Ten years before the Spice Girls zig-a-zig ah’d their way across Europe’s charts, Frizzle Sizzle were projecting a rather more modest form of Girl Power in co-ordinating pastel shades at Eurovision in 1986.
The history of girl groups can be traced back to the late 1930s via the likes of the Andrews Sisters, an American female vocal trio who had a huge wartime hit with Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, while in Britain in the 1950s the Beverley Sisters successfully imitated their American counterparts and enjoyed widespread popularity. The girl group hey-day, though, was the late 1950s and early 1960s with acts like the Chordettes, the Ronettes and, of course, the Supremes all making the transatlantic pop charts.
At that time participation in Eurovision was restricted to solo artists and duos, a rule that was still in place when three Dutch sisters, Hearts Of Soul (see No. 413), became the contest’s first girl group to make an appearance in 1970. Since 1963 a ‘chorus’ of up to three backing vocalists had been allowed on stage and it was this technicality that allowed the group to be billed as Hearts Of Soul, soloist Patricia, with Patricia Maessen singing lead and her sisters providing back-up. The following year the rule was jettisoned and up to six performers were allowed on stage, a move that paved the way for groups such as Abba and Brotherhood Of Man.
Patricia and her sisters would return to Eurovision in 1977 as Dream Express (and Patricia was also present at the same contest as Frizzle Sizzle, performing backing vocals for 1986’s winner Sandra Kim), but although the contest is dominated by female singers, female groups still tend to be something of a rarity. Barely more than two dozen all-female outfits (not including duos) have appeared at Eurovision since 1970 and none have set the world alight. The highest placed finish for a girl group is 3rd, achieved by German trio Mekado in 1994 with Wir Geben ‘Ne Party and Russian trio Serebro in 2007 with Song #1 (it would be stretching it somewhat to describe the Russian grannies who came 2nd in 2012 as a ‘girl’ group).
Frizzle Sizzle were Mandy Huydts, Marjon Keller and sisters Karin and Laura Vlasblom. All four had been members of Kinderen voor Kinderen, a children’s choir first assembled by Dutch public broadcaster VARA in 1980. (The choir – with constantly changing junior personnel – continue to record, having released nearly 40 albums to date). Alles Heeft Ritme (Everything Has Rhythm) finished in a mediocre 13th place out of 20 entries, it was a modest hit in Holland and was followed by a handful of reasonably successful singles but by 1990 the girls had had enough and gone their separate ways.