Girl groups have been an influential part of the music industry for decades. From old swing music and R&B to modern pop groups, there’s no shortage of amazing women teaming up to create some of the best music out there. In this article, we’ll look at the 13 best-selling girl groups of all time.
1. Spice Girls (100+ Million)
The Spice Girls was formed in 1994 with Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, and Victoria Beckham. The ultimate in girl power, the group essentially took on the same role as the male boy bands of the time but targeted young girls with powerful life messages. They were the biggest leader of the teen pop resurgence of the 90s and eventually became one of the most important groups in music history.
They released their debut single Wannabe in 1996 and saw it reach number one in 37 countries. Just with their debut album, they became the best-selling all-girl group in history with over 23 million worldwide sales. By the end of it all, they sold over 100 million albums worldwide, becoming the best-selling girl group of all time and one of the best-selling music groups in history.
It’s hard to understate how big they were. The Spice Girls were part of innumerable ad campaigns, parody groups, and references. Even just their name has gone on to be used and interpolated for other successful and wild groups from politicians to athletes.
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2. The Supremes (100+ Million)
The Supremes were the biggest act Motown Records had throughout the 60s. Founded in Detroit in 1959 as The Primettes, they were one of the most commercially successful acts in the US and their legacy was the biggest reason why African-American R&B acts of later years were able to break into the mainstream music world.
All of the original members—Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown—were from the Holland-Dozier housing project in Detroit. The group went through several iterations and lineup changes before officially disbanding in 1977.
Some of their most famous tracks include Stop! In The Name Of Love and You Can’t Hurry Love, both of which were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list. The trio lineup of Ross, Ballard, and Wilson was inducted into that Hall of Fame as well. In total, they would release 29 studio albums with estimated sales records of more than 100 million worldwide sales.
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3. The Andrews Sisters (80+ Million)
The Andrews Sisters began their careers in 1925 and were a singing group that primarily worked in the swing and boogie-woogie eras. LaVerne Sophia Andrews, Patricia Marie Andrews, and Maxene Anglyn Andrews were the three members who started it all.
At their founding, Patricia was seven years old, and five years later, they won their first award. On top of venturing into blues territory, they would help introduce American audiences to the calypso genre with songs like Rum And Coca-Cola. Estimated sales records place them somewhere over 80 million worldwide sales.
Many of the harmonies they used are still in use today, with the likes of Bette Midler, Christina Aguilera, and Pentatonix putting them to use. They were among the inaugural inductees to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998 and remain one of the most imitated girl groups of all time.
4. 2NE1 (66.5+ Million)
K-pop groups have seen a steady rise in international popularity since the 90s, but it was 2NE1 that expanded the girl group traits of the genre and became figureheads of the Korean Wave. The South Korean girl group would form in 2009 with Bom, CL, Dara, and Minzy as members, staying together until 2016.
Typically, K-pop groups have strict guidelines for appearance, sound, etc. but they would break that mold quite often, experimenting with every aspect of their act and redefining what worked in the Korean music industry. While their debut album would help them rise to fame, their final album in 2014 would be the first by a Korean artist to break into the top 100 of the Billboard 200 on its debut.
With somewhere north of 66.5 million record sales worldwide, it’s easy to see how breaking stereotypes of their industry helped them expand both the Korean music scene and become one of the best-selling girl groups of all time.
5. TLC (65+ Million)
TLC was formed in Atlanta in 1989 with Tionne Watkins, Lisa Lopes, and Rozonda Thomas as the three members. They would produce nine hits that broke into the Top 10 of the Hot 100, including four number-one singles. Creep, No Scrubs, Waterfalls, and Unpretty would all break that mark with the first of those pushing their CrazySexyCool album to a diamond certification.
They were also the first R&B group in history to earn a million certification from the RIAA. Their careers would place them as one of the greatest girl groups of all time and one of the best musical trios in music history. When all was said and done, they sold somewhere between 65 and 75 million albums, took home four Grammy Awards, and were inducted into the Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame.
6. AKB48 (60+ Million)
AKB48 is a Japanese idol group formed in Tokyo in 2005. They were created with the intent of making a girl group that had their own theater to perform in daily, allowing fans to always see them live, which was unusual for idol groups at that time. And their ‘odd’ changes don’t stop there. They have rotational teams of members that give them the ability to perform at multiple events at the same time or appear at handshake events even during performances.
Over the years, their brand has expanded to include other girl groups in mainland China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and the Philippines. This essentially turns them into a brand, with multiple groups under one banner. In total, they have over 30 singles that have sold over one million copies, 35 number-one singles on the Oricon charts, and well over 60 million total records sold.
7. Destiny’s Child (60+ Million)
Destiny’s Child formed before The Spice Girls but had a long feeling-out process at the beginning of their time together. They started as Girl’s Tyme in 1990 with members including Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett. In 1997, they signed with Columbia Records as Destiny’s Child and quickly broke into the mainstream music world.
No, No, No served as their breakout song and pushed their album onto the best-seller list. They found incredible success critically and commercially but were frequently plagued by internal conflict. By 2000, Roberson and Luckett were replaced with Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, but Franklin wouldn’t stick around.
By their third album, Survivor, in 2001, the group would become a trio. That same year, Destiny’s Child would come to an unofficial end, with each member seeking solo careers, though they have reunited for events several times. In the end, they would sell over 60 million records worldwide and would be recognized as one of the most successful girl groups in music history.
8. Little Mix (60+ Million)
Little Mix was formed on the eighth series of The X Factor UK by Kelly Rowland, a former member of Destiny’s Child. They became the first group to win that series in 2011 and are now the most successful act to ever come from the show. Five of their singles would go on to become UK Singles number-ones and five of their six studio albums have achieved platinum certification.
They still hold the record for the highest-ranking chart entry for a debut album in the US and set a record for the longest-charting album by a girl group in the top 40 of the UK albums chart. As one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, they have estimated worldwide record sales above 60 million and were the first girl’s group to win the Brit Award for British Group.
9. The Pussycat Dolls (55+ Million)
The Pussycat Dolls started out as a burlesque troupe but secured a record deal and brought burlesque to mainstream audiences as a girl group and dance ensemble in 2003. Songs like Buttons, Stickwitu, and Don’t Cha would push them into the limelight but they were continually dealing with internal issues because of a large focus on their lead vocalist.
In the years since their recording career ended, they have branched out into reality TV, a Las Vegas show, and spin-off groups to further spread their brand. In the 2000s, they were one of the best-selling acts in music with a total worldwide record sales figure above 55 million.
10. TWICE (42+ Million)
TWICE debuted in 2015 under the television program Sixteen with nine members. In 2016, they quickly gained popularity in South Korea with their track Cheer Up, the best-performing single of the year and winner of Song of the Year at the Melon Music Awards. Their influence would quickly spread beyond Korea with subsequent releases.
They became the first Korean girl group to top both Billboard’s World Albums and World Digital Song Sales charts at the same time. Later single releases would enter the UK, Canadian, and US mainstream charts as well. Spawning dance crazes and viral memes worldwide, they have sold somewhere more than 42 million records worldwide.
11. Bananarama (40+ Million)
Bananarama had one of the most successful chart runs between 1982 and 2009, seeing 25 singles reach the top 40 of the UK Singles chart and setting a Guinness World Record for most chart entries during that span. Eleven of those singles would chart on the US Hot 100 as well, helping them earn several Billboard Award nominations.
In total, they would see over 40 million records worldwide. While not the wild influence on other groups that some other entries were, they were one of the most successful girl groups of all time and owned the dance club and pop charts for two decades.
12. The Pointer Sisters (40+ Million)
The Pointer Sisters were one of the most diverse girl groups of all time in terms of musical style. They delved into blues, funk, soul, country, dance, rock, R&B, jazz, electronic, and other genres. They found their biggest run of success in the 70s and 80s after spending time performing in clubs as they added more of their sisters to the ensemble.
Between 1973 and 1985, they would chart 13 songs within the top 20 on US charts and would eventually win a total of three Grammy Awards. As recently as 2015, they were still performing, rotating their lineup due to health issues. In the end, they would sell a little more than 40 million records worldwide.
13. Fifth Harmony (33+ Million)
Fifth Harmony formed to compete on the second season of The X Factor USA, eventually finishing third in the competition. Despite not winning, their performances would earn them a record deal with Simon Cowell’s label, and their debut single Miss Movin’ On would drop in 2013. They have an enormous vocal range and tend to sing songs with themes of female empowerment and confidence.
In the 21st century, no female group has been as successful as them, with the most Top-10 albums in the Billboard 200 of any girl group during that span. In total, they sold over 33 million worldwide records, hold three Guinness World Records, and won the first-ever Billboard Women in Music Group of the Year award.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.