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Playlist: Girl band glory

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Women have dominated the pop charts since the 50s with incredible vocals, inspiring lyricism and killer outfits. To celebrate all things female, we've put together your very own guilt-free female-fronted pop playlist. You're welcome.

 Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1. The Chantels – He’s Gone

‘He’s Gone’ was The Chantels’ first single released in 1957, leading to them becoming one of the first girl groups with nationwide breakout success. ‘He’s Gone’ embodies a beautifully authentic 50s sound - a slower track led by its heavier percussive beats and brass embellishment, it's an absolute winner. At both the beginning and the end of the song are impressive layered harmonies, showing off an incredible range. It's the perfect start to a playlist celebrating girl power.

2. The Supremes – You Can’t Hurry Love

Released on the Motown label, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ is one of the most iconic songs of the Motown era, topping the Billboard Singles Chart in America. The song has an upbeat feel with its catchy chorus, canonical female lead in the form of Diana Ross, and reinforced by bass and layered tambourine percussion. The track was later covered by Phil Collins in 1983, bringing it back to the top of the UK Singles Chart.

 3. The Marvelettes – Please Mr Postman

Gladys Horton's hopes for a letter from her boyfriend at War landed The Marvelettes the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961 - the first Motown single to do so. The song’s body is composed of 60s-swing style piano chords and drums courtesy of Marvin Gaye. It has since been covered by several artists, including The Beatles and The Carpenters, and most recently, sampled by Portugal The Man in ‘Feel It Still’, giving an entirely different feel to its meaning and lyrics.  

4. The Emotions – Best of my Love

‘Best of My Love’ is one of the best feel-good tracks from the 1970s, even landing itself a Grammy Award. It is innately funky with its syncopated guitar rhythms, layered vocals and brass. The influence of Earth Wind and Fire’s Al Mckay and Maurice White can certainly be heard in the composition of the song. The upbeat backing vocals enhance the song’s unapologetic lyrics, “I like the way you make me feel about you, baby / Want the whole wide world to see / You’ve got the best of my love”. 

5. Sister Sledge - We Are Family

Another shining symbol of 70s funk, ‘We Are Family’ is one of the most-loved disco tracks of all time with its wonderfully catchy girl-power chorus, “We are family / I got all my sisters with me / Get up everybody, sing!” The piano chords are fortified with strings and wiggly bassline riffs, and really, it is absolutely impossible not to dance to. The four Sledge sisters have a seemingly endless reel of disco classics, including ‘Hes the Greatest Dancer’ and the magnificent ‘Lost in Music’.

6. The Nolans – I’m in the Mood for Dancing

Another sister-group, The Nolans released ‘I’m in the Mood for Dancing’ in 1979, fusing the best and favourite elements of pop and disco for which they'd later become synonymous for. Abundant with feminine harmonies and powerful backing vocals, the song is congruent with its infectious lyrics, “I’m in the mood for dancing, romancing”.

7. The Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)

Grammy-winning ‘Jump (For My Love)’ is a synth-soaked 80s disco and pop classic, with irresistibly catchy syncopated lyrical melodies and choruses. Girls Aloud covered the track for Love Actually, but ultimately, it’s nowhere near as good as the original.

8. The Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian

The million-selling single is one of The Bangles’ best-known songs, with its heavily percussive, upbeat backing and rock-tinged distorted guitar hooks. It began a dance epidemic in the form of Egyptian-like moves, which people most probably look back on in horror. It’s a banger, nonetheless, even if its brought about some seriously bad dad-dancing. 

9. Bananarama – Venus

Bananarama earned a Guiness World Record for the most chart entries by an all-female group, releasing both dance and pop hits. ‘Venus’, a cover of the original by ‘Shocking Blue’, was a number one hit in seven different countries, chartering world domination one synth pop at a time. The chorus, She's got it / Yeah, baby, she's got it / I'm your Venus, I'm your fire / At your desire” exudes raw, femininity and power. Plus, it's a belter of a shower song. 

10. Wilson Philips – Hold On

‘Hold On’ features Madonna-esque vocals, pulsating synths and drums that have the same effect as Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’, making the chorus and its harmonies particularly climatic. The band’s cameo in Bridesmaids largely brought them back into our attention, with its feel-good lyrics “Things'll go your way/ Hold on for one more day and the actors miming the epic drums.

11. Destiny’s Child – Say My Name

One of the biggest R&B girl bands, Destiny’s Child was composed of Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, all of which still have big solo careers. ‘Say My Name’ won two Grammy Awards, with classic R&B style synthesised strings and drums. The self-confident lyrics accuse a boyfriend of cheating, “Say my name, say my name / You actin’ kinda shady, ain’t calling me baby”, and along with the harmonies, make it a timeless R&B hit.

12. Spice Girls – Wannabe

Spice Girls, composed of Baby, Scary, Sporty, Posh and Ginger Spice fast became feminine icons. ‘Wannabe’, is the epitome of ‘girl power’, teaching young girls the value of female-friendship over any relationship, “If you wanna be my lover / You gotta get with my friends”. It is compellingly upbeat, features melting harmonies and the show-stopping rap by Mel B and Geri Halliwell. The track and video was used by Project Everyone; campaigning for equal pay, the end to child marriage and education for all girls.

13. TLC – No Scrubs

TLC had four major number one hits, ‘Creep’, ‘Waterfalls’, ‘Unpretty’ and ‘No Scrubs’. ‘No Scrubs' is another iconic girl-power fuelled R&B classic, teeming with self-respect over ‘scrubs’ in its lyrics, “I don’t want no scrub / A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me”. It has a similar feel the synth-soaked strings and percussion used in Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’.

14. Girls Aloud – The Promise  

Girls Aloud are a product of reality TV, created on ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. They have had 20 consecutive singles in the UK Top 10 charts, and received a Brit Award for ‘The Promise’ as Best Single. ‘The Promise’ is a homage to the 1960s, merged with 2000s pop, making for a different sound to the girl-group pop that Girls Aloud are renown for. Most of the girls from Girls Aloud went on to have successful solo music careers, especially Cheryl Cole.

15. Pussycat Dolls – Don’t Cha

‘Don’t Cha’ features Busta Rhymes rapping, who co-wrote the track along with CeeLo Green. Its R&B-tinged beats and synths, jazz-style brass syncopations and iconic lyrics, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me”, made it a hugely well-received 2000s banger.

16. The Saturdays – Up

The Saturdays are an exemplification of girl-group power. Often electronic/synth-based pop, the girls toured alongside Girls Aloud during their relatively short-spanning career as a group. ‘Up’ is predominantly composed of repeated synths, and once again self-empowered, catchy lyrics, If you lose me then you know / You're just a bit too slow / I only go up, up”.

17. Sugababes – ‘Push The Button’

The Sugababes were known for their ever-changing band members, which were completely different by the time the band finished. Over their career, the Sugababes collectively had six number one singles, including ‘About You Now’, ‘Round Round’, ‘Hole in the Head’ and ‘Push the Button’. ‘Push the Button’ is a catchy combination of electropop beats and R&B style melody and harmonies. The iconic music video turned heads for its provocativeness; the 3 members flirted with men in lifts, taking ‘push the button’ quite literally.

18. Atomic Kitten – The Tide Is High

Atomic Kitten were best known for their covers of ‘Eternal Flame’ by The Bangles, ‘The Tide Is High’ by The Paragons, and their single ‘Whole Again’. Kerry Katona famously quit the band and was replaced by Jenny Frost. ‘The Tide Is High’ became a product of the generic girl-group pop sound, but was a commercial success nonetheless.

19. Little Mix- Shout Out to My Ex

Little Mix are another love child of reality TV, this time on The X Factor, being the first group to ever win the show. They are idolised by many young girls and their popularity seems to continually snowball; they have recently released several collaborations with Stormzy and Enrique Iglesias. The group have had several UK number ones, with ‘Shout Out to My Ex’ being the ultimate feel-good post break-up song, “Here's to my ex, hey, look at me now / Well, I, I'm all the way up / I swear you'll never bring me down” with the unapologetically cheeky lyrics, “I hope she gettin’ better sex / Hope she ain't fakin’ it like I did, babe”.

20. Fifth Harmony – Work From Home

Fifth Harmony finished third in the 2012 series of The X Factor with then-member Camillo Cabello, who later quit, and has since had a huge solo career. ‘Work From Home’ is an annoyingly repetitive, but unavoidably a massive pop hit. The song’s music video is entirely euphemistic, showing the progression of girl groups styles, looks and song-subject matter from the 1950s to present day.  

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