Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Spice Girls were a British vocal girl band. They enjoyed substantial commercial success through the late 1990s and are currently the biggest selling girl group of all time, having sold in excess of 50 million albums and 30 million singles. They are also famous for popularizing the term "Girl Power".
Build Up To Fame
The group was formed in 1994 when Bob Herbert and his son advertised through The Stage newspaper. Of those who responded to the advertisement, five girls were picked: Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams (later to become Victoria Beckham), Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown, and Michelle Stephenson. They formed a group called Touch. Later, Michelle Stephenson left to pursue her education and was replaced by Emma Bunton.
The five girls were placed in a house together so they could become friends before they would hopefully go on and become a successful girl group. Times became tough, as many arguments broke out and the tension was only further increased by the hanging promises of a record contract that never seemed to come true. Despite constant rehearsals and even a visit from a few record executives, the girls were still never given a contract and one night eventually walked out with no money into the big city where they hoped to find a record contract.
After some convincing, the girls were able to show, record producer and successful manager of various groups, Simon Fuller, their talent. They managed to win him over and later they were signed to Virgin Records. Little did they know with some work and a fantastic debut album, they were soon to be the most successful girl group of all time with fans in every corner of the globe.
In 1996 they changed their name to Spice Girls and they quickly caught on with the public. A factor in the group's success was the ability of individual members to appeal to different types of teenage fans. The five members were dubbed "Ginger", "Baby", "Scary", "Posh", and "Sporty" Spice by a British pop music magazine aimed at teenage girls. Though not invented by the band the nicknames caught-on with the public so the band continued to exploit the nicknames and the suggested personas for each band member. Their diverse appearance and cultural backgrounds ensured broad demographic appeal.
A cleverly constructed image combined sex appeal with post-feminist self-confidence ("girl power", as they labelled it) guaranteed them success with a massive female fanbase in the least.
Becoming Superstars - Spice Hits Shelves
In the middle of July, the girls released their debut single, "Wannabe" (which contained the memorable hook "I wanna really, really, really, wanna Zig-A-Zig Ah") in the UK. Quickly gaining regular airplay and video play, it debuted at #3 in the UK charts and shot to the top the following week. It topped the charts for 7 weeks and became one of the biggest selling singles of the 90s and also the second best of 1996. By the following year, the song had hit #1 in 31 countries including the United States and Australia, where it spent 11 weeks at the top. The girls were also one of the few British acts not only to break America, but gain huge fame there from the earliest stages of their career; acts like the Beatles were very successful here much earlier than when they received fame in the US.
Along with songwriters Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe, the girls were able to score many other hits, such as the slightly more mellow follow up single to their massive debut, "Say You'll Be There" which entered at #1 on the UK charts, was another global success and hit the Top 3 in the United States. By the time "Wannabe" and "Say You'll Be There" were released in the US, however, the girls had released their 4th single in the UK. "2 Become 1" became the 1st of 3 consecutive Christmas number one singles for the girls in the UK, and their debut album Spice topped the charts for 15 weeks during late 1996 and early 1997, selling in excess of 3 million copies and becoming the 13th biggest selling album of all time in the UK. When released in the US the following year, it sold 8 million copies, and "2 Become 1" was also able to hit the Top 5 there.
In early 1997, "Who Do You Think You Are"/"Mama" became the official Comic Relief song of the year and sold over 600,000 copies, from which many charities benefitted. It topped the UK charts for 3 weeks, making them the first act to have their first 4 singles make #1 on the UK charts. The single had no American release because, according to the Spice Girls, the American singles market is slower moving than most other nations' singles markets and songs remain popular in America longer than they do in other countries. Nevertheless, the Spice Girls were so huge in 1997 and 1998 that American MTV and MTV2 played the "Who Do You Think You Are" video occasionally. While "2 Become 1" was big in America during the summer and early fall of 1997, it (as well as "Mama" and "Who Do You Think You Are") had long run its course in Europe.
Fame Comes At A Price - Spiceworld Not As Big As Spice
In the fall of 1997, "Spice Up Your Life" was released internationally and was hailed as the "return" of the Spice Girls, since it marked the debut single from their to-be-released second album. With this single, the Spice Girls corrected the lag that had existed between European and American singles from their previous album. Americans did not understand why the music industry was toting "Spice Up Your Life" as the group's "return", since it hit the airwaves as "2 Become 1" was still quite popular there. However, internationally, the single marked the Spice Girls' first since March. Its release date was put forward by a week to allow Elton John's "Candle In The Wind" some further time at the top of the UK charts.
"Spice Up Your Life" was an international hit topping the UK charts, making the girls the first act to have their first five singles make #1. However, it peaked quite quickly in the top twenty (#18) of the Billboard Hot 100 and did not succeed in America on the massive level that its three predecessors had. Despite perhaps not being as successful as predicted, it did show some evolution in the girls music, with a more latin/samba flare than any of their previous songs. The second single taken from the album was a ballad in a slightly similar style to "2 Become 1". "Too Much" became the girls' 2nd Christmas number one single in the UK and also made them the first act to have their first six singles make #1 there. It was fairly successful in the US, peaking at #8, however once again, it did not (like "Spice Up Your Life") receive the massive airplay that Spice's singles had received.
The group's second album, Spiceworld was released towards the end of 1997. It only made #3 on the Billboard 200 and was not as successful as Spice, topping the UK charts for only 6 weeks, when Spice had managed 15. Although still global stars, Spiceworld wasn't the massively successful follow up people had expected, with sales plummeting and chart positions slowly dropping. However, the album did produce one massive success, which no one expected, their very own movie, which was released in January of 1998. The film was in the same vein as some of the Beatles' films, a factor deliberately played on by director Bob Spiers (the director of The Goodies, Absolutely Fabulous, and Press Gang among other, notable British comedy successes) and was a commercial success. The critics hated it, however, and the girls won a Golden Raspberry Award each for their efforts. They actually hold a world record documented in the Guinness Book of Records for receiving the most Razzies (five) at one time.
The girls still celebrated "girl power" and after the release of their movie, they fired their manager Simon Fuller, showing that ultimately, there was no stopping them. Problems would soon arise out of this, because Simon was able to contain the arguments between the girls and with him gone, one of them would have to "take control", which obviously would create controversy. Next, "Stop", the third single taken from Spiceworld was released and was their least successful to date. It peaked at #18 in the US and quickly dropped out of the top forty with very minimal radio airplay. It also became their first single to fail to top the UK charts, ending their run at 6, despite being the only single of theirs that incorporated a dance routine.
Five Become Four
Geri Halliwell announced her desire to quit the group shortly after the release of "Stop". She claimed she was tired, fed up, and she wanted to pursure a solo career. This was not a huge surprise, as she had always wanted to do her own thing and the Spice Girls were simply a stepping stone to a successful solo career. She did agree with the girls that she would only leave after the completion of the American Tour which began in June 1998, because "you couldn't get any better than that". However, events quickly spun out of control when Playboy Magazine published nude pictures of Geri. This was a shock and Geri was extremely frustrated and only added to her desires of leaving the group. She then began missing concerts in Oslo, due to what she claimed was gastroenteritis. The final strike came when the girls were due to appear on the National Lottery and only four of them showed up. This stirred more "Geri Quits" headlines in the papers than ever before. Then, on the 30th May 1998, before the American Tour, Geri Halliwell announced her departure from the group. Here is a portion of the statement read by her lawyer:
"Sadly I would like to confirm that I have left the Spice Girls. This is because of differences between us. I'm sure the group will continue to be successful and I wish them all the best. P.S. I'll be back."
The four remaining girls decided to continue their career as the Spice Girls and said this in response to Geri's statement; "we are upset and saddened by Geri's departure but we are very supportive in whatever she wants to do. The Spice Girls are here to say -- see you at the stadiums!"
By late 1998, their success globally was plummeting, and no fourth single from the album was released in the United States, this time due to an uncertainty in the video's theme. "Viva Forever" was, however, released in Britain where it was pretty successful, topping the UK charts for 2 weeks and becoming their 7th UK chart topper. The animated music video received some limited airplay on American VH1, as part of a special on Ginger Spice's departure from the group. Her vocals did feature on the song as she had recorded the entire album with them the previous year, however, as she couldn't feature in the video, an animated version of all five girls were placed in it. This was the last single the girls released that Geri was featured on in any way.
Further Decline - Last Attempt With Forever
The remaining members continued as a foursome, releasing "Goodbye", a single from a four-song CD they released in late 1998. The song's lyrics paid tribute to Halliwell and talked about how the rest of them would persevere. The video went on to become a TRL and MuchMusic regular, but barely received any other video or airplay. In the UK, the song topped the charts during the Chirstmas week of 1998, giving them 3 consecutive Christmas #1 singles there, and 8 in total. It made the Top 20 in the US (#11, just missing the top 10), and was their last single to do so over there. It seemed the Spice Girls' career as a group was over.
However, they made one last attempt at resurrecting their career with the single "Holler" in 2000, a more urban and soulful offering than any of their previous songs. "Holler" was also released with the single "Let Love Lead The Way" making it a double-A side, from their third album, Forever. It topped the UK charts for 1 week in 2000, giving them 9 chart toppers in total and their album was more successful in the UK than expected, making #2 and selling quite well. Worldwide, it was a massive flop, barely making the Top 40 in the United States and selling only a fragment of what its predecessors had. Evidently, Geri's departure had destroyed the "girl power" movement and the prospects of a massive comeback 3rd album went down the drain along with the movement.
Though the group is technically still together, they are currently (as of 2005) in the middle of a long hiatus from recording and touring as a group, and each has released solo albums (with respectable commercial success, though generally not in the same class as their group efforts, in Europe). Though formerly successful internationally, each of the girls' solo popularity has waned over the past four years in America.
- Melanie Brown was successful initially in the UK, with her debut single making #1 but her popularity quickly fizzled out.
- Melanie Chisholm was successful worldwide with her debut album, Northern Star, scoring 2 UK #1 singles and charting on the Billboard Hot 100. However, her second album, Reason, was a massive flop. She is currently promoting her third album, Beautiful Intentions.
- Geri Halliwell scored great success as a solo artist in Europe, especially in the UK, where she hit the top spot 4 consecutive times, and as to date, has scored 8 Top 10 hits.
- Emma Bunton has scored a solo chart topper and has become moderately successful in the UK and Europe. Her second album, Free Me, was a fairly large success, with sales much higher than her first.
- Victoria Beckham is still married with David, currently the wealthiest Spice Girl, but has the least successful music career. To date, she is the only Spice Girl not to score a solo chart topper in the UK, though she has hit the top 3 twice.
As their layoff extends, speculation grows that the group will not perform or record again. In January 2003, a meeting between all five members spawned rumours of a reunion, but no announcements have been made. To date, such rumours still circulate, as well as, more recently, speculation about a possible Spice Girls greatest hits album and/or reunion tour. Towards the end of 2003, the Spice Girls were featured on an episode of VH1's Behind the Music, and implied that such rumours might end up coming true sometime in the future.
Members of the Group
- Geri Halliwell aka "Ginger Spice" (left 1998)
- Emma Bunton aka "Baby Spice"
- Victoria Beckham (née Adams) aka "Posh Spice"
- Melanie Chisholm aka "Mel C" or "Sporty Spice"
- Melanie Brown aka "Mel B" or "Scary Spice"
- 1996: Spice - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #1 US
- 1997: Spiceworld - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #3 US
- 2000: Forever - #2 UK; #6 CAN; #39 US
- from Spice
- 1996: "Wannabe" - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #1 US
- 1996: "Say You'll Be There" - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #3 US
- 1996: "2 Become 1" - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #4 US
- 1997: "Who Do You Think You Are/Mama" - #1 UK
- from Spiceworld
- 1997: "Spice Up Your Life" - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #18 US
- 1997: "Too Much" - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #8 US
- 1998: "Stop" - #2 UK; #3 CAN; #18 US
- 1998: "Viva Forever" - #1 UK
- from Goodbye (1998 four-song CD)
- 1998: "Goodbye" - #1 UK; #1 CAN; #11 US
- from Forever
- 2000: "Holler/Let Love Lead the Way" - #1 UK; #2 CAN
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