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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