After the Billboard.com team conducted the first-ever Fantasy Boy Band Draft last summer in an effort to piece together the best five-person group of male musical artists, we realized that girl groups deserve the exact same treatment. After all, a fantasy draft can be a blast for sports fans who obsess over stats and team unity, but that format can also be translated from football to mainstream pop music. What would happen if the lineup were not based on male talent and leadership, but on female musicianship and choreography?
Billboard.com is proud to unveil the 2014 Fantasy Girl Group Draft, the first edition of the Billboard team’s undying effort to put together the ideal girl group. Earlier this week, eight members of the Billboard staff joined together to draft their own personal girl groups over five thrilling rounds. We captured every second of the action — which you can read in full below — and want to hear from the girl group fans themselves to see whose draft was the strongest. There were shocking choices, unbelievable sleepers in the last round and a debate over the eligibility of Fergie. We’d expect nothing less from the Fantasy Girl Group Draft!
— Each team will select one member per round over the course of five rounds. This will be a “snake order” draft, so that the second round goes in reverse order as the first round (the player with the sixth pick will also get the seventh pick, and so on).?
— Girl group members are eligible as long as they once appeared in a girl group, meaning that members of defunct girl groups (i.e., Destiny’s Child and Dream) can be drafted. ?
— All girl group members are drafted under the “heyday” rule, which means that players are drafting girl group members at the height of their performing powers, not as they are in 2014.?
— Girl group members that play instruments (i.e., Haim or the Donnas) are eligible to be drafted.?
— Following the draft, each participant will make the case as to why their completed girl group is the best!
Jason Lipshutz, associate editor and Pop Shop pop blog editor at Billboard.com
Erika Ramirez, associate editor and The Juice hip-hop blog editor at Billboard.com
Tye Comer, editor of Billboard.com
Amaya Mendizabal, Latin charts manager at Billboard
Brad Wete, features editor at Billboard.com
Chris Payne, editorial assistant at Billboard.com
Trish Halpin, web photo editor at Billboard.com
Tyler Bradley, social media editor at Billboard.com
JASON: We’ve all drawn numbers out of a hat to determine the draft order. Erika has landed the coveted first pick, and after her is Chris, then Tye, then Tyler, then Brad, then Amaya, then Trish, and finally me. I have the last pick of the first round and the first pick of the second round.
And remember guys, no fighting. First pick is Erika.
ERIKA: Can you please just write down my No. 1 pick, which is, of course, Beyonce? I said if I didn’t get the first pick, I’d walk out, so I guess I’m not walking out.
TYE: I call foul.
ERIKA: You cannot call foul! You know what it is? It’s this Oprah Chai Tea. That’s what helped me.
JASON: C-Payne, you’re up.
CHRIS: If I can’t have Beyonce, I’ll take Diana Ross.
ERIKA: Good choice!
JASON: Some would say just as strong of a choice as Beyonce. Tye’s up.
TYE: No question, I’m bringing Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes back.
ERIKA: I still don’t agree that the deceased should be eligible in the fantasy draft.
TYE: Hey, if I have that option, I am definitely going with Left Eye.
TYLER: I’m up, no whammies, no whammies… I’m gonna have to stickwitu… and go with Nicole Scherzinger.
EVERYONE ELSE: Wowww!
TYE: Damn, dude.
JASON: Out of every girl group member left on the board, you went with Nicole Scherzinger.
TYLER: I think it’s because I listened to like 20 of their songs yesterday.
BRAD: Do they have 20 songs?
AMAYA: Hey, she has a couple singles…!
JASON: Brad, you’re up.
BRAD: Patti LaBelle.
JASON: Patti Labelle! Someone picked Nicole Scherzinger before Patti LaBelle. The magic of the fantasy girl group draft.
ERIKA: It’s the same person that didn’t know that Kandi [Burruss] was part of Xscape.
TYLER: It’s the generational gap, that’s all.
AMAYA: I’m up. I’ll go with… Mel B.! Scary Spice!
TYE: I had my eye on her.
JASON: Great choice. Trish?
TRISH: Give me Ginger Spice. She’s the reason I wanted to do this.
TYLER: You’re going to pick all redheads.
TRISH [a redhead]: It was a thought! That’d be the best.
JASON: Damn, I definitely had my eye on Geri Halliwell. Okay, I have two picks in a row. I’m going with Kelly Rowland.
ERIKA: I wanted to get the whole Destiny’s Child back together!
JASON: That was never going to happen.
JASON: For my second pick, I’m going Chilli.
BRAD: Ah man. That will get you every time.
TRISH: Okay, so question. Are these real-life girl groups, or fictional girl groups?
TYE: You cannot pick Jem of the Holograms.
TRISH: Why?! Or how about Josie, of Josie & The Pussycats?
JASON: Nope, no Josie. Or Rachel Leigh Cook, who played her in the movie.
TYE: This isn’t “fantasy” enough for you, Trish?
TRISH: Well, I just thought, with the movie coming out and everyone talking about Jem… okay, okay. Now I’m not prepared. How about Fergie? She was in Wild Orchid.
JASON: I don’t know if I can count Fergie…
TRISH: It’s a real group! They were great!
(A minute-long debate about Wild Orchid ensues.)
JASON: I am going to count Fergie. Unbelievable turn of events. Amaya’s turn.
AMAYA: I’ll take T-Boz, please.
JASON: All three TLC members now off the board. Brad, you’re up.
BRAD: Everybody’s taking my choices! Give me Dawn Richard.
ERIKA: Jason, I’m surprised you didn’t take her with one of your first picks.
JASON: Yeah, she was my sleeper pick, I should have grabbed her. I went with Chilli instead. So Tyler, you are up. Who are you pairing with Nicole Scherzinger?
TYLER: I’m taking Natalie Maines.
TYE: Solid pick.
TYLER: We’d all like to hear a girl group with Nicole Scherzinger and Natalie Maines.
TYE: I’m up, and since this is a fantasy draft, I would like to pick Belinda Carlisle circa 1981.
TYE (indignant): Okay, that’s a great, great pick, and the fact that no one in this room is responding makes me very sad. “We Got The Beat”! “Our Lips Are Sealed”! Go-Go’s, man.
AMAYA: I have that vinyl!
CHRIS: Okay, I’m going to finish off the core Destiny’s Child and scoop up Michelle Williams.
JASON: I like where Chris’ head is — he’s got Diana Ross and now Michelle Williams. Very solid beginning. Erika, you’re up with two picks in a row.
ERIKA: I am! I’m going to go with Pepa.
AMAYA: Is Salt next?
ERIKA: Nahhh… wait, I need to know which SWV girl I should pick.
BRAD: Oh, I know! But I’m not gonna tell you.
ERIKA: Bradley, tell me who it is!
BRAD: I can’t do that for you.
ERIKA: Ugh. You know what? I’m taking Aubrey O’Day.
EVERYONE ELSE: Whaaaaat!
ERIKA: It’s a salacious choice!
JASON: Okay, so we have two Danity Kane members off the board. Very surprising. C-Payne?
CHRIS: Up again? Okay, I’ll take Victoria Beckham.
JASON: I gotta say, I’m liking the feel of C-Payne’s team.
TRISH: But what does she really offer?
CHRIS: I have Diana Ross, so I’m fine.
TYE: Okay, y’all done messed up, because I am going to take Este Haim.
JASON: Very strange group from Tye thus far — Left Eye, Belinda Carlisle, Este Haim. Tyler, you’re up.
TYLER: I want Dawn from Danity Kane.
JASON: She is off the board, my friend!
TYLER: No! What? Agh! Well, this is awkward. I’m taking Raven Symone.
ERIKA: Oh my gosh. I slept on the Cheetah Girls! You’re getting the Cheetah fans on your side.
TYLER: You think that was my strategy? Of course it was.
BRAD: My turn. I’m taking Coko [Clemons] from SWV.
ERIKA: That’s evil, Bradley. That’s who I wanted.
BRAD: Hey, I’m just trying to compete with Beyonce.
AMAYA: I’m going with Cheryl Cole, for some international appeal. We’re going to be huge.
JASON: Okay Trish, you’re up. Please don’t pick the one I want.
TRISH: Well, I think I’m going with Adrienne Bailon, because she’s in two girl groups. 3LW and the Cheetah Girls! And didn’t she date Rob Kardashian?
JASON: Okay, that was not my pick, and I cannot believe this person lasted until the end of the third round — DJ Spinderella is my pick.
BRAD: A DJ is kind of perfect in your group, to be honest, with Kelly Rowland and Chilli.
JASON: I see LaTavia, formerly of Destiny’s Child, staring at me.
ERIKA: I bet she is!
JASON: But no, I’m going to add some U.K. flavor. I need a Girls Aloud member. I’m taking Nicola Roberts, who has my favorite solo album from them. Back to Trish.
TRISH: Can I please have Jane from the Go-Go’s?
TYE: Jane Wiedlin!
TRISH: Yeah, she’s a little spunkier.
AMAYA: For round four, I’m taking Alana Haim. She’s the young one.
JASON: Your turn, Brad.
BRAD: Okay, I have to explain this one. I’m taking a young Los Angeles native who began in a group called the Stunners. She has a budding career and recently signed to RCA Records. Her name is Tinashe.
ERIKA: This is your new musical obsession. You love Tinashe.
TYLER: Okay, I’m up. I’m going with Camila Cabello from Fifth Harmony.
AMAYA: Good choice.
ERIKA: Let the record show that Tyler was not 100 percent sure how to pronounce her last name.
TYLER: I just didn’t want to screw it up! I don’t think I did.
JASON: Tye, you’re up.
TYE: I think that my plan of action is going to come into place with this pick. This pick is going to be Melanie C., better known as Sporty Spice.
JASON: That leaves one Spice Girl left. C-Payne?
CHRIS: I’m taking Danielle Haim.
TYE: Haim is pretty popular today!
ERIKA: For my second-to-last pick, I will pick Kandi [Burruss] from Xscape. That’s Kandi with a K.
ERIKA: My last pick… this is tough. I’m going to go with Dawn Robinson from En Vogue. Tyler probably doesn’t even know En Vogue exists.
TYLER: Of course I do! My mom had the CD.
CHRIS: Last pick, I’m going to try to appeal to the tweens and pick Perrie Edwards from Little Mix.
JASON: Aww, that was going to be my last pick!
CHRIS: Engaged to a One Directioner! I see the tweens.
TYE: I’m up, and I’m about to blow all of your minds: Joan MF’ing Jett.
EVERYONE ELSE: Whooooa!
TYE: The Runaways! Know your history!
TYLER: Kristen Stewart played her in a movie. I’m up. I’m going with Baby Spice. My group is complete.
JASON: All the Spice Girls are now off the board. Let’s look at Tyler’s group for a second: Nicole Scherzinger, Natalie Maines, Raven, Camila Cabello and Emma Bunton.
TYLER: I can probably get all of them to tweet me.
BRAD: I am going to go with… Pamela Hutchinson hasn’t been picked, right? Pamela Hutchinson from the Emotions. Let’s do it.
AMAYA: My final pick is Lauren Jauregui from Fifth Harmony.
TRISH: Okay, so you’re probably going to say no to this, but how do we feel about Britney Spears and those five minutes she spent with Innosense?
JASON: 100 percent no. Ineligible. Trish is the wild card of this draft!
TYE: Question: do the ladies of “Lady Marmalade” count?
ERIKA: I’m done with all of this make-believe stuff! These are make-believe groups!
TRISH: I was really banking on Josie & the Pussycats, too. Give me Ashley Poole from Dream.
JASON: Great. And with the final pick of the Fantasy Girl Group Draft, I’m taking Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix. Perrie was already off the board, but I will gladly take another Little Mix member.
And that concludes the 2014 Fantasy Girl Group Draft! Click here for each player’s breakdown of his or her respective team, and to vote for the team you like the most.
THE FINAL LINEUPS:
ERIKA’S TEAM: Beyonce, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, Aubrey O’Day, Kandi Burruss, Dawn Robinson
Erika’s Breakdown: My one and only strategy was to get Beyonce. Pepa’s the coolest, and we need a rapper/singer. Aubrey O’Day is Aubrey O’Day! Kandi is a great singer and songwriter, and we need that, and Dawn from En Vogue has a fantastic voice. But again: Beyonce, Beyonce, Beyonce.
CHRIS’ TEAM: Diana Ross, Michelle Williams, Victoria Beckham, Danielle Haim, Perrie Edwards
Chris’ Breakdown: Going into the draft, I wanted to get a good balance of style and substance. Diana Ross is definitely a great leader and building block, and then you have Victoria Beckham for some style, and then Danielle Haim can add some guitar to it. Perrie Edwards will add the tween appeal.
TYE’S TEAM: Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Belinda Carlisle, Este Haim, Melanie “Sporty Spice” Chisholm, Joan Jett
Tye’s Breakdown: My strategy going in was to get Beyonce, and seeing that that did not happen, I had to scramble for a new strategy, which became trying to get the most badass girls of the most badass girl groups. You’ve got the wild card Left Eye (may she rest in peace); 1981-era Belinda Carlisle, who was insane back in the day; Este Haim, who makes those crazy faces onstage; Mel C., and I honestly wanted Mel B., but Mel C. is sporty and keeps it tight; and then Joan Jett, who is really all I needed to begin with. If you look at my list, we could definitely kick the ass of any other girl band up there. The tweens may not get it, but if you know your musical history, you’ll see that I have the dominant group.
TYLER’S TEAM: Nicole Scherzinger, Natalie Maines, Raven Symone, Camila Cabello, Emma Bunton
Tyler’s Breakdown: There really wasn’t a whole lot of strategy behind this team. Once I picked Nicole, I guess I decided to go with the front-women of the group? That’s why I went with Natalie and Raven; I just keep thinking of “That’s So Raven” and that theme song, and I think she would own the stage. Also I think Camila is a great singer, and then Baby Spice is there to sell records.
BRAD’S TEAM: Patti LaBelle, Dawn Richard, Coko Clemons, Tinashe, Pamela Hutchinson
Brad’s Breakdown: This is a race for second place with Beyonce in the game. With Patti LaBelle I have an iconic figure, with Pamela Hutchinson I have someone with a stellar career during that time period, and Tinashe is a new up-and-coming talent, Coko from SWV was a focal point with a ton of hits, and Dawn Richard is very talented. Unfortunately she came out during a weird era, but if you sat her in front of a microphone, she’s show you what she’s made of. I tried my best with what I had in front of me.
AMAYA’S TEAM: Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Cheryl Cole, Alana Haim, Lauren Jauregui
Amaya’s Breakdown: My strategy was to get a few girls from the iconic groups — Spice Girls, TLC. Then I wanted to go a little international, get some fans across the globe, so I chose Cheryl Cole for that appeal. I wanted to get some rock in there, so I went with the youngest Haim sister. And then I wanted to appeal to the younger Disney generation, hence my Lauren choice. I’m really excited about my picks, and I think we’re going to do well.
TRISH’S TEAM: Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell, Fergie, Adrienne Bailon, Jane Wiedlin, Ashley Poole
Trish’s Breakdown: I’m here for Ginger Spice, and when I was told that I could not do Jem or Josie, I just picked fun people. Fergie’s fun! Adrienne was in two girl groups, Jane is kind of awesome, and Ashley Poole… I liked Dream! My group’s just here to have fun.
JASON’S TEAM: Kelly Rowland, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, DJ Spinderella, Nicola Roberts, Leigh-Anne Pinnock
Jason’s Breakdown: Having the last pick was really tough for me, but I’m glad I got some cornerstone members of Destiny’s Child and TLC. I can’t believe Spinderella fell so low, and I thought that was a big steal. Nicola Roberts is an essential part of Girls Aloud, and Leigh-Anne has some Little Mix mixed in. I feel like my group is giving Kelly Rowland her time to shine, and I would love to see this group live.
So whose Fantasy Girl Group is the strongest? Vote now in the poll below!