Girl Groups of the 1980’s: All Grown Up

There was a steep decline in the sound and presence of Girl Groups in the 1970’s from the decade prior. Female solo acts became much more commonplace on the charts, and radio, still the dominant force behind much of the music the public heard and eventually bought, felt no need to be more encompassing to what was considered a spent force commercially. Girl Groups were a holdover from 1960’s: Brill Building song craft, Motown and Phil Spector. These were the sounds that had defined a decade but were now considered old hat.

Sweet Sensation, 1987. Courtesy of Atlantic Records.

The most significant change was with how female groups evolved in the 1970’s: There were still the vocal groups that the Girl Group monicker applied to, like the Pointer Sisters, but a wave of all-female and female fronted bands, like Blondie, Heart, Fanny and The Runaways made huge inroads into the public eye. Starting with the 1980’s, the charts once again became filled with all-female bands and vocal groups in a very big way, not just emerging from the shadows of well-known solo artists who created female vocal groups like Prince and Rick James, but in new genres that saw women play a vital part in the success of new music.

What was most surprising about Girl Groups of the 1980’s, in addition to the gender demographic, was the ethnic dynamic: Bands with non-white members, vocal groups with Hispanic members and multi-ethnic groups as well became part of the landscape. New music trends also fueled this expansion, such as Hip-Hop, Metal, Post-Punk, Latin Freestyle, HiNRG, Alternative Rock and a wave of British Girl Groups who were heavily influenced by 1960’s American Girl Groups, much in the same way 1960’s British Rock bands were influenced by 1950’s American Black Rock and Rollers.

If I was in charge, I’d keep doing The Go-Go’s forever, but it’s a band so everyone has their say.

– Jane Weidlin, bass player/songwriter, The Go-Go’s

Most of all, the 1980’s set the stage for a music revolution by women in the coming decade that would change all of the rules and allow Girl Groups to finally shed their old moniker. During this period, women were instrumental in the development of new music forms and group dynamics that would set their own standards of success with or without men for the first time in popular culture.

Our tracks this week: Title, Artist, Source, Year

First Part

1. Vacation, The Go-Go’s, Vacation, 1982
2. Candy Man, The Mary Jane Girls, Mary Jane Girls, 1983
3. Edge of a Broken Heart, Vixen, Vixen, 1988
4. Hooked On You (single remix), Sweet Sensation, Get It While It’s Hot, 1987
5. Slow Hand, The Pointer Sisters, Black and White, 1981
6. We’re Not For Sale, Girlschool, Demolition, 1980
7. Venus, Bananarama, True Confessions, 1986

Second Part

8. Meeting In The Ladies Room, Klymaxx, Meeting In The Ladies Room, 1984
9. Mama’s Never Seen Those Eyes, The Forester SistersThe Forester Sisters, 1986
10. Push It (Single Remix), Salt-N-Pepa, Hot, Cool and Vicious, 1987
11. Twist Barbie, Shonen Knife, Burning Farm, 1983
12. Nasty Girl, Vanity 6, Vanity 6, 1982
13. Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime), The Flirts, 10¢ A Dance, 1982
14. Bite The Wax Tadpole, L7, L7, 1988


15. Walk Like An Egyptian, The Bangles, Different Light, 1986

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Producer, Audio Engineer and Writer

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