Once again, we’re back to take a look at the trailblazers of 1990s R&B.
Today it’s all about the girl groups. Not only were they awesome performers, these women influenced a generation of young girls and, in some cases, became pop culture icons.
As a reminder, this isn’t a list of Edd’s Personal Favorite R&B Groups. Rankings were determined by these factors:
1. Sales figures. Numbers don’t lie.
2. Consistency. Groups that dropped strong albums throughout the decade get higher marks.
3. Influence. Groups that became industry and cultural trendsetters were moved up the list.
And before some of y’all jump to the results and immediately start complaining, remember, only material released between 1990-1999 is considered for this list. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the ’90s we’re talking about, after all. Keep that in mind especially for the group that landed at No. 4, mmmkay? I know how ya’ll do.
Here we go: Let’s take a look at the women who revolutionized R&B in the 90s. Check out the list, then fill up your playlists with these classic albums.
Honorable mention: Zhané
Albums: From the Bottom Up (1995, platinum); Still Climbing (1997)
Edd said: There were so many talented female groups in the ’90s that Brownstone often seemed to get lost in the shuffle. That’s no reflection of their talent, however. Their voices were absolutely stunning.
Albums: Jade to the Max (1992, platinum); Mind, Body & Song (1994, gold)
Edd said: One-hit wonders? Nah, playa. “Don’t Walk Away” may have been their calling card, but Jade had much more to offer, producing two strong albums, solid sales figures and becoming fashion trendsetters in the early ’90s. Too bad their run ended so quickly.
8. Changing Faces
Albums: Changing Faces (1994, gold); All Day, All Night (1997, gold)
No. 1 singles: “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.” (1997, R&B)
Edd said: Another unappreciated group, the pair were a constant presence on R&B charts in the mid-90s.
Albums: No Doubt (1996, gold); 702 (1999, platinum)
Edd said: The trio reppin’ the Las Vegas area code came on strong in the second half of the decade, producing anthems that still hold up today. They’re yet another group on our list that deserved more time in the spotlight.
Albums: Total (1996, platinum); Kima, Keisha & Pam (1998, gold)
Edd said: Bad Boy Records’ ruled R&B and hip-hop through the latter half of the decade, and these bad girls helped lead the charge. It’s a shame they so quickly dropped out of sight soon after their sophomore effort.
Albums: Hummin’ Comin’ at Cha (1993, platinum); Off the Hook (1995, platinum); Traces of My Lipstick (1998, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Just Kickin’ It” (1993, R&B); “Understanding” (1993, R&B); “Who Can I Run To” (1995, R&B)
Edd said: Xscape doesn’t get nearly enough love for their contributions to R&B. Effortlessly shifting between ballads and smooth radio cuts, these ladies always delivered.
4. Destiny’s Child
Albums: Destiny’s Child (1998, platinum); The Writings on the Wall (1999, 8x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “No, No No” (1997, R&B); “Bills, Bills, Bills” (1999, R&B and pop)
Edd said: While DC would go on to dominate the 2000s, they were just getting their feet wet in the late 90s. Their well-received debut opened the door for their sophomore effort, which dropped at the tail end of the grading period. Their breakout hit, “Say My Name,” kicked off 2000 strong and, well, you know the rest. But in the ’90s, they were just realizing their potential.
Albums: It’s About Time (1992, 3x platinum); New Beginning (1996, platinum); Release Some Tension (1997, gold); A Special Christmas (1997)
No. 1 singles: “Weak” (1993, R&B and pop); “Right Here/Human Nature (1993, R&B); “Downtown” (1993, R&B); “You’re the One” (1996)
Edd said: Forget about the crazy fingernails and “controversial” lyrics (actually, songs like “Downtown” are pretty tame by today’s standards) – SWV had style but it was the substance that made them stars. SWV began to run out of steam near the end of the decade but still remained one of the most consistent, and successful, groups in the game.
2. En Vogue
Albums: Born to Sing (1990, platinum); Funky Divas (1992, 2x platinum); EV3 (1997, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Hold On” (1990, R&B); “Lies” (1990, R&B); “You Don’t Have to Worry” (1990, R&B); “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” (1992, R&B); “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” (1992, R&B); “Don’t Let Go (Love)” (1996, R&B)
Edd said: If you weren’t around in the early ’90s, a) It’s past your bedtime and b) it might be tough to fathom how huge En Vogue was at their peak. They had R&B charts in the cobra clutch the early ’90s; they could do no wrong. Even when the sound of R&B began to shift during the second half of the decade, they adapted and succeeded. En Vogue was truly at their best in the ’90s.
Albums: Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip (1992, 4x platinum); CrazySexyCool (1994, diamond); Fanmail (1999, 6x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Baby-Baby-Baby” (1992, R&B); “Creep” (1994, R&B and pop); Waterfalls (1995, pop); “No Scrubs” (1999, R&B and pop); “Unpretty” (1999, pop)
Edd said: Of all the groups on our list, none were able to evolve with the times as well as TLC. From around-the-way girls to sex symbols to leather-clad space robot thingys, TLC constantly found new ways to speak to their audience about love, sex, body image and self-respect. Unquestionably they’re the greatest female R&B group of the ’90s, and perhaps of all time.