From Girl Grouper to Solo Act

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In any girl group, there will always be that one girl who stands out in her group. No, not because she’s pretty, has a great body or dances really well, but because of the basics, ie. She sings really well. Like better than her group mates and sometimes, even some existing solo singers.

Which is why that the inevitable soon happens, girl needs to go solo. So she goes solo, does songs that she personally prefers or that producers think she suits; then bam!, becomes an immediate solo singing sensation and then has to decide whether or not she wants to stay with said group or remain solo forevermore.

Sounds simple enough. The truth is not all solo singing attempts end up successful like Beyonce. For every Beyonce, there are cases of some unsuccessful attempts at solo stardom such as Nicole Scherzinger, maybe? You have to have the right ingredients to stand out as a solo artiste and differentiate yourselves from your group’s music according to my non-expert critique.

Girl group member gone solo have been going on for many years now. Off the top of my head, I can cite Diana Ross of the Supremes’ as a good example and of course her modern counterpart, Beyonce. Both women came from R&B based groups and successfully forged ahead with a solo career, leaving their groups in the dust.

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Based on what I’ve seen so far, it seems to me that other than the aforementioned Beyonce, most girl groupers that go solo are usually from British girl groups. This isn’t surprising as America has not actually supplied us with a steady-stream of girl groups. So to the British we go to. I’d like to mention that while all three of the Destiny’s Child members did go solo, not all of them reached Beyonce proportions. Kelly Rowland has had a decent solo career while Michelle Williams is more focused on gospel music. I admit I do like some of new mother Ms Rowland’s tunes with her recent forays into electro-dance, EDM type music with a tinge of sexuality thrown in. Not that’s a bad thing, because Ms Rowland also does it on a grand scale, as her collaboration with David Guetta can testify. Sometimes, she’ll still do R & B. Kelly’s had a stint as a judge on the now cancelled The X-Factor US version. As for Michelle, besides gospel, she also does musicals in her off-time. Recently, she had her Destiny’s Child sisters reunited for her latest single. So, least to say, at least all three Destiny Child’s members careers are secured. I will add here another name I can think of and that is Fergie from Black Eyed Peas and previously from the girl group Wild Orchid who did manage a successful solo career and that was when she was with the Black Eyed Peas. We all know her hit singles, “London Bridge”, “Fergalicious”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” ,  “Clumsy”, “Glamorous”, as well as her recent release “L.A. Love (La La)” from her soon to be released second album.

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Meanwhile, we go back to the British girl group solo explosion. Starting with everybody’s favourite British girl group, the Spice Girls. All of the Spice Girls have gone solo, even Victoria Beckham, before she went all designer on us. All the girls have had some degree of success, with the most successful being Melanie Chisolm (Mel C) followed by maybe Geri Halliwell went she left the Spice Girls. Then of course there are the solo careers of Emma Bunton and Melanie Brown (Mel B). Though Mel C did achieve a degree of success with her solo careers, it wasn’t comparable to her success with her girl group, Spice Girls. Still, she was the most successful, solo-wise with her songs cracking and topping the charts. She’s collaborated with a slew of artistes as diverse as Bryan Adams and the late Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, proving to be the most versatile Spice Girl. While her earlier solo career was successful, her later efforts were rather lukewarm. Geri Halliwell, since her departing the Spice Girls before reuniting with them, had a decent solo career. I can still recall some of her songs, including her cover of The Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men being featured on the soundtrack to The Bridget Jones movie. Her other songs, Lift Me Up, Look at Me, and Mi Chico Latino appeared on the charts too. Emma Bunton had a pretty decent solo career with some of her known songs being “What Took You So Long?” and “Maybe”. She too has had stints on various television shows. Meanwhile, Mel B is best known nowadays as a judge on “America’s Got Talent”. She’s had stints as a judge on the The X-Factor Australia and UK. Since then, many of the Spice Girls’ successors have also had members who’ve gone solo, most notably Girls Aloud Cheryl Cole. The band itself has disbanded so Cheryl Cole is now a full-time solo artiste. Cheryl Cole has had it good, it helps that she’s the most beautiful in Girls Aloud (all the Girls Aloud members are gorgeous BTW), she’s had a stint on The X-Factor UK version and an almost stint on the US version. She was also once married to England and former Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole. She’s done collaborations and is friends with Black Eyed Peas member Will.I.Am. Cheryl Cole, it can be said is the most marketable member in Girls Aloud.

tzed-girls-aloud-7122201-1280-960England itself has also given us other equally good girl groups such as All Saints, Atomic Kitten, and the Sugababes. Just to be clear, no member of Atomic Kitten has gone solo. Several members of those girl groups have gone solo and made somewhat of an impact on the charts. For example, the All Saints sister-duo (not technically a solo, but still) Nicole and Natalie Appleton founded Appleton with limited success. The rest of the other All Saints members,Melanie Blatt and Shaznay Lewis have also gone, all with limited success. All Saints are one of those girl groups who appeal more as a group, lacking charismatic members who have the potential to really go big as a solo artiste, which possibly explains their lack of solo success.


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The Sugababes meanwhile, is the British girl group best remembered for having a string of hits on the charts as well as rotating their group members. Starting off with their original three members, Siobhan Donaghy, Keisha Buchanan, and Muya Buena and later adding in replacement members, Heidi Range, Amelle Berrabah, and Jade Ewen. So far, only the original members who reformed the original line-up of Sugababes have taken on solo careers. Right of the bat, I remember Mutya Buena releasing a solo album Real Girl, to limited success and Siobhan Donaghy released Revolution In Me. Their solo efforts were obviously not very successful.

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So there you have it, the key to actually go solo for a girl grouper is if, preferably, you have the voice, the popularity, the charisma, maybe the looks and body. Other than those factors, you’ve gotta have the right management behind you, the right production team for your solo music, and girl, if you can, write your own music. Writing your own music shows credibility and you taking charge of your own music and image. Ah yes, image. Do look a little different when you go solo so people can differentiate you between your girl group persona and your solo identity. Do promote your music aggressively, maybe a tie-in with a successful commercial, movie or drama. Go on the talk show circuit, the Internet, maybe go viral? Have a song that can appeal to the public without compromising your own artistic integrity. Show yourself more through your solo work. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck, your solo career will flourish and make you even more popular than your group.

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Malaysian Double Standards Towards Visiting Female Performers

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Recently,Robin Thicke had a performance in a joint concert organized by MTV here in Malaysia.

Which led me to think, that for the guy who crooned ‘Blurred Lines’ while cavorting with topless models in his uncensored version of the video, there was hardly a ripple about him performing here in Malaysia. His arrival was also after the infamous Miley Cyrus MTV VMAs twerking performance. Again, not even a squeak was heard.


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Don’t get me wrong,I am a huge fan of Robin Thicke,way before he went, “I know you want it”, and Hey Hey Hey!” aka Blurred Lines. The guy is super talented what with his ability to write and produce songs, and of course as a live performer.

But how is it that when it came time for the ladies to perform here in Malaysia, there is always a big brouhaha. From the likes of the Pussycat Dolls (understandable in this country) as well as Beyonce and Rihanna, these women have all got the backlash treatment usually from religious authorities and the higher-ups. For the record, Beyonce had wanted to perform in Malaysia before twice but was always followed by protests leading to her cancelling and opting to perform in neighboring Indonesia instead. Rihanna was supposed to come to Malaysia for a concert until the Chris Brown incident happened.

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The two singers and group mentioned above do represent performers who push the limits when it comes to performance and the showcase of their blatant sexuality on stage but there is a problem here when the likes of Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne get a similar reaction to them coming here.


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Like seriously, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne? Those two are considered tame when it comes to being super sexy compared to their peers.

Not that male performers haven’t been welcomed without a fuss, these are usually met by openly gay singers such as Adam Lambert and Elton John and occasionally metal bands such as Lamb of God, but this posting is about the ladies. And it usually is the ladies who are put under a different microscope than the men. The men will probably be mentioned some other time.

It’s become expected and ridiculous that when a female performer shows up, you can expect two things. A protest over her arrival in the country and a demand that she comply with local regulations ie. dress up decently.

Decently meaning only one thing; covered up. Oh hey, how about covering her with a sheet while she’s performing with only her eyes showing? Now that’s something worth to see at a performance, eh?


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Precisely, and that’s exactly how Mariah Carey performed when she was in Malaysia. One outfit throughout the entire performance with not a single costume change! The same with Pixie Lott at her first performance in Malaysia as well as Katy Perry. While these women didn’t exactly dress up as a ghost at their respective performances, they wore only one outfit throughout. Though they can just wear trash bags and still rock it, or as the aforementioned one outfit, it is a loss when they are not allowed to parade their stage outfits onstage or their incredible fashion sense all because of some ‘decent’ ruling.      Credited to                                                              Credited to


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How about when Erykah Badu was scheduled to perform here and then banned for inciting religious sensitivities. If that is the case, then they shouldn’t have approved for her performing in the first place or even announce her arrival. A thorough background check would have sufficed.

Apparently Malaysians can’t think for themselves about choosing who or what they want to watch. Are we so gullible that watching a homosexual singer perform means that we will all turn gay the minute we exit the concert venue? Or have our morals corrupted as soon the singer ends the song? There are things that are even worse out there, people.

Still, there have been some improvements seen. Miss Jenny on the Block Jennifer Lopez performed not too long ago and seemed to have gotten off scot-free. Then again, she did make alterations to her outfit.

It seems that ‘safe’ performers like Celine Dion are allowed to perform here without any hassle as they have an image of being conservative and are known more for their vocals. There are probably examples of many performers I have not mentioned but you get the idea for the kind of performers that are allowed here.

I long for the day when performers such as Lady Gaga and Madonna can perform here in Malaysia without anyone batting an eyelid or demanding that some conditions be met. To let performers do what they do best; perform with no restrictions and repercussions.


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I am however worried about the reception for Ke$ha what with her concert scheduled later this month. Everyone knows the kind of shows that she puts up. Of course, expected protests here and there. In an update; with Ke$ha due to arrive in a week, it’s been relatively quiet on the front. Perhaps a sign of things to come? Hopefully so, maybe we are changing. Still, I’m not really concerned about the imminent arrival of Alicia Keys’ concert. She is after all, a ‘safe’ performer. At least for this country.

Improvements have to be made. Perhaps just be a little lenient when it comes to letting performers in. Standardize the conditions set for allowed performers with no discrimination concerning gender whatsoever. Let the people decide and judge for themselves who they want to see perform.


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Quick update: Ke$ha’s concert was a no go as it was said to be “undermining religious and cultural sensibilities”. Some things never change. Point taken. Need we say more?