Spice Girls were the first major British pop music phenomenon
of the mid-'90s to not have a debt to independent pop-rock.
Instead, the all-female quintet derived from the dance-pop
tradition that made Take That the most popular British
group of the early '90s, but there was one crucial difference.
The Spice Girls used dance-pop as a musical base, but
they infused the music with a fiercely independent,
feminist stance that was equal parts Madonna, post-riot-grrrl
alternative-rock feminism, and a co-opting of the good-times-all-the-time
stance of England's new lad culture. Their proud, all-girl
image and catchy dance-pop appealed to younger listeners,
while their colorful, sexy personalities and sense of
humor appealed to older music fans, making the Spice
Girls a cross-generational success.
group became chart-toppers throughout Europe in 1996,
before concentrating in America in early 1997.
member of the Spice Girls was given a specific identity
by the British press from the outset, and each label
was as much an extension of their own personality
as it was a marketing tool, since each name derived
from their debut single and video, "Wannabe." Geri
Estelle Halliwell was the "sexy Spice; " Melanine
Janine Brown was the "scary Spice; " Victoria Addams
was "the posh Spice; " Melanie Jayne Chisholm was
"the sporty Spice; " Emma Lee Bunton was "the baby
Spice." Each one of these personas were exploited
in the group's press articles and videos, which helped
send "Wannabe" to the top of the charts upon its summer
release in 1996.
all of the invented personalties makes the Spice Girls
seem manufactured, that's because they are to a certain
extent. Every member of the group was active in England's
theatrical, film and modelling circuit, and they all
responded to an advertisement requesting five "lively
girls" for a musical group in the summer of 1993.
The manager who placed the ad chose all five members
of the Spice Girls, yet the women rejected his plans
for their career and set out on their own two months
For the next two years, the Girls fought to get a
record contract, since most record labels insisted
that the band pick one member as a clear leader, which
is something the group refused. Eventually, the Spice
Girls signed a contract to Virgin Records, but they
were without a manager, which made recording a debut
album nearly impossible.
five members moved into a house and went on the dole
(unemployment benefit for our non UK readers) as they
searched for a manager.
the end of 1995, the group had signed with Annie Lennox's
manager Simon Fuller, and began writing songs with
Elliot Kennedy. "Wannabe," the Spice Girls' first
single, was released in the summer of 1996, and it
became the first debut single by an all-female band
to enter the charts at number one in England. It remained
at number one for seven weeks, and by the end of the
year, "Wannabe" had hit number one in 21 other countries.
following the success of "Wannabe," the Spice Girls
became media icons in Britain, as stories of their
encounters with other celebrities became fodder for
numerous tabloids, as did nude photos of Geri that
she posed for earlier in her career. All of this added
to the group's momentum, and their second single,
"Say You'll Be There," entered the charts at number
one in the fall, selling 200, 000 copies a week.
their debut album, was released at the end of the
year, accompanied by their first ballad, "2 Become
1." Both the album and single went directly to number
one, staying there for several weeks; both records
were at number one over the Christmas week, making
the Spice Girls one of three artists to achieve that
topped the charts in virtually every other country
in the Western world, the Spice Girls concentrated
on America in early 1997, releasing "Wannabe" in January
and Spice in February. They became massive stars in
the U.S. as well, also scoring the hits "Say You'll
Be There" and "2 Become 1;
Spiceworld, their second LP, appeared later in the
year in conjunction with their feature film of the