Top 20 Most Underrated Girl Group Songs

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Girls Aloud members Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Kimberley Walsh, Nicola Roberts and Cheryl Cole 2006From Girls Aloud to SWV to Electrik Red, check out Billboard’s editorial countdown of underappreciated girl group tracks.

Most casual pop fans can rattle off a few of the biggest girl group hits of all time — the classic cuts by the Supremes, TLC, Destiny’s Child and more — with little hesitation, and those smash singles deserve to be celebrated (check out this listto do so!). But those songs should not be the be-all and end-all of girl groups songs. There exists a whole other world of deep cuts, forgotten hits and not-quite-smashes worth discovering and revisiting, from some of the biggest girl groups ever and several that engineered one marvelous single before stepping out of the spotlight.

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After checking out our chart list of the 40 biggest girl group songs ever, read our editorial countdown of the 20 most underrated girl group songs of all time. These tracks might not have smashed the charts, but they hold a special place in our hearts.

20. Dream, “He Loves You Not”

Backed by Puff Daddy and having opened for *N SYNC, Dream never achieved the staying power of Destiny’s Child or even the Pussycat Dolls, but “He Loves You Not” deserves to pop up at karaoke bars for decades. A classic other-woman takedown, the single gleefully swims in its PG-rated sassiness: “Say what you want, girl, do what you do/He’s never gonna make it with you.” – Jason Lipshutz

19. G.R.L., “Ugly Heart”

The last single G.R.L. released before the tragic death of Simone Battle, “Ugly Heart” huddles all of the group’s winning aspects into three-and-a-half minutes, and offers empowerment atop a kicky ukulele riff. – Jason Lipshutz

18. Destiny’s Child, “Through With Love”

Quintessential Destiny’s Child, this song (buried deep on their 2004 Destiny Fulfilled farewell album) encapsulates the feeling of being over a situation with the one you love and vowing to walk away… at least until he calls again. – Kathy Iandoli

17. Xscape, “My Little Secret”

Gloriously dated — the first 45 seconds include a Jermaine Dupri spoken-word intro and talk of getting “your message on my beeper” — but undeniably sensual, Xscape’s “My Little Secret” was not the long-gone R&B quartet’s biggest hit but endures at the group’s most unified statement (about how everybody cheats, but still). – Jason Lipshutz

16. Little Mix, “Nothing Feels Like You”

Produced by red-hot beatmaker MNEK, “Nothing Feels Like You” sounds like a girl group smash from the distant future, when all percussion is composed of tongue clicks and beatboxing. Little Mix’s Salute album includes some polished dance cuts, but the racing “Nothing Feels Like You” operates at an entirely different level. – Jason Lipshutz

15. Girls Aloud, “Can’t Speak French” / “Je Ne Parle Pas Francais”

One of the less blockbuster-y of British girl group Girls Aloud’s many U.K. hits, “Can’t Speak French” offers a catchy come-on with a bouncy, layered guitar hook, though with an odd dose of melancholy that gives the song a surprising amount of emotional heft for a seduction ballad. The song’s message translates beyond the lyrics, which is probably why the song’s French-language version — which wisely leaves the “funky music” lyric in English — might be even more compelling. –Andrew Unterberger

14. Boy Krazy, “That’s What Love Can Do”

Pop songwriting trio Stock Aitken Waterman (Kylie Minogue, Donna Summer) attempted to apply their magic touch to a girl group with Boy Krazy. The band didn’t stick, but this song is a forgotten gem. – Andrew Hampp

13. The Cinderellas, “Please Don’t Wake Me”

Backup singers Dorothy Jones, Margaret Ross  and Earl-Jean McCrea, who also recorded as the Cookies, switched their identity with Ross singing lead on this Cynthia Weil-Russ Titelman composition. Fun fact: the group would later become the Raelettes, backing Ray Charles. – Phil Gallo

12. Strawberry Switchblade, “Since Yesterday”

Strawberry Switchblade (what a name) were two paisley-and-lace Scottish princesses that, in retrospect, were as representative of the sound and style of the early 80’s as anyone. “Since Yesterday,” their best-known song, spins a sunny vibe around a morose yarn. – Andrew Flanagan

11. The Like, “Release Me”

After one rock-tinged album, the Like worked with producer Mark Ronson (he was dating drummer Tennessee Thomas) who pointed them in a glossy, Phil Spector direction for their second album. This catchy number was the big standout from their 2010 album Release Me, and now sounds like a lost gem from the Supremes or the Crystals. – Chris Payne

10. TLC, “I’m Good at Being Bad”

Like a lot of people in my age group, Fanmail was my introduction to girl groups, and “I’m Good At Being Bad” happened to be my introduction to the bad girl side of TLC. Its slow beginning takes quite a turn as the beat drops, delivering a hard-hitting chorus that quotes Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby.” – William Gruger

9. The Donnas, “Take It Off”

“Take It Off,” from the Donnas’ 2002 major-label debut Spend The Night, so wonderfully highlights the all-female quartet’s strengths that it’s no wonder that the rock group could never quite follow it up. From Brett Anderson’s whiskey-stained vocal delivery to Allison Robertson’s snarling guitar work to the group’s fist-pump harmonizing, “Take It Off” was a minor hit that has major staying power. – Jason Lipshutz

8. Electrik Red, “So Good”

If Prince’s many female proteges of the ’80s had bonded together for one great single, we can only hope it would have sounded something like Electrik Red’s “So Good.” Instead engineered by Purple One acolyte The-Dream, “So Good” is as sexy, smooth and distinctly human as any late-’00s R&B, with unforgettable ear-catching lyrics like “I shouldn’t have let you hit that / ‘Coz now I can’t forget that,” amidst popping bass and gently strutting synths to drive home the song’s lustiness. – Andrew Unterberger

7. Spice Girls, “Love Thing”

Backed by a classic 90’s groove punctuated with staccato strings, “Love Thing” is an excellent cut from the Spice Girls’ debut album Spice, and one that should have gotten more radio shine. By addressing many a woe between lovers, the Spice Girls make the simple statement that relationships in general would be much better off if it weren’t for those petty arguments. – William Gruger

6. The Shangri-Las, “Past, Present & Future”

The biggest hits of ’60s girl group the Shangri-Las tended to hinge on subjects like motorcycle crashes, familial alienation and breakup letters sent from another continent. But even for them, “Past, Present & Future” is shocking. A largely spoken-word number based musically around the somber melody of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” the song chills with every intonation of the titular three phases, as lead singer Mary Weiss tells of a romantic life ruined by by an off-screen occurrence never detailed, absolutely horrifying in its looming vagueness. It’s girl group pop with absolutely unimaginable stakes, and you’ll need to wash your ears out with about a hundred “Be My Baby”s to properly recover. – Andrew Unterberger

5. Total, “Kissin’ You”

A modest hit that peaked at No. 12 on the Hot 100, “Kissin You” was a delectable slice of 90’s R&B that tugged at the boundaries of pop and neo-soul. With production handled by Raphael Saddiq, a song this sweet never sounded so cutting-edge. – Reggie Ugwu

4. The Pipettes, “Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me”

The choreography, matching polka dot outfits and throwback arrangements made U.K. trio the Pipettes an intriguingly retro collective when they first touched down in the mid-2000s, and sadly, their stunning 2006 LP We Are The Pipettes became their only full-length with their classic lineup. The single “Pull Shapes” first turned heads, but “Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me” was the album’s two-minute stunner, with a sassy refrain seamlessly heading toward a soaring, sobering recognition of vulnerability, that turns into another quick rejection. – Jason Lipshutz

3. SWV, “Use Your Heart”

SWV’s biggest singles came from their debut album in 1992, but their 1996 sophomore effort New Beginning had a gem or two as well, including “Use Your Heart.” The slow-winding cut about pure love was produced by a then up-and-coming duo called The Neptunes (Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams), who made the single as dreamy as it is passionate. – Brad Wete

2. The Ronettes, “Paradise”

Initially recorded by the Shangri-La’s, the Ronettes version of “Paradise” produced by Phil Spector was shelved when it was recorded in 1966 and only released in the mid-’70s on a Spector compilation.  Harry Nilsson co-wrote the song. – Phil Gallo

1. Girls Aloud, “Call The Shots”

A highly underrated song from the most underrated girl group ever (in the United States, at least), “Call The Shots” was Girls Aloud’s last incredible single before the group effectively disbanded. “Call The Shots” makes me feel like I’m in the middle of an 80’s movie chasing a boy all around the prom until he tells me he loves me. That’s not a bad feeling. – Kathy Iandoli

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