Written by Liz Buckley

Arts

7 Wonders: Girl Bands

Our music supremo Liz Buckley is back in charge of the playlist and this time she’s talking girl bands.

The Bangles at Festival of Friends in 2012. Photo by Tabercil, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The Bangles at Festival of Friends in 2012. Photo by Tabercil, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

I’m not sure I would trust anyone who doesn’t like pop music. And I don’t mean ‘pop’ as the abbreviation for ‘popular’ – in the record shops of the 70s and 80s, Popular Music merely meant anything that wasn’t Brahms.

I mean pop music in its purest, most throwaway sense. Yes, I’m talking neon lights, matching outfits, synchronised dance routines, appearances on the National Lottery and absolutely zero harpsichords. Well, unless it’s a Falco remix.

After last month’s round-up of our best boy bands, it’s the hotly anticipated turn of our greatest girl groups. So strap in for your handy girl-guide and further alliteration on the letter G.

Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Ooooh

Trying to pick a favourite Girls Aloud song for me is impossible as, quite frankly, they are nearly all entirely excellent and absolutely hilarious. Never shy of spouting complete nonsense and/or thinly veiled filth on primetime television in front of infants, I believe their work to be absolutely heroic.

*aims pointer at white board* To take our working example of Something Kinda Ooooh, we find these ladies dealing with the following scenario: Something kinda ooh / Jumping on my toot-toot / Something ‘side of me / Bumping in the back room.

What could it be? Odds on, I’d say a penis. And they’re having a lovely time. Well done.

Little Mix at the 2015 Gibraltar Music Festival. Photo by Flickr user infogibraltar, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Little Mix at the 2015 Gibraltar Music Festival. Photo by Flickr user infogibraltar, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Little Mix – Salute

“Ladies all across the world listen up / We’re looking for recruits / Reprezentin’ all tha wimmin”.

I like the intensity of Little Mix. When you watch them perform, they look like it’s for a round of the Hunger Games. Gritted teeth, steely-eyed, thighs tensed, ready to be picked off with a crossbow at any time. This song is a battle cry and is very compulsive. I just worry it’s killing them.

Destiny’s Child – Survivor

I was going to choose Bootylicious but then remembered the brilliant Bridget Christie saying “Bootylicious isn’t another word for feminism. It’s a word for arse-flavoured bubble gum,” and that left a bad taste in the mouth.

So let’s go for Survivor, even though I promised no harpsichord (this has a faux classical electronic string quartet intro), and also because Beyoncé has managed to survive Bridget soiling her bum.

The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.

The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.

The Supremes – You Keep Me Hangin’ On

I mean, sure. A girl group is a lovely thing but not that commercially viable really, not compared to the big league boys… right? INCORRECT. The Supremes remain to this day America’s most successful vocal group. Drink that up for a moment. No caveats, no gender restriction and no time frame to limit that claim. We’re just talking bands that sing.

It goes without saying, then, that they were also the biggest band on Motown, which might take you by surprise when you consider the vast competition. You Keep Me Hangin’ On was the girls’ first Billboard Number One and they’ve never looked back. Although they may have looked quizzically sideways at Kim Wilde’s version.

The Bangles – Hazy Shade of Winter

The Bangles qualify as a girl band, despite containing a particularly hot female bassist called Michael. I’d never heard Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade Of Winter at the time when the Bangles released their version and I thank them for meaning I never have to listen to it again.

Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life

I’ve always admired a pop band who self-reference, I like the boldness of it. Adam Ant makes Antmusic – of course he bloody does, it would be weird if he didn’t – and likewise the Spice Girls think you should Spice Up Your Life, which seems a very reasonable request coming from them of all people.

Obviously it’s taken from the album Spiceworld (one word). And from the film Spice World (two words). Both of which were the follow-ups to the album Spice. All incredibly innocent until you remember that Spice is a formerly-legal high killing hundreds of people today on our streets. Please only Spice Up Your Life with extreme caution; the suggestions of these women are dangerous.

Bananarama – Venus

Am claiming this track back from the stupid razor TV advert with both hands. Even if that does entail a risk of chaffing. Bananarama have the edge on all our other girl groups, as not only do they (still) hold the world record for the largest amount of chart entries for an all-female band, but they are genuinely friends (*all of Girls Aloud stare at Nadine*). They had their own individual, art-school fashion style, flirting with being tomboys as much as the toy boys behind them. AND they were cool enough to record covers of Shocking Blue and the Supremes while hanging out with Terry Hall.

They might have been produced by Stock Aitken and Waterman, but they were also the backing and/or support band, variously, for The Jam, Iggy Pop and Shane MacGowan’s Nipple Erectors. They even told Malcolm McLaren to do one when he wanted to manage them. Now that’s fucking girl power, Geri.

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Written by Liz Buckley

Department manager at an independent record company. Liker of Frank Sinatra and Nick Cave. Very sudden laugh. Pasty but tasty. Quite tired.