Spice Girls

Nobody could have predicted the monumental impact of the Spice Girls on the world of pop music. Their achievements are, in a word, astounding. With 55 million records sold around the world, and that’s thanks to a mere three albums, they are not only the most successful girl band of all time, they are the most successful English band to emerge since The Beatles. But, while their music represents the largest portion of their fame, they also managed a popular crossover into both films and television, all thanks to the provocative personalities of these five multi-talented women.

Surprising as it may seem, the Spice Girls were a pre-packaged act, just like The Monkees, Menudo and numerous other pop acts. An ad went out in 1994, seeking females who could sing and dance, and four of the future members responded – Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown and Melanie Chisholm. The group was named Touch by the father and son management team of Chris and Bob Herbert, who had originally placed the ad. They eventually added a fifth girl, Emma Bunton, and rehearsed tirelessly for the next year, developing material. The eventually decided to work independently of their manager and renamed themselves The Spice Girls. They caught the attention of manager Simon Fuller, whose main client at the time was Annie Lennox, and he got the quintet quickly signed to Virgin Records.

They released their first album in 1996, simply called Spice. Their first infectious single “Wannabe” was an enormous hit, a melding of R&B with hip-hop and pop to create a sound that stuck in the braincells of the listener like superglue. The song went to #1 in 22 different countries around the world, including the United States the following year. British reporters soon christened them with a series of nicknames during a press conference and from that point forth, they would be forever known as Baby, Ginger, Scary, Posh, and Sporty. The phenomenon had officially commenced.

More hit singles followed closely behind, including the synth-laden “Sat You’ll Be There” which rose to #3 in the US and found similar success all through Europe. All of this served to make their debut album an enormous bestseller and, as a result, these female heroes, seemingly straight from the pages of a comic book, found themselves not only pop-sensations, but downright role-models to millions of women infected by their formidable “Girl Power.” Their videos on MTV were some of the most frequently requested in the history of the network and their subsequent world tours could probably be best described as pandemonium.

The quintet starred in a lighthearted film in 1997, Spiceworld, which offered a fictional version of their humble beginnings, with a feel retrospective of the Beatles’ classic, A Hard Day’s Night. Featuring guest appearances by Elton John, Roger Moore, Elvis Costello and many others, it was an overwhelming success at the box-office. It was accompanied by an album of the same name that, not-surprisingly, was another smash hit for the group. It produced 3 Top-20 hits in the US and four #2 hits in the UK, including the latin-flavored favorite, “Spice Up Your Life.” To date, the album has sold 15 million copies.

With the Spice Girls riding an enormous wave of popularity, including becoming the international spokeswomen for Pepsi-Cola, it came as a major shock to fans around the globe when Gerri Halliwell announced that she was leaving the group to pursue solo interests. The band persevered as a quartet, touring extensively and producing another major hit, “Goodbye,” a tribute to their former bandmate that stayed in the #1 spot on the Canada charts for sixteen weeks.

In 2000, the band released their long awaited new album, titled Forever. With a sound that was far more rooted in R&B, it didn’t match the success of their previous offerings, selling only 3-million copies. While the album only rose to the #39 spot on the billboard charts, it climbed to #2 in England, and gave the band another #1 hit in their home country, “Holler/Let Love Lead the Way.” After this album, all of the Spice Girls decided to pursue solo projects, much to the dismay of longtime followers.

Fans would have to wait until 2007 for news of an impending reunion, when it was announced that The Spice Girls would be embarking on an ambitious world tour reunion. If there was any doubt as to their continued popularity, it was quickly nullified as the first show of the tour sold out in a mere 38 seconds. Another sixteen dates were added in London alone and all sold out immediately. The story was the same across the Atlantic, with shows in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Boston and New York all selling out quickly. They also released a Greatest Hits album in 2007, their first in seven years, which to date has sold over 6 million copies. The overall result of this reunion? The Spice Girls were the highest-grossing concert act in 2008.

In 2012, the group reunited once again, this time to promote a Spice Girls-inspired musical called Viva Forever: The Musical. They also performed at the closing ceremonies for the Summer Olympics in London which drew more tweets on Twitter per minute than any other moment during the entire Olympics, proving that their status as superstars has yet to really wane. Whatever they choose to do in the future, it is clear that there will be millions of rabid fans waiting to support their heroes, who, for all intents and purposes, are one of the most popular acts the world has ever seen.

If you count yourself among their legions of loyal followers, we hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories of this supergroup in our comments section below, as we tip our hats to their undeniable success.

One Response to “Spice Girls”

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  1. Gina says:

    I’m not really a fan, but I did feel drawn to go see their movie Spiceworld while it was still out at theaters. I even went all by myself–no Spice Girls fan dragged me with her. It was enjoyable enough.

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