Culture Fix’s Greatest Mixed Vocal Pop Groups

There’s something incredibly Europop about the magic of a mixed vocal group, albeit one that we feel is madly underrated. Mixing male and female voices with often up-tempo results, the mixed vocal group has been a phenomenon with peaks and troughs through the decades. The shining elaborate costumes, the occasional dance routine, and sugary pop production gives a serotonin high that any classic pop fan will appreciate.

In no particular order, we celebrate the best mixed vocal pop groups.

Five Star

Albums: 8
Singles: 32
Most recent release: Funktafied (2001)
Notable hits: System Addict, Rain or Shine, The Slightest Touch

Modelled on the Jackson 5, family group The Pearsons were set up as Five Star in the early eighties with their debut album making its appearance in 1985. The group managed to pack its first four studio albums in between 1985 and 1988, before their fifth onwards would fail to chart. Packing in dozens of Top 40 hits into their peak including System Addict, Rain or Shine, and The Slightest Touch, Five Star would be one of the most fondly remember mixed pop groups. Five Star still tour but the only original member is Denise Pearson.

Army of Lovers

Albums: 4
Singles: 27
Most recent release: Big Battle of Egos (Greatest hits with four new tracks in 2013)
Notable hits: Crucified, Obsession, Give My Life, Israelism.

The first of a number of acts featuring Swedish pop supremo Alexander Bard, Army of Lovers sees him collaborate with Jean-Pierre Barda and Camilla Henemark. The group found early success from the late eighties to the mid-nineties thanks to their blend of camp (very on the nose) humour, decadent costuming, and their unabashed Eurodance sound. Despite the a number of club hits and four strong studio albums, internal issues within the band sees Camilla’s membership regularly fluctuating. The story of Camilla is a fascinating one with an affair with Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf. Army of Lovers haven’t recorded since 2013 but have had several small reunions including 2018 documentary Army of Lovers in the Holy Land.

BWO

Albums: 4
Singles: 21
Most recent release: Big Science (2009)
Notable hits: Temple of Love, Lay Your Love On Me, You’re Not Alone

Alexander Bard would recruit Martin Rolinski and Marina Schiptjenko for this post-Army of Lovers group. Boasting up-tempo Europop sounds and the high-camp costumes (akin to AoL), BWO (Bodies Without Organs) would find solid success in their native Sweden with some love across Europe (even delving into the UK singles chart with Sunshine in the Rain and Lay Your Love On Me). The group were regular fixtures at Sweden’s Eurovision national selection Melodifestivalen with their most recent attempt being 2009’s You’re Not Alone. BWO are not currently operating with Bard instead focussing on political causes.

Alcazar

Albums: 3
Singles: 23
Most recent release: In the Name of Love (2018 Single)
Notable hits: Not a Sinner Not a Saint, Alcastar, This is the World We Live In, Stay the Night, Blame It on the Disco, We Keep On Rockin’

The original Disco Defenders Alcazar, superstars of the schlager and europop realm are currently comprised of original members Tess Merkel and Andreas Lundstedt with Lina Hedlund who joined the line-up in 2007. Previous original member Annikafiore and later member Magnus Carlsson (joining in 2002) would go on to pursue solo projects yet the former would feature on the band’s first two albums Casino and Alcazarized. The group would be catapulted to European stardom with Crying at the Discoteque in 2000 bolstering mixed vocal harmonies and shimmering electronic pop stylings. The high camp joy of Not a Sinner Nor a Saint would provide their first Swedish number one with a plethora of Top 40 hits following in the early to mid-noughties. A third and final studio album would follow in 2009’s Disco Defenders with several standalone singles coming in the subsequent years – most recently In the Name of Love in 2018.

Friends

Albums: 3
Singles: 8
Most recent release: In the Heat of the Night (2002)
Notable hits: Listen to Your Heartbeat

Melodifestivalen fans will have a firm memory of Friends‘ Listen To Your Heartbeat, which won the contest in 2001 and would go on to represent Sweden at the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest. Beginning as a manufactured pop group through Sweden TV4’s Friends på turne, Friends would find success with their debut album Friends på turné peaking at #8 before going on to fight in Melfest 2000 with När jag tänker på i morgon only to be beaten by Roger Pontare. Yet 2001’s Melfest would prove more successful, leading to the release of English language album Listen to Your Heartbeat. The track of the same name would reach fifth place in the 2001 ESC finale. A final album would come in 2002 Dance With Me with single In The Heat Of The Night peaking at #5.

Bucks Fizz (‘The Fizz’)

Albums: 5 (Bucks Fizz), 3 (The Fizz)
Singles: 24
Most recent release: Smoke and Mirrors (The Fizz 2020)
Notable hits: Making Your Mind Up, The Land of Make Believe, My Camera Never Lies.

Let’s not understate things, Bucks Fizz were as close as the UK would get to having their own ABBA. The pop four-piece would be designed specifically for Eurovision and would storm the contest in 1981 with their debut single Making Your Mind Up. Originally comprised of Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Bobby G, the four-piece would avoid the stigma of becoming a Eurovision one-hit wonder with numerous follow-up hits including Piece of the Action, Land of Make Believe and My Camera Never Lies. However, building tensions within the band and various line-up changes lead to their eventual decline and legal battles of the Bucks Fizz name. BBC documentary Trouble at the Top delved into the various legal battles involving the drama between Bobby G and later-recruited member, Dollar star David Van Day (more on him later).

Meanwhile, avoiding the messiness and potentially law-breaking, Nolan, Baker and Aston would reunited as OBF (Original Bucks Fizz) before becoming The Fizz and recording two studio albums and a Christmas LP with Mike Stock. Their most recent LP was 2020’s Smoke & Mirrors.

Gemini

Albums: 2
Singles: 7
Most recent release: Wild About That Girl (1988)
Notable hits: Just Like That, Another You, Another Me, Mio My Mio.

Brother sister duo Karin Glenmark and Anders Glenmark would make up Gemini who would work closely with ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus on their debut album 1985’s Gemini. The group would attempt to find success with Just Like That, their take on a highly-sought after unreleased ABBA number. Whilst not exactly making them global stars, Gemini would garner enough success from their debut to record follow-up album Geminism in 1987 getting #3 hit Mio My Mio from the LP – once again a result of their fruitful relationship with Benny and Björn. The siblings would continue to work together under their Glenmark name, but Gemini’s own legacy is a relatively short-lived one.

Ace of Base

Albums: 5
Singles: 26
Most recent release: The Golden Ratio (2010)
Notable hits: All That She Wants, The Sign, Life is a Flower, Lucky Love

Emerging from the nineties Swedish super-producer scene, Ace of Base comprised of siblings Jonas, Linn and Jenny Berggren, with Ulf Ekberg would achieve global stardom with debut album Happy Nation in 1992. Taking its roots in classic pop harmonies with both male and female vocals, Ace of Base would have a string of international hits including All That She Wants, The Sign, Life is a Flower, and Lucky Love. A hiatus followed in 2002 after fourth album De Capo, before Ulf and Jonas would recruit two new vocalists Clara Hagman and Julia Williamson for 2010 comeback LP The Golden Ratio.

KEiiNO

Albums: 1
Singles: 21
Most recent release: On a Night Like This (2022)
Notable hits: Spirit in the Sky, Black Leather, Monument

It’s refreshing to feature an act on this list that is very much still in their musical prime. Norwegian supergroup KEiiNO formed of singers Tom Hugo and Alexandra Rotan with Sami rapper Fred Buljo formed to take part in Norway’s Eurovision national final Melodi Grand Prix in 2018. They subsequently stormed the contest and reached sixth place in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest with their entry Spirit in the Sky. They have gone on to release debut album OKTA and a decent helping of singles including 2021 MGP runner-up Monument and standalone singles Black Leather, Transarctic Lover, End of Time (Taste of Heaven), and most recently Kylie cover On a Night Like This.

Steps

Albums: 7
Singles: 32
Most recent release: What the Future Holds Pt 2 (2021)
Notable hits: Scared of the Dark, What the Future Holds, Heartbreak in This City

The quintessential mixed vocal group for Brits of a certain age, Steps’ journey has been something of a rollercoaster from the nineties heyday including tensions and their initial break-up, to reforming for arguably an even better second wind. Initially formed by Pete Waterman, Steps would go on to dominate the nineties pop scene with hits including 5,6,7,8, One for Sorrow, Deeper Shade of Blue and Summer of Love. The departure of members Ian H Watkins and Claire Richards (and the forming of short-lived mixed vocal duo H & Claire) would prove an unexpected end for the band before reuniting for a heated Reunion television special, Greatest Hits LP and misguided Christmas album in 2012. A further five year break would prove enough time to get the formula spot on as Steps would subsequently return with the banger Scared of the Dark and its containing album Tears on the Dancefloor. Similarly wonderful dancepop heavy albums What the Future Holds Part 1 and Part 2 would follow in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Antique

Albums: 3
Singles: 9
Most recent release: Ti Ti (2022)
Notable hits: Opa Opa, (I Would) Die For You, Moro Mou and Ti Ti

Helena Paparizou and Nikos Panagiotidis would make up Greek-Swedish pop duo Antique. Releasing their debut album Mera Me Ti Mera in 1999, they would find success with single Opa Opa a Eurodance cover of a Notis Sfakianakis’s early nineties hit. With their profile suitably high, Antique would be selected to represent Greece at the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest with (I Would) Die for You which made it to third place (Helena would win as a solo act four years later with My Number One). This would feature on the duo’s penultimate studio album which blended English and Greek anthems. The group’s final album would receive a release in both languages. In 2022, Antique came back to music industry by covering Ti Ti by Giorgos Alkaios.

Blue Lagoon

Albums: 2
Singles: 8
Most recent release: Wild World (2008)
Notable hits: Break My Stride, Isle of Paradise, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

German pop group Blue Lagoon features the talents of Patricia Gerndt and David O’Joseph and centred on the island-pop sound. With reggae tinged covers of of Break My Stride and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted. The group do have a number of original tracks which can be found on their two albums released in 2005 and 2007.

ABBA

Albums: 9
Singles: 50
Most recent release: Voyage (2021)
Notable hits: Waterloo, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, Super Trouper, Does Your Mother Know…

ABBA arguably the initiators of the mixed vocal group format – it’s hard to imagine any of the other acts on this list existing without ABBA – the true pioneers of the europop sound. The original Kings and Queens of eurodisco and schlager, told through beautiful melodies and poignant lyricism, ABBA’s releases from 1973 to 1981 cemented them as the greatest pop group of all time. Their legacy gained a delightful rebirth with their 2021 comeback album Voyage. Whether this is a full stop on ABBA’s story is anyone’s guess, we have high hopes that it’s not.

Fame

Albums: 1
Singles: 5
Most recent release: All in the Game (2005)
Notable hits: Give Me Your Love, The Wind Has Turned Around, Pop Into My Heart, All in the Game

Jessica Andersson and Magnus Bäcklund lead Swedish pop duo Fame – meeting on the country’s version of Fame Academy in 2002. Making their debut as a duo at Melodifestivalen 2003, the pair stormed to victory with Give Me Your Love which was fifth at this year’s Eurovision. A Top 11 schlager europop flavoured album followed, as well as a second attempt to win Melodifestivalen in 2004 with Vindarna vänder oss – an English version was released as The Wind Has Turned Around. Final singles All In the Game (banger) and Gjorda För Varandra would follow before Jessica and Magnus would venture into solo careers.

Tight Fit

Albums: 2 (as current line-up)
Singles: 7
Most recent release: Fallout (2022)
Notable hits: The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Fantasy Island, Fallout

Topping the charts with The Lion Sleeps Tonight in 1982 with the line-up of Steve Grant, Denise Gyngell and Julie Harris were Tight Fit. Eurodance single Fantasy Island soon followed leading to the band’s self-titled album (actually their second, but the first with the previous line-up). Subsequent line-up changes would mark the demise of the short-lived band – until 2008 saw their reformation as a touring act. The original line-up would put out the album Together in 2016 (featuring their Matt Pop assisted version of Fantasy Island – high camp heaven!), with a new LP slated for 2022 – teased in recent single Fallout.

A*Teens

Albums: 4
Singles: 14
Most recent release: I Promised Myself (2004)
Notable hits: Upside Down, Floorfiller, A Perfect Match

Beginning life in the late nineties as ABBA-Teens, an ABBA tribute act, the band would find success in their native Sweden and Europe with their debut The ABBA Generation. Things would get more exciting with their second album, composed of original material (featuring a RedOne contribution!) Teen Spirit which would sell 2.5 million copies despite critical derision. Aiming for the US market with their subsequent albums Pop ’til You Drop! in 2002 and New Arrival in 2003 – it never quite happened – despite steady popularity across Europe. A Greatest Hits followed in 2004 with the eventual disbanding of the band – you can’t be A*Teens when you aren’t teens I guess.

Hear’Say

Albums: 2
Singles: 4
Most recent release: Lovin’ Is Easy (2002)
Notable hits: Pure & Simple, The Way to Your Love, Everybody

Created in 2001 through reality television hit Popstars, Hear’Say, made up of Myleene Klass, Kym Marsh, Danny Foster, Noel Sullivan and Suzanne Shaw, would go on to have fastest-selling debut single at the time with Pure and Simple. Their album Popstars peaked at #1 featuring production from Stargate and a second number one single The Way to Your Love. Inevitable band disputes lead to the departure of Kym Marsh (who became Mr Lisa Scott-Lee, Johnny Shentall in a revised line-up). Second album Everybody followed just nine months after their debut and sunk at #24 in the album charts but did yield a Top 5 single of the same name.

Pop!

Albums: 1 (Not officially released, but available)
Singles: 3
Most recent release: Serious (2005)
Notable hits: Heaven and Earth, Can’t Say Goodbye, Serious, Xanadu

Pete Waterman project Pop! aimed to fill the void left by Steps and initially it seemed promising with three singles which all reached the top 40 in the UK Singles Chart during 2004 and 2005. Lack of runaway success led to the group disbanding in 2005 before the release of fourth single Xanadu.

Scooch

Albums: 1
Singles: 7
Most recent release: Flying the Flag (For You)
Notable hits: Flying the Flag (For You), For Sure, More Than I Needed to Know

Scooch made up of Natalie Powers, Caroline Barnes, David Ducasse and Russ Spencer originally found success between 1998–2000 with songwriters and producers Mike Stock and Matt Aitken. The group’s first top five came with More Than I Needed To Know with follow-ups The Best Is Yet to Come and For Sure making it to the Top 20. These were compiled in the underperforming album Four Sure (#41) in 2000. However, a surprise second wind came in Scooch being scouted by the BBC for Eurovision You Decide! where they were victorious with Flying the Flag which finished joint 22nd out of 24 entries during the final contest. Would you like something to suck on for landing?

Dollar

Albums: 3
Singles: 17
Most recent release: It’s Nature’s Way (No Problem)
Notable hits: O L’amour, Mirror Mirror, Videotheque, Love’s Got a Hold On Me

David Van Day and Theresa Bazar’s Dollar was one of the UK’s most successful pop duos of the seventies and eighties. Their debut album from French label Carrere Shooting Stars spawned successful singles Love’s Got a Hold On Me, Shooting Star and I Want to Hold Your Hand. Their second album The Paris Collection didn’t spawn any direct hits but did begin a fruitful relationship with Trevor Horn who produced much of the band’s third and final LP The Dollar Album including Mirror Mirror and Videotheque. Needless to say personal issues between Van Day and Bazar which lead to the band’s decline and subsequent ill-fated reunions.

S Club 7

Albums: 4
Singles: 13
Most recent release: Say Goodbye/Love Ain’t Gonna Wait For You (2003)
Notable hits: Reach, Bring It All Back, Never Had a Dream Come True, Don’t Stop Movin’

The impact of S Club 7 on the UK populous can’t be understated: films, reality shows, albums, concert tours, Brit awards all under the S Club name. The group masterminded by Simon Fuller would see each of their UK singles hit the Top 10 in the UK singles chart, four of which made it to #1. Four studio albums boasting hits such as Reach, Bring It All Back, Never Had a Dream Come True, and Don’t Stop Movin’ would ensure the europop stars would be be a fixture of every noughties school disco. Disbanding in 2003, S Club have never made a return to the studio despite a successful 2015 arena comeback tour.

AllStars

Albums: 1
Singles: 4
Most recent release: Back When / Going All The Way
Notable hits: The Land of Make Believe, Things That Go Bump in the Night

Another early noughties British mixed vocal group with limited success was AllStars. With their own CITV series STARStreet* this five piece made up of Sam Bloom, Thaila Zucchi, Ashley Taylor Dawson, Rebecca Hunter and Sandi Lee (check the initials of their first names) would go on to four Top 40 singles including Halloween themed anthem Things That Go Bump in the Night and a self-titled album peaking at #43. A soundtrack album to the series was prepared as their follow-up but never officially released. The band subsequently broke up in 2002.

Aqua

Albums: 3
Singles: 21
Most recent release: I Am What I Am (2021)
Notable hits: Barbie Girl, Doctor Jones, Cartoon Heroes

Danish dancepop outfit Aqua found success in their native Scandinavia with Roses Are Red from album Aquarium before finding global stardom with their iconic eurodance hit Barbie Girl in 1997. Several hits would follow including Doctor Jones, Turn Back Time and My Oh My. Following Aquarium, the band released second album Aquarius in 2000 spawning the hit Cartoon Heroes and Around the World. Splitting in 2001, the band would reunite for third album Megalomania in 2011, a slide into a more mature electropop vibe from their previous LPs. Their most recent release was a stripped back cover of I Am What I Am for Copenhagen Pride in 2021.

ATC (A Touch of Class)

Albums: 2
Singles: 9
Most recent release: Around the World (La La La La La) (with R3HAB)
Notable hits: Around the World (La La La La La), My Heart Beats Like a Drum (Dum Dum Dum), I’m In Heaven (When You Kiss Me)

With four members from a variety of locations (NZ, Australia, Italy and the UK), A Touch of Class (ATC) began in late nineties Germany when the band met producers Alex Christensen and Thomas M. Stein. Their first single proved their biggest hit, Around the World (La La La La La), a cover of a Russian pop number by Ruki Vverh! The group subsequently released album Planet Pop through BMG in 2000, a moderate hit in mainland Europe. A follow-up LP Touch the Sky was released in 2003 but goodwill to the group had faded, scraping into the Top 100 of the German album charts at #97. ATC received a boost in recent years with DJ R3HAB sampling them on his version of Around the World in 2019.

Deuce

Albums: 1
Singles: 4
Most recent release: Rock the Disco (leak)
Notable hits: Call It Love, I Need You, On the Bible

Mid noughties UK fourpiece Deuce would only leave us with one album, but it’s a great one. On the Loose! released through London Recordings in 1995 would mix male and female vocals atop club friendly production on hits like Call It Love (UK #11) and I Need You (UK #10). The group would try for Eurovision in 1995 with I Need You but came third. The group moved to Mike Stock’s Love This label for their final single No Surrender before disbanding.

Liberty X

Albums: 3
Singles: 13
Most recent release: X (2006)
Notable hits: Just a Little, Thinking It Over, Being Nobody

Everything that Hear’Say failed to be, their Popstars equivalents managed to be. Made up of the runners-up from the British reality series, Liberty X were signed to Richard Branson’s V2 Records and would go on to have more longevity than the show’s actual winners – with three albums and thirteen singles. Hits including Just a Little, Got to Have Your Love and Being Nobody blended R&B and moody pop sounds – feeling far more current than their saccharine rivals. Their most recent single X was their first not to reach the Top 40 in 2006 with its containing album struggling to find its own sense of identity. The group disbanded although reunited for The Big Reunion in 2012 yet they failed to capitalise on the success of this with no tour or no new material.

Vengaboys

Albums: 3
Singles: 20
Most recent release: 1999 (I Wanna Go Back)
Notable hits: We Like to Party, Boom Boom Boom, We’re Going to Ibiza

Dutch Eurodance gods Vengaboys sound like the start of a punchline: a cowboy, a sailor and two bikini clad women walk into a bar, but this has simply added to their iconic sense of fun. The Rotterdam foursome have managed to consistently bring the party since their 1997 debut. Three successful albums and singles including We Like to Party, Boom Boom Boom, We’re Going to Ibiza, Up and Down and To Brazil have cemented the Vengas in pop culture history.

Same Difference

Albums: 2
Singles: 2
Most recent release: One Life, One Love
Notable hits: Karma Karma (ft. Alcazar), Shine On Forever

Despite never quite setting the charts alight, brother-sister duo and X Factor UK stars Same Difference had a solid following amongst fans of the europop. Signed to Simon Cowell’s Syco label, Sean and Sara dropped album Pop! led by musical-theatre inspired single We R One which was not very them. The band found a more expected europop sound on second album The Rest Is History – even roping in Alcazar for track Karma Karma. A third album Superheroes was recorded but never released. Sean now continues as a solo act.

2 Unlimited

Albums: 4
Singles: 22
Most recent release: No Limit (Brasilian Remix)
Notable hits: No Limit, Get Ready For This, Tribal Dance, Twilight Zone

Dutch rapper Ray Slijngaard and Dutch vocalist Anita Doth made up 2 Unlimited, the nineties duo who put themselves on the map with anthems such as Get Ready and No Limit. With major success in the singles charts across their native Belgium, Europe, and Australia, 2 Unlimited would go on to release four studio albums between 1992 and 1998. Anita has now left the band with Ray collaborating with new vocalist Michèle Karamat Ali.

Brotherhood of Man

Albums: 16
Singles: 31
Most recent release: When the Kissing Stops (1983!)
Notable hits: Save Your Kisses For Me, Angelo, Figaro, Lightning Flash

Middle of the road crooners Brotherhood of Man deserve an honorable mention for their 1976 Eurovision Song Contest winner Save Your Kisses for Me. With sixteen studio albums and and 31 singles including Angelo, Figaro and their eighties attempt to sex up their image with some synths and electronic production Lightning Flash. See The New Seekers for similar vibes.

Six

Albums: 1
Singles:
Most recent release: This Is It (2002)
Notable hits: There’s a Whole Lot of Loving Going On

Winning Ireland’s version of Popstars, Six would go on to release a cover of Guys ‘n’ Dolls There’s a Whole Lot of Loving Going On and later Let Me Be the One. There debut album This Is It would be released in 2002 and ironically that would be it from the short-lived band. There surprisingly is talk/threats of a twentieth anniversary reunion from Six…

Who are your favourite mixed vocal pop groups? Share with us on Twitter and Instagram (@culturefixuk).

Leave a Reply