As we continue to enjoy TLC Week here at VH1, we can help but get sucked by into the ’90s, when R&B was at its finest. From the early years of new jack swing to the house style that took over in the mid ’90s, the undercurrent of neo soul and the futuristic pop sounds that closed out the decade. But most importantly, ’90s R&B was the decade of the girl group. TLC was one of several groups that blew up nearly 20 years ago, helping to shape the music of our childhood. Everyone one from 702 to Brownstone and Jade to Xscape gave us something to remember.
Who: Our list kicks off with a more memorable group, 702, who rocked out the late ’90s during the era of ’I’m not going to let my man do me wrong’ that saw the return of TLC and the rise of Destiny’s Child. Though they were formed in 1996, they didn’t peak until 1999 with their self-titled sophomore album. The group owes much of their success to Missy Elliott, who penned their biggest hits.
Biggest Hit: “Where My Girls At?”
2. All Saints
Who: This English quartet blurred the line between R&B and pop with dance beats balanced with a sultry R&B sound. They bounced between house (“I Know Where It’s At”), soul (“Never Ever”) and alternative (“Under The Bridge”). Their debut album dominated the the mid ’90s and helped them become one of the UK’s most successful female groups.
Biggest Hit: “Never Ever”
Who: A quartet comprised of Alia Davis, Linnie Belcher, Lalisha McClean and Akissa Mendez who were signed to Mariah Carey’s label, Crave Records. (Unfortunately for the group, Carey’s closed a year later in 1998.) They released their debut in 1997 and scored their biggest hit with 112 duet on “All Cried Out,” a cover of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.
Biggest Hit: “All Cried Out” (featuring 112)
Who: The first group signed to Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ production company, Left Eye Productions. Though the group was formed in 1996, their first single (“808”) wasn’t released until 1999. The seductive first single was written and produced by R. Kelly. Though, their biggest hit was released seven days later. “Bring It All To Me” benefited from the featured vocals of JC Chasez. The group would go on to star in Bring It On before the group eventually split.
Biggest Hit: “Bring It All To Me” (featuring JC Chasez)
Who: The contemporary R&B group formed in 1995 and was signed to Michael Jackson’s label, MJJ Music, less than a year later. Their debut album spawned this hit, “If You Love Me,” which garnered the girls a Billboard Music Award and Grammy nomination. Like many groups on this list, one of the members left after internal fighting and Brownstone struggled ever since.
Biggest Hit: “If You Want Me”
6. Changing Faces
Who: The group was a duo comprised of Cassandra Lucas and Charisse Rose. The girls came together in 1993, working at a dermatologist’s office during the day and recording demos at night. They eventually were signed and worked with R. Kelly, who wrote their first two singles, “Stroke You Up” and “Foolin’ Around.” The success of the first album led to spots on the Space Jam and Dr. Dolittle soundtracks.
Biggest Hit: “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.”
7. Destiny’s Child (original line up)
Who: Beyonce and crew didn’t really make an impact until 1999 when they scored with a trio of hits (“Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Bug A Boo” and “Say My Name”). While “Say My Name” saw the lineup change in the video, the song still featured the original roster’s vocals, which was won them the Grammy. But it can be argued that their first, often-overlooked single (“No, No, No”) was their best.
Biggest Hit: “Say My Name”
Who: The R&B trio formed in 1996 and released two singles before disbanding in 2000. The group scored with the number one hit “Lately” but failed to do anything of note to follow up. After the group disbanded, Kia Thornton auditioned for American Idol’s sixth season but was later eliminated during the Hollywood rounds.
Biggest Hit: “Lately”
9. En Vogue
Who: Fans can argue this group was hardly forgotten but after the departure of Dawn Robinson, the group’s success stalled. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact the girls dominated the early ’90s. Songs, such as “Hold On,” “My Lovin'” and “Free Your Mind” were massive crossover hits. They even appeared as prostitutes who attempt to seduce Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever. “Don’t Let Go” was the group’s last major hit as a quartet.
Biggest Hit: “Don’t Let Go”
Up next: For Real, Jade, Xscape and more!
10. For Real
Who: The soul quartet formed in 1993 and worked with Brian McKnight on their 1994 debut album. The album received rare critical success with Rolling Stone, which gave the album four stars. The album’s first three singles were minor hits and the record eventually sold over a million copies. They also contributed songs to several successful soundtracks, including Panther and Waiting To Exhale.
Biggest Hit: “Like I Do”
Who: The trio enjoyed a brief career from 1992 to 1995. They landed on the scene with three hit singles in 1992. However, by the end of 1993, things quickly fizzled for the group and faded into obscurity by the start of 1995.
Biggest Hit: “Don’t Walk Away”
12. K.P. & Envyi
Who: The hip-hop and R&B duo is best known for their single “Swing My Way,” which peaked in 1998. The one hit wonder’s song appeared on the soundtrack for Can’t Hardly Wait starring Ethan Embry and Jennifer Love Hewitt but that’s about all there is to say about this group.
Biggest Hit: “Swing My Way”
13. Kut Klose
Who: In 1994, Keith Sweat discovered this trio and produced their debut album. They scored a minor hit with “I Like” but failed to pick up any steam to get a second album, which is still listed as TBA on the group’s Wikipedia page.
Biggest Hit: “I Like”
Who: The trio easily ruled the radio in the early ’90s. Much like En Vogue, the group scored with massive crossover singles that saw them burn up the Billboard Hot 100. Their first album was one of the most successful debuts going triple platinum and producing hits, such as “Weak” and “Right Here/Human Nature.” The group eventually disbanded in 1998 handing over the R&B thrown to Destiny’s Child, who dominated the charts 1999 and on.
Biggest Hit: “Weak”
15. The Braxtons
Who: The group consisting of Toni and her sisters and Tamar, Towanda, Trina and Traci was mostly notable for launching Toni onto the scene. They released one single, “Good Life,” before being disbanded. L.A. Reid would later recruit Toni and sign her as a solo singer to LaFace Records.
Biggest Hit: “Good Life”
Who: Total was one of Sean Combs’ major acts signed to Bad Boy Records in the mid ’90s. The trio first made their debut on Notorious B.I.G.’s single, “Juicy,” before working on their debut single, “Can’t You See.” The group produced two more top 10 R&B singles helping their debut album go platinum. The group probably earned most of their success thanks to be featured hook singers on tracks by LL Cool J, Foxy Brown and Mase.
Biggest Hit: “Can’t You See” (featuring Notorious B.I.G.)
Who: The quartet, featuring Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, LaTocha Scott and Tamika Scott were discovered by Jermaine Dupri in 1991. Their debut album was a commercial and critical success reaching number 17 on the Billboard 200. The success continued with two more albums that both went platinum. The group produced several major hits, though nothing as popular as their first single, “Just Kickin’ It.” After the group fizzled out, Burruss and Cottle both enjoyed extended success thanks to reality TV.
Biggest Hit: “Just Kickin’ It”
Who: The duo broke onto the scene as part of Queen Latifah’s hip-hop collective, Flavor Unit. They scored with “Hey Mr. D.J.,” the hip-hop party anthem of ’93 but slowly fizzled out after the release of their second album in 1997.
Biggest Hit: “Hey Mr D.J.”
Having fun jamming out to all these songs, then enjoy them all on one playlist, which includes additional tracks from each of the groups.
Destiny’s Child were OBVIOUSLY the queens of all ’90s girl groups—and Beyonce is the Queen of queens. Check out the video below to learn how to get her “Formation” look!