Boy bands get a lot of the hype when it comes to music history, but pop would be a lot less interesting without girl groups like Destiny’s Child and Haim.
As is the case with boy bands, some of the earliest girl groups were founded in the 1950s and ’60s. One of the first ensembles to gain massive success was The Shirelles, who got their start in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1957. They had their first major hit in 1960 with “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” which was cowritten by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
The song went on to become the first No. 1 hit by a girl group and was later covered by artists including Roberta Flack, Linda Ronstadt, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick and Leslie Grace. The tune is iconic now, but lead singer Shirley Alston Reeves wasn’t initially sure that the track was a good fit for her group.
“I told them I didn’t think it was a Shirelles song because it was a little on the country-western side,” the North Carolina native told The Press-Enterprise in July 2016. “Our producer, Luther Dixon, said if I still didn’t like it after we recorded it then we would put it on the album instead of as a single. But when we started to do the recording and I heard the music and the strings, I fell in love with it.”
Though doo-wop girl groups declined in popularity in the 1970s, bands including The Go-Go’s and The Bangles kept the tradition alive in the following decade. The category hit a new peak in the ’90s, however, when the Spice Girls arrived on the scene in the U.K.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Destiny’s Child started to break through with hits including “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Bug a Boo.” After several lineup changes, in 2000 the quartet became a trio composed of Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
Though the group hasn’t recorded new music since 2005, they’ve remained extremely close and supportive of each other’s solo careers.
“So many women say, ‘Oh, my God, I love your relationship with the girls.’ … And it’s because we all genuinely want to see each other be great and go after things that we’re passionate about,” Rowland told Elle U.K. in March 2021. “And if we feel like one needs a little push, we do that, whether they’re ready for it or not. It’s about being there and making sure they push themselves. You have to be able to have that honesty, love and admiration for each other.”
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Keep scrolling for a look back at the best girl groups of all time.