Amidst the many pop groups that were flourishing throughout the mid-to-late 1990s, Brownstone remains one of the most notable. The group’s 1995 debut album is still widely considered one of the year’s best R&B releases, aided by the mega-success of their leading single, If You Love Me.
Today, Brownstone is still fairly active almost 30 years later but without any of its original members.
Martha and the Vandellas
Alongside The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas are one of the most enduring female groups from 1960s Motown as far as legacy goes. While songs like Heatwave would establish the group on the charts, it wasn’t until Betty Kelley left the Velvelettes and joined this group that they truly found success.
Though many Martha and the Vandellas songs are iconic, Dancing in the Street is their biggest hit. Even the Grateful Dead created their own jam band version of this track.
Cleopatra might be one of the few female trios who have been personally requested by the Pope to perform at the Vatican. This English pop group found international success thanks to the help of Madonna, whereupon after signing to her label, Cleopatra appeared on both Nickelodeon and Disney.
Unfortunately, as a group, Cleopatra was relatively short-lived, resulting in a forgotten album that was never released to the public.
Another relatively obscure (in today’s consciousness) pop group from the late 1990s is Wild Orchid. The group had a sensational breakthrough with their debut album, eventually making them a fixture of 90s television with a multitude of cameos.
Hosting a children’s show on FOX’s Saturday morning lineup, as well as appearing on Beverly Hills, 90210 are just a few of Wild Orchid’s television highlights. Though Wild Orchid is known for being a trio, the group’s career would end as a duo.
Originally beginning as a quartet, The Coathangers are a female punk trio who found mainstream success in 2014 with their album, Suck My Shirt. The Coathangers built a reputation playing house shows, which gained the attention of larger acts such as The Hiss and the Black Lips.
Things have quieted down in recent years with the band’s last album having been released in 2019. But, with a career spanning 17+ years, The Coathangers are already considered legends in their scene.
Compared to other groups, we can probably all agree that Bananarama has the best name in the business. Perhaps this factor helped them set the record for chart-ranking singles releases spanning the 1980s to the 2000s.
This English group might disagree, as they found it difficult for audiences to take them seriously despite having modest hits throughout the early 1980s. However, by the end of the decade, Bananarama was a common fixture of both the radio and MTV.
One of the most important female groups of the late 1980s was Salt-N-Pepa, who helped infuse rap and R&B into the pop styles of that period. The success of their track, Push It, propped the group up for success in the 1990s with songs like Whatta Man, and Shoop.
While it’s true that Salt-N-Pepa could be considered a duo, many forget that their DJ, Spinderella, was considered part of the group as a trio.
Kut Klose is an R&B group of the mid-1990s that appeared to have a promising start thanks to being discovered by singer, Keith Sweat. He would help produce Kut Close’s biggest hit to date, I Like, while also featuring the group on a number of his own chart-topping tracks, including the 1996 song, Twisted.
Another group to have worked with Phil Spector in the 1960s was The Blossoms. In fact, Phil Spector employed The Blossoms for many well-known recordings both as a group and as background singers for other artists.
If you’ve ever put Monster Mash on during Halloween, you’ve heard The Blossoms singing the song’s iconic backup vocals. Likewise, if you’ve heard the 1962 track, He’s A Rebel, you’ve heard the group front and center, despite being credited to a completely different group.
Many groups during the 1960s seemed to have swapped members at various points in time, with Labelle and The Supremes being one instance. It was only after Cindy Birdsong left and joined The Supremes that Labelle changed its name and became the funk-influenced power trio they would come to be known as.
Perhaps Labelle’s biggest hit is Lady Marmalade, which had a famous cover in 2001 for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack.
How can we discuss female trios without mentioning 3LW, which stands for 3 Lil Women? 3LW had a seemingly immediate breakthrough with their 2000 debut track, No More (Baby I’ma Do Right).
Eventually, 3LW became a duo before taking roles in the Disney film, The Cheetah Girls. Due to the success of the film, both the remaining members of 3LW decided to go full-time with The Cheetah Girls, officially marking the end of 3LW.
Top Girl Bands With 3 Members, Final Thoughts
Are you surprised at how many of these iconic groups you are familiar with? It just goes to show how prevalent female trios are in the context of pop music.
A century from now, the 1960s through the early 2000s will likely be considered the golden period for female pop trios. And yet, it’s almost a certainty that future trios will build and expand on what these aforementioned artists have contributed and accomplished.