It’s the late 2000’s and you’re having a sleepover. Everyone’s wearing their High School Musical PJs and you spot in the corner a glowing gold light; the host has a karaoke machine. You suggest ‘Love Machine’, everyone cheers and whoops. You’re a hero. You fight over who will be Cheryl. You win, it was your suggestion after all. All is good in the world.
For many Gen Z-ers, girl groups represent that pre-teen music phase of leaving behind the pop princess Disney stars and trying to find something more mature. Girl bands retained the bubblegum pop vibes whilst still making us feel grown-up. With their cheeky lyrics and sexy music videos, they influenced everything we did; trying to be a rap god-like Alesha Dixon, getting Frankie Bridge pixie cuts, wearing low rise jeans like Nadine Coyle, and baby spice pigtails! They did not only define an incredible era of music but a cultural shift.
The first girl group I remember being obsessed with was The Saturdays. ‘Up’ was a huge hit in 2008 and put these girls on the music map. Their songs were defined by electronic overlays on a catchy pop beat, and their visual style was associated with random pops of colour to identify each member. Perhaps, however, the most exciting thing about The Saturdays was the conception of the power couple, Rochelle and Marvin, teaching us that true love does exist. In an industry where females were constantly pitted against each other, The Saturdays remained constant supportive besties. It was so refreshing as a young girl to see a band who weren’t marred by constant ‘cat fight’ or split rumours. Female friendships for the win!
“[Girl bands] did not only define an incredible era of music, but a cultural shift.”
I waited a few years before really investing myself into The Pussycat Dolls’ discography as the lyric “I wanna have boobies” hilariously felt too risque for me! Once I got over that, I discovered the sexiest girl band of all time. The American group debuted their defining tracks, ‘Don’t Cha’ and ‘Stickwitu’, in 2005; a dance-pop collaboration with Busta Rhymes and an adorable love song that crosses the boundaries of R&B and soul. Although Nicole often outshone everyone (apart from Melody’s famous ad-lib antics) all the girls constantly came across as badasses. Women are constantly shamed for embracing their sexuality, but PCD owned this. Thanks girls for showing us there’s no shame in embracing femininity!
The best girl group of all time is, of course, Girls Aloud. I absolutely loved these girls – and still do. They were outspoken, loud, and so much fun. The band were formed on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, and achieved their first number-one single that year with the banger ‘Sound of The Underground’. The band first entered my consciousness when I saw the video for ‘Love Machine’ on TV. From then on, I was OBSESSED. I loved that each member retained a sense of individuality; Nadine had the best vocals, Sarah was the tomboy, Cheryl was the sassy one, Nicola was the sensitive one, and Kimberly was the sweet one. This aloud (pun intended) them to all shine. Although there was the odd rumour of fights and fallouts, they were still having the time of their lives. The girls didn’t care about the gossip or criticism, and that’s what makes each of them the ultimate hun!
The most important lesson girl groups have taught me is that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying girly pop music, or in fact, loving anything that’s perceived as ‘girly’. Yes, there was the odd pitchy vocal and split rumour, but girl bands provide role models for young people who are often shamed for their femininity. So, go forth into the world with your girl group. Let the haters hate when you are being ‘basic’ at bottomless brunch, or only want to go to Popworld on nights out. You’re having fun with the gals, and that’s what our pop princesses want for us!