The Spice Girls were formed in 1994, the group consisted of Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell and of course Emma Bunton.
Signed to Virgin Records, debut single ‘Wannabe’ was released in 1996 – reaching the top of the charts in 37 countries. The chart success of ‘Wannabe’ established them as the forefront of a ‘girl power’ revolution. They would follow up this chart success with another nine number ones.
Their debut album entitled ‘Spice’ has sold more than 31-million copies worldwide!
Holds the record for being the ‘best-selling album’ by a ‘female group’ of all time!
How successful The Spice Girls were can be illustrated and quantified by the amount of revenue generated from ‘The Spice Girls machine.’ At their peak they were earning over £75 million per year. Within the two years after their first number one they were estimated to have made over $800 million. This saw them release a film, appear in every glossy magazine/TV show, a World and European tour and various sponsorship deals, including Pepsi, Walkers, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s.
The mass-market appeal of the Spice Girls and their obvious earning potential saw them labelled as the most recognised pop group since the Beatles.
The group labelled by their nicknames, Scary, Baby, Posh, Ginger and Sporty were at the forefront of a UK phenomenon towards the turn of the century known as ‘Brit Pop.’ This saw the band achieve acclaim and success where other UK pop acts had failed before. Not since the era of the Beatles had there been a UK pop band that has managed to convert the success they had in the UK into success across the pond.
Formation of the group
In the 90’s pop bands such as ‘Take That’ and ‘East 17’ were dominating the charts. Having noticed this and seeing room in the market for a girl band, Bob Herbert and Chris Herbert decided that they would give it a go and held auditions for members.
An advertisement was placed in The Stage magazine, a UK publication aspiring actors and musicians scour every week for auditions, and over 400-females applied. This process took several weeks and at first omitted Emma Bunton from the original line-up.
The band were initially named ‘Touch’ and the fifth member was Michelle Stephenson, she would later be replaced by Emma Bunton.
This replacement saw the band renamed ‘Spice’ an idea originally thought up by Emma Bunton herself.
The band was originally signed with heart management, although no paperwork was actually filled out. This delay in signing contracts continued as the vision for the band continued to take shape.
The lack of contracts and direction of the band eventually led the girls to persuading Heart Management to let them perform a showcase of what they had done up until that point. The idea behind the showcase was for large industry labels to see the band first hand and issue a response.
Feedback about the girls was overwhelmingly positive and led them to the understanding that a further delay in signing contracts with Heart Management would be advantageous at this time.
This delay in signing contracts eventually led to the groups split from Heart Management in March 1995 and the commencement of their relationship with 19 Entertainment and no other than Simon Fuller, this in turn led to their record deal with Virgin Records in September of the same year.
Around this time the group were officially named the ‘Spice Girls’ after it transpired the name ‘Spice’ was already taken by a US rapper.
Do you wannabe my lover?
The girls officially arrived in the summer of 1996, after the release of the debut single ‘Wannabe.’ The video, directed by Johann Camitz was first aired on cable TV channel ‘Box.’ The girls were hailed as a new fresh pop sound unlike anything else that was around at the time.
The video, shot in the West End of London, was an instant hit. Request channels playing the track reported it was being played over 70 times a week.
‘Wannabe’ entered the charts at number 3 in its first week, reaching number 1 within two and staying there for seven weeks. Mainstream media at the time such as Music Week and Rolling Stone ran articles profiling the Spice Girls and remarking on how different they were to any other ‘Britpop’ band at the time. The song was a global hit going to number 1 in no less than 37 countries.
This commenced the start of ‘girl power’ and the invasion of UK mainstream media. The girls followed the single ‘Wannabe’ with ‘Say You’ll be There,’ in the October of the same year. Topping the charts for two weeks, it was then followed up by ‘2 become 1’ – the Spice Girls first Christmas number one.
You could not open a paper, watch the TV or listen to the radio without something about the Spice Girls being run. This caused some to label the ‘girl power’ movement as phenomenal and comparisons with ‘Beatlemania’ were often made.
In November of 1996 when the debut album ‘Spice’ was released, it went straight to number 1 – selling 1.8 million copies in the UK alone and making it the fastest selling album since the Beatles. Today the album is the biggest selling album of all time by a female group.