for their chart-topping hits “Free Your Mind” and “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” aimed to be a modern-day girl group in the tradition of the ’50s and ’60s. In addition to a number of awards and seven Grammy nominations, the group won more MTV Video Music Awards than any other female group in MTV history. In 2022, the band competed as Queen Cobra on season 7 of The Masked Singer.
Founded in 1990 by high school classmates Renee Sandstrom and Stefanie Ridel, the group was originally named New Rhythm Generation (NRG) before Fergie joined. Fergie left the group in 2002 after struggling with drug addiction, just after Wild Orchid was dropped from their label. The group collaborated with Fergie on her solo album The Dutchess.
Formed in 1957 by classmates Reeves, Doris Kenner-Jackson, Addie Harris McFadden and Beverly Lee, their singles “Soldier Boy,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “Dedicated to the One I Love,” have been covered numerous times by the likes of The Beatles and Aretha Franklin.
Created through a British talent show, the English-Irish group (which included Cheryl Cole), was critically acclaimed for its innovative approach to mainstream pop music by giving it an electro edge. The group boasted a string of 20 consecutive top 10 singles and two No. 1 albums in the U.K.
The group was formed on the WB show Popstars in 2001. Among the five members? Nicole Scherzinger! The group’s debut single, “Get Over Yourself,” landed at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and their album, Popstars, was certified gold. After their record company crumbled in late 2001, Eden’s Crush disbanded.
Founded in 1993 by Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis, Nicole Appleton and Natalie Appleton, this British pop group obtained much success with over 10 million record sales worldwide. Their single “Never Ever” won two BRIT Awards. Their second album did poorly financially and resulted in the group’s breakup in 2001. The group reunited in 2006 for a third album but later disbanded a second time.
The R&B and pop group — made up of sisters Cleo, Yonah and Zainam — came from the U.K. and burst onto the U.S scene with “Cleopatra’s Theme” after Madonna signed them to her Maverick label. With two successful albums and a sitcom under their belt, the platinum-selling group also performed during the Spice Girls’ Spiceworld tour.
The British-Irish girl group — consisting of Una Healy, Mollie King, Frankie Sandford, Vanessa White and Rochelle Wiseman — was formed in 2007. Their debut album, Chasing Lights, peaked at No. 9 on the U.K. album chart, and their second single, “Up,” debuted at No. 5.
The South Korean girl group — made up of Yubin, Yeeun, Sunye, Sohee and Hyelim — formed in 2007 and soon released their debut single, “Irony.” Other singles include “Tell Me” and “This Fool.” Throughout the 2000s, the group underwent many member rotations, though they were the first Korean group to ever enter the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Formed in 2016, Blackpink — made up of Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa — are one of the most successful K-pop girl bands ever. Their debut studio LP, The Album, became the highest-selling release by a Korean girl group just one day after its October 2020 release. The quartet have also collaborated with several American artists including Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa.
Born and raised in California, sister trio Haim — Danielle, Este and Alana — released their debut album, Days Are Gone, in 2013. They’ve since earned four Grammy nominations, opened for Rihanna and teamed up with Taylor Swift for her 2021 song “No Body, No Crime.” That same year, Alana made her film debut in the Oscar-nominated movie Licorice Pizza.
Valeria Magri/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
The Miami-based hip-hop duo rose to fame in 2018 after making an uncredited appearance on Drake’s hit single “In My Feelings.” Yung Miami and JT have since released two albums and recorded tracks with Cardi B, Usher and Saweetie.
Formed in Japan in 1986, The 220.127.116.11’s blew up in America after a cameo in the 2003 film Kill Bill: Vol.1. Currently made up of Yoshiko “Ronnie” Fujiyama, Sachiko Fujii and Akiko Omo, the band sings in both Japanese and English, often performing covers of classic American and British rock songs.
A Band Apart/Miramax/Kobal/Shutterstock
Little Mix began their career on season 8 of The X Factor U.K., winning the competition with a cover of Damien Rice’s “Cannonball.” After Jesy Nelson exited the band in 2020, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall continued as a trio for one more tour. In 2021, however, they announced a hiatus.
Also known as SNSD, Girls’ Generation released their debut album in 2009. Originally a nine-piece group, the K-pop band is now made up of Taeyeon, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona and Seohyun following Jessica’s 2014 departure.
Before forming The Blackhearts, Joan Jett got her start in teen punk band The Runaways alongside Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox and Sandy West. A 2010 biopic of the band starred Kristen Stewart as Jett and Dakota Fanning as Currie.
Fifth Harmony formed in 2012 after Ally Brooke, Normani, Dinah Jane, Lauren Jauregui and Camila Cabello competed as solo contestants on season 2 of The X Factor. Simon Cowell signed them to his record label after the show, with their full-length debut album, Reflection, hitting stores in 2015. Following Cabello’s exit from the group in 2016, the remaining quartet released another album and continued touring, but they announced an indefinite hiatus to pursue solo projects in 2018.
Three years after their breakthrough hit “Be My Baby” topped the charts in 1963, The Ronettes became the first girl group to tour with The Beatles, opening for them on their final American concert tour in 1966. The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Comprised of Bom, CL, Dara, and Minzy, 2NE1 became the first K-pop to break into the top 100 of the Billboard 200 chart with their 2014 album, Crush. The quartet released their final single, “Goodbye,” in 2017, but they reunited in 2022 for a surprise appearance at Coachella.
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