In the 18 years since the Spice Girls’ first album dropped, a long line of U.K. girl groups — and one very popular boy band — have followed the trail to global superstardom they blazed. And while the U.K. has the most robust history of female pop groups, women are riffing on the format all over the world. Here are some new girl groups to obsess over, along with a a couple well-loved favorites, like U.K. X-Factor champs Little Mix and K-pop crossover stars 2NE1.
Members: Mariana Alves, Alice Coelho, and Jeni Loyola
Sounds like: Twerk-tastic baile funk
Why they’re killing it: The 15- and 16-year-old girls make tough, rattling songs about everything from sweet crushes to life in the slums to political messages aimed at their president. And on the side, they work full time as actresses.
Key track: “Pensando em Você”
Members: Annie, Nadine, and Frankee
Good if you like: Sleek ’90s throwback R&B, with rap beats and a dash of reggae swagger
Why they’re killing it: These three can make a killer street banger just as easily as they do a soulful rendition of Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine.”
Key Tracks: “Wait Your Turn,” “Ain’t Got Time,” “HOT“
Members: CL, Dara, Bom and Minzy
Good if you like: EDM, rap, and R&B, mashed into one flashy, trend-conscious package
Why they’re killing it: With their new album, 2NE1 gave K-pop its best-ever sales week in the U.S., and they lead for good reason. They’re amazing dancers, create wild, over-the-top videos, and each have a distinct personality.
Key tracks: “Come Back Home,” “I Am the Best,” “Lonely“
Members: Georgia, Chalin, and Cherish
Sounds like: Feel-good ’90s R&B/pop
Why they’re killing it: They’ve been drawing comparisons to acts like the Spice Girls, and their single “Call You Out” is a perfect example of how they’re pushing “Girl Power” in a more grown-up, slick way. (That song’s video is an amazing TLC tribute.)
Key track: “Call You Out“
Members: Elektra Kilbey and Miranda Kilbey
Good if you like: Slinky disco vibes
Why they’re killing it: The Swedish-Australian twin sisters had a viral hit with “Maybe You” last year, which pushed them into that sweet late-night spot between the club and the bedroom.
Key tracks: “Julian,” “Fool Of Me,” “Maybe You“
Members: Moa Kikuchi, Yui Mizuno, and Suzuka Nakamoto
Good if you like: Kesha and Slipknot together in one adorable package.
Why they’re killing it: The trio’s recently captured the attention of Western media for their sugary sweet pop hooks and badass metal screams, and their video for the hyper-aggressive “Gimme Chocolate!!” has clocked in over 4.5 million views on YouTube.
Key tracks:: “Gimme Chocolate!!,” “Megitsune,” “Ijime Dame Zettai (No more bullying)“
Members: HRH ShayShay, Princess Annamay, and Baby-K
Good if you like: Hip-shaking and independence.
Why they’re killing it: The girls are proud of their Nigerian heritage, and they blend traditional Afropop with the house and club sounds of London to make sugary dance floor jams.
Members: Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall
Good if you like: Power-vocal R&B and pop music with a electronic house influence
Why they’re killing it: Little Mix was the first group to win the U.K .X-Factor, and the girls have been dominating since — their 2012 debut album DNA hit No. 4 on U.S. Hot 200 chart, breaking the Spice Girls’ record for highest debut by a British girl group.
Key tracks: “Move,” “DNA,” “How Ya Doin’?“
Members: Ally Brooke, Camila Cabello, Normani Hamilton, Dinah Jane Hansen, and Lauren Jauregui
Good if you like: Glossy, bright, and loud jams you can jump up and down to
Why they’re killing it: It’s hard to be a girl group in the States, but Fifth Harmony has found success after forming on Season 2 of the X Factor, releasing a debut EP last year and some killer covers on YouTube. But their debut album, they tell Billboard, will veer toward “cooler” R&B sounds.
Key tracks: “Miss Movin’ On,” “Me & My Girls,” “Lego House (Ed Sheeran cover)“
Members: Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan, and Siobhán Donaghy
Good if you like: Sugababes. Because they are literally the Sugababes — all three original members of the group got back together to reform as MKS in 2011.
Why they’re killing it: The Sugababes were one of the most popular girl groups of the 2000s in the U.K., and now reunited, they’re working with artists like Blood Orange to create a sexy 2014 update of their sound. They plan to release an album later this year.
Key tracks: “Flatline,” “Lay Down in Swimming Pools“
Members: Ah Moon and Kimi. Former members: Cha Cha, Htike Htike, and Wai-hin.
Good if you like: A politically conscious version of The Pussycat Dolls
Why they’re killing it: Though three of the group’s members have departed in the last year, Me N Ma Girls have made quite an impact in the four years they’ve been together. Myanmar’s first all-girl pop group was initially formed as The Tiger Girls by an Australian dancer and Burmese entrepreneur. The group was instrumental in challenging traditional gender roles and pushing for freedom of speech in an especially transformative political period in Burmese culture. They also challenged K-pop and J-pop’s fascination with cookie cutter idol groups by addressing and rejecting the pressures in the industry to lighten their skin or adhere to a uniform appearance. The group is signed to American indie Power Music Inc., and while it’s unclear whether the two remaining members will go on to release their music, the impact they’ve made on Myanmar make their music worth checking out, regardless.
Key tracks: “Girl Strong,” “Come Back Home,” “Fill Me Up“
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