Aside from UK’s Little Mix and Fifth Harmony from the US that is currently on a hiatus, there aren’t any notable girl groups that sing in English blasting on our radio stations these days. Gone are the days when girl groups were popping up in the music industry almost every month, but it seems to have lost its charm. Music is evolving so quickly these days and the industry is so competitive, it is difficult to predict what works or not anymore. One thing is for sure, girl groups will never go away in Korean pop music.
A group is usually applied to acts with three members or more. Some have mixed pairings or duo as groups, but that doesn’t count in our eyes. Girl groups have gone through its phases of definition from the doo-wop influence in the ‘50s and rock bands in ‘60s, although all-female groups that play instruments are usually categorised in another box of “girl bands.” Some of the earliest girl groups that we were blessed with were The Supremes, Sister Sledge, The Bangles, Wilson Phillips and so much more. Without going back too far yet still keeping things relevant, let us revisit from the 1990s.
On top of what seems like the only all-female rap group Salt-N-Pepa, there were so many amazing R&B girl groups as we enter the 1990s. We had strong female acts like En Vogue, SWV, Xscape, Eternal and TLC to kick things off. They had a voice and were empowering through song topics from social awareness to sex. They were the leading set of girl groups that set the tone for a new generation of girl groups like 702, Total, Blaque and Destiny’s Child in the second half of the ‘90s.
During this time, the pop girl groups were kicking in with the arrival of UK’s Eternal, Sugababes and of course, the Spice Girls. It opened the doors for many new English girl groups such as Cleopatra, B*Witched, The Honeyz and All Saints that hopping into the scene as we were entering the new millennium. The switch was apparent but also fair as both R&B and pop get its equal shine in the UK scene that was dominating the world charts by this point.
As we enter the new millennium, the girl group trend seems to be phasing out just slightly. R&B and Pop girl groups are scattered throughout the years by acts like Mis-Teeq, Dream, Atomic Kitten, Eden’s Crush, Girls Aloud and Danity Kane. It was not until The Pussycat Dolls came into our lives in 2005 and were in a league of their own right off the back with their signature sexy and powerful persona that captured hearts of music fans all over the world.
Right after The Pussycat Dolls, 2007 saw the rise of K-Pop group Girls Generation and Wonder Girls made a splash before 2NE1 joined in 2009. Suddenly the whole world was introduced to of the Korean pop culture from sweet to strong girl groups. Aside from Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” this was a moment in music when we couldn’t escape “Nobody” by Wonder Girls either.
Little Mix released their debut album in 2012 and Fifth Harmony in 2015, which made them two of the most prominent girl groups that sing in English probably in this decade. Many groups attempted, but unable to reach the levels of the Little Mix and Fifth Harmony. While Fifth Harmony is dwindling into an indefinite hiatus, it is all about Little Mix right now. They seem to be the last English girl group standing in a more commercially-accepted industry.
The K-Pop girl group takeover is the strongest of them all at this point. Groups like BLACKPINK, TWICE, Red Velvet, Momoland, Mamamoo, (G)I-dle and so many more are the ideal definition of girl groups in 2018. With BLACKPINK being the first Korean girl group to has the highest charting song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 charts, the force is strong for them and other K-Pop groups that want to break into the US charts.
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter if we don’t understand the language but if the appeal is there, we are sold. Would we ever see another American girl group making it as big as Destiny’s Child or Fifth Harmony? Will the UK girl group invasion like Spice Girls happen again? Will the K-Pop girl group trend fade away? Whatever the outcome is, we are glad to have the music that have been presented to us over the years and will welcome any girl groups with open arms. Girl power!
IMAGE: YG Entertainment
Writer | Kevin Yeoh
Kevin was the former editor of two music and lifestyle platforms in Malaysia. He is an all-round music enthusiast from the '90's R&B to K-Pop with a newfound love for ASMR and mukbang videos.