Photo by M. Kasahara
1. The Go-Gos: In 1981, their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, hit the airwaves and went to number one. I would bop around to “We’ve Got the Beat” in my grungy NYC apartment with my girlfriends before we went out dancing. Belinda Carlisle was the lead singer and most famous Go-Go.
2. The Waitresses: “I Know What Boys Like…” This new wave group pretty much chanted their angsty lyrics. Not very musical really, but edgy and different-sounding in 1980. Their “Christmas Wrapping” song was a very early example of rap. Although not technically a girl band since it had guys, I’m still including it as an honorary member.
3. Bow-Wow-Wow: “I Want Candy” was their big hit in 1982. Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is a fan; he even included the name of the group in his song “Suck My Kiss”. Again, not technically a girl band since there were some guys, but what everyone remembers is Annabella Lwin with her huge Mohawk.
4. The Bangles: “Walk Like an Egyptian” was this sister-group’s big hit in 1981. You can still catch it on the radio once in a while. Prince wrote their other big hit, “Manic Monday”.
5. The Pointer Sisters: These siblings began with gospel music, and later went soul. They had two great hits in 1980: “He’s So Shy” and “Slow Hand”.
6. The Slits: This British punk band had a raw sound–and you can’t beat that name.
7. Mary Jane Girls: “In My House” is a great dance tune that went to number one in 1985.
8. Bananarama: Do you remember “Cruel Summer”? It’s a great, smooth dance tune that came out in 1983. The group was composed of two childhood friends, plus a third woman. They started off punk in the late 70s, then they became Madonna-ized in the mid-80s.
9. Vanity 6: This band was made up of three women. Vanity (Denise Matthews) was dating Prince, who suggested they form a group. Vanity and Prince were on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1983. Alas, Matthews, Susan Moonsie, and Brenda Bennett made only one album before they broke up.
10. Heart: Composed of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, this group had a hit with a cover of “Tell It Like It Is” in 1980. Ann Wilson did the soundtrack to the movie Footloose in 1984, and “These Dreams” got to number one in 1986.
Leslie Wells has edited forty-nine New York Times bestsellers in her thirty-year publishing career. She is the author of Come Dancing, a contemporary romance set in New York City in the 1980s. Visit her at www.lesliewellsbooks.com