Popular music today would look incredibly different if we didn’t have the boy band and girl group eras. Some of the earliest bands were formed in the 1950s and 1960s, but they’re still popular today. Many of the best groups were trios for at least part of their careers, so today, we’ll take a look at 35 awesome all-female bands that were also trios.
TLC was formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1990 and was composed of Tionne Watkins, Rozonda Thomas, and Lisa Lopes. As one of the preeminent girl groups of the 1990s, they became the best-selling American girl group of all time and one of the most important female trios in music history. Nine of their singles became top 10 hits on the US Billboard Hot 100, led by their four number-one singles Creep, Waterfalls, No Scrubs, and Unpretty.
Their record sales eclipsed 60 million worldwide and placed them as one of the most successful acts of the 1990s, earning them four Grammy Awards and five Soul Train Awards along the way. Even as recently as 2022, they have released a new album, though this was done as a duo without Lisa Lopes.
Recommended: Top 90s girl bands
2. The Supremes
The Supremes were an American girl group that was one of the iconic acts of the Motown Record label during the 1960s. Formed in Detroit, Michigan, they consisted initially of Diana Ross, Betty McGlown, and Florence Ballard. They would go on to become music icons and Motown’s most commercially successful act, but their impact went beyond the sales they racked up.
They are largely credited as one of the acts that helped Black R&B and soul musicians find mainstream success in the US, making them one of the most important acts of their era. Timeless classics like Stop! In The Name Of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, and You Keep Me Hanging On remain iconic early R&B hits.
3. Destiny’s Child
The first few years that Destiny’s Child was together, they were a quartet featuring Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Letoya Tucker, and LaTavia Roberson. By the time they reached their peak in 2000 though, they had turned into a trio with Knowles, Rowland, and Michelle Williams at the helm.
Their 2001 album Survivor was one of their most successful records, with international hit singles like Independent Woman and Bootylicious. Internal conflict and the pursuit of solo careers plagued them, keeping them from having a long run together. Despite that relatively short run, they earned 60 million worldwide record sales, 14 Grammy nominations, and a Guinness World Record.
Recommended: Top girl bands of all time
4. The Andrews Sisters
The Andrews Sisters are among the most important acts of all time in the swing, blues, and boogie-woogie genres. A close harmony trio formed by LaVerne, Maxene, and Patricia Andrews, the three sisters helped pioneer jump blues, introduce the US to calypso music, and influence artists decades beyond their time in the sun.
Most of their most recognizable songs were released between 1935 and 1945, a pivotal time in both American and music history. For the first half of the 20th century, they were the most popular female vocal group in the world, earning over 80 million worldwide record sales in the process. They were also among the first inductees to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame when it opened in 1998.
Salt-N-Pepa was one of the most iconic acts of the early 1990s and was integral to the popularization of hip hop. Cheryl James, Sandra Denton, and Deidra Roper broke into the mainstream when their debut album Hot, Cool, & Vicious sold over a million copies in the US and made them the first female rap act to achieve both a gold and platinum certification.
It included their most famous single Push It, which broke into the top 20 of the US Hot 100. Other songs of theirs like Whatta Man, Shoop, and Let’s Talk About Sex turned them into hip hop icons. In 2021, they were honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Recommended: Top hip hop groups of all time
6. The Chicks
Formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, this country music superstar trio was founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1989. Initially performing bluegrass and country music, they toured for six years before securing a major record label deal. Several of their albums earned multi-platinum status, and they were able to land successful singles like Wide Open Spaces, Cowboy Take Me Away, and You Were Mine near the top of the US country charts.
After a hiatus that lasted until 2006, their album Taking The Long Way produced their biggest crossover hit Not Ready To Make Nice, which reached number four on the Hot 100. In total, they took home 13 Grammy Awards and became the best-selling all-woman band in country music.
7. Atomic Kitten
Atomic Kitten was an English girl group formed in Liverpool in 1998. They produced five top 10 singles before any lineup changes happened and their debut album Right Now made it to number 39 on the UK Album chart. The Europop group’s most successful single was undeniably Whole Again, a song that reached number one in several countries and was one of Britain’s best-selling singles of the 2000s.
Other singles like their covers of Eternal Flame and The Tide Is High were released to massive acclaim, though they would continue being on and off from 2005 onward.
8. The Ronettes
The Ronettes were a New York-based girl group formed in 1957. Known as the Darling Sisters despite not being related, they placed nine songs on the Hot 100, six of which became top 40 hits. Be My Baby, Walking In The Rain, and (The Best Part Of ) Breakin’ Up became classics.
Perhaps their most famous tour came when they were the opening act of The Beatles’ US tour, though The Rolling Stones served as their opening act during The Ronettes UK tour. The trio has since been inducted into the Rock and Roll, Grammy, and Vocal Group Halls of Fame.
9. Wilson Phillips
Wilson Phillips certainly came from a musical background, with Carnie and Wendy Wilson being the daughters of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Chynna Phillips being the daughter of John and Michelle of The Mamas And The Papas. After forming in 1989, their debut album was released in 1990 to critical acclaim. It sold over 10 million copies and sent three songs to the top of the Hot 100 that year. The album also earned them five Grammy nominations thanks to tracks like Hold On, Release Me, and You’re In Love.
The trio 3LW (3 Lil Women) was formed in 1999 by Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams, and Naturi Naughton. Their debut single No More (Baby I’ma Do Right) was a chart success and sparked the follow-up single Playas Gon’ Play in 2001. Their popularity at the time grew to the point that they were invited to record for What More Can I Give alongside various major artists in response to the September 11 attacks and went on the MTV Total Request Live Tour with Destiny’s Child, Nelly, Eve, and others in 2001.
Their album was leaked online in 2002, forcing them to start from scratch. Though Naughton left due to internal conflict in the group in 2002, they hung on until Disney formed The Cheetah Girls with Bailon and Williams, effectively ending 3LW’s time together in 2003.
Cleopatra was an English girl group consisting of the sisters Cleo, Zainam, and Yonah Higgins. Originally based in Manchester, they eventually made their way into the mainstream with their debut single Cleopatra’s Theme. That song entered the UK Singles Chart at number three, giving them a stunningly successful debut.
Follow-up singles from their Comin’ Atcha album earned them three most UK top-five hits and turned them into an international success. A Disney Channel special, an appearance at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and a performance at the Vatican’s Christmas Carol Concert cemented their place in the industry. Unfortunately, their second album didn’t receive the same level of promotion, and they ultimately fell apart after producing a television sitcom.
12. The 22.214.171.124’s
The 126.96.36.199’s started out as a quartet when they were founded in 1986 but became a trio before embarking on an Australian tour in 1992. The Japanese rock group consisted of Yoshiko Fujiyama, Sachiko Fujii, and Akiko Omo from that point on, though guests frequently played alongside them while on tour.
Most of their songs were sung in Japanese, but they were covers of American rock and roll records from the 1950s and 1960s. In the Western World, they rose to prominence as the group behind their appearance in Kill Bill: Volume 1 where they played I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield, I’m Blue, and Woo Hoo.
Sugababes was formed in 1998 and consisted originally of Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan, and Siobhan Donaghy. Several lineup changes eventually led to the group returning to their original lineup in 2011 under a new name. They earned six number-one singles on the UK Singles Chart, with their most famous songs being Freak Like Me, Walk This Way, and Round Round. An additional six Brit Award nominations followed, winning Best British Dance Act in 2003.
The Haim sisters formed HAIM in 2007, and each of them is a proficient multi-instrumentalist. Coming up in a music family, they fully formed in 2012. Their first album Days Are Gone was released in 2013 and was buoyed by an appearance at Glastonbury Festival that year. It was a number-one album in the UK and was nominated for several awards, helping them take home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 57th ceremony.
SWV was originally formed as a gospel group featuring Cheryl Gamble, Tamara George, and Leanne Lyons. By the 1990s, they had turned into a full-fledged R&B group, producing a series of hits that included Weak, I’m So Into You, and You’re The One. Though they disbanded in 1998 to pursue solo careers, they reformed in 2005 and have steadily toured since then. With over 25 million record sales, they rank among the best-selling girl groups of all time.
Bananarama began life as a trio consisting of Siobhan Fahey, Sara Dallin, and Keren Woodward. By 1991, they had become a duo, but they remained incredibly popular in the UK. They hold the Guinness World Record for the most number of chart entries by a girl group with 30 singles reaching the top 50 of the UK Singles Chart throughout their career. Their biggest hits included Shy Boy, Say Something, and Love In The First Degree.
17. Little Mix
Little Mix is another English girl group that was formed on a season of the British version of The X Factor in 2011. The lineup of Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, and Jesy Nelson became the first group to ever win the show. Nelson left the group in 2020, leaving them as a trio today.
Their success had many media members dub them the biggest girl group in the world, rising on charts and in the hearts of fans on the back of singles like Wings and Black Magic. Several records were broken by them during their career but becoming the first girl group to spend 100 weeks inside of the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart is one of the biggest.
18. En Vogue
En Vogue was formed in 1989 and consisted of Terry Ellis, Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, and Maxine Jones. Lineup changes eventually left the group as a trio in 2001. In total, they have won seven MTV Video Music Awards and three Soul Train Awards and earned seven Grammy nominations. One of the most successful female groups of the 1990s, their blend of pop, R&B, soul, and funk was truly special. Some of their biggest songs include Don’t Let Go and Hold On.
19. The Velvelettes
The Velvelettes were another one of the Motown girl groups that blessed the 1960s. Founded in 1961 by a group of students, they eventually performed and recorded several songs that became hits for other groups like Martha And The Vandellas and The Supremes. In 1964, they found their own chart breakthrough with the track Needle In A Haystack and followed it up with He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’.
20. Au Revoir Simone
Au Revoir Simone is an indie pop band formed in 2003 and composed of Erika Forster, Annie Hart, and Heather D’Angelo. Their name came from a line in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure that Pee-wee Herman says to the minor character Simone.
Their music is as diverse as their influences, drawing on artists like Modest Mouse, The Mountain Goats, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, and others to create a unique brand of dream pop music. Their best-known songs found a spot in the HBO documentary on Marilyn Monroe, with Stay Golden and Red Rabbit both being included in the documentary’s soundtrack.
The trio boygenius is an indie supergroup consisting of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridges, and Lucy Dacus. They debuted their self-titled EP in 2018 to critical and commercial success, earning rave reviews from major publications like NME. In the US, it peaked at number four on the Billboard 200, but it topped the album charts in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Their second EP the rest was released in 2023 to similar acclaim.
Bratmobile is one of the original bands of the first wave of the Riot Grrrl movement. Formed in Olympia, Washington, in 1991, they’re known for an eclectic style that incorporates surf, pop, and garage rock into a unique style. They consisted of Allison Wolfe, Molly Neuman, and a revolving door of other musicians.
They were actually a fake band at the start, but after being invited to play at an event alongside Bikini Kill and Some Velvet Sidewalk, they began to take things more seriously. They were considered more of a movement than a singular group, which led to an early breakup, hiatus, reformation, and second breakup.
23. The Coathangers
The Coathangers were formed as a punk rock band in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2006. The original lineup consisted of Julia Kugel-Montoya, Meredith Franco, and Stephanie Luke. Their name is no coincidence either, as all three members are outspoken feminists and advocates for the pro-choice movement. They opened for The Hiss after being spotted playing a house show and were pa supporting act for Black Lips on several occasions.
24. The Three Degrees
The Three Degrees is a vocal group that was formed in 1963 as part of the Philadelphia soul movement. Despite having 16 members over their tenure, they have always been a trio. Its original lineup consisted of Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter, and Linda Turner. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) was a number-one single on the Hot 100, and the group followed it up with a slew of top 40 hits like When Will I See You Again and Woman In Love.
25. The Emotions
The Emotions is another example of a gospel group that evolved into an R&B operation as their career moved on. The Chicago-based group charted several successful songs like So I Can Love You, Heart Association, and Show Me How.
Earth, Wind, And Fire’s huge hit Boogie Wonderland was a collaboration between that group and The Emotions, earning them a number six hit on the Hot 100 and a number four hit in the UK. Many of their tracks are sampled in modern music, with notable artists like Kanye West, De La Soul, Tupac, and LL Cool J all using them for inspiration.
Brownstone found its longest run of success in the middle of the 1990s at the height of the R&B genre’s popularity. They’re best known today for their singles If You Love Me, Grapevyne, and 5 Miles To Empty. The original lineup consisted of Monica Doby, Charmayne Maxwell, and Nichole Gilbert who signed with Michael Jackson’s MJJ Music label early in their career.
27. Wild Orchid
Wild Orchid began their time together under the name NRG in 1991 with a lineup of Stacy Ferguson, Renee Sandstrom, and Stefanie Ridel. In 1992, they changed their name to Wild Orchid and signed with RCA Records in 1994. Their debut album earned several Billboard Music Award nominations, though Ferguson left the group in 2001, and they continued as a duo. Among the best American girl groups of all time on critical lists, their short run did nothing to keep them from releasing great R&B and soul music.
28. Kut Klose
Kut Klose is an R&B trio that was formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1993. Their lineup consists of Athena Cage, Lavonn Battle, and Tabitha Duncan. Keith Sweat was the singer who discovered the group and produced their debut album Surrender. They’re best known for the single I Like, though Lovely Thang and Twisted were also great examples of their R&B style.
MUNA is an indie pop band consisting of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson. Formed in 2013, they began their studio career with RCA Records and released two albums before going independent in 2022 with a self-titled album.
The trio met at the University of Southern California and began making music in 2013, evolving from experimental pop to more catchy electric pop hooks as they found their footing. Songs like Winterbreak, I Know A Place, and Number One Fan are great examples of their music.
30. The Tuts
The Tuts were an independent three-tone pop-punk group from London that found a home on alternative radio. Formed in 2007, they quickly gained recognition as one of the UK’s most exciting bands. Their alt-rock style is a throwback to the feminist riot grrrl movement. By 2022, Nadia Javed became a solo artist, essentially ending The Tuts’ run together.
31. The Warning
The Warning is a Mexican rock band from Monterrey that was formed in 2013 by Daniela, Paulina, and Alejandra. Even as recently as 2022, this group has released an album, with Error receiving rave critical reviews. All three members are sisters who were raised in Monterrey and were trained on several instruments from a young age.
When they gained mainstream attention in 2014, the members were aged nine to 14 and found fame with a cover of Metallica’s Enter Sandman, which was released on YouTube. Until 2020, they were independent artists who raised money through a GoFundMe campaign but have since signed with Lava Records and appeared on a Metallica tribute album. They’ve also toured alongside Halestorm, Three Days Grace, and Muse.
32. The Wailin’ Jennys
The Wailin’ Jennys are a Canadian girl trio formed in 2002 when a guitar shop in Winnipeg brought Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta, and Cara Luft together for a joint performance. After their show went well, the owner told them to go on tour and gave them their name, which is a pun on country singer Waylon Jennings’s name. Part-time musicians who thought they would only play a few shows, this led to a full-time career and winning two Juno Awards.
33. Thug Murder
Thug Murder was a highly influential street punk girl band formed in Japan. All of their songs were written and performed in English, but their thick Japanese accents and heavy vocal style made most of their lyrics hard to discern.
Formed in 1999, they split up after only two years in 2001. That same year, they toured the US and the EU alongside the Dropkick Murphys, and their US debut was released under the Dropkick Murphys’s record label. One member, Ryoko, formed a new band with the same style named Last Target in 2002 and released the song One Shot, One Kill.
34. Super Heroines
Super Heroines was an American deathrock trio formed in the 1980s, though they were very different from the other death rock bands of the era. Rather than sticking to a gothic aesthetic, they relied more on punk and metal styles for their music.
The original lineup consisted of Eva O, Sandra Ross, and Del Mar Richardson, but several changes happened over their seven-year run together. Each of the original members and several of the later ones had successful careers elsewhere as well, working with other bands like Christian Death, Shadow Project, and Teardrain.
Stereopony was a pop-rock trio that was formed in Japan in 2007. Despite a relatively short run together that only lasted until 2023, they became incredibly popular and landed several notable songs on the Japanese Oricon charts.
Their entire discography consists of 11 singles and three albums, which earned them several features in anime. Perhaps the most famous of these was their song Hitohira No Hanabira, which served as the ending theme for the anime series Bleach and reached number 25 on the Oricon weekly singles chart.
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.