Perhaps the best remembered of the girl group of the early ’60s, The Ronettes, achieved their biggest success under producer Phil Spector. In towering black beehive hairdos and dark eye makeup, they were known as the first really seductive girl group who changed the performer to audience relations.
Shirelles – quartet from New Jersey and the first girl group phenomenon that set the 1960’s music scene on fire. Known for with their classic Will You Love Me Tomorrow, the first song by an all-girl group to reach #1 in the United States. Many artists covered this song later on, but probably the most famous rendition is one by Amy Winehouse that she did for Bridget Jones soundtrack in 2004.
Motown’s Hit Making Marvels
After the Shirelles paved the way for the all-female pop sound, fueled by the powerful machinery of Motown, it started taking over the pop soundscapes. The Detroit-based girl groups- The Supremes, Martha and The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, The Velvelettes, trademarked Motown’ factory-precise, dominating sound. Their classic hits such as Heatwave, Please Mr. Postman, Stop in the Name of Love, Where Did Our Love Go, Dancing in the Street, Baby Love, and many more helped desegregate radio’s waves. Since Motown meticulously managed and cultivated its artists, they succeeded to make incursions into places where black artists were not often seen.
Just as the Beatles invasion was coming on in Britain in the mid 60s, its female counterpoint was rising on the other side of the ocean, threatening to follow them toe-to-toe on the charts.
The Supremes were Motown’s most precious jewel and the most successful female group of all times, that, plundering with its mature, glamorous demeanor and musical versatility, has set standards and records that no collective has yet equaled. From Baby Love, Stop! In The Name Of Love, Come See About Me, to You Keep Me Hangin’ On, Where Did Our Love Go, the sovereignty of these immortal hit makers’ remains.
After the demise of the girl groups in the mid-60’s, the pop scene burst into Technicolor and ramified into many subcultural offshoots and the girl group genre kept up with the new trend.
Patti Labelle and The Bluebelles, broke on to the scene with an authentic sound, combining gospel, rhythm and blues, and a newly established genre known as glam-rock. The group scored a huge hit with their 1974 funk smash Lady Marmalade that was re-glorified with its portrayal by Christina Aquilera, Pink, Mya and Lil Kim.
The Pointer Sisters– blended R&B, pop, disco, country and rock with jaw-dropping aplomb after growing up in Oakland and scoring everlasting cuts like I’m So Excited, Jump (For My Love), Automatic, Fire and Fairytale.
The popularity of the disco movement in the mid to late seventies saw its fair share of girl groups. From The Emotions‘ Best of My Love to We Are Family by Sister Sledge, the girl groups fairly contributed to this genre. Not to be left behind, The Weather Girls scored a huge hit that still resonates today –It’s Raining Men.
The Runaways, the first major all-female heavy sounding band, made substantial impression embracing the emerging punk rock sound. This entirely teenaged quintet of raw sound and provocative lyrics, often ridiculed by many male bands and dismissed by the press, managed to loom and end up touring with bands like The Ramones, Cheap Trick and Motorhead.
The were a bigger sensation overseas than in the US, e.g. in Japan, thanks to their rebel-girl manifesto Cherry Bomb. In the end, The Runaways ‘ sound and erratic attitude proved crucially important in encouraging female artists to crank up the volume on their guitars and continue their Queens of Noise legacy.
The 1980’s were a revolutionary period in the history of popular music with a variety of new musical genres that each included valuable bestowal from female artists. Such all-female rap groups as J.J. Fad (Supersonic) and Salt n Pepa had huge hits in the eighties and beyond.
Salt n Pepa –a charismatic and dynamic trio, with their torn jeans and jumpy moves and big beats driven songs with pro-feminist lyrics, came onto the music scene in 1986 and went on to sell over 10 million albums worldwide. They debuted with The Show Stopper, a response record to Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick’s The Show and their massive hit Push It became one of the first rap records to be nominated for a Grammy.
By the late ’80s, hip-hop was on its way to becoming a male-dominated genre, which is why the emanation of Salt-n-Pepa is significant since they, as the first all-female rap crew, broke down a number of doors for rhyme-busting women. They were also one of the first rap artists to cross over into the pop mainstream.