Girl Bands of the 21st Century

girl bandsThe American girl-power movement of the 20th century started with the suffragettes, morphed into the “roaring twenties” period, and continued to grow through the use of the word “feminism” and the entry of women into formerly male-only fields. Women are still fighting for equal treatment and equal opportunities for their half of the population. In a century decked with technology and media, the Internet serves a great purpose in spreading the rhetoric of revolutionaries in a way that has never been available before, and a re-surging phenomenon has gained speed and following: all-girl bands.

Girl groups rose to the public’s attention with such examples as the Shangri-Las, Bananarama, Spice Girls, and Destiny’s Child; and, while they did not always hold places at the top of the charts — or even in the top twenty — they shaped the pop-music world (and thus the greater world around them) nonetheless.

The past few years have seen a rejuvenation in these all-girl groups, covering multiple genres and holding various places in the ladder of popularity. Some are loyal to the pop-music industry while others create for the purpose of social activism and revolution. No matter the music, the number of girl bands and the strength with which they are permeating the music industry around the world demonstrates the strides that women have taken in the past fifty years and their determination to continue that activism. Here are a few examples of some of these bands and their stories.


Fifth Harmony 

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Rising to fame from an X Factor beginning (even though they did not win on the show), Americans Camila Cabello, Ally Brooke, Normani Hamilton, Lauren Jauregui, and Dinah-Jane Hansen have built a large and powerful fan base and have provided the pop world with a fresh voice for both new and existing songs. Commonly referred to as the “Fearsome Five,” the girls were ages 17 to 21 when they started performing in 2012, but they did not let their age get in the way of their success.


Little Mix 

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Similar to Fifth Harmony, Little Mix found their beginning on the British X Factor in 2011. The members (Perrie, Jesy, Jade, and Leigh-Anne) toy with Beyoncé-inspired hip-hop, R&B, and a cappella harmonies in various albums that have spread with fire around the world. Offering listeners the female version of One Direction, Little Mix has risen to the top of the British music industry. Their first debut album in 2013, DNA, entered at number 4 as the highest debut ever for a British female group’s first album, beating a sixteen-year-old record previously held by the Spice Girls.



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American sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim spent their childhoods as part of a family cover band called Rockinhaim. In 2006, the girls started performing together, and they later added Dash Hutton on drums. In 2012, they performed at South by Southwest and scored a deal with Polydor in the UK, and one year later they became the first all-female band to win the BBC Sound of 2013 award. A mixture of pop, rock, and R&B make up their albums, drawing inspiration from various artists to create a repertoire that’s appealing to listeners of all genres.


Pussy Riot 

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Famous for their 2012 storming of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia (in which members Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were arrested),  Pussy Riot is a feminist punk band determined to take a stand against the conservative administration under Vladimir Putin. They started in 2011, as the government continued to pass legislation discriminating against women, and they have made their mark by staging guerrilla-style performances in public spaces, often against the wishes of officials. Pussy Riot has, however, refused to enter the “capitalist system of the music business” by performing at ticketed events, and they continue to promote social justice through their music.



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Twins Shayshay and Princess Annamay and their sister Baby-K make up this British all-girl powerhouse of a band that writes, arranges, and co-produces their own songs. Their company, Mama A Records, is named in honor of their late mother. Heavily influenced by R&B, gospel music, soul, rock, and indie, the sisters moved to Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in 2007 to surround themselves by the creativity present there before moving back to the UK to launch their career. The sisters’ family is Nigerian, and their music is filled with a hip-hop style set over undercurrents of their heritage.


Pearls Negras  

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Described as “the smartest, sassiest high-school girls in your favela rapping on would-be trunk-thumpers,” by Rolling Stone, Pearls Negras consists of members Alice Coelho, Mariana Alves, and Jennifer Loiola — all high-school age. Heavy club and rap rhythms are used to communicate political messages, indicting the state of their community and Brazil’s president. Spreading the youth of Brazil’s voice one song at a time, Pearls Negras is a no-messing-around powerhouse of soul and drive.

One thought on “Girl Bands of the 21st Century”

  1. I’d want to suggest one more group to this list- Girl’s Generation of the KPop Industry. These girls took the world by storm as a large group of 9, debuted under the Korean entertainment powerhouse, SM Entertainment in 2009 with “Into the New World”. The members each are known for their specific talents; Jessica Jung and Kim Taeyeon as main vocal: Lee-Soon Kyu/Sunny, Hwang Stephanie/Tiffany, and Seo Jun-hyun/Seohyun as lead vocal: Kim Hyoyeon and Choi Sooyoung as main dance: Kwon Yuri and Im YoonA as lead dancers. The girls have brought success and power to women in an industry that was dominated by their male counterparts, being one of the most successful global girl groups in history- and being active for almost a full 10 years, and almost surpassing the Spice Girl’s in income sales. Known for songs such as “Into the New World, Gee, Oh!, (Tell Me Your Wish) Genie, Run Devil Run, I Got A Boy, Mr. Mr., Lion Heart, and You Think” along with their subunit of TTS (Taeyeon, Tiffany, Seohyun) and their songs of “Twinkle, Adrenaline, Holler”: and Taeyeon’s solos- “I, Why, 11:11, Fine”, Tiffany’s solo- I Just Wanna Dance; Seohyun’s solos- Don’t Say No, Bad Love, Love and Affection”, etc. These girls are the queens of paving the way for Asia’s girl groups we know today, and are one of the 21st century classics!

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