Top 20 Girl Groups of All Time

Photo of The Supremes in 1967

GAC-General Artists Corporation-IMTI-International Talent Management Inc./Wikimedia commons

No history of pop music would be complete without listing some of the best girl groups of all time, from boogie-woogie artists to K-pop sensations. We're not talking about bands that are fronted by women or that feature women musicians, but about those that are comprised solely of non-male members. As Cyndi Lauder famously sang, "Girls just wanna have fun," and these groups prove it's possible to do so musically—with no boys allowed.

01
of 20

1937 - Andrews Sisters

Andrews Sisters
Photo by American Stock Archive

With careers dating back to the era of vaudeville, the three Andrews Sisters—Patty, Maxene, and Laverne—laid the groundwork for all of the girl groups that followed. After a series of hit songs, they toured extensively to entertain allied military forces during World War II. The trio continued to be popular throughout the rest of the 1940s. In the 1950s, Patty decided to pursue a solo career, and the Andrews Sisters officially broke up in 1953.

Key Songs

  • "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"
  • "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon"
  • "Rum and Coca Cola"
  • "I Can Dream, Can't I?"
  • "I Wanna Be Loved"
02
of 20

1957 - Martha and the Vandellas

Martha and the Vandellas
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

The group that became Martha and the Vandellas was first formed in 1957 by a group of three friends. Martha Reeves joined later, and became the lead vocalist for the group in 1962. After signing to Motown that same year, the group's career took off. Their second single, "Heatwave," was a smash, climbing to No. 4 on the pop chart and topping the R&B chart. Martha and the Vandellas became one of Motown's most consistently successful vocal groups of the 1960s. Due to infighting and Motown's focus on other recording acts, the group's commercial success faded in the 1970s, and Reeves left the group in 1974. In 1995, Martha and the Vandellas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Key Songs

  • "Dancing In the Street"
  • "Heatwave"
  • "Nowhere To Run"
  • "Jimmy Mack"
  • "Quicksand"
03
of 20

1957 - Shirelles

Shirelles
Photo by Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images

The Shirelles were founded as a vocal group for a talent show in 1957 under the name Poquellos. Rock and roll pioneer Florence Greenberg met with the group and signed them to her Tiara Records label. The Shirelles' "I Met Him on a Sunday" was the first record released on the fledgling label. When Greenberg sold the group's contract to Decca Records for $4,000, she formed her label Scepter. After two singles did poorly for Decca, they sold the contract back to Florence Greenberg, and the Shirelles became stars on the Scepter label. In 1961, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" became the first No. 1 pop hit single by an African-American girl group. It was also an early success for the songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The Shirelles were one of the top vocal groups of the early 1960s, but their popularity faded with the arrival of the British Invasion. In 1996, the Shirelles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Key Songs

  • "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"
  • "Soldier Boy"
  • "Dedicated To the One I Love"
  • "Mama Said"
  • "Baby It's You"
04
of 20

1959 - Supremes

Supremes
Photo by David Farrell / Redferns

The Supremes, the most successful girl group of all time, formed in the Detroit housing projects in 1959 under the name the Primettes, a sister act to the male vocal group the Primes. Florence Ballard recruited her best friend Mary Wilson for the group, and Mary Wilson recruited Diana Ross. The Primettes failed to be signed after their first audition with Motown Records in 1960. Finally, after the group persisted, Motown head Berry Gordy offered them a contract in January 1961. He insisted they change their name, and the Supremes were born. For their first three years at Motown, the Supremes failed to chart any major hits. Finally, in December 1963, they broke into the top 40, and in 1964 they released "Where Did Our Love Go," which became their first No. 1 pop smash. By the time Diana Ross left the group at the end of the 1960s, the Supremes had a dozen No. 1 pop hits to their credit, more than any group except the Beatles. But without Diana Ross, the Supremes failed to gain significant commercial success in the 1970s. In 1988, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Key Songs

  • "Stop In the Name of Love"
  • "Where Did Our Love Go"
  • "You Keep Me Hangin' On"
  • "Someday We'll Be Together"
  • "Baby Love"
05
of 20

1973 - Pointer Sisters

Pointer Sisters
Photo by Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images

The Pointer Sisters, made up of real-life sisters, first came together in the early 1970s in Oakland, California. They originally recorded in a style that was a throwback to classic jazz, which earned them both critical and commercial acclaim. In 1977, June and Bonnie Pointer left the group, leaving Ruth and Anita as a duo. They signed with producer Richard Perry, June was persuaded to return to the group, and they released a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire," which became a smash hit in 1979. They continued to release a string of hits, including the No. 2 charting "Slow Hand" in 1981 and four consecutive top 10 hits in 1984. Commercial success faded later in the decade, but the Pointer Sisters continue to perform live.

Watch "Slow Hand"

Key Songs

  • "Slow Hand"
  • "Fire"
  • "Jump (For My Love)"
  • "Automatic"
  • "I'm So Excited"
06
of 20

1978 - The Go-Go's

Go-Go's
Photo by George Rose / Hulton Archive

The Go-Go's began playing as a punk band in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. Their debut single, "We Got the Beat," drew attention in dance clubs and found success as an import in the U.K. With the release of their album "Beauty and the Beat," the Go-Go's became the first all-female band to write their own songs and play their own instruments on a No. 1 charting album. The Go-Go's earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist and "We Got the Beat" became a top 10 smash hit. The group broke up in 1985, but they have reunited multiple times since. Lead singer Belinda Carlisle also went on to have a successful solo career.

Key Songs

  • "We Got the Beat"
  • "Vacation"
  • "Head Over Heels
  • "Our Lips Are Sealed"
  • "Turn To You"
07
of 20

1979 - Bananarama

Bananarama
Photo by Rob Verhorst / Redferns

When childhood friends Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward met Siobhan Fahey while studying fashion journalism in London at the end of the 1970s, they formed a band and called it Bananarama. Devotees of the punk rock scene, the all-girl group recorded their first demo with the help of Sex Pistols members Steve Jones and Paul Cook. Bananarama scored in the U.K. with the 1982 top 5 smash "Shy Boy" and a hit cover of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." Then U.S. success finally came in 1984, when "Cruel Summer" was included in the soundtrack for "The Karate Kid." Bananarama's biggest international success came in the mid-1980s when their 1986 cover of "Venus" became a No. 1 smash in the U.S., and the trio followed it with the top five hit "I Heard a Rumour."

Watch "Venus"

Key Songs

  • "Venus"
  • "I Heard a Rumour"
  • "Cruel Summer"
  • "Shy Boy"
  • "Love In the First Degree"
08
of 20

1981 - The Bangles

Bangles
Photo by Suzie Gibbons / Redferns

The Bangles formed in 1981 in Los Angeles as part of the Paisley Underground scene of groups playing 1960s-influenced rock music. After a series of single releases and an EP with little commercial success, the Bangles were signed to major label Columbia Records. The single "Going Down To Liverpool," with a music video featuring Leonard Nimoy, broke into the U.K. pop singles chart. It paved the way for the single "Manic Monday," a song given to the group by Prince. It became their first top 10 smash. They followed it with the No. 1 hit "Walk Like an Egyptian." By the late 1980s, artistic differences and interpersonal difficulties pulled the group apart. Later reunions resulted in two additional studio albums.

Key Songs

  • "Walk Like an Egyptian"
  • "Manic Monday"
  • "Eternal Flame"
  • "Hazy Shade of Winter"
  • "In Your Room"
09
of 20

1984 - Expose

Expose
Photo by Jason Davis / Getty Images

When Miami DJ Lewis Martinee decided to put together a freestyle dance-music-based vocal group in 1984, Expose was born. Their first single, "Point Of No Return," became a No. 1 dance hit. Expose then became the first group to score four top 10 hits from their debut album, capped by the No. 1 pop smash "Seasons Change." Despite their phenomenal streak of seven consecutive top 10 hits, Expose was dropped from their recording contract in 1995. They came back together in 2010 to record new music.

Key Songs

  • "Seasons Change"
  • "Come Go With Me"
  • "Point Of No Return"
  • "Let Me Be The One"
  • "I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me"
10
of 20

1989 - En Vogue

En Vogue
Photo by Paul Natkin / Getty Images Archive

En Vogue was formed when producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy decided to put together a contemporary R&B group inspired by the golden era of girl groups. They held auditions in 1988, named the group En Vogue, and recorded a debut album, "Born To Sing," that was released in 1990. The first single, "Hold On," became a No. 1 smash. By the end of the decade, En Vogue had received seven Grammy Award nominations and released six top 10 pop hit singles. The group's commercial success faded after the 1990s, but they continue to perform live and record new music.

Key Songs

  • "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)"
  • "Hold On"
  • "Free Your Mind"
  • "Giving Him Something He Can Feel"
  • "Don't Let Go (Love)"
11
of 20

1991 - TLC

TLC
Photo by Tim Roney / Hulton Archive

In 1990, producer Ian Burke and one of his clients, Crystal Jones, came up with the idea to create an R&B girl group with the kind of hip-hop attitude that could serve as a counterpoint to the all-male trio Bell Biv Devoe. After several incarnations, in which Jones was eventually replaced, the final lineup for TLC was set, consisting of Lisa Lopes, Tionne Watkins, and Rozonda Thomas. The group's successful debut album included three top 10 pop hits. The follow-up, "CrazySexyCool," was an even bigger smash, containing the No. 1 singles "Creep" and "Waterfalls." Following the success of the third studio album, "FanMail," the group took a break to pursue other projects. Tragically, Lopes died in a car accident in Honduras in April 2002. The remaining two members soldiered on with the 2002 album "3D," however, subsequent efforts failed to meet with significant commercial success. All in all, TLC earned 17 Grammy Award nominations and won five.

Watch "Waterfalls"

Key Songs

  • "Waterfalls"
  • "Creep"
  • "No Scrubs"
  • "Unpretty"
  • "Red Light Special"
12
of 20

1996 - Spice Girls

Spice Girls
Photo by Dave Hogan / Hulton Archive

The five-member girl group Spice Girls was put together in the mid-1990s as an answer to such successful boy bands as Take That. The band was initially named Touch, but after departing with their management over creative differences, they renamed themselves the Spice Girls. Their debut single in 1996, "Wannabe," was the first in a string of six consecutive No. 1 pop hits in the U.K. "Wannabe" also reached No. 1 in the U.S., and the next two singles broke into the top five there. The Spice Girls were not only popular for their music but also for their fashion sense and "girl power" message. By the end of 2000, the Spice Girls went on hiatus, with all five members embarking on solo careers. The group reunited in 2007 for a successful year-long tour. Although each is still active in the entertainment business in some form or another, Posh Spice, i.e. Victoria Beckham, has attained the greatest level of success. Married to soccer superstar David Beckham, with whom she has four children, Victoria is also an acclaimed designer of high-end women's fashions.

Watch "Wannabe"

Key Songs

  • "Wannabe"
  • "2 Become 1"
  • "Say You'll Be There"
  • "Too Much"
  • "Stop"
13
of 20

1997 - Destiny's Child

Destiny's Child
Photo by Dave Hogan / Hulton Archive

Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland were first part of the girl group Girl's Tyme in the early 1990s. They made an appearance on the TV talent show "Star Search" but lost the competition. Taking over management of the group, Beyonce Knowles' father, Matthew, reduced it from six members to four, keeping original member LaTavia Roberson and adding LeToya Luckett. In 1996, the group changed its name to Destiny's Child and signed a recording contract with Columbia Records. The self-titled debut album included the No. 3 pop hit single "No, No, No," featuring Wyclef Jean. The next album, "The Writing's On the Wall," broke the group wide open with two No. 1 charting pop hits, including their signature song, "Say My Name." In 1999, Luckett and Roberson were replaced by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. In 2000, Franklin left the group. In early 2006, amid the success of solo projects for Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland, the group broke up. Today, Beyonce is one of world's biggest pop and R&B stars.

Key Songs

  • "Say My Name"
  • "Bills, Bills, Bills"
  • "Bootylicious"
  • "Independent Women, Part 1"
  • "Survivor"
14
of 20

1998 - Sugababes

Sugababes
Photo by John Rogers / Getty Images

Sugababes were put together as a trio in 1998 by Ron Tom, the manager of the girl group All Saints. All three members were under the age of 15 when the group formed. Their debut single, "Overload," peaked in the top 10 in the U.K. in 2000 and earned a Brit Award nomination for Best Single. After that initial success, Sugababes hit the top 10 sixteen more times over the next decade. While the group never achieved success in the U.S., they did become international pop stars. After major personnel changes at the end of the decade, fans were angry and commercial success suffered. The original three members later performed together under the name Mutya Keisha Siobhan, a combination of their first names.

Key Songs

  • "Push the Button"
  • "Freak Like Me"
  • "Hole In the Head"
  • "Round Round"
  • About You Now"
15
of 20

2002 - Girls Aloud

Girls Aloud
Photo by Dave Hogan / Getty Images

English-Irish girl group Girls Aloud first gained fame as winners of the TV talent show "Popstars: The Rivals." Although they never achieved major international success, Girls Aloud released 20 consecutive top 10 pop hits in the U.K. They won the 2009 Brit Award for Best Single with "The Promise." Group member Cheryl Cole had significant solo success outside of the group. She appeared as a judge on "X Factor" and had seven top 10 pop hit singles of her own, including five that went to No. 1. After a three-year hiatus, Girls Aloud regrouped in 2012 to release the No. 2 charting single "Something New." Less then six months later they announced a permanent breakup.

Key Songs

  • "Sound of the Underground"
  • "I'll Stand By You"
  • "The Promise"
  • "Love Machine"
  • "No Good Advice"
16
of 20

2003 - Pussycat Dolls

Pussycat Dolls
Photo by Tim Roney / Hulton Archive

In the 1990s, choreographer Robin Antin came up with the idea of creating a contemporary burlesque troupe. After the group built significant public acclaim, Interscope Records signed the Pussycat Dolls to a recording contract in 2003. With Nicole Scherzinger, former member of the girl group Eden's Crush, as lead vocalist, the Pussycat Dolls exploded onto the pop charts with their debut single "Don't Cha." It became a No. 2 hit. The group released two top 5 charting albums and three more top 10 pop hit singles. However, by late 2010 the group was no more, although Nicole Scherzinger pursued a moderately successful solo career.

Watch "Don't Cha"

Key Songs

  • "Don't Cha" featuring Busta Rhymes
  • "Buttons" featuring Snoop Dogg
  • "Stickwitu"
  • "When I Grow Up"
  • "I Hate This Part"
17
of 20

2007 - Wonder Girls

Wonder Girls
Photo by Stefanie Keenan / WireImage

Wonder Girls are one of the more successful of the K-pop bands, a South Korean girl group formed in 2007 by JYP Entertainment. There were the stars of a TV show titled "MTV Wonder Girls." In 2009, they made an effort to cross over to audiences in the U.S., and their single "Nobody" hit the Billboard Hot 100 in October of that year, making Wonder Girls the first Korean group to do so. After a three-year hiatus, Wonder Girls returned in 2016 with the single "Wy So Lonely." In January 2017, the group announced a permanent breakup.

Watch "Be My Baby"

Key Songs

  • "Be My Baby"
  • "Nobody"
  • "2 Different Tears"
  • "Like This"
  • "The DJ Is Mine"
18
of 20

2009 - 2NE1

2NE1
Photo by Ken Ishii / Getty Images

2NE1 were a K-pop girl group put together by YG Entertainment. Their first single, "Lollipop," was released in May 2009. The single "I Don't Care," off the group's self-titled debut EP, won Song of the Year at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards. The group accomplished the same feat in 2011 with the song "I Am the Best." In 2015, 2NE1 went on hiatus while its members pursued outside projects. In November 2016, they permanently disbanded. A formal farewell single, titled "Goodbye," was released in January 2017.

Key Songs

  • "I Am the Best"
  • "Go Away"
  • "Try To Follow Me"
  • "Lonely"
  • "I Love You"
19
of 20

2011 - Little Mix

Little Mix
Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Little Mix was formed in 2011 when the four members of the group failed to make it past the first two eliminations in the bootcamp segments of "X Factor" in the U.K. Their debut single, a cover of Damien Rice's "Cannonball," was an instant No. 1 hit. In the summer of 2012, their first original song, "Wings," soared to the top spot as well. Little Mix have earned ten top 10 charting singles in the U.K. in just five years. Along with Girls Aloud, Sugababes, and Spice Girls, they are one of the most successful U.K. girl groups of all time. Their success in the U.S. has been limited, but the first two albums, "DNA" and "Salute," did hit the top 10.

Watch "Wings"

Key Songs

  • "Wings"
  • "Cannonball"
  • "Black Magic"
  • "Shout Out To My Ex"
  • "Move"
20
of 20

2012 - Fifth Harmony

Fifth Harmony
Photo by Gabriel Olsen / Getty Images

Fifth Harmony was formed by five female singers who entered competition in the second season of "X Factor USA" as solo artists. When they failed to make it to the judges' houses stage, the judges put them together as a girl group. The group finished in third place on the show but soon became the most successful contestants from the show's short-lived run. Their first five singles each performed better than the last, culminating in the top five smash "Work From Home." The group released two top-five-charting, gold-certified albums. In December 2016, the group announced that founding member Camilla Cabello had left the group to pursue a solo career.

Key Songs

  • "Work From Home" featuring Ty Dolla Sign
  • "Worth It" featuring Kid Ink
  • "All In My Head (Flex)" featuring Fetty Wap
  • "Sledgehammer"
  • "Miss Movin' On"