No Good Advice: An Unofficial Ranking of British Girl Band Singles

© Sugababes, Girls Aloud

Our resident noughties-loving ray of sunshine Mads Healey takes us through her top 20 girlband tunes. G’warn Mads!

By Madeleine Healey

20. B*Witched – C’est La Vie

‘Some people say I look like me dad’ = modern day Shakespeare. With a video that is the visual representation of LSD and has fuelled a few of my childhood nightmares, B*Witched’s C’est La Vie is a 90s girl band classic. Ok, so maybe this one doesn’t strictly count as a British girl band classic as B*Witched are from Dublin BUT this song was a huge hit in the UK and as the group were such an important part of the 90s/00s music industry I couldn’t leave them out. As soon as you get a couple of drinks down you and pop on this song, your whole friendship group suddenly becomes the cast of Riverdance. If you actually listen to the lyrics this song is quite cheeky (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours) yet when paired with bubblegum vocals and a cartoon-like music video is the perfect pop treat for children and adults alike. This song reminds me of birthday parties at the Wacky Warehouse and has undoubtedly had hundreds of kids over the years, high as kites on Fruit Shoots and Colin the Caterpillar cake, unknowingly singing double entendres at the top of their lungs.

19. Girls Aloud – Long Hot Summer

This track was described as a ‘disaster’ by the producer who penned it but Long Hot Summer is one of my favourites from Girls Aloud. It’s another perfect summer song, with a groovy tune, catchy lyrics and a music video featuring the girls working as mechanics – what’s not to love? I also think the simile, ‘shaking like a cool lemonade’ is better than anything I ever read in my GCSE poetry anthology.

18. The Saturdays – Ego

The Saturdays are so underrated and Ego is one of my absolute favourites of theirs. From the opening line, (We used to go together, looking after each other, I thought that you were better, look at you), this track oozes style and attitude. It also shows off Vanessa’s stunning vocals, who, (let’s be honest) carried this girl group on her own two shoulders. The chorus is infectiously catchy and I absolutely love the ‘ego, ego’, refrain. This song soundtracked my Year 7 experience and I must have watched the iconic video, featuring the girls as superheroes, about 100 times. 

17. Sugababes – Ugly

For a song written in 2005, the Sugababes’ Ugly has such an empowering message and had a profound effect on me when I was little. Written as a response to cruel media comments that the band received, Ugly was praised for its powerful declaration of self-love and discussion of body-image issues. As a child I found the song really moving, although I wouldn’t have recognised that at the time. I remember loving the song’s narrative and hearing the singer’s confidence grow as the verses went on. I still absolutely adore the transition from melancholic verse to the uptempo, joyful chorus and I think the message behind this Sugababes track still remains to be poignant and important in today’s society.

16. Scandalous – Mis-Teeq

Before Alesha Dixon was criticising her boyfriend’s washing up skills, she fronted Mis-Teeq, a garage, RnB girl group who formed in 1999. Along with Su-Elise Nash and Sabrina Washington, Mis-Teeq had two top ten albums and chart-topping success all over the world. As soon as I hear that ‘neenaw’ siren sound I am instantly transported into a noughties perfume advert. It’s super stylish, cool and epitomises the RnB sound of the 2000s. With a video that features slo-mo, wind machines and breaking dancing a plenty, it would be sacrilegious for this list to not include such a standout 00s track. 

15. Wannabe – Spice Girls 

Zig-a-zig ah! Wannabe is an absolute classic. I don’t know if I’m being controversial here but Wannabe isn’t my favourite Spice Girls song. I think it’s quite hackneyed and over played but it can’t be denied as soon as this comes on, the dance floor will be flooded in seconds. Highlights include Scary and Ginger’s rap, the super funky baseline and the amazing ‘If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends’ – which is one of the most famous lyrics in music history. Wannabe was recorded in under an hour, which blows my mind. Despite it not being my fave, it’s a bubbly, fun party classic which was a must have feature on this list. 

14. The Show – Girls Aloud

The Show is so fun and feisty, showing off Girls Aloud at their sassy best. Inspired by 90s rave records and electropop, this Girls Aloud hit is paired with a camper than camp music video, in which the girls are playing beauticians for some reason. And is anything more noughties than the single artwork? Low slung jeans, boob tubes and hot pants paired with a kitten heel – just divine.

13. Hole in the Head – Sugababes 

Another super sexy, stylish Sugababes track has made the list, no surprise there. Hole in the Head reminds me of being 10 Slush Puppies deep at the Mega Bowl in 2005, singing along as if I’d ever been through a breakup. The melody was inspired by disco group Boney M and the lyrics (Erased your number from my telephone, and if you call me I won’t be at home), are chock full of that trademark female empowerment we love the Sugababes for. 

12. Spice Up Your Life – Spice Girls

Feisty, fiery and fun, Spice Up Your Life is one of my favourite Spice Girls hits. Infused with samba and salsa rhythms and calling for every boy and every girl to join them in a worldwide war cry, Spice Up Your Life is one of the Spice Girls’ best. There’s nothing I love more than singing the bridge (Flamenco, lambada, but hip-hop is harder) at the top of my lungs and cha-cha-cha-ing to my heart’s content. My girlfriends and I dressed up as The Spice Girls one year and I have never felt more powerful, especially when this song came on.

11. Round and Round – Sugababes

I love this dizzyingly catchy Sugababes’ track, mainly because it was so prominent in my younger years. I adore the empowering lyrics, ‘I don’t need no man, got my kicks for free’ – gwarn gals! This track is so fun and super nostalgic, an absolute Sugababes classic!

10. Stop – Spice Girls

Stop is such a fun song and has the best dance routine to go with it, which I’ve loved since I was a wee one. Inspired to write a song with a Motown feel, Geri Halliwell penned the chorus herself. One of my favourite Spice Girls songs, Stop shows off Mel C’s amazing vocal talent and is super cute, fun and playful, a perfect representation of what the Spice Girls were all about.

9. About You Now – Sugababes

About You Now is just the most gorgeous song! The melody is so uplifting yet the lyrics, in which the protagonist looks back over her relationship with a parted lover are poignant. This song reminds me of summery Saturday mornings watching Sam, Mark and Caroline Flack hosting TMI and fills me with so much lovely, warm nostalgia when I hear it. This song has been covered by SO many artists across all genres: N-Dubz, Courteeners, The Saw Doctors and Carly from iCarly all tried their hand at channelling the Sugababes. However, no version comes anywhere close to the original banger. 

8. Sound of The Underground – Girls Aloud 

It would be impossible not to include the song that has made me want to go to a rave in the sewers since the age of 6, Sound of the Underground. Girls Aloud’s first record and Xmas number one is sexy, cool and super edgy for a so called ‘manufactured’ girl band. What a killer single to kick off their careers and one that has stood the test of time, it still goes off. 

7. Say You’ll Be There – Spice Girls 

I love everything about this Spice Girls hit: the Pulp Fiction inspired video, the now iconic costumes, the funky synth harmonica-RnB sound and the wonderful (rarely heard) vocals of Victoria Beckham! I think this is the best Spice Girls track. It’s more sophisticated and, dare I say it, cooler than their other bubblegum pop tracks. Say You’ll Be There makes me want to pop on a black leather catsuit like Posh and attempt to do back flips like Sporty. It’s also convinced me that I can justify spending £200 on a pair of Ginger’s thigh high red boots. In other words, I adore this track and blame the Spice Girls entirely for my obsession with 90s fashion. 

6. Push The Button – Sugababes

It has taken me 22 years to realise this song is not about a lift. This Sugababes classic is such a huge memory from my childhood and THAT video, featuring three men and the babes in a lift, is truly iconic. To me the song’s lyrics (I knew I had my mind made up from the very beginning) are a celebration of female empowerment and sexuality, unlike many songs from the 00s. Chock full of double entendres and uptempo electro pop beats, this Sugababes track is such a time party classic, guaranteed to get everyone up on the dancefloor.

5. Pure Shores – All Saints

It has taken me 22 years to realise this song is not about a lift. This Sugababes classic is such a huge memory from my childhood and THAT video, featuring three men and the babes in a lift, is truly iconic. To me the song’s lyrics (I knew I had my mind made up from the very beginning) are a celebration of female empowerment and sexuality, unlike many songs from the 00s. Chock full of double entendres and uptempo electro pop beats, this Sugababes track is such a time party classic, guaranteed to get everyone up on the dancefloor.

4. Biology – Girls Aloud 

Stanley Kubrick who? Martin Scorcese who? The music video of Girls Aloud’s Biology remains to be the greatest piece of film ever made. From the costumes, which include bubblegum pink frocks and little black dresses with patent red belts, to the revolving set changes, this video was the most captivating thing seven year old Madeleine had ever seen. If you had a gun to my head I couldn’t tell you what this song is about. The lyrics are bizarre, (You fall on your knees and the geek at your feet says you’re neat and the beat gets closer) but I couldn’t care less. Biology was a massive hit in the 2000s, so much so that it even had its own Happy Meal toy, which shows the profound effect it had on 21st century society (it was the orange one). This song is the closest I will ever get to being interested in science and I can still happily sing along to every word. 

3. Flowers – Sweet Female Attitude

Sweet Female Attitude are Manchester royalty and this song is such a tune! The 2000s was an amazing time for garage music but without a doubt Flowers is right at the top of my list. Is anything more delicious than the rhyming of ‘rain’ and ‘insane’? Or the infectious ‘eh eh ee, woo oh baby’? No there is not. Flowers is the perfect song for pre-drinks, for afters, for the gym or for a drive in the car. It’s had a huge impact and influence on garage music and pop music in general, with many music publications like NME and Mixmag including Flowers on their top lists of best garage songs ever. The song was a huge chart hit in the early 2000s and still remains to be today, with many artists like Bastille, Jorja Smith and Nathan Dawe choosing to remix or cover the song in their own way. Flowers will be my first dance song and probably my funeral song too.

2. Freak Like Me – Sugababes

Sugababes are arguably one of the most influential girl bands of the 21st century and Freak Like Me, sampling Gary Numan’s Are My Friends Electric? is my absolute favourite track of theirs. Oozing with style, sexuality and edge, Freak Like Me is so different to the tracks that were being produced by the Sugarbabes’ contemporaries in the early 00s. Freak Like Me is full of attitude and grit, as cool girl Mutya Buena sings, ‘I don’t care what they say, I’m not about to pay nobody’s way, ’cause it’s all about the dark in me’. The music video, set in a grungy red-lit nightclub is such a contrast to the squeaky clean music videos that frequented the era (yep, Atomic Kitten I’m talking to you). Sugababes were a fresh alternative: cool, sexy and confident. I absolutely love Freak Like Me and you can guarantee I’ll be dancing to this song till ‘until the dawn’ (although since COVID it’s more likely I’ll be asleep all through the night to the early morn).

1. Love Machine – Girls Aloud

Without a single doubt in my mind my favourite track by a British girl band is Girls Aloud’s incomparable, immaculate piece of pop perfection, Love Machine. From that iconic opening guitar riff begins the most infectiously catchy, super groovy pop song which I physically cannot sit still too. Nadine Coyle’s vocals are insane and I love the musical journey the song takes: the almost rap-like super fast verses, the dreamy bridge into the explosive ‘I’m just a love machine’ – I never get sick of it. When the band initially heard the song they labelled it career suicide, appalled at the lyrics like, ‘let’s go eskimo’ and the ‘terrible’ spangly guitar. Despite meeting with their label and point blank refusing to release the song, it ended up happening regardless. And thank GOD it did! Girls Aloud are flawless in my eyes, they were a hit-making machine with countless songs going straight to number one and defining the 00s era. Love Machine will stand the test of time and is the ultimate blueprint for the perfect pop song.

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