Girl Groups of the '80s

Written by julia lai
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Girl Groups of the '80s
Girl groups from the 1980s often featured lead female guitarists. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The term "girl group" has traditionally been used to denote an all female line-up of musicians or vocalists who may or may not write their own songs. During the 1980s, several girl groups rose to prominence in both the mainstream rock, rhythm and blues, and rap categories. Each group created at least one top 10 hit on the Billboard chart.


Formed in 1985 in Queens, New York, Salt-N-Pepa consisted of three women: Sandra Denton, Cheryl James and Deidra Roper. James and Denton, who performed under the respective monikers "Salt" and "Pepa" combined an assertive yet playful lyrical style with choreographed movements and visually arresting costumes. The group broke ground not only as one of the few all-female rap acts in the heavily male-dominated rap arena, but also for its unusually frank confrontation of issues relating to sexuality and sexual health.

The Bangles

Remembered primarily for their pop hits "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Manic Monday," The Bangles initially formed as part of the underground punk scene in Los Angeles in 1980. The group eventually shed its harder image and adopted both a softer look and a more radio-friendly sound. Founding members Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson and Annette Zilinsaks released their first EP in 1982, but went on to achieve their greatest commercial success with 1984's full-length album "All Over the Place."

The Go-Gos

Similarly to the Bangles, the Go-Gos formed in Los Angeles's gritty punk scene in 1978, but would eventually drop their punk look and assume a more mainstream feminine image. Their album covers and videos borrowed stylistic elements from the classic girl groups of the 1960s. Members Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine and Gina Shock crafted songs which blended an upbeat sensibility with catchy melodies. This "new wave" sound became a major musical style throughout the 1980s.

En Vogue

The all-female members of the chart-topping rhythm and blues group En Vogue auditioned for seasoned music producers Thomas McElroy and Denzil Foster in 1989. Maxine Jones, Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron and Dawn Robinson would ultimately record a half-dozen hits which combined a classic rhythm and blues groove with empowered lyrics. En Vogue's lyrical demands for respect from their potential romantic partners coupled with the group's simmering sexuality made them enormously popular on both rhythm and blues and mainstream charts.

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