The Best ’90s Girl Bands You Forgot About

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This year’s crop of band reunions just got so much better: criminally underrated pop group Luscious Jackson is back! Their new song “Show Us What You Got” is just as catchy as their old stuff, and their upcoming album (!!!) will reportedly boast a collaboration with Ad-Rock. Far too few people remember these ladies, who made some of the most perfect pop songs of the ’90s, including “Naked Eye” and “Ladyfingers.” (Electric Honey is fantastic. Listen to it right now.) Luscious Jackson’s triumphant reunion got us to thinking about other fantastic girl bands of their era who deserve massive comebacks.

Babes in Toyland

Grunge genius Kat Bjelland unfortunately got a lot more press for fights with best frenemy Courtney Love than for her incredible, eardrum-shattering work as lead singer of Babes in Toyland. It’s a shame, because these girls were far from one-trick ponies, and their diverse catalog ranges from vicious to sweet, bizarre to poppy, and beyond.

Lunachicks

Speaking of girls who can scream, Theo Kogan’s guttural wail is further proof that a good, rough voice is often a lot more interesting than a sweet one.

Cibo Matto

Back in the ’90s, Cibo Matto was one of the wittiest, most delightfully weird bands around, and their memorable cameo on Buffy should’ve served as a breakthrough. There just aren’t many albums out there like their debut, Viva! La Woman, and we’ve been dying to hear more stuff from them since the ’00s. Lucky for us, they reunited in 2011 and have a new album, Tenth Floor Ghost Girl, due out this year. Michel Gondry’s video for “Sugar Water” is still perfect, in case you were wondering. (Another fun fact: Cibo Matto is in Luscious Jackson’s “Ladyfingers” video — which a hungover Buffy watched in “Beer Bad.” It all comes back to Buffy, forever and ever.)

Jack Off Jill

Florida rockers Jack Off Jill were pretty big in the ’90s goth/metal scene thanks to their association with Marilyn Manson, but bands like these died off pretty quickly around the start of the new millennium. Frankly, we think it’s a huge problem that we don’t hear about Jack Off Jill anymore. If you haven’t listened to them, don’t let their Manson association deter you. They’re a whole lot better than you think. Just trust us.

All Saints

Of all the mainstream girl groups of the ’90s, the soulful UK quartet All Saints is easily the most underrated. “Never Ever” was a mild hit in America, but the rest of their catalog is just as strong. “Pure Shores” from The Beach is not only a masterpiece (courtesy of that other forgotten pop genius William Orbit) — it’s apparently one of the most relaxing songs you can listen to. Science says so.

SWV

SWV (Sisters With Voices) is another mainstream pop group that never really got quite the attention it deserved. Lead singer Coko (she of the creepily long fingernails) has one of the most beautiful voices to grace R&B, and the quality of their output is up there with TLC and En Vogue. Why they never really broke through to superstardom is a mystery.

Shampoo

Sassy UK duo Shampoo got a lot of attention in their home country for their abrasive pop, and songs like “Trouble” (you’ve heard it, promise) brought the attitude of riot grrrl to the mainstream in a way that didn’t feel cheap. Meanwhile, their style is totally insane. Take notes, ’90s revivalists.

Team Dresch

No doubt one of the best queercore bands of the ’90s, Team Dresch is a must-listen for anyone interested in riot grrrl, and “Take on Me” is a singalong worthy of karaoke songbooks.

The Need

The Need is another essential queer band from the ’90s, and their experimental art rock set them apart from the other girl bands signed to Kill Rock Stars. These girls were instrumental to the Pacific Northwest music scene that birthed riot grrrl, and they’ve played with such fixtures as Fugazi, Le Tigre, and Blonde Redhead. If you’re still not convinced you need to check out The Need, Miranda July was an early member. Listen to the whole first side of their 1996 seven-inch above.

Thee Headcoatees

Originally the backing band for Billy Childish’s similarly underrated Thee Headcoats, The Delmonas went on to transcend their origins as the endlessly fun rock band Thee Headcoatees. Frontwoman Holly Golightly eventually became something of a twee icon, but in this writer’s opinion, she’s at her best when she’s loud. Their cover of “Ça plane pour moi” is on my list of goals and aspirations.

Lush

The angelic female voices of Britpop mainstays Lush are far too perfect to be forgotten, and like so many of their peers in the shoegaze scene, they too often are. All of their albums are required listening, and “Nothing Natural” is almost certainly a song you hear in heaven.