Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Early Girl Groups
Whilst the exact definitions are of course arbitrary, it can be argued that the girl bands have a considerably longer history than boy bands. In the late 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s they were often manufactured by producers or record companies as a vehicle for the latest work by their resident songwriters, such as the work of Phil Spector and the early days of Motown. Even earlier, female pop music singing groups were long popular; "sister groups" like the Andrews Sisters and the Boswell Sisters actually were siblings. Groups such as the Boswells and the Keller Sisters and Lynch were pop recording stars as far back as the 1920s.
The sound of many early rock and roll Girl Groups was typified by the products of Spector's Wall of Sound production: A thick layer of instrumentation (drums, guitar, bass, a horn section and often something more exotic, such as glockenspiel) with a lead vocal, often deliberately girlish in tone, singing deceptively simple, na´ve lyrics which, uniquely for an art form at the time, eloquently expressed the emotions of teenagers of the time. (A case in point being The Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", which doubles as both a charming love song and, implicitly, a portrayal of adolescent sexual mores). Other groups, for example those from New York City, like The Chiffons, used more conventional pop music arrangements, while the Motown groups used typical driving Motown arrangements of the period.
Elsewhere, groups like this time, they were sometimes used in duets with the popular all-male soul vocal groups of the time. By the mid-late 1960s, in the face of the British Invasion and with the increase in sophistication of popular music instigated by artists such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan, their popularity began to wane with only a few (e.g. The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas) making the transition to an earthier, soulful sound and some continued success.
Later Girl Groups
Occasionally, the term is used to describe a conventional rock group in which all the members are female and who write, arrange, and perform all their own material. These might best be referred to as all-women bands. Earlier girl groups almost always had all-male bands backing them up, so the distinction of girl group really only applied to the vocalists.
The popularity of girl groups has waxed and waned since then, and their sounds have changed as they adopt (and occasionally help define in the popular imagination) the musical fashions of the period. In the early 1980s The Go-Gos, had an excellent reputation as a live rock band, as well as an enthusiasm for on tour debauchery to equal any of their male counterparts.
However, the 1990s saw a return to manufactured, packaged acts marketed as clean-cut and aimed at a young audience, especially young girls. The Spice Girls were one of the more influential girl groups in the mid-1990s, with their trademark "Girl Power". Up to approximately 2001, such boy bands and girl bands were still very popular, but with many members opting to go for solo projects, they have declined in number and popularity ever since.
See also: List of all-women bands
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