The best girlhood girl bands

If you’re a girl, or a grown-up girl, you know there are girl bands in your past that still hold a special place in your heart (and your head, which still knows all the lyrics to your favorite songs). Here, we share some of our favorite girl bands from our girlhoods. Who are yours?

Spice Girls –by Ivy Ashe

YO, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.

I want to strap on my Rollerblades and blast “Wannabe” on the stereo and race around my neighbor Kenzie’s driveway, choreographing moves so sick Sporty Spice would have been jealous (and she does backflips!).

I want to pore over the lyrics to “Spice Up Your Life” in the car, trying to figure out what the heck a lambada is—because I’m still trying to figure out what “zig-a-zig-aaaa” means.

I want to giggle to my eleven-year-old self when I think of the HIDDEN MEANING in “2 Become 1.”

I want to laugh at all the poor saps who didn’t know who David Beckham until “Bend It Like Beckham” was in theaters. Pfff. So unposh of them.

But mostly I just want to turn up the volume and DANCE.

So tell me what you want, what you really really want.

Sleater Kinney –by Sam Howard

When I was in middle school, my brother Brian made my sister Beth and me mixed cds entitled “Songs for Sisters, Volume 1.” I put it in my cd player, pressed play and thought, “what the hell is this?”

It had lots of loud music on it, and it wasn’t the Dave Matthews Band or Michelle Branch (embarrassing, I know) that I had been really enjoying. The cd fell to the wayside. However, my brother, bless his heart, never gave up on making me like cool music. Still determined a year later, Brian encouraged me to revisit Songs for Sisters. I did, and found myself feeling differently about the mix, especially about two songs in particular. Those two songs, called “Oh!” and “Far Away,” were by Sleater Kinney, three of the most amazingly badass sounding women I have ever heard.

Sleater Kinney was a band labeled indie rock, punk, and/or riot grrrl, and they are very much worth your time. Like many other indie bands of the late 90s and early 00s, they came from the Portland area punk scene, but quickly escalated up the indie rock/riot grrrl food chain, going on to release records on Kill Rock Stars and eventually Sub Pop.

When I first started listening to them, it wasn’t what they were saying that I loved. I just loved how they sounded. They were playing their own instruments with precise passion and power, screaming out the words to their songs like they really meant it. This left me with many evenings listening to those two songs, over and over, playing air guitar and jumping up and down in my basement.

The themes they explored weren’t necessarily what I was interested in, or even noticed at the age of 13; but years later, when I really started listening to the words of their songs, I liked them even more. Sleater Kinney’s songs speak out against traditional gender roles, advocate for LGBT rights, oppose war, and explore everything in between.

Even though they broke up officially in 2006, they are still hard at work on individual projects, or showing up in music videos. Corin Tucker headlines The Corin Tucker Band, Carrie Brownstein blogs for NPR and writes for The Believer, and Janet Weiss has played with popular acts such as Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, as well as being a permanent member of indie band Quasi. In 2010, Brownstein stated in an interview she’d like to get the band back together and make an album within the next five years.

Eventually, my Dave Matthews Band and Michelle Branch cds left my stereo for good in order to make room for heavy rotation of Song for Sisters Volumes 1 and 2, and Sleater Kinney, of course. And even though I have an apartment now, instead of a house with a basement, I still make time to jump around and play air guitar, just don’t tell anyone.

If you want to learn more about these ladies or give them a listen for yourself check out their official website: or listen for free on grooveshark.

The Go-Gos –by Ivy Ashe

True confession: I usually switch stations when I hear a Go-Gos song on the radio. I’m a sucker for catchy material (see above…), and not all of their songs meets my standards of earworm. Not to say the band’s isn’t awesome– they’re the first all-female group (nay, band) to top Billboard album charts (so says the Billboard site), which is both wonderful and weird (it wasn’t till the eighties that album-topping happened? What took so long?). I just need that extra stuck-in-head factor.

I make an exception for this song, though.

The key is to learn all of the words and then sing it everywhere. It’s always appropriate. In the shower, in the car, to yourself while jogging, while you’re making breakfast…
Besides, after watching that video, don’t you just want to go pick up a set of drum sticks yourself?

No Doubt –by Tara Cavanaugh

Pretty sure the male members of No Doubt wouldn’t be happy to hear me call them a girl band, but come on: when you think of No Doubt, you think of Gwen Stefani. You think of “Spiderwebs” and that mid-90s anthem, “I’m Just A Girl.”

“I’m Just a Girl” was probably my introduction to feminism. I was only nine, and it put lyrics in my head that would make the Barbie collection in my basement give a collective shudder. Everything about me then was girly. My room was pink, I had a favorite Disney princess (Ariel), and I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could wear bras and high heels. “I’m Just A Girl” was deliciously subversive, totally singable, and appealing for reasons I didn’t quite understand. I get it now.

I grew into feminism, and part of that was refusing to believe that I was just a girl. I admit a lot about me is still pretty girly, but without the helplessness and clueless-ness that makes Gwen scream.

While I’m not exactly a fan of how Gwen has manufactured herself into a wannabe pop star, I’ll always remember her early days with No Doubt. I mean, have you listened to Tragic Kingdom lately? It’s still pretty damn good.

2 thoughts on “The best girlhood girl bands

  1. zig-a-zig was then British slang for… *gasp* SEX! lol I wondered about that too, and eventually couldn’t stand not knowing anymore!

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