Sunday 24 September 2017

Let's hear it for the girl groups

As guys with guitars and DJ dropping beats fight for their patch of the pop charts, it's always worth looking at what manufactured pop groups are getting up to.

Boybands are in rude health, One Direction selling out stadiums while Union J and The Wanted take on different sides of the boyband spectrum. But what about the girls?

Not being able to use the trite "appeal to the romantic fantasies of teen girls" angle (which is insulting on several levels), girl groups can frequently be relied on to mix in more interesting ideas with their pop singles. Think the best moments of Sugababes or Girls Aloud, the brash energy of the Spice Girls or how TLC and Destiny's Child helped cutting-edge R&B producers run riot on the charts.

The original Sugababes are back with Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan, appearing at The George in Dublin on November 28. They sound better than ever but huge chart hits may elude their grown-up pop, despite its strength.

US X Factor alumni Fifth Harmony show some promise but it's UK X Factor stars Little Mix that are bringing the girlband right into 2013 and beyond.

Their just-released second album Salute riffs on the kind of R&B pastiche that's big already this year (see Mariah 2.0 Ariana Grande or Miley Cyrus' current sound) and delivers impressive results.

There are tight harmonies, songs with unusual structures and even co-writing from girlband royalty like Shaznay Lewis (All Saints) and Nicola Roberts (Girls Aloud).

This level of risk-taking has informed some of the best girl group singles ever from The Shangri-Las through to the Sugababes. With this much punch, vocal ability and a rapidly growing fanbase there's a good chance that Little Mix could sail into the ranks of girlband royalty. Or at least have fun trying.

CONOR BEHAN

Irish Independent

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