Pop Girl Groups, Then & Now
The 1990s was a hot decade for pop and R&B girl groups, and years later, those girls are now women--some are even married with children. See what some of the biggest girl groups of the '90s look like today, and learn how they soared, disbanded, and reunited--and maybe starred in a reality show or two along the way.
Superstar R&B/hip-hop trio TLC was a force to be reckoned with in the '90s, with a diamond-selling album, CrazySexyCool, and omnipresent singles like “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs.” The Grammy-winning group (Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas) hit the highest heights, but struggled with a fair share of problems. T-Boz revealed that she suffered from sickle-cell disease; the volatile Lopes feuded with the group and made headlines for setting fire to her boyfriend’s mansion in 1994; and the group even filed bankruptcy in 1995. Then in 2002, shortly after the girls took a break to pursue solo interests, Lopes was tragically killed in a car crash while shooting a documentary in Honduras. Surviving members Watkins and Thomas later both starred in their own reality shows and continued to sporadically record and perform together; they recently announced plans for a new TLC album, tour, and biopic in 2013.
Hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa formed in 1985, but they had their greatest success in the 1990s, with hits like “Let’s Talk About Sex,” “Whatta Man,” and “Shoop” becoming some of the sexiest staples of the decade. The trio (Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, and Deidra Muriel Roper, aka DJ Spinderella) broke barriers as one of the first all-female rap groups and quickly became household names. After breaking up in 2002, Salt pursued a solo career, Pepa appeared on The Surreal Life and published an autobiography, and Spinderella remained behind the turntables as a radio and club DJ. Salt-N-Pepa reunited in 2007 and starred in a VH1 reality show that lasted two seasons. They went on a national tour in 2011 and most recently opened for Public Enemy in 2012.
U.K. pop group All Saints may have been overshadowed by fellow Brits the Spice Girls, but they nonetheless enjoyed respectable success with multi-platinum albums and number-one hits across the pond. Their singles “Never Ever” and “I Know Where It’s At” brought them international attention and charted in the U.S., but they were not able to truly breaking America the way the Spice Girls had. The group broke up in 2001 for personal and financial reasons, with members pursuing solo careers; allegedly, an argument over who would wear a jacket in a photo shoot was the spark that initiated the breakup. All Saints reunited in 2006 for a third album, but quickly disbanded again. As of 2012, member Melanie Blatt said she no longer had contact with the other members.
En Vogue was one of the most successful girl groups of the 1990s, covering the R&B spectrum from dramatic breakup ballads to high-energy club anthems. After releasing three platinum albums as a quartet, founding member Dawn Robinson left due to contract disputes and briefly became a member of the soul supergroup Lucy Pearl; En Vogue continued on as a trio for two less successful albums. In 2008, Robinson officially re-joined En Vogue for several international tour dates and a new single, but left again in 2011. In 2012, member Maxine Jones left as well, with plans to form a two-member En Vogue with Robinson, while remaining members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron, along with Rhonda Barrett, continued to tour as En Vogue. The two En Vogues were last reported to be taking each other to court over legal use of the group's name.
One of British pop's biggest imports, the Spice Girls are the best-selling girl group of all time, with more than 80 million albums sold worldwide. Their 1996 smash single “Wannabe” and debut album Spice marked a sea change in '90s music, moving away from grunge/hard rock towards sugary teen-pop, and their iconic platform shoes, cheeky nicknames, and “Girl Power” rallying cry made them one of the most defining acts of the entire 1990s. After experiencing such massive success in such a short time, member Geri Halliwell—aka Ginger Spice—left the group in 1998. The group broke up shortly thereafter, in 2000, after failing to replicate their previous success with their third album, ironically titled Forever. Each member then pursued solo careers in music, acting, TV hosting, and fashion design, with varying degrees of success. In 2007, the Spice Girls regrouped to embark on a sold-out international reunion tour; they reunited again in 2012 to perform at the London Olympics closing ceremony and to premiere their Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever.
R&B group Sisters With Voices, aka SWV, swept the early '90s with the triple-platinum debut album It’s About TimeSurvivor. The girls announced their reunion in 2005, but it took them until 2012 to finally release their first album in 15 years, appropriately titled I Missed Us. and the number-one singles “Weak” and “Right Here/Human Nature.” Members Cheryl “Coko” Clemons, Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George, and Leanne “Lelee” Lyons disbanded SWV in 1998 to pursue solo careers in music, theater, and for Taj, a stint on the TV show
Together for almost 10 years before finally breaking through to the mainstream, Destiny’s Child was pop's top girl group as the 2000s began--and the group launched the solo career of arguably today's biggest female artist, the unstoppable Beyoncé. Destiny's Child originated as the quartet of Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett; Roberson and Luckett were later replaced by Farrah Franklin (who was quickly dismissed) and then, finally, Michelle Williams. The group, as a trio, experienced more incredible success for its next two albums, but then slowed down with 2004's Destiny Fulfilled, after which the group disbanded and each member pursued solo careers. In January 2013, Destiny’s Child released "Nuclear," their first new song in eight years. The trio is also rumored to reunite for Beyonce’s 2013 Super Bowl halftime show this weekend, but Williams has denied such gossip, stating that she is appearing in the musical Fela! that same day.