Were these Aussie girl band posters on your wall when you were a teenager?
In 2021, we had fun revisiting the Best 90s / 00s Australian boy bands and it's only fair that we take a trip back down memory lane to focus on the females, given it wasn't just the blokes with the questionable fashion and killer choreo.
The ultimate 90s girl group, some see Girlfriend as the Spice Girls' blueprint. Bursting onto the scene with a #1 single no less, Take It From Me was a cultural phenomenon. In just a couple of short years, the girls had multiple chart hits, two gold and platinum albums and their own fashion range in department stores. Featuring lead Robyn Loau who when on to have a solo hit later in the 90s with Sick With Love, the five girls also tried their hand at cracking Japan, recording some of their tracks in Japanese. With Robyn leaving in 1994, the band continued on as GF4 with a sexier and more 'club' image, releasing the banger Sooner or Later before finally crumbling, but leaving a legacy of great pop tunes.
Formed for a TV show that was never made, Teen Queens were a trio born from the production company behind the hit TV soap E-Street. While the TV show never got off the ground, the group released an album Get Happy which included the top 10 single Be My Baby as well as a dubious cover of The Four Tops' I Can't Help Myself and schmaltzy top 20 ballad Love How You Love Me. The band are probably best known today as an early vehicle for Kellie Crawford (nee Hoggart) who went on to be a founding member of the kids' act Hi-Five. We'd love to say the Teen Queens record has aged well.....but.....
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After the initial burst of activity, the girl group craze died down a little but came roaring back in the later 90s as Australia went looking for its answer to the Spice Girls. In 1998 Sony had a crack with Cherry, pumping out three singles, but failing to crack the top 40. Produced by ex-Indecent Obsession keyboard player Michael Szumowski, this one didn't quite pop, but he wasn't done with girl groups just yet.
With Cherry not connecting, Sony had another try with Real Blondes. They had a deal with Impulse deodorant before they'd even had a hit, but unfortunately, even that didn't help this stinker We B Cool. While their follow-up I Won't Let Go was better, Sony did let go and they didn't make it to a third song.
How this one didn't do better than #24 on the charts is a head-scratcher. Jackson Mendoza's Venus Or Mars was all over the radio and anyone who switched on Video Hits around this time was inundated by multiple spins. It's not surprising, the clip was a total ripper and the song itself was fantastic. The follow-up single also hit #24 but proved to be their last and the duo never made it. We're assuming they are still paying off the video clip.
In another peak for Australian girl bands, Bardot was formed from the Australian TV series Popstars with members Tiffani Wood, Belinda Chapple, Sophie Monk, Sally Polihronas and Katie Underwood becoming instant household names. Produced by Michael Szumowski (with more success than Cherry), Bardot's debut Poison topped the charts and set the band up for six top twenty hits and two top twenty albums, one of which hit #1. Incredibly the band never released a single that DIDN'T hit the top 20 but split in 2002 after Sophie Monk's decision to go solo.
SISTER 2 SISTER
Also emerging in 1999, Melbourne sibling duo Sister 2 Sister came out of the gates strongly with pop banger Sister hitting #3 on the ARIA charts. Their follow-up What's A Girl To Do was also a massive top-five hit with their album going gold and hitting #3. They supported Britney Spears on her Oops I Did It Again tour but then promptly disappeared. The girls went on to careers in music including as backing vocalists for artists including Darren Hayes. The duo emerged again in 2022 with new music... but this time a little more grown up!
Another duo, this time out of Cairns, Shakaya were a deadly Cairns act, one of the pioneering acts in Indigenous pop. Their debut single Stop Calling Me was an instant hit in 2021, racing up to #5 on the ARIA chart and going platinum. They went on to have two successful albums as well as two other top 20 hits Sublime and Cinderella. Naomi Wenitong went on to hip hop act The Last Kinection while Simone Stacey was a contestant on season two of The Voice. These days, Shakaya are back together doing gigs around Australia.
Trio Slinkee Minx slogged it out for a few years before hitting it big with their EDM cover of Belinda Carlisle's Summer Rain in 2004. They had more cracks at the top with other covers but never managed to recapture the success of their debut. They put together another set of remixes of Summer Rain in 2016 and 2017 but still didn't top their first attempt. According to Wikipedia, the band continue today as a duo.
Less a girl group and more a supergroup, there was a time when Sony simply didn't know what to do with its Australian Idol contestants once the hype of their season drew to a close. Someone had the idea of putting them together in 2006 and Young Divas was born with Ricki-Lee Coulter, Paulini, Kate DeAraugo and Emily Williams. Coulter left after the first album to be replaced by Jessica Mauboy. The group survived through two albums and four top 40 singles with their first album going an impressive double platinum. The girls had all resumed their solo careers by 2008.
A vehicle for Kyle Sandilands' then-wife and ex-Scandal'us singer Tamara Jaber, Scarlette Belle was a three-piece girl group also featuring Australian Idol finalist Reigan Derry and ex-solo artist Hayley Aitken. Originally signed in the US by Def Jam, the band were dropped and Aitken left prior to releasing any music. Eventually, the now-duo was signed by Sony Music Australia having two singles peak in the lower reaches of the top 30 before the act disbanded.
Just when you thought Australia would give up on finding a girl group that connected, 2005 gave us Brisbane sister duo The Veronicas. And you definitely didn't forget they existed, being one of the only acts in the list still going strong today. Like Sister2Sister before them, they came out of the blocks with a big hit with 4Ever peaking at #2 on the ARIA Charts. With a bit more sass than the earlier sister duo, The Veronicas also had the staying power, giving us three multi-platinum albums and no less than fourteen top 40 hits here at home.
They also conquered international charts with America falling in love with their second signature tune Untouched. No other 'girl group' reached those heights before or since and very few attempts at another Aussie 'girl group' have surfaced. With the trajectory of the bands peaking with the international impact of The Veronicas, maybe the genre simply had nothing more to give?
In what is an apt footnote to the Australian girl group era, seemingly PROVING that the genre had nothing left to give, SonyBMG put together... Girlband. A four-piece, the curse of the Sony girl groups continued with both songs failing to crack the top 40. Feels like with lyrics like "you can take the Tick Tock out of time" perhaps they were a bit ahead of their time. But then again, maybe they were just the last dying fart of an Australian industry desperate to have another Girlfriend or Bardot-style success.... but with The Veronicas already flying, the train had already left the station. Sorry, Girlband.