I’ve got a very tender soft spot for ’50s and ’60s girl-groups and female-fronted Motown. I’m particularly fond of Dee Dee Sharp, Betty Everett and the delightfully campy Shangri-Las. Oh, the motorcycles! The beehives! The parental disapproval!
The amazing vocals and (probably unintentional) dirtiness of The
Exciters also never fails to put me in a good mood. I’ve always thought that “He’s Got the Power,” for example, should be a secret Motown anthem for kinky people. Why have no queer bands ever capitalized on its many double-entendres and done a cover? Why have no drag performers choreographed a clever patriarchy-subverting dance number to it? Why, oh, why?! (Uh, apparently listening to girl groups for too long makes my writing as melodramatic as the music.)
But do today’s girl groups compare to the girl groups of yesteryear? For me, the criteria is generally a combination of campness and danceability. If the lyrics are pervert-able or silly and it has a fun beat that I can shake my ass to, I’m a lot more likely to give it
more than just a cursory listen.
I’ll admit to loving “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls, if for no other reason than that many a drag queen has performed a fabulous gender-bending take on the song since it came out. I can even get into “Buttons” for its straightforward sexual
aggression. I’m less enthused about the treacly “Stickwitu” and songs of its ilk. Dolls, that’s nice that you’re professing your undying love, but you’re supposed to sing about anonymous sex in sleazy nightclubs!
Also, can we please talk about Danity Kane? Good lord. I saw that Missy Elliott lent some help to their song “Bad Girls,” and I hoped against hope that it was a cover of Donna Summer‘s song of the same name with Missy’s beats. I was sadly mistaken.
I don’t even care that Danity Kane’s song is less preachy and more slutty than Donna’s — it’s still terrible, save for the 30 seconds when Missy comes in and makes it maybe sorta kinda good. Missy, how much did Puffy pay you for that?
How do you like your girl groups — classy and classic or, uh, less so?