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, choreography and overall popularity? We found out last year with the inaugural Fantasy Girl Group Draft, and for the second annual Billboard.com Girl Group Week, we repeated the process for the 2015 Fantasy Girl Group Draft.
Earlier this week, six 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 picks, improbable sleepers in the last round and Cheetah Girl shout-outs. 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 the Spice Girls) 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 2015.??
— Girl group members that play instruments (i.e., Haim or the Donnas) or are deceased 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, pop editor at Billboard.com
Chris Payne, correspondent at Billboard.com
Erin Strecker, correspondent at Billboard.com
Steven Horowitz, associate editor at Billboard Magazine
Alex Gale, senior editor at Billboard Magazine
Trish Halpin, photo editor at Billboard.com
JASON: Okay, welcome to the 2015 Fantasy Girl Group Draft. We’ve all drawn numbers out of a hat to determine the draft order. Erin has landed the coveted first pick, and after her is Chris, then Trish, then Steven, then Alex, and finally me. I have the last pick of the first round and the first pick of the second round. You guys ready to get started?
JASON: Erin, you were lucky enough to draw the first pick, and we all know who you are going to choose.
ERIN: Nailed it! Give me Beyonce.
JASON: Second year in a row as the No. 1 pick, and with good reason. C-Payne, I believe you had the second pick last year and picked Diana Ross. You have the second pick again.
CHRIS: I want Kelly Rowland.
EVERYONE ELSE: Wowwwwww!
STEVEN: Damn, I wanted Kelly Rowland!
CHRIS: Two-thirds of Destiny’s Child is now gone in the first two picks.
ERIN: Kelly Rowland is a great harmonizer.
STEVEN: She also has some awesome solo songs. And in all fairness to Michelle Williams, she does have a No. 1 single to her name.
JASON: Your turn, Trish.
TRISH: My turn! I’m gonna go with Camila [Cabello] from Fifth Harmony. She was on the winning team in last year’s girl group fantasy draft, and I want her on my team. I did homework for this draft!
STEVEN: Your winning strategy is basically to draft the same team that won last year, Trish.
ALEX: It’s Steven’s turn.
STEVEN: I would like Left Eye.
JASON: So you’re going to have some rapping straightaway in your group.
STEVEN: That’s the plan.
JASON: Alex, you’re on the clock!
ALEX: Why didn’t I get the first pick? I didn’t do this last year, and I’m the expansion team! Okay, whatever, that’s fine.
STEVEN (randomly): Who are the members of Blaque again…?
ALEX: I’ll go with Diana Ross.
JASON: Damn, that was going to be my pick. But I have a back-up pick! Speaking of the Cheetah Girls — and I realize that no one was speaking about the Cheetah Girls — I’m going with Raven Symone with my first pick.
ALEX: He’s vote trolling!
JASON: Vote-trolling? Raven’s iconic.
STEVEN: I’m tweeting that.
JASON: I need a co-headliner to help Raven, and if I was going to go with one co-headliner that could best help Raven, that person would be Scherzy, better known as Nicole Scherzinger.
TRISH: Motherf—-! She was on the winning team last year!
JASON: And she’ll be on the winning team this year, too. Alex, you are up.
TRISH: She was in a girl group??
STEVEN: You’re right, she was. She was in the Stunners.
JASON: So far, Alex’s team is Diana Ross and Tinashe. Unprecedented stuff.
STEVEN: Okay, my turn. I would like to pick Dawn Richard.
JASON: Yup, that makes sense. Good pick.
TRISH: For my second pick, give me Cheryl Fernandez-Versini or Cheryl Cole, from Girls Aloud. She doesn’t want to go by Cheryl Cole anymore.
STEVEN: All of her fans are going to get really confused!
TRISH: She has five million Twitter followers — I think I’ll be fine.
JASON: C-Payne, you’re up.
CHRIS: Give me Ally Brooke [Hernandez].
ERIN: Nooooo, she was mine!
ALEX (being an old man): I don’t know who that is.
ERIN: One of Fifth Harmony’s best! I’m up, and now I want Lauren [Jauregui] from Fifth Harmony.
TRISH: This competition is not just about artistry — you have to get behind those fan armies.
ERIN: This is not a social media play, but me being true to my heart. Give me Emma Bunton from the Spice Girls.
TRISH: She was actually my next choice.
JASON: C-Payne, who are you adding to your team of Kelly Rowland and Ally Brooke Hernandez?
CHRIS: I want Victoria Beckham.
ERIN: Very solid, very solid. She raises the whole style game of the group.
JASON: Trish, you picked Ashley Poole from Dream last year. Is that who you’re targeting now?
TRISH: No, not this year. She was very into it, but I’m not doing any doubles from last year. I think I’m going to go with Perrie Edwards from Little Mix.
JASON: Engaged to Zayn!
TRISH: I know.
CHRIS: That’s actually a really good pick.
STEVEN: I would like to pick… Mel C.
EVERYONE ELSE: Whooooa!
STEVEN: We just drafted three of the five Spice Girls in the last four picks.
ALEX: I’m taking Patti LaBelle.
STEVEN: Wow, Tinashe is going to be out-diva’d on Alex’s team.
ALEX: I’m not really thinking about group chemistry. I’m just going for straight vocalists.
JASON: Okay, so there seems to be a lot of drama on my team now, and I’d like some sort of stabilizing force… or to just continue that.
ERIN: Drama’s great! You get headlines that way.
JASON: I think I’m going with Mel B., Scary Spice. What a crazy team I have so far.
(At this point, JASON tries to look at TRISH’s notes, which are meticulous. TRISH gets upset.)
TRISH: Stop looking at my notes! I lost last year and I want to win this year. I prepped for this.
ERIN: I did no prep this year, but I have Beyonce on my team.
JASON: Okay, I think I’m going with Michelle Williams. I’m pretty happy with her as my fourth pick. I have a very intriguing group.
ALEX: I wasn’t quite ready for my pick! Does no one have Adrienne Bailon yet? I’ll go with her.
TRISH: I had her last year. She’s recently engaged!
STEVEN: I’m up, and I wanted Coko from SWV. I’m picking very talented people.
TRISH: Okay, I think I’m just going to do Ginger Spice and close out the Spice Girls.
ALEX: The Spice Girls are officially out of the draft. The reporters go running to the phones.
STEVEN: Geri’s always a good choice.
CHRIS: I need to get some Little Mix to go with Fifth Harmony on my team. Give me Jesy Nelson.
JASON: So what made you choose Jesy over Leigh-Anne and Jade?
CHRIS: Well, it just seems like there’s a harmony with my team, and Jesy adds to that.
ERIN: And with that, I’m going Jade [Thirlwall] from Little Mix.
ALEX: For a second, I thought you meant the entire girl group Jade.
JASON: Last pick Erin! So far you have Beyonce, Lauren from Fifth Harmony, Jade from Little Mix and Emma Bunton.
ERIN: These people are not going to sound good together. Who’s the most popular HAIM?
JASON: I’d say Este, maybe.
ERIN: Okay, let’s go with Este Haim, what the hell. She gives us a rock edge.
CHRIS: I also like HAIM a lot. I’m going to go with Danielle Haim.
JASON: I just want to point out that two members of TLC are still on the board, somehow. Trish, you’re up.
TRISH: Okay, let’s finish off HAIM. Give me Alana Haim.
STEVEN: I’m so stuck — I’m between LeToya Luckett and Mutya Buena. I think it has to be Mutya.
ALEX: Last pick: Aubrey O’Day.
ERIN: I considered her!
JASON: Okay, for the final pick… I’ve been scooping up some interesting singers in the later picks, so I’m going with Chilli of TLC.
STEVEN: Oh right! Chilli!
THE FINAL LINEUPS
ERIN’S TEAM: Beyonce, Lauren Jauregui, Emma Bunton, Jade Thirlwall, Este Haim
Erin’s Breakdown: My original strategy of picking Beyonce and passing for the rest of the rounds was shot down, so I went to a new strategy of hoping that Beyonce carries us. I added a Spice Girl for peak 90’s nostalgia, and then I added some people who hopefully will help me with their Twitter fame.
CHRIS’ TEAM: Kelly Rowland, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Victoria Beckham, Jesy Nelson, Danielle Haim
Chris’ Breakdown: The way my team is synchronized, not only did I pick second, but every person was the No. 2 in their respective groups. Kelly Rowland sets the tone because she was able to have a great solo career despite being second to Beyonce in Destiny’s Child, so she’ll mesh really well with these other No. 2s, and it will be just like a No. 1.
TRISH’S TEAM: Camila Cabello, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Perrie Edwards, Geri Halliwell, Alana Haim
Trish’s Breakdown: I think we know my strategy: picking people with strong Twitter followings, so that they would vote for me. Last year, I went with people I really liked, and I did not do well. This year, I went with the numbers.
STEVEN’S TEAM: Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Dawn Richard, Melanie “Mel C.” Chisholm, Cheryl “Coko” Clemons, Mutya Buena
Steven’s Breakdown: I picked each person on my team because they have been in successful girl groups as well as have had respected solo careers. They’ve had time to develop their personal styles and find their grooves on their own. I started with Left Eye because you need someone to bring hip-hop flavor to the group, and then Dawn is experimental, Mel C. has the pop-electro thing going on, Coko is a powerhouse vocalist who could offer the group some guidance, and Mutya has some swag that I think is undeniable.
ALEX’S TEAM: Diana Ross, Tinashe, Patti LaBelle, Adrienne Bailon, Aubrey O’Day
Alex’s Breakdown: My strategy is that I literally had no strategy. I was picking mostly by name recognition. Diana Ross is one of the most successful girl group alumni of all time, Tinashe is just someone I like, Patti LaBelle is probably the best singer on this whole list, Adrienne Bailon was chosen under duress and I might regret that one, and Aubrey O’Day is going to provide some drama. It was a little too safe before — we need Aubrey to mix things up, maybe with Diana Ross.
JASON’S TEAM: Raven Symone, Nicole Scherzinger, Melanie “Mel B.” Brown, Michelle Williams, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas
Jason’s Breakdown: My group is insane, and it’s all about strong personalities. You have Raven Symone, one of the most well-known Cheetah Girls, Nicole Scherzinger was in Eden’s Crush as well as Pussycat Dolls, Scary Spice is great, Michelle Williams had an iconic stage fall, and then Chilli is great value in the fifth pick. I will take that any day of the week.
So whose Fantasy Girl Group is the strongest? Vote now in the poll below!