Finding The Girl Group Formula

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    ‘The X Factor (UK)’ came to a shocking conclusion last year when Little Mix took home the gold as the first group to win the competition. However, in addition to the raging debate regarding whether the young ladies were indeed the most deserving of the title, a pressing question was raised: could a girl group be successful in 2012?

    From The Supremes in the 1960s to Salt-n-Pepa in the 1980s and TLC in the 1990s, girl groups have been staple acts in the music industry and easily dominated their respective eras. Yet, the 2000s presented a rapid decline in the number of these bands and now it seems as though Little Mix might truly be the last great hope for the model that is on the verge of extinction.

    There are two key factor that are crucial for Little Mix to realise their full potential and ascend to the forefront of the music scene long after the hype surrounding their ‘X Factor (UK)’ win has passed. Indeed, if they expect to rival the successes of the major bands of the past then they need to understand the tricky formula of chemistry and identity.

    Before any group of singers even enter a studio, they need a clear outline their assigned roles. Who has the strongest voice and the largest vocal range? Who is the best writer and has the most experience in the booth? Who lacks personality and is simply there to harmonise as well as provide comedic relief? Those are the questions that every manager or producer worth his/her pay cheque would have the girls answer at the beginning of the recording process.

    In addition to this artistic chemistry, the girls also need personal chemistry. In other words, they need to at least like each other!

    It is blatantly obvious when members of a girl group have tension. For instance, do you remember how Beyonce looked at Farah Franklin during the five months that she was a member of Destiny’s Child? Also, we can’t forget the utter disdain that the Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger had for Melody Thornton as exemplified by the performance of ‘Buttons’ at Fashion Rocks where Scherzinger looked upset when the latter got a few seconds in the spotlight.

    If the members of a band, especially a girl group, do not have the right chemistry then they will not stay together. They would either be overwhelmed by infighting or some members would lose motivation because they are unhappy with their roles, thus causing them to leave in an attempt to start their own careers. This is where proper management plays an important role.

    Let’s use Danity Kane as an example to illustrate this point. Dawn Richard and Aubrey O’Day clearly had issues with each other since the band was first assembled yet nothing was done by Diddy or their management to remedy the situation. Yes, all five members had great artistic chemistry (learn the jargon, people!) but they despised each other and without the proper guidance they split. Subsequently, we all wept and cursed Diddy’s name but that’s a story for another day.

    The next ingredient in the formula for a successful girl group is identity. We all had a favourite member of TLC, Xscape and Destiny’s Child – at least until Mathew Knowles kicked somebody out. That was only possible because each member of those groups had her own identity.

    Whether she is curvier, wilder, has a darker skin tone or is simply more outspoken than her bandmates, there has to be something about every member of a girl group that makes her relatable. Of course, no other band understood this point better than the Spice Girls.

    Admit it: you loved the Spice Girls and to this day you remember exactly what made each member special. Scary Spice was wild and fun, Baby Spice was cute and sweet, Posh Spice was the stylish diva, Ginger Spice was the lovable whore and Sporty Spice was the tomboy. Personally, I always preferred Baby Spice because she was simply the best and if you disagree then tough luck!

    That clever marketing of the Spice Girls as the ideal girl group was critical to their success. Honestly, they weren’t the best singers and certainly couldn’t dance but the ability of people to relate to each member helped the Spice Girls to become the most successful girl group of all time.

    Also, a lack of identity was a possible reason for the Pussycat Dolls never realising their full potential. We were never introduced to the Scherzinger’s backup dancers and whenever Thornton was allowed to sing a few ad libs from the cupboard under the stairs, the camera didn’t stay focused on her long enough for us to figure out exactly who was singing. Thank goodness for the seeker bar on YouTube and the power of rewind.

    So, now you understand the important roles of chemistry and identity in helping girl groups to be successful. Let’s see of Little Mix would utilise this formula and revive the dying model of the all girl band. If not, then we would just combine some sugar, spice and everything nice with some Chemical X and pray for a miracle.

    Bonus: if you never saw the infamous performance of the Pussycat Dolls at Fashion Rocks where Scherzinger looked as though she wanted to elbow Thornton off the stage then watch it below (all the action starts at 2:25):

    Thoughts?

    • Julien

      LMAO! Nicole gave her the “no this bitch did not try to upstage me look!” And the way Beyonce looked at Farrah during one of the DC4 interviews right as Farrah is saying they are all friends. Classic! Girl groups never survive because of ego and because girls are catty! They cannot share the spotlight for too long. At some point, Kelly Rowland got tired of being Bey’s back-up singer.

    • vanitylove93

      Great article! I must admit the Soice Girls have always been my favorite girl group and still is. I guess everytime a girl group comes out they have one thing and not the other. It either someone gets special treatment or they dont like each other. I just hope we get a new gril group in 2012 because i kinda miss them. Hopefully they follow your advice and become successful.

    • ReturnOfMsMack

      I agree 100%. chemistry & identity can make anyone fall in love with a group. Thats the only way DC was accepted again as a trio! Great read as usual, Trent…. but SPORTY Spice was def the best!!! lol

    • vanitylove93

      oops I meant Spice Girls lol.

    • Trav

      I think a major downfall also is when too many girls are in a group. I feel like 5 is too many and Spice Girls are the only exception that I know of who has survived with that many members. I see that 3 tends to be the magic number for other girl groups such as Destiny’s Child and TLC. Honestly, the only girl group that could possibly come back would be Destiny’s Child because they didn’t end on bad terms and you can genuinely tell that they are all friends. Danity Kane had SOOOOO much potential to be one of the biggest girl groups ever but it just shows how tension and drama can destroy friendships and groups.

    • Lia

      Melody Thornton needed more solos while in PCD she can sing her a$$ off!

    • SparkD

      I LOVE Spice Girls and TLC, who all had prominent individual identities.

      But EnVogue did not have a stand out member, some people say Dawn, but there wasn’t a strong distinguishable identity individually, but they were steel strong collectively.

      I think the original DC had members with strong personalities (Letoya was crazy; Latavia was sassy), but once Michelle was inducted, it became The Supremes 2.0.

      Danity Kane were amazing! And Xscape were super awsome.

      But, I do notice that Xscape, DC, and 702 were positioned to have a unique sound that was based around lead singers; Xscape’s sound was based around Latocha and Kandi.

    • Ben

      LMAO Melody came with some vocalizing and shitted on Nicole Shermaloopadingle’s whole out of breath performance. And why was she out of breath? My 10 year old niece can do those basic pole dance moves.

    • Julien

      Melody was not so hot herself with those Christina Aguilera-like grunts and groans.

    • Shea Butter

      @Spark – I would agree with you to some degree but En Vogue was riddle with internal conflicts and personally to many member changes/drops.

    • Kemar

      Wow another site stole your post Trent! You need to sue.

      Great article by the way!

    • Cliff

      we need girl groups to takeover there are none on the scene, smh

    • SparkD

      @Shea Butter – EnVogue was overworked employees for managers, producers, and writers, and couldn’t individually brand themselves like the Spice Girls to move on apart. If each member had a personality, I believe their fate would have been a much different story.

    • “Crazy Spice” is actually… Scary Spice.

      And Girl groups may be dying out in the west (possibly because there are few to no good ones) but in Asia Girl Groups practically run the charts except for the few Solo Divas like Ayumi Hamasaki or Utada Hikaru…
      Little Mix are never going to run anything, they’re awful, their style is awful and the blatent attempts to rip off Spice Girls marketing (I.E Nicknames etc) just makes them look lame.
      They’ll have one ok selling album and then get dropped by Simon Cowell’s shitty label.

    • twitter.com/_feeniix_

      Yass Melody.

    • TheMan4u

      didnt the spice girls have the same internal conflict as the others?

    • DRB

      Your old partner in crime stole your idea and then blocked my post when I mentioned it.

    • Ms Boss

      @TheMan4U there goes your hating ass again. Trent used Spice Girls as an example of IDENTITY not CHEMISTRY. As he said, LEARN THE JARGON!

      Great post again Trent! Don’t let TGJ get you down with all their stealing. Those fools wrote 5 lines and you wrote almost 20 paragraphs! You are talented and they are just pathetic thieves.

      PS: you need to band TheMan4U because he doesn’t add anything to this site with his dumb fuckery

    • DOMOdotSCORE

      Trent, I swear that you are reviving my love for the Spice Girls. I recently bought their greatest hits and have been having a great time. I used to love them so much when I was a youngin. I loved Scary, I wanted to be her.

      I totally agree with this post. The members have to like each other or at least fake like they do. When there are issues within the group, it can show in the work and leads to terrible material which leads to low sales. And the whole identity thing, I can agree with it but it has to be implicit. The roles should be obvious but not verbalized.

    • Nicole would jump in front of her like that!!

    • Mia

      I LOVE the Spice Girls, TLC, & En Vogue, all 3 groups were SOOO different and soo perfect, and fit everything.

    • TheMan4U

      how about you hop up off my nuts and pay attention. Trent obviously is a big fan of the spice girls and he clearly used them as an example of what makes a great girl band. as usual his writing is biased towards someone he likes.

      “If the members of a band, especially a girl group, do not have the right chemistry then they will not stay together. They would either be overwhelmed by infighting or some members would lose motivation because they are unhappy with their roles, thus causing them to leave in an attempt to start their own careers.”

      While dogging out danity kane, pussycat dolls and destiny child how were the spice girls any different when in fact that very quote happened to them?

    • John

      If chemistry and identity, which are all too easy to fabricate, were the most important then there would be a million more successful girl groups. You didn’t even bother mentioning more important factors, ie vocal/ dance ability and proper imaging. Clearly you have no idea of how the inner workings of girl groups. It’s because of stupid outsider armchair A&R’s like you that won’t allow new groups to be successful when they don’t fit the Spice Girls/ Destiny’s Child/ TLC formula and knock them for trying to be original. If that was the case, Parade and Paradiso Girls (Spice Girl knock offs) and Rich Girl (Destiny’s Child knock off) would have blown up. And even when they do fit the mold, they are criticized for being knock offs of the group you wanted to compare them to in the first place. But, I guess since the whole “girl groups are dead” and “I miss the Spice Girls/ Danity Kane/ Destiny’s Child” is so trendy these days we have to live with stupid articles like this. I was hoping for something different.

    • Stuck In Paris With Niggas!

      @John why you so mad though? Trent pitched just two important factors and you mad. Did you expect dude to write a fuckin book? Calm your puss down yo

      I agree with most of this but I wasn’t supporting them Spice Hoes. TLC was where it’s at!

    • WonderLand19

      Thanks Trent, that was brilliant. I really enjoyed that article. Maybe one of your best 🙂 Loved your writing style too. Informative and yet you didnt come off partonsing. Plus, you had your usual humour in their. Good Job!
      I hope Little Mix are well manage and understand their roles in a group. Also understand what they are trying to represent as a band. The Spice Girls were great because they stood for women of ALL ages and yet appealed to men. The Pussycat Dolls stood for being high class sluts and encouraging women to be valued for their appearance alone. Danity Kane managed to balance being sassy and pro-women. Something PCD failed to do.
      Time will till if Little Mix can re-capture the brillance of The Girl Band Era.

      Top 5 Girl Band
      1) Spice Girls
      2) Danity Kane
      3) Sugababes
      4) Xcapse
      5) Destiny’s Child

    • WonderLand19

      I also Loved Rich Girl. They had a chance.

    • KobeLover1977

      I think Sophia Fresh has the talent, chemistry, and identity that you speak of, yet they are often overlooked. They’ve been together for years and while other groups come and go, they are still pushing. It’s a shame that the use of autotune, because of T-Pain being their EP, that people think they can’t sing. They have a lot of acapella/ live performances on Youtube that prove otherwise.

    • Matthew Charlery-Smith

      In order for girlbands to work they need to appeal to the boys as well as the girls. The Spice Girls worked because each of them represented a part of British society: rich, poor, common, educated, talented, trying/ambitious. All of them except Victoria came across as a girl you probably knew at school. The Sugababes 1.0 and version 2 also had a similar appeal. Not too pretty, just normal city girls.

      For today, however, girls need to show their intelligent side. They need to show you themselves behind the music and give opinions on world events not just sex, my new video and my new perfume endorsement. They need to SHARE the spotlight because in real life the best of friends are involved in each others lives and show they care (which is why a sitcom like Sex and the City has worked). Case point example, when Mel C was number 1 with “I Turn To You” the other Spices were there to share the moment with her and came to hug her on the stage. When such happens it appears that the members are branching out rather than breaking off. It then gives the public more confidence to buy into their image.

      Talent-wise, good looks, some dancing, great styling and catchy, well-produced songs are a must. Destiny’s Child AND the Spice Girls had this but DC was more about one member and as a result it’s hard to remember them as being a real band, whereas with the Spice Girls you can’t imagine one not being there, hence why they failed when Geri left.

      I think the Spice Girls were probably the best girlband to emerge in the Pop world in the last 50 years. Thanks to producer Absolute mostly and Matt Rowe/Rich Stannard.

    • justice198

      I think Trent forgot that. The big kicker in girls groups these days have always been EGO. TLC with Left Eye (reason why she wasn’t on most of the material in the last two albums b4 her passing), En Vogue with Dawn, Danity Kane (leave it open for interpretation) and Spice Girls with Ginger Spice. If you are going to be in a girl group then you have to realize your roles as Trent said and come to some type of agreement. Other groups broke up because one member wanted to go solo or be that star and even when the member came back things weren’t the same. (Some of the above and also Total with Pam, and 702 with Meelah). Chemistry and Loyalty is needed.