In pop, there is a dismal pot of failed girl bands. We all know the ones: a bit too young, a little pathetic-looking and, like many before them, probably the product of the record company’s clone department. Since the end of The Spice Girls, the public have become irritated and bored with most girl groups and the negative perception has done nothing to help them generate fans or funds for over a decade.
TV programmes like The X Factor have shed some light on how tricky it can be for a girl band to get even a vote, never mind a number one single. And yet, we sing along to their singles on karaoke nights and dance to their catchy tracks at wedding parties but, beyond ridicule, we take a step back. Instead, we choose to buy into unique, talented acts, excluding the material brought forward by girl groups. Three female Londoners called The Lorelles say we should forget everything we mock about girl bands – and after hearing them sing, you’ll probably agree.
Therese, Rosie and Lizzie, all in their mid-twenties, sing with the note-perfect quality we’re only familiar hearing from artists like Adele or Florence and the Machine, and that’s obviously special. So although these girls are in a girl band, their vibe, sound and look slot them into a category we recognise as solo. The girls have each grown up singing: Therese was a musical theatre buff, Rosie was in a choir at school, and Lizzie also got her first bug after performing with her school band. But they never thought about joining a girl group, to the point where Rosie recalls how they shied away from the girl band label when they got together. “We didn’t call ourselves a girl band for a long time; we were a ‘vocal ensemble’. We’ve only just come round to it because that is how we will be classified by the public.”
The band formed in 2009 with a different third member, and when she left, Therese (a mate and prior fan) replaced her. The Lorelles pride themselves on coming together without any industry help, as it’s still a rare thing, “What’s different with what we’re doing in comparison to the average girl band is that we’re indie – not in genre, but we’ve not been manufactured at all and we write our own material,” says Therese.
Typically, girl bands are not required to have amazing vocals. The engineering of past groups suggests that often the main concern is the collective ‘look’, and then perhaps the trend to have a strong lead but the strength of the other members’ voices are usually overlooked. But on watching The Lorelles perform, one can’t help but notice the obvious difference from other girl bands, and Lizzie backs it up when she says, “We’re all very strong singers”. The group is keen to be known for their voices, such as you might expect from a solo artist, and they don’t want to produce the sugary pop we’ve become used to and often scorn. ‘‘We don’t want to be known as a girl band that sings whatever about nothing, just for the sake of it. [They] have their music packaged in a way that you can’t even tell if they’re any good because it’s so heavily produced,” says Rosie.
They are still unsigned but have been making a name for themselves in the last couple of years with gigs at some cool venues like Proud, Cottons, The Jazz Cafe and Cafe de Paris.
The girls are also setting themselves apart from other girl bands by using their music to help make a stand for organisations and issues they believe in right from the start, explains Lizzie. “It’s so great to be able to help people by doing something we love so much and to use that for other people that don’t have the same opportunities that we have.” They simply give back by hosting special fundraising performances in aid of Ignito Project, which uses music and the arts to reach young people living in under-served, deprived situations in areas of Wandsworth and Lambeth. The girls have also recorded a single inspired by the riots in London this summer, called ‘Riot in Your Heart’, along with a video due for release at the end of November 2011; and all the proceeds will go to Ignito.
The Lorelles stand out because of their voices, unusual when referring to a girl band. They demonstrate that perhaps we’ve got it wrong – girl bands are not dead. What we need is a few more like this to break the mould and make really good music, then instead of laughing we’ll be buying a single or two.
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