There’s been talk in the media regarding the lack of girl bands in the music scene ever since British pop group Little Mix announced their hiatus in 2021. Both Britain and America are suffering not only a girl band crisis, but also a boy band crisis. When you try and think of major boy bands that have hung around the charts in the last year, the only two names that spring to mind are the Jonas Brothers and BTS. Can they really carry this significant part of the industry on their backs alone for another decade?
Let’s take girl bands to begin with and go back to 1997 when the Spice girls released their debut ‘Wannabe’. The spice girls introduced both Britain and America to the sort of group that had five lead singers, inspiring the later success of Girls Aloud, All Saints and more. Every fan identified with at least one girl, whether it be sporty, scary, ginger, baby or posh spice. And just when we thought we were going to lose this string of late 90s/early 00s girl bands, Little Mix won the X Factor, proving that they were not just going to be a one hit wonder. The band released 6 albums in 8 years, achieving 5 UK number ones. Unfortunately their success was unmatched in America, which was something I could never quite fathom.
America did, however, have their own multitude of girl bands for a good twenty years. Three-piece group TLC’s first number one hit ‘Creep’ dates back to 1995, with hits that are still relevant today like ‘No Scrubs’ and ‘Waterfalls’ following suit. Destiny’s Child’s first number one ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ then came along in 1999. The impact of these girl bands was not just about their music, it was also about their image. Whatever these groups were wearing at the time, how they styled their hair, how they did their makeup heavily influenced the fashion world.
After 2010, when the last remaining 00s American girl band The Pussycat Dolls broke up, the beginning of the girl band crisis began. Yes, we had five-piece X-factor band Fifth Harmony from 2012-2016, but even fans speculated that the group members didn’t have strongest relationship with each other. We didn’t get to know each member of the band individually like we did with Little Mix and the Spice girls, so fans couldn’t identify with them as much.
As for boybands, we can go all the way back to the 60s thanks to the infamous British band The Beatles and Californian group The Beach Boys. Each band had a different sound, but both were massively influential and are still relevant today. When the Beatles went their separate ways, the Beach boys were still going, but it wasn’t until the 80s that a new wave of boybands introduced themselves. This included bands like New Kids On The Block and New Edition, who then inspired 90s boy bands like Take That, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, Westlife, Boyzone etc.
After this rampant era of boybands, there were still a few that lingered in the 2000s. Take That split up in 1995, but they released a comeback album ‘Beautiful World’ which was highly successful. Westlife also soared through until 2012 with a couple of UK number ones, whilst America enjoyed the last of N’sync and the Backstreet Boys; also welcoming the Jonas Brothers.
It’s 2010 and teenage boy band One Direction have just come third on the X Factor, oblivious to the fact that less than a year later, their debut ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ would be topping the charts in several countries. Britain’s The Wanted made an appearance at a similar time, with The Vamps climbing the UK Top 40 only a few years later, but America was not producing as many boybands as they used to. So when One direction announced their hiatus in 2015, we had no boybands in the spotlight until 4 years later when BTS had made a name for themselves and the Jonas Brothers decided to get back together.
Since then it has really just been Little Mix, the Jonas Brothers and BTS carrying this significant part of the industry on their backs. Now that Little Mix have announced their hiatus and all three Jonas Brothers have busy family lives, it’s just BTS on their own at the moment. Maybe K-pop girl band BLACKPINK will have some more success in the US and UK, or X Factor 2023 will produce another thriving band, but writing out this article has made me realise that our loss of girl bands and boy bands was such a slow, discreet process and we didn’t appreciate them enough when they were at their peak.