You know those moments when you’re riding in a car, the breeze is whipping through your hair, the sun down on your neck, and you, supported by a chorus of your best girlfriends, are singing along to the radio at top volume? Don’t you wish they could last forever? There’s something special about a summer bop. It is a song that is just so undeniably upbeat and fun, it demands being blasted from a rolled-down window.
It should come as no surprise that some of the best songs to wake up to that have ever graced the radio waves were released by girl groups. According to Billboard Magazine, “There are few institutions with a prouder legacy within pop music than the girl group. For as long as the Billboard Hot 100 has existed, there have been all-female vocal groups gracing its ranks.”
Groups like The Spice Girls, TLC, Destiny’s Child, formed the anthems of our adolescence. Yes, they were beautiful and talented, but more importantly, they helped instill confidence and ambition into entire generations of young women. Today, there are still some amazing girl groups carrying this torch forward.
One of these groups is Little Mix, a UK “X Factor”-formed pop band composed of members Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall. Shortly after winning the national competition and stepping into the music scene in 2011, the girls became megawatt stars. They were the first band to ever take home first place on the British reality show, largely in part due to their insane vocals. When these four ladies come together, their harmonies blow through the roof.
The 9 Best Songs To Wake Up To
Touch - Little Mix
Similar to girl groups of music industry past, Little Mix makes a point to stand up for women around the world. They write and produce a ton of their own music, and infuse it with catchy, yet empowering lyrics like, “You're the man. But I got the, I got the, I got the power. You make rain. But I'll make it, I'll make it, I'll make it shower” or “Mama told me not to waste my life. She said spread your wings my little butterfly. Don't let what they say keep you up at night. And if they give you shhhh, then they can walk on by.”
Their newest single “Bounce Back” was released earlier this May and broke into Top 100 charts all over the world. It riffs off a sample of that killer ‘90s beat from Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me),” with the addition of some cheeky lyrics. (My favorite being “Baby, keep me wetter than a bayou. If you don't, I'ma walk right by you”).
Bounce Back - Little Mix (Official Video)
Oh, don’t mind me casually twerking in my chair to this!
As much as I do not want to admit it, summer will eventually have to come to an end. The air will turn crisper and the days shorter, but regardless of what other changes this new season brings, I promise I will still be grooving to these summer tunes. If you are anything like me and want to keep the summer vibes going all year long, check out these other famous girl group songs:
Work From Home - Fifth Harmony
As a former Harmonizer, I know that Fifth Harmony mentions the word “work” over 90 times in this song, but trust me when I say the repetition shouldn’t dissuade you. After years of success in the industry, “Work From Home” became one of the group’s biggest hits and has currently racked up over two billion views on YouTube. The sexy lyrics on top of the simple synth beat are a match made in heaven, and certified “Work From Home” as one of the biggest songs of 2016.
Lemonade - Danity Kane
It’s no secret that Danity Kane was a girl group with internal issues. Members came and went, there were constant rumours of studio fights and the group itself disbanded multiple times. For some reason, this only made me more OBSESSED with them. Although the 2008 released song “Damaged” is probably the girls’ most popular song to date, “Lemonade” is the underappreciated bop I recommend all Danity Kane inquirers listen to first. The girls get a chance to show off their vocals on a hard, rhythmic beat.
Spice Up Your Life - The Spice Girls
There is nothing more fun than a song that requires you to scream in order to sing it! Like Little Mix, the Spice Girls are a British pop group, but that did not stop them from achieving world domination. The original group, composed of members Scary Spice (Melanie Brown), Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisolm), Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell), Baby Spice (Emma Bunton), and Posh (Victoria Beckham), was formed in 1994 and became an entertainment force to be reckoned with. In fact, their debut album Spice is still the best-selling girl group album of all time. Between their eccentric outfits, iconic hairstyles, dynamic voices, and girl power-focused tunes, there was no stopping this group from becoming the cultural icons they were always destined to be.
Hold On - En Vogue
En Vogue is one of the few groups on this list that are still performing together to this day. The group, which has retained half of its original members, has sold millions upon millions of records including this one, “Hold On.” The first minute of the song is acapella magic—completely dedicated to showcasing why these women are considered some of the best R&B vocalists of all time.
Jumpin’ Jumpin’ - Destiny’s Child
“Ladies leave your man at home. The club is full of ballers and their pockets full grown. And all you fellas leave your girl with her friends. ‘Cause it’s eleven-thirty and the club is jumpin’ jumpin’.” Shout out to every girl who used to sing these lyrics at the top of her lungs, even though she didn’t have a boyfriend. I see you. In fact, I am you. Although Destiny’s Child also saw some member fluctuation, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, and Beyoncé (often called DC3) are considered the holy trio. If I am being honest, every single one of Destiny’s Child’s songs could go on this list—their discography is unmatched—but Jumpin’ Jumpin’ is a particularly perfect song. It’s not super heavy on vocals, in fact, Beyoncé’s voice is the only one really heard on the track, but still manages to exude the sex appeal and groove of the entire group.
Wannabe - The Spice Girls
Yes, I am including another Spice Girls song on here. No, I will not apologize for it. “Wannabe” is one of the most well-known songs in the world and there are few things more fun than shouting “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends” at the top of your lungs, with your actual best girlfriends beside you. A sure-fire hit at every birthday party, karaoke bar, and road trip, “Wannabe” is the perfect song for your summer jams list. In fact, something tells me it’s already on there.
When I Grow Up -The Pussycat Dolls
Okay, confession time. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be a Pussycat Doll. For a while, it was my only dream. I would dance on my bed, pretending it was the car from the music video, and mimic every piece of intricate choreography. I just knew that if I sang loud enough, somehow lead vocalist Nicole Scherzinger was going to come and pluck me out of suburban Long Island in order to usher me into the wild world of the Pussycats. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Fortunately, I have learned to continue living life despite the pain of this crushed dream, but whenever I hear a Pussycat Doll song I am instantly transported back to that bedroom.
Believe it or not, these are just a few of my favorite girl groups; naming them all would be impossible. Even more than my love for their music, is my respect and admiration for the platforms they have created to empower other women. A group of women on stage working, singing, and dancing together is a beautiful thing to witness. It represents a special sisterly bond that is not often seen in the male-dominated music industry.
I am always thrilled to support these women year round, but the summer feels like an especially perfect time to crank their music all the way up. Whether you like songs about sex or power or love or pain, there is a girl group bop waiting out there for you. Hopefully, this list helps you find it.