Photo: Robin Harper
Beyoncé in Black Is King
Inside The Visual World Of Beyoncé And 'Black Is King,' Her "Love Letter" To Black Men
GRAMMY.com spoke with the directors and producers behind Beyoncé's 2020 GRAMMY-nominated visual album, 'Black Is King,' about how the project came together and Bey's impact as a visual artist
For Women's History Month 2021, GRAMMY.com is celebrating some of the women artists nominated at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show. Today, we honor Beyoncé, who's currently nominated for nine GRAMMYs.
In a 2011 interview, Beyoncé revealed the things she wanted to accomplish before her 40th birthday. "I would love to direct—continue to learn videos and maybe by then [make] a film, a short film," she told Access Online. "[Or film] a documentary, I love documentaries." The singer will turn 40 in September having accomplished that goal.
Since that interview, the global pop star has continued to steadily hone her craft to become one of today's most influential visual storytellers in pop music. She began experimenting with visuals on her 2006 sophomore solo album, B'Day, but it wasn't until years later, when she released her surprise 2013 self-titled record that she delivered a true "visual album" that pushed the envelope—every song had a music video and all visuals were released together without any promotion.
The 2016 critically acclaimed Lemonade added a narrative between each music video—something Beyoncé hadn't done before—to create a cohesive look at Black generational trauma. In 2019, she released the GRAMMY-winning documentary Homecoming, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at her preparation for her historic Coachella performance in between concert footage.
With the critically-acclaimed visual albums and documentary under her belt, she turned her sights to another visual goal. Last year, Beyoncé released Black Is King, the feature-length film inspired by her work with Disney on the 2019 remake of The Lion King. The nearly 90-minute film that premiered on Disney+ started as a quick test shoot in Beyoncé's backyard in The Hamptons but ultimately took more than a year to make and spanned several countries.
At the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, Black Is King is nominated for Best Music Film, following Beyoncé's win for Homecoming in the category in 2020. (She's also nominated for Best Music Video for "Brown Skin Girl," a single off the 2019 accompanying soundtrack album, The Lion King: The Gift.)
Ahead of this year's GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY.com spoke with Black Is King directors Kwasi Fordjour, Emmanuel Adjei and Jenn Nkiru, as well as producers Lauren Baker and Erinn Williams about how the project came together, why they envisioned it as a "love letter" to Black men amid a global pandemic and racial uprising, and Beyoncé's impact as a visual artist.
"Already" Was The First And, Originally, The Only Video Planned For Beyoncé's The Lion King: The Gift Album
Lauren Baker (Parkwood Entertainment producer): The entire idea came from just one music video. We were just going to shoot "Already" and that escalated into a short mini-film. 15 minutes tops. That escalated into the film that you see today.
Kwasi Fordjour (Parkwood Entertainment Associate Creative Director; co-director of Black Is King): She mentioned doing a test shoot [for "Already"] and she's the type of creator where it's just like, let's get the most out of this moment. If it's good, we're going to use it. We were testing the body paint and seeing if the body paint was going to work. We were like, "how can we use her time wisely?" We're at her house in the Hamptons. We noticed a tree. It's an elevated plane. [It] could be anywhere. Let's try this. I had to get in the tree first, that was the deal. I showed her the shot and that's how that happened. We were able to use that shot. That's kind of how we roll.
We started shooting a few videos and we were kind of expecting it [to turn into a larger project] because that's just what she does. She is the queen of visual albums. Once [we knew it'd be a visual album], we just switched gears. We had no time to really think about it or be too nervous. It was like "OK, what directors are we calling?"
Lauren Baker (Parkwood Entertainment producer): [There were] a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of early mornings. A lot of traveling. One minute we're supposed to be in New York for a week and now I'm there for three months. It was just a lot of managing, being sensitive to these creative minds and making sure that their vision is being heard, respected and shown. But, at the same time, being practical.
The Visual Album Was Inspired By The Lion King But Not Restricted By The Movie's Storyline
Lauren Baker (Parkwood Entertainment producer): Lion King obviously was a spark of it, but it kind of elevated once we got into it more. We still use the base storyline but it's a whole different world now.
Kwasi Fordjour (Parkwood Entertainment creative director; Black Is King director): Coming off the album and trying to approach this in a way that could appeal to adults and also children, [we wanted to] humanize these characters. How can people watching this see themselves?
Emmanuel Adjei (Black Is King director): What was really a gift from heaven is that the world was ready to digest a film like this. It's really a visual masterpiece. I feel like when [there was a] release date, we knew it was definitely going to do something. What we didn't know is that it would resonate with not only Black people but with a lot of people in the world. I guess that's where Disney also comes in. Suddenly, it becomes this modern tale. In that sense, [it] became a manifesto for minorities in general.
Beyoncé Wanted Black Is King To Represent The Global Diaspora
Jenn Nkiru (Black Is King director): Something we were constantly all thinking about is diaspora. The beauty is for people to understand that we are everywhere. We are all unified under a shared experience of Blackness. But culturally, depending on where you're at in the world, it's different. It was such a beautiful honor to be able to see such diversity within our culture. Oftentimes we're regarded as minorities, but I like to regard us as people of a global majority.
Emmanuel Adjei (Black Is King director): [A passion for Ghaniana and Nigerian cinema] is something I was brought up with so naturally that was kind of my reference frame. The thing that really inspired me the most about African cinema was the way they use their narrative strategies. It was, you could say, very non Western, but very Western influenced. It was a mixture of Western sci-fi mixed with African folklore stories and spirituality. That was such a unique library for me to tap into when making my own films. Black Is King is definitely a modern tale where that all collides.
Kwasi Fordjour (Parkwood Entertainment creative director; Black Is King director):
Beyoncé had very specific things that she wanted to do. Whether [incorporating] West African or South African culture, there were nuances that we liked that we wanted to spotlight. But there were also other things that directors brought to the table. Collectively, we picked and chose what we wanted to use and what was relevant to the different parts of the songs. There were conversations after conversations and text messages after text messages. It was a long process.
The Visual Album Was Completed Amid A Pandemic And Social Unrest
Erinn Williams (Parkwood Entertainment Head of Production): Every project is a little bit different because you have different collaborators and objectives. But I will say this one got to be just about the hardest ever because we had to finish it in a pandemic. We were still doing some small pickup shoots when we went into lockdown. In addition to the pandemic, we had the social [uprising] and the death of George Floyd. It's quite a lot to be creating a film for young men to value themselves at the same time young Black men are being killed by police. It was a very, very difficult thing for the team to process that while working on a film that really speaks to that. We knew that the timing was right, but you're talking about people who are triggered and raw at a time when they're trying to finish this film. It was challenging on many levels, emotionally and physically.
Kwasi Fordjour (Parkwood Entertainment creative director; Black Is King director): We had already started this idea. We were developing this self-identity piece and this love letter and next thing you know everything started happening. It was like if this is not what we need right now, I don't know what is. It was like this divine intervention. To be working on a piece like this and then going into this culturally and socially, I never really experienced anything like that in my life, as far as the creative process. Being able to do something that was a love letter to fellow women and men, and our culture, in a time when we need a pick-me-up, that is something that I will never forget.
Lauren Baker (Parkwood Entertainment Senior Creative Producer): We're in the process of editing, I'm going to color bays every day, in the middle of VFX. Having to work remotely with multiple post houses was crazy. The Internet's not good so I can't stream correctly. That part technically was tricky.
Dialogue In The Film Came From Behind The Scenes Footage Featuring Men In The Cast
Erinn Williams (Parkwood Entertainment executive producer): On one of our shoots, we were shooting some behind the scenes of some of the men that were in our cast. They had such beautiful statements about how they perceive themselves, how they would like to be seen [and] who they want to be.
Kwasi Fordjour (Parkwood Entertainment creative director; Black Is King director): We weren't expecting to use it and right before COVID-19, we were planning on doing some reshoots because we felt like there were some missing pieces in the story. After COVID happened, and we weren't able to travel, one of our team members came to us and showed us what she'd been working on. Erin was like "I think we can use these."' We presented the idea to Beyoncé and [she] was like go for it. I worked with [writer and editor] Andrew Morrow to start sculpting the story around these monologues.
The Project Is Also An Ode To Black Women, As Well As Other Women Of Color
Jenn Nkiru (Black Is King director): I had the idea to do a debutante ball [for "Brown Skin Girl"]. I was keen to do that based on it being a rite of passage, and thinking about what kind of what space could we create that allows for us to have an intergenerational conversation where you see women of all ages together celebrating young girls. Alongside our incredible A-list women that we had on screen, there were a lot of women who are community worker [and] activists. It's a spectrum of womanhood, from seeing presentations of Black and brown womanhood that's highly feminine to more masculine of center. I was really proud that we were able to achieve that.
Anywhere you have people of color, there is some form of a caste system or understanding that colorism is at play, you know, and so I really wanted to expand that conversation. We have women in the piece who are of southeast Asian heritage, I have an indigenous Brazilian woman in the piece. We wanted to have as expansive [of a] conversation as possible. That was really critical to me.
Beyoncé in Black Is King | Photo: Travis Matthews
Beyoncé Empowered Black Is King Collaborators Behind The Scenes
Erinn Williams (Parkwood Entertainment executive producer): She tends to surround her projects with a spectrum of people. With her being the lead director on this, the final creative decisions come from her, but she absolutely encourages collaboration, and bringing together disciplines that may not always function together.
Emmanuel Adjei (Black Is King director): She really made sure that [I] could feel comfortable in my position.
Jenn Nkiru (Black Is King director): What was extremely exciting about this was being able to do it on the scale we did it at. I very much brought myself and that's also to Beyoncé's credit because she instilled so much confidence in me to work the way I typically work within the scale we were working. A lot of the team that I typically work with in the smaller, tiny things I do, I was able to bring to a stage like this. I casted it myself, along with my choreographer. We were able to bring our own styling teams.
Kwasi Fordjour (Parkwood Entertainment creative director; Black Is King director): She started at 14,15 years old and was sitting at tables at a young age where people would try to say that she didn't deserve [to be there] because she was so young. She brings that over into her leadership style. There's no limit to who and what age you can be to collaborate. If you have a vision and she sees the vision, she will rally. I was the first intern at her office in New York City and I worked my way up from intern to creative assistant, creative coordinator and manager. It was just doing whatever was necessary, taking the projects that weren't the most popular, trying to put your best foot forward in order to define your role and your position within a company. I think that has defined my journey into roles where I was taking the projects that were the most popular.
Beyoncé in Black Is King | Photo Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
Beyoncé's Evolution As A Visual Artist Has Pushed The Industry As A Whole
Kwasi Fordjour (Parkwood Entertainment creative director; Black Is King director): It's been a very rewarding process to watch and how she's taken a more cinematic perspective to the visual album. When she first did it, talking about B'Day, Beyonce, there were music videos and then it slowly but surely involved into something more holistic, more narrative and more cinematic. I'm anxious to see how she furthers it and where she takes it next.
Erinn Williams (Parkwood Entertainment executive producer): I can go all the way back to the digital album because I [executive produced] on that as well. It was her first fully fleshed out visual album. She saw something that even the people on her team didn't see with that album. What I find remarkable about working with her is how much she elevates everything she touches. She directs the shoots. She directs in the edits. When we got to Black Is King, we imagined something that was going to be a real cultural stamp. It's what she does. She has a magic touch sometimes when it comes to being on the zeitgeist of something that is needed at that moment. She said it best when she said that if Lemonade was about generational curses, Black Is King is about generational wealth. That was behind every decision that she made.
Take A Closer Look At The Best Music Video Nominees | 2021 GRAMMYs
Photos (L-R, clockwise): GAB Archive/Redferns, Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images, Kevin Winter/Getty Images, Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
The Evolution Of The Girl Group: How TLC, BLACKPINK, The Shirelles & More Have Elevated Female Expression
From the Supremes to the Spice Girls, take a deep dive into the history of girl groups — and how their songs, performance and vocal power changed pop culture.
For more than eight decades, girl groups have harmonized their way into the collective consciousness, bringing female empowerment to the forefront — and changing culture along the way.
Of course, girl groups have come in many forms: there's the family-friendly Andrew Sisters, the funk rock-infused Labelle, and the R&B-leaning Destiny's Child. As the construct of the girl group has evolved, so has their cultural impact — while acts like the Supremes helped push popular music in a more diverse direction in America, J-Pop and K-Pop groups have helped girl groups be viewed through a global lens in recent years.
What has tied all of these groups together is their infectious and inspirational records, which have encouraged women to express themselves and feel empowered in doing so. Groups like the Spice Girls and the Shangri-Las, for instance, have helped women express all sides of themselves, reminding the world that there is joy and beauty in contrast.
As Women's History Month nears its end, GRAMMY.com celebrates all of the powerful women who have been part of the girl group evolution. (To narrow the field, we characterize a girl group as acts with a minimum of three members and a focus on vocal performance; hence why you won't see bands like the Go-Gos or the Chicks on this list.)
Below, take a look at how girl groups have changed in both construct and impact for nearly 90 years — and counting — and listen to GRAMMY.com's official Girl Groups playlist on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.
Though women have no doubt sung together since the beginning of time, the formal concept of the girl group came sometime in the '20s or '30s, with the rise in popularity of tightly harmonizing family acts like the Boswell Sisters and the Hamilton Sisters (the latter of whom would become Three X Sisters). The groups really started to see a rise in popularity around the beginning of WWII — perhaps because the entrance of more women into the workforce opened peoples' minds to the idea of the pop girl group, or perhaps because the soldiers overseas sought comfort and mild excitement via the groups' smooth sounds and attractive looks.
The Andrews Sisters, who officially formed in 1937 as a Boswell Sisters tribute act, would become the most popular of the sister acts, riding tracks like "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,""Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)" and "Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out The Barrel)" straight to the top of the charts. They're considered one of the most successful girl groups of all time, selling an estimated 80 million records and counting. Other girl groups followed the Andrews' act, including the Dinning Sisters, who released "They Just Chopped Down The Old Apple Tree" as an answer to their rivals' hit.
The Andrews Sisters continued to be popular well into the '50s, inspiring similar close harmony acts like the Chordettes, who found success with tracks like "Mr. Sandman" and "Lollipop," and the Lennon Sisters, who became a mainstay on "The Lawrence Welk Show."
Around the middle of the decade, girl groups started pulling a bit more from the doo-wop movement, with songs like the Bobbettes "Mr Lee" helping pave the way for a wave of all-Black girl groups to come. The Chantels — who had come up together singing in a choir — quickly followed with "Maybe," which solidified the genre's style with a blend of rock, pop, doo-wop that would act as a sonic template for years to come.
In 1961, the Shirelles found quick success with tracks like "Tonight's The Night" and "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," which became the first girl group cut to go to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. The group would have five more hit singles throughout the decade, and inspired acts like the Marvelettes, whose "Please Mr. Postman" would become the first No. 1 single for Motown Records.
Keen to seize on that success, Motown invested heavily in creating more girl groups, crafting trios and quartets out of various singers that they might have previously eyed for solo work or even passed on signing. That kind of business-minded molding is what yielded Martha and the Vandellas, the Velvelettes, and a little act called the Supremes, who would go on to become the most successful American vocal group of all time, according to CNN. The success of the Motown acts — the majority of whom were all Black — was also a sign of American culture's increasing acceptance of the integration of popular music.
Having seen the success that Motown had in consciously crafting its girl groups, other producers and small, independent labels sought to capture some of that lightning in a bottle for themselves. The Philles label cashed in on the sound of the Crystals and the Ronettes, while Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller signed the Shangri-Las and the Dixie Cups to their Red Bird label. Tracks like the Shangri-Las' "Give Him A Great Big Kiss" offered a surprisingly real perspective on teen girl crushes, while "Leader Of The Pack" helped bring female perspective to a subgenre of songs about macabre teenage tragedies previously dominated by all-male acts like Jan And Dean and Wayne Cochran And The C.C. Riders.
First formed in the '60s as Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, Labelle pushed the genre out of the sock hop and into the nightclub, becoming one of the premiere girl groups of the '70s. Their funky, rock-infused singles were unlike anything girl group aficionados had heard before, and in 1974, the group captured America's heart with "Lady Marmalade," a slightly suggestive song that broke out of the discos and into the collective consciousness. Other acts originally formed in the '60s found similar success, like the Three Degrees, who had a number of hits, including the sunny and soothing "When Will I See You Again."
Sister Sledge also capitalized on the disco boom, crafting lasting hits like "We Are Family" and "He's The Greatest Dancer." The Pointer Sisters went through a rainbow of genres, including R&B (1973's funky "Yes We Can Can") and country (1974's "Fairytale," which won a GRAMMY for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1975), before finding their biggest success at the beginning of the next decade with tracks like the sultry "Slow Hand" and the more frantic "I'm So Excited."
Girl groups went through a bit of a lull in the '80s, as the culture trended toward hair metal and hip-hop. Some acts still managed to break through, capturing listeners' hearts with dance-friendly cuts imbued with Latin freestyle flair. Full of synths and syncopated percussion, freestyle burst out of clubs and parties in New York and Philadelphia, finding a particular hold amongst Hispanic and Italian-American audiences.
Miami's Exposé was one of the decade's biggest freestyle acts, blending girl group harmonies with synthetic sounds for hits like "Point Of No Return" and "Seasons Change." Two New York groups, Sweet Sensation and The Cover Girls, had freestyle success that bridged the '80s and '90s. Sweet Sensation's "Never Let You Go" tore up the dance charts, and while the Cover Girls' "Show Me" and "Because Of You" weren't quite as popular, they still hold a special place in the hearts of freestyle fans.
Girl groups roared back in a big way in the '90s, thanks in part to the emergency of new jack swing and a renewed interest in R&B's smooth vocal stylings. En Vogue was one of the first groups to go big in the '90s, with debut single "Hold On" first hitting the Billboard charts in 1990. Their biggest tracks came later in the decade, with the powerful "Free Your Mind" and "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" showcasing the quartet's vocal range and character.
Two groups from Atlanta also came to prominence around the same time as En Vogue. First was the street-savvy quartet Xscape, who harnessed the sounds of 1993 with tracks like "Just Kickin' It."
TLC had a more dynamic arc, first bursting into the collective consciousness with the new jack swing-infused "Ooooooohh… On The TLC Tip," which featured three top 10 singles, including "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg." The group's baggy pants and hip-hop aesthetic pushed girl group boundaries, in part because its members actually acknowledged their sexual desires, as well as the need for everyone to have safe sex. Later in the decade, TLC would rise to even higher heights with tracks like "Waterfalls" and the GRAMMY-winning "No Scrubs," the latter of which was actually co-written by two members of Xscape.
Destiny's Child initially emerged from Houston in the late '90s as a quartet, though they'd later lose some members and gain new ones, ending up as a trio. While it was hard to ignore the sheer star power of Beyonce, the threesome did generally function as a group, producing a string of danceable earworms, including "No, No, No," and "Bills, Bills, Bills." By the time they disbanded in 2006, Destiny's Child sold tens of millions of records and earned three GRAMMY Awards (and a total of nine nominations).
Out west, Wilson Phillips' Chyna Phillips, Wendy Wilson and Carnie Wilson were channeling the sounds of their respective parents, who had been members of the Beach Boys and the Mamas & The Papas. Their songs featured vocal harmonies and were largely about emotional longing, pushing back against the dance and funk that ruled much of the radio dial throughout the '90s.
Girl groups were also gaining major traction in the U.K during the '90s, spurred by a boy band boom in the country around the same time. Two groups — All Saints and the Spice Girls — were actually assembled by managers, something that didn't help allay naysayers' concern that much of pop music at the time was wholly manufactured. (Another U.K. mainstay, Ireland's B*Witched, came together organically.)
Regardless, both All Saints and the Spice Girls found commercial success, with the latter becoming absolutely massive not just because of catchy pop romps like "Wannabe," but because of the quintet's singular personas and the strength of their "girl power" messaging. The Spice Girls even starred in their own movie, "Spice World," which came out at the height of Spice-mania in 1997 and drew instant comparisons to the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night."
Girl groups continued to reign in the early part of the 2000s. A number of 2000s girl groups formed on television as part of reality programming, with U.K. sensation Girls Aloud forming on the ITV show "Popstars: The Rivals" and Danity Kane both forming and developing over three seasons of Sean Puffy Combs' "Making The Band." TV acted as a great launching pad for these pop acts, as fans were often emotionally invested in the group's success from watching the show so when a new single dropped, they were quick to get on board.
Girls Aloud and Danity Kane — as well as their peers, like Dream, 3LW, and Blacque — made pop music that was sexy, confident, and larger than life, with expensive-looking music videos to match. The songs also often crossed over from pop to urban radio.
Another of the most successful (and sexiest) girl groups of the 2000s also formed in a fairly roundabout way. The Pussycat Dolls found success with tracks like "Don't Cha" and "Buttons," but the actual origin of the Pussycat Dolls name and brand came almost 15 years earlier when an L.A. based choreographer named Robin Antin launched a burlesque troupe. After her club events and dancers became more and more popular (even posing for Playboy), she was urged by Interscope Records' Jimmy Iovine to attach the name to a pop group.
Antin recruited five singers who could hold a tune and looked the part, including Nicole Scherzinger — who initially got her start in Eden's Crush, another group formed on a TV show, the U.S. iteration of "Popstars" — and the Pussycat Dolls quickly strutted onto radio dials and Billboard charts with their catchy multi-tracked (and often risqué) hits.
Girl groups were also getting huge around the globe in the '00s, with Spain's Las Ketchup producing the insanely catchy pop ditty conveniently named "The Ketchup Song," Sweden's Play crossed over to commercial success in the American market, and the U.K.'s Atomic Kitten formed purely as a songwriting vehicle for Orchestral Maneuvers In the Dark's Andy McCluskey and Stuart Kershaw. Members of the latter would come and go throughout its career, but songs like "Whole Again" (which was also recorded by Play) have stood the test of time.
Though modern K-pop culture had begun in South Korea in the late '90s, it started to really pick up steam in the '00s, with both boy bands and girl groups benefiting from the surging Hallyu or Korean wave. One of those, Wonder Girls, found quick success in the late '00s with genre-spanning tracks like "Tell Me" and "Nobody," thanks in part to the pop act's ability to perform English versions of their songs while on tour with the Jonas Brothers.
Two of the 2010s biggest girl groups also came from televised reality competition shows. Little Mix, a quartet, was formed on the U.K.'s "The X Factor" and came to redefine the girl group era in Britain, selling more than 60 million records and topping the charts with high octane singles like "Cannonball" and "Shout Out To My Ex."
Stateside, Fifth Harmony was birthed on "The X Factor," where all five members had competed individually the season before but failed to advance. But after producers brought them back to compete as a group, Fifth Harmony was born, with viewers picking the name and ultimately helping them take third place in the competition.
The quintet emerged from the show signed to judge Simon Cowell's record label, Syco, and like so many great girl groups before it, embarked on a tour of malls and talk shows before eventually releasing a pop record tinged with both hip-hop and R&B. Fans latched on to songs like "I'm In Love With A Monster" and "Work From Home," the trap-laced monster hit that has garnered billions of hits on YouTube since its release.
The K-pop wave also continued in the 2010s, with groups like Girls Generation and Twice, both of whom broke the mold of a traditional girl group by having eight and nine members, respectively. At the same time, a J-Pop act, AKB48, rose to popularity, with a structure girl groups hadn't seen before — it has 80 members in total, with the group being divided into different "teams" that members are elected into by rabid fans. All three acts were literally and figuratively massive, selling tens of millions of highly produced bubblegum pop LPs and larger than life dance singles.
The success of K-pop girl groups shot to a new level when BLACKPINK entered the scene in 2016, forming after its members joined a girl group academy and underwent what amounts to girl group boot camp. The result is a fine-tuned musical machine that's produced pop hit after pop hit — including "Boombayah" and "DDU DU DDU DU" — as well as music videos that have been viewed billions of times online.
Spurred by the devotion of their fans (known as the BLINKs), BLACKPINK has also managed to rack up an impressive roster of accolades. They were the first Asian act to headline Coachella, the first female K-Pop artists on the cover of Billboard, and have amassed the most subscribers of any musical act on YouTube. But they're not the only female K-Pop act helping girl groups stay alive: Groups like Mamamoo and Red Velvet released hit after hit in the 2010s, and 2NE1 captured hearts everywhere with tracks like "Lonely" and "I Am The Best." In 2012, 2NE1 set out on what many consider to be the first world tour by a K-pop girl group, visiting 11 cities in seven countries.
A British girl group whose members pull from their individual cultures to create a unique, hip-hop influenced sound, Flo was also influenced by artists like Ciara and Amy Winehouse. Though they've only been together for a few years, their unique retro sound became almost instantly popular in the UK, with debut single "Cardboard Box" racking up almost a million views on YouTube within days of its release in early 2022. Other hit singles, like "Immature" and "Summertime" have followed.
Another thoroughly modern girl group, Boys World, was formed after managers found videos of five different women singing online and then contacted them to see if they wanted to team up. They said yes, launched a TikTok account, and moved into a house together in Los Angeles. Their thoroughly online approach to becoming a girl group has captivated audiences, along with their empowering anthems.
The K-Pop wave has continued to surge as well, with BLACKPINK headlining Coachella in 2023 and the quickly rising NewJeans earning the distinction of being the very first female Korean act to play Lollapalooza later this summer. Like so many girl groups before them, both acts continue to break boundaries and impact the culture at large, proving that the genre is as vital as ever.
While they may not be as abundant as in decades past, the girl group movement certainly hasn't shuttered. And with a diverse array of women still captivating audiences around the globe, girl groups will likely continue to spice up your life for years to come.
Listen To GRAMMY.com's Women's History Month 2023 Playlist: Swim In The Divine Feminine With These 40 Songs By Rihanna, SZA, Miley Cyrus, BLACKPINK & More
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GRAMMY Rewind: Beyoncé Strives For Accountability And Change After Winning A GRAMMY For 'Lemonade' In 2017
As Beyoncé accepted the GRAMMY for Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2017, she stressed that it's vital to "learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes."
At the height of America's tense political climate, Beyoncé's Lemonade brought confidence to Black women nationwide silenced by misogynoir. It was a celebration of unapologetic femininity and southern culture while also taking back the power in relationships stained by infidelity and generational trauma. As Beyoncé explained in her 2017 GRAMMY acceptance speech, the intention of Lemonade was "to give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness, and our history."
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, we turn back the clock to the evening Beyoncé made her empowering speech after winning Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 59th GRAMMY Awards. Fresh off of her iconic, nine-minute performance of Lemonade's vulnerable deep cuts, "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles," Beyoncé was glowing as she took the stage to accept her golden gramophone.
"Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to beautifully capture the profundity of deep southern culture," Beyoncé proudly praised before acknowledging her husband, kids, and fans.
"It's important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror... and have no doubt that they're beautiful, intelligent and capable," Beyoncé said. "This is something that I want for every child of every race. And I feel it's vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes."
Press play on the video above to watch the entirety of Beyoncé's thoughtful acceptance speech for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2017 GRAMMY Awards, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
Billy Porter Is Ready To Show Fans His True Musical Side: "You're Not Gonna Want To Stop Listening"
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Listen To GRAMMY.com's Women's History Month 2023 Playlist: Swim In The Divine Feminine With These 40 Songs By Rihanna, SZA, Miley Cyrus, BLACKPINK & More
Who run the world? Harness positive energy during Women's History Month with this immersive playlist honoring Beyoncé, Rina Sawayama, Kim Petras, and more female musicians.
In the words of recent GRAMMY winner Lizzo, it's bad b— o'clock. To kick off Women's History Month, GRAMMY.com is celebrating with an extensive playlist spotlighting women's divine musical artistry. Perpetually shaping, reinvigorating, and expanding genres, women's creative passion drives the music industry forward.
This March, get ready to unlock self-love with Miley Cyrus' candid "Flowers," or hit the dancefloor with the rapturous Beyoncé's "I'm That Girl." Whether you're searching for the charisma of Doja Cat's "Woman" or confidence of Rihanna's "B— Better Have My Money," this playlist stuns with diverse songs honoring women's fearlessness and innovation.
Women dominate the music charts throughout the year, but this month, dive into their glorious energy by pressing play on our curated Women's History Month playlist, featuring everyone from Dua Lipa to Missy Elliott to Madonna to Kali Uchis.
Listen below on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.
Photo: Scott Gries/ImageDirect
GRAMMY Rewind: Destiny’s Child Celebrates Their First Win For “Say My Name” At The 2001 GRAMMYs
Destiny’s Child were beaming with excitement as they took the stage for their Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals win at the 2001 GRAMMYs.
Twenty-five years after the release of their debut album, Destiny's Child prevails as one of the most iconic and prolific girl groups in history, paving the way for the future of manufactured girl group stardom. Today, Destiny's Child remains the most nominated girl group in GRAMMY history, with 14 GRAMMY nominations.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, GRAMMY.com turns back the clock to 2001, when Destiny's Child took home their first golden gramophone for "Say My Name" in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals category. Destiny's Child also won a GRAMMY that same night for Best R&B Song.
The three women were bursting with joy as they approached the stage. "Oh gosh, I can't believe we're winning a GRAMMY, ladies," Beyoncé cheered before praising God, their management team, Columbia Records, and their fanbase alongside groupmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
Before exiting the stage, they took a moment to show appreciation for each other. "Thank you, Michelle, for blessing Destiny's Child," Beyoncé said; "Say My Name" was Williams' first involvement with the group after the departure of Le Toya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson.
Press play on the video above to watch Destiny's Child's entire acceptance speech for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2001 GRAMMYs, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
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