FearlessRiOT’s Tuesday Top 10: Favorite R&B & Pop Girl Groups/Duos of the Last 25 Years

So…..girl groups. You know ‘em, some of you love ‘em I assume. They’re the female equivalent of boy bands, only it’s probably a little less shameful to admit to listening to them. And every decade seems to have their fair share of them that end up either finding some kind of success on the charts or tapping into a fanbase willing to stand by their side and stan for them as hard as they can. And they usually tend to be the most popular stars in R&B and pop music for some time. And that’s what this week’s Top 10 is dedicated to. Now, this is not a list of the best-selling R&B/pop girl groups; that’s Billboard‘s job to put together. So no, this isn’t even really a science experiment to determine who the greatest of all-time is. As with all the other FearlessRiOT Top 10, this is an opinionated list of my personal favorites; and if you disagree, it’s perfectly OK. You know where to find me and the comments section is right on the bottom. Now before I get started, some rulings: only R&B and pop acts, so country acts like Dixie Chicks and Maddie & Tae or all-female rock bands like The Runaways and The Donnas will have to wait their turns (unless they’re a pop group with rock elements and not the other way around). Then again, The Runaways would be left off anyway along with soul icons The Supremes because I’m only focusing on groups from the past 25 or so years, i.e. 1990 to now. Plus, let’s be honest, The Supremes are too iconic to be ranked here; let’s give these other bands a chance. So, are you ready to go on this ride? Let’s dive into my personal favorite R&B/pop girl groups/duos.

#10. The Veronicas (2004-Now)

#10

I first heard of The Veronicas in 2005 when their music video “4Ever” premiered on TRL. I did not know what to make of these girls; they were like a rock group, but not really. They had a less glamorous feel about them than other pop acts at the time; that probably played a part in their entire appeal. Oh, that plus the fact that they were twins. Jess and Lisa Origliasso would go on to have a huge hit in 2008 with “Untouched” before their star would fade in America. They’re still huge in their native Australia though. I said that I wouldn’t include any rock acts on this list, but music-wise, I feel like they can actually be classified as a pop act that uniquely marry the rock and pop genres well enough to sound like a flawless hybrid. And their music videos are usually always visually fascinating as well. They’re the first of two duos on this list because of that.

#9. Fifth Harmony (2012-Now)

#9

This is the most recent group on the list, hence why they’re in the bottom half. They formed on a reality show. Camilla Cabello, Lauren Jauregui (my personal favorite of the five), Dinah Jane Henson, Normani Kordei, and Ally-Brooke Hernandez all auditioned separately for the second season of the American version of the X-Factor, but were soon bought together and placed in the group ranks. That turned out to be a totally genius idea as they ended up placing third. Since then, the beautiful, talented, and often adorable quintet has gone on to be the most successful and popular thing to ever come from the American X-Factor (though Bea Miller follows not too far behind); they won the Artist to Watch award at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2014, months before releasing their debut album Reflection. While I’m not crazy about every song on the album, some of them are certified jams (like “Everlasting Love”, “Like Mariah”, their hit “Worth It”, and even “Sledgehammer” grew on me over time). Their dynamic stage presence, magnificent voices, dedicated fanbase, and contagious likeability could potentially lead to them sticking around for a while and I’d like to see where they go.

#8. Spice Girls (1994-2000, 2007-2008, 2012)

#8

Them not making my Top 5 may not sit well with some of my readers seeing as the Spice Girls are seen as the most iconic and popular girl group probably of all-time. In the late-90s, they were seen as a symbol for girl power; with names like Scary, Sporty, Baby, Posh, and Ginger Spice (my personal favorite of the five), they were a group that have many different vibes to them personality-wise/ They could be sexy and fun, but also empowering and inspiring. Before Fifth Harmony was singing about being bosses, the Spice Girls were living it in the pop world; they were like the pop music Power Rangers. They could do no wrong…the widely panned Spice World notwithstanding. As far as their music goes, I definitely prefer their upbeat stuff over their ballads. Like, I’ll take “Say You’ll Be There” over “2 Become 1” honestly (though I kinda admire their attempt at R&B balladry with “Too Much”). Also, who doesn’t love “Wannabe”? That’s everyone’s guilty pleasure! However, without the Spice Girls, who knows what the art of the girl group would look like today? Because of that, their place in the world of pop music is rightfully earned, even if they’re not my personal favorite of their kind.

#7. SWV (1990-1998, 2005-Now)

#7

Now, some of the best R&B gems of the 90s came courtesy not just of the powerhouse solo vocalists, but just as much the boy bands and girl groups of the genre. And one of those girl groups that did it were three ladies known as SWV. Consisting of the same three members since it’s inception (Cheryl “Coko” Clemons, Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George, and Leanne “Lelee” Lyons), the musical stylings of these Sisters With Voices (yes, that is what the group name stands for) swung more in the new jack swing area of R&B music, especially with their big hits “I’m So Into You” and the Michael Jackson-sampled “Right Here (Human Nature)”, which may or may not be one of the 100 most played songs on my ipod right now (it totally is). But they could slow it down a bit too, as they do with another of their big hits “Weak”. And being that all three girls have different singing voice types (Soprano, Mezzo-Soprana, and Contralto), these sistas indeed did have the voices, as well as the jams.

#6. 3LW/Cheetah Girls (1999-2007)

#6 Update

I decided to just mash these groups up into one entry, which is technically cheating I guess, until you notice that the two groups have two common denominators: Adrienne Bailon and Keily Williams. The two ladies were originally a part of the R&B/pop trio 3LW (3 Little Women) along with actress Naturi Naughton. The managed to release a few jams, including the singles “No More”, “Playas Gon’ Play” (not to be confused with Taylor Swift’s “players gonna play” anthem “Shake It Off”), and “I Do”. These songs were played just about everywhere: FM radio, the Disney Channel, BET, MTV. And Adrienne & Keily were only set to get bigger as Disney Channel came calling and they joined Raven-Symone and Sabrina Bryan in the Cheetah Girls, for which they’d star in three movies and even released a studio album in 2007 before officially disbanding. 3LW has yet to reunite; I doubt they’ll do so anytime soon with Adrienne (my personal favorite in both groups) being a daytime TV host, Naturi starring on 50 Cent’s Starz show, and Kiely not being up to much since her widely hated “Spectacular” video hit the net in 2009. But if they ever do reunite, they’d be doing my childhood major favor.

#5. Blaque (1996-2005, 2012-Now)

#5

Two groups in the top five have a few things in common in that they’re both R&B trios that featured now-deceased rappers. This is the first of those two groups; Blaque formed in 1996 and you probably most recognize them for their Top 10 hits “808” and “Bring It All To Me” featuring *NSYNC’s other best vocalist, JC Chasez on the album version. Speaking of “bringing”, you may also recognize them for being on the soundtrack to and appearing in what is probably the most popular cheerleading movie of all time, Bring It On. Yeah, you remember the Clovers team led by Gabrielle Union? They were on that team in the film. So yeah, even though they were minor characters, it’s safe to add acting to their list of talents. Now, this group consisted of three members in the original lineup: Shamari Fears, Brandi Williams, and the rapper Natina Reed. As I’ve already mentioned, Reed is currently deceased as she was killed in an auto accident in 2012, delivering a huge blow for an impending Blaque reunion. They only released two albums, but the music was so enjoyable, they’re worth a listen in my book.

#4. Aly & AJ/78violet (2004-Now)

#4

The second duo on the list comes courtesy of the Disney Channel. You probably recognize Alyson Michalka best as Phil Diffy’s BFF in Phil of the Future, or years later as Emma Stone’s BFF in Easy A. AJ Michalka (who was my personal favorite of the two growing up) also has an acting resume, but it consists mostly of a Lifetime movie, little-seen dramas, and a Disney Channel movie with her sister. Not that their acting is bad, but prefer them much more as recording artists. I’ve made it no secret that I will listen to a song by a Disney star if I think it sounds good, and despite still being very much a pop duo, Aly & AJ is probably the coolest, best-sounding act the Disney Channel Gods have given us aside from Hilary Duff and Demi Lovato (again, just an opinion). “Potential Breakup Song”, “Chemicals React”, “Rush”, “Like Whoa”; even their covers like “Walking On Sunshine” and “Do You Believe In Magic”. Is it bubble-gum? Yes. But it definitely has it’s charms. And if you want them at their most mature as 78violet, check out “Hothouse”!

#3. TLC (1990-Now)

#3

Now it’s time for that other R&B trio with a gone-too-soon rapper; Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and my personal favorite, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas. Their celebrated as one of the best-selling girl groups in the history of music and they’ve had an impact on my life for sure, seeing as my family seemed to always have their music playing in the house. You try growing up with relatives that always broke out singing “don’t go chasing waterfalls…” out of nowhere. The thing about TLC is that they wrote some of the more deep and meaningful songs out of all the girls on this list. TLC had their fair share of songs about boys and having fun, but they also had songs like “Unpretty” and the VMA-winning “Waterfalls” that were introspective with their lyrics about self-confidence and life. They were a one-of-a-kind group, which made it all the more tragic when Left-Eye passed away in 2001. Since then, T-Boz and Chilli have appeared on everything from the Rugrats In Paris soundtrack to WWE television to a J. Cole song to even getting their own VH1 movie that granted Lil’ Mama another few weeks of relevance for her admittedly decent performance as Left-Eye. Even if T-Boz and Chili never release another TLC album, they’ve left a huge impression on the R&B, pop, and hip-hop world.

#2. Destiny’s Child (1990-2006)

#2

These girls were SO close to being #1, and you’re gonna see who sped past them for the top spot in a second. I don’t think I even need to discuss why Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, and your Royal Highness Beyoncé (as well as forgotten members LaTavia, LeToya, and Farrah) are near the top of this list. Isn’t it evident already? Aside from being maybe the coolest girl group if you took a survey of 100 people, they have songs that still hold up today as certified bangers: “Survivor”, “Say My Name”, “Independent Women”, “Jumpin’ Jumpin’”, “Bug-A-Boo”, and even “Bootylicious” if you ask the right people. Almost everyone I knew as a kid loved them and probably even have a favorite. I mentioned a few times in this article that I have favorite members in some of these groups, either cause I had a crush on them at the time or they just stand out above and beyond the rest in some way. As a recap: for 5H, it’s Lauren. For Spice Girls, it’s Ginger. For Cheetah Girls, it’s Adrienne. For Aly & AJ, it’s AJ. For TLC, it’s Chili. For me growing up, Kelly Rowland was my Destiny’s Child queen. I, like most people, listen to Beyoncé’s solo work more, but growing up, Kelly Rowland was my hands-down favorite; maybe her collaboration with Nelly helped. And she still makes music today, and so does Michelle; even LeToya got a solo hit. Bey, Kelly, and Michelle still reunite sometimes; remember their Super Bowl halftime performance? I’d love to see them do another album, but given that Beyoncé has become the Oprah Winfrey of music, that may not happen. Luckily the music they have given us was enough to land them #2 here.

#1. En Vogue (1989-Now)

#1

So with Destiny’s Child in the runner-up position, the group at #1 has to have left some kind of legacy, right? Just cause this is an opinionated favorites list doesn’t mean I can just put any random group at #1 and expect my readers to accept it, right? Well, let’s go ahead and look at the career of the 90’s R&B superstars known as En Vogue. This is a group that formed in 1989, but their heyday was definitely in the 90s. They had kind of a throwback flavor at times, but they were very modern with their approach. And because of this, Cindy HerronMaxine JonesDawn Robinson and Terry Ellis were quite successful. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized they were behind a number of my favorite R&B songs in the 90s: “Don’t Let Go (Love)”, “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)”, “Free Your Mind”, “Giving Him Something He Can Feel”. They released one awesome song after another and they definitely reaped the rewards; they were nominated for the MTV Video Music Awards every year between 1992 and 1994, winning a number of them. They’ve been nominated for seven Grammys, even one in the rock category for “Free Your Mind” (which is a fairly guitar-driven song). “Don’t Let Go (Love)” was in the movie Set It Off. They had a classic collaboration with Salt-N-Pepa. If any girl group in the past 25 years is worthy of getting past Destiny’s Child and TLC it’s this one. En Vogue, take a bow; you’re #1 on FearlessRiOT’s favorite R&B and pop girl groups/duos of the past 25 years!

Honorable Mentions:

 

+ 702 (1994-2006)

702 would’ve made the list if I didn’t decided to include the duos on the list. They had a nice sound to them. Oh, and fun fact: their song “Steelo” was actually remixed into the theme song for the Nickelodeon TV show “Cousin Skeeter”. Remember that show? The one with the puppet?

 

+ Pussycat Dolls (2003-2010)

I originally disliked the Pussycat Dolls because I hated “Don’t Cha” so much (still do, and songs like “Beep” didn’t help), but they do have song good songs though: “I Hate This Part” and “Stickwitu” just to name a  couple, even if I can’t tell if any girl not named Nicole Scherzinger is singing on them.

 

+ Cherish

I am just assuming y’all even remember this group; they fell off pretty quickly after one album and people barely even talk about them anymore. When was the last time anyone ever said “Remember that song ‘Do It To It’? That was my jam!” It was a jam though, for the record.

 

+ B*Witched

I kinda feel bad not including these girls on the list; their songs and videos were kind of corny admittedly, but at the same time, that’s what made them fun. I’ve heard people call “C’est La Vie” one of the best pop songs ever; they’re not wrong. Guilty pleasure song right there.

 

+ Danity Kane

Ah, Danity Kane, the original Fifth Harmony. Honestly, Danity Kane were not really a bad group musically. However, I can’t imagine any of the Danity Kane girls wanting to be stuck in the same room with one another though. By the way, a few of them briefly reunited in 2013; it ended in a fight. The finished the album thought; DK3 is now available on iTunes.

 

+ Little Mix

Or as I like to call them, the human Bratz dolls. They remind me so much of my sister’s old Bratz dolls it’s crazy; unlike the Bratz though, these girls don’t play instruments (remember the Bratz Rock Angels?). They’re a pop group straight-up, singing about empowerment and stuff, earning 3 #1 songs in the UK along the way.

 

+ Dream

They’re here solely because of on-going guilty pleasure “He Loves U Not”. In listening to the discography of these girls, I notice something: they might be the Train of girl groups, and not just cause the greenscreen in Dream’s “Crazy” video is almost as bad the greenscreen in the “Calling All Angels” video. Train is known for having these bizarre, corny, or cliché lyrics over catchy music. And so does Dream. Then again, being signed to P. Diddy’s label probably just had that effect on them.

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