Another ‘ultimate list’ produced in a major mainstream publication- another register of random selections that defy logic. The Guardian published their 25 Best Girlband members of all time. So much thought was put into this that there were multiple entries for the same groups (did All Saints really need two members spots in the top 25?) and numerous incredible icons from the last 50 years were completely overlooked. So, as is my duty as a girl band enthusiast, I have righted the Guardian’s wrong by producing my own list that covers 5 they missed:
Nicola Roberts (Girls Aloud)– Girls Aloud had 3 entries on the Guardian list- Nadine, Sarah and of course Cheryl. I can understand old Chezza making the list as her career has been pretty successful following the retirement of GA, but what of Nicola Roberts? It is a travesty that she did not make the list and another example of her being wilfully underrated by a music press with no imagination. Nicola was known throughout most of the GA lifespan as the ginger Scottish one and was also the one given disproportionately few vocals yet more of the negative, dismissive press comments. She has now, post-GA, become a fashion icon with a real eye for style and her own make up brand for girls with pale skin (Dainty Doll). Roberts advocated the ban of underage usage of tanning beds with the documentary Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning. Her public stance with a British MP led to a bill which banned under 18s from using tanning beds. Trendsetter and political activist? How does that not make the list? In 2011 she released her first solo album Cinderella’s Eyes and although it was not a huge commercial success, it did win over the critics- The Telegraph and The Guardian gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Even the NME begrudgingly conceded that it was better than expected. Can Harding or Tweedy say the same? NOPE.
Melanie Chisholm (Spice Girls)– It was predictable that Geri Halliwell would be in the Guardian top 25 and I don’t actually disagree with that, but no Mel C? Sporty Spice? Mel C was the antidote to the overtly girly and sexual image of the other 4, providing a role model for those sporty, active girls who might otherwise be alienated by the entire pop girls cabal. She was also the one given the most lead parts as- surely we can accept now- she was the one that could sing the best. Her solo music career was the most successful- her duet with Bryan Adams (When You’re Gone) was bloody huge. There was a slightly awkward rock phase where she cut her hair short and went a but grunge but hey- she gave it a go and eventually found her more comfortable image and went with it.
Mary Weiss (Shangri Las)– My favourite girl band of all time and Mary Weiss was the voice and the hair that led it all. The Shangri Las image was one of tough, streetwise girls that played on the fact they grew up in Queens, NY and therefore could ruckus with the best of ‘em. The Shangri Las were one of the leading girl groups of the 1960s (when there was an awful lot of competition) and their hits Leader of the Pack and Walkin’ In the Sand are consistently regarded as two of the best girl band singles of all time. Hearing Mary Weiss sing “What ever happened to/The life I gave to you/What will I do/With it now?” gives me CHILLS. After the Shangri Las split in 1968, Weiss remained out of the limelight but came back to music with a critically acclaimed solo album in 2007 called Dangerous Game. With her sweeping fringe tucked behind her ear and her shirt/waistcoat combos, she is an absolute icon of the 1960s.
Lisa Lopes (TLC)– TLC were represented in the Guardian list in the form of Tianne ‘T Boz’ Watkins (well deserved) but the omission of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes was a bit of a surprise- maybe they thought it was too predictable (although they made Beyoncé number 1 so they were probably NOT worried about predictability). I’m not sure I can adequately sum up why Lopes was such a badass in one paragraph but here goes…. Lisa was an accomplished singer, rapper and songwriter- gaining more writing credits than the other members of the group. She was the creative force in the band, designing their stage costumes, video concepts and album artwork. She was the only member of the band to release a solo album Supernova and produce other artists. She was tragically killed in a car crash in Honduras in 2002 leaving so much potential unfulfilled.
Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama and Shakespears Sister) The fact that Fahey could be in not one, but TWO amazing girlbands and still not make the list is an absolute mystery to me. Fahey enjoyed success throughout the 80s with Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward, in pop trio Bananarama who had a string of hits- Venus; Robert De Niro’s Waiting; Cruel Summer and Love in the First Degree. When she left in 1988, she formed Shakespears Sister with Marcella Detroit and enjoyed global success with their 1992 single Stay. She even co-wrote The Bluebell’s hit Young at Heart. WHY WAS SHE NOT ON THE LIST?
Dawn Robinson (En Vogue)- Another one of my favourite girl bands En Vogue, completely missed so I am paying homage to one of the band’s lead vocalists Dawn Robinson. She was a founding member of the group which remains one of the best-selling girl groups OF ALL TIME. Robinson sang lead vocals on the album’s top-charting singles which included “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)“, “Giving Him Something He Can Feel”, and “Free Your Mind”, which remains one of their signature songs. She has been in and out of En Vogue over the years and in those times in between she has released solo material as well as joining another platinum selling girl group Lucy Pearl. With an awe-inspiringly powerful set of pipes and a badass attitude, Robinson is the poster child for 1990s R&B.
So, there you go Guardian, I have fixed your list for you!