The Reincarnation of the Girl Group In America

Caroline Howe | Contributor | USDRadio | 

What ever happened to the power of a girl group? Sure, there have been gaggles of gals that have entered the music industry but few, if any, have made an impact as great as groups like The Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child. It has been over two decades since the Spice Girls were formed and ruled late-‘90s music with hits like “Wannabe” and just over 10 years since the radio has played a new song by Destiny’s Child. I am not looking to replace the groups that make me feel nostalgic but I simply think it is time for another girl group take over the pop scene.

Girl groups seem to struggle in the American music industry more than individual female performers and certainly more than boy bands. Around the time the Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child ruled the airwaves, several boy bands made it big such as NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys. Since then, One Direction has proudly gained control of the modern boy band scene with a huge international following and hits that have taken spots in Billboard’s top 5 throughout their career.

Where is the modern day powerhouse girl group? There have been dozens and dozens of new solo pop female artists but when I asked my roommates, “Who are the Spice Girls of today?” they looked at me with utter confusion as one replied, “I can’t think of anyone.”

The sociologist in me wants to look at the macro culture of the United States to better understand why boy bands seemingly have a faster trip to success here than girl groups. Perhaps dominant heterosexual ideals are still influencing production decisions about who gets promoted in competitive industries like music. As a result of those ideals, it is rarely questioned when boy bands are sold as heartthrobs, which is a relatively easy and accepted image to create. There seems to be an odd pressure on female performers, especially girl groups, to not only be talented and attractive but also represent a larger political agenda such as feminism or some sort of “girl power”. With this pressure, a girl group already seems like a lot more work to promote than the easygoing cuties of One Direction or NSYNC.

We could have lengthy conversations regarding the heterosexual positions of songs often sung by girl groups and even dive into the Korean pop industry but this still ignores the strange truth that girl groups struggle to flourish, especially in the U.S. What I hope you take away regardless of your stance is the knowledge that it is time to promote and support a girl group. Heck, maybe even a few!

To help get this ball rolling, I want to introduce Little Mix. Originally formed from four solo performers on a season of The X Factor (UK), the group went on to win the competition and has found success across the pond. The release of their summer single, “Black Magic” shot Little Mix right into American pop culture with a third place debut on the Billboard + Twitter Top Tracks. You may have also heard the group’s name in conversations about ex-One Direction member, Zayne Malik, who ended his engagement with one of the group’s members, Perrie Edwards. Regardless of their personal relations, these girls have genuine talent to offer to the world and with several years of being in the industry under their belt, I would gladly give them my vote for the next girl group to take over pop music.

Another group on the rise is Fifth Harmony. Like Little Mix, Fifth Harmony was formed on the American version of The X Factor. They have been finding more and more success over the past few years but if you listened to any Top 40 radio station this summer, you definitely heard their hit, “Worth It ft. Kid Ink”, which peaked at 14 in Billboard’s Hot 100.

Despite the two groups’ similarities, the media has been quick to pin them against one another, as if we can only have one ruling girl group. Even though I have a favorite, it does not mean I do not want to see both groups succeed. Much like The Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child, Little Mix and Fifth Harmony have completed different styles of music and public image. If anything, the potential of two talented girl groups should be an exciting resurrection of the girl groups many Millennials grew up listening to.