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Spice Girls

From Academic Kids

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Victoria, Emma, Mel B, Geri, Mel C; The Spice Girls at the MTV Europe Video Awards 1997

The Spice Girls were a British vocal girl band. They enjoyed substantial commercial success through from 1996 to 2000, and are the biggest-selling girl group of all time, having sold more than 46 million albums and 30 million singles. They are also famous for popularising the term "Girl Power". The band, consisting of Victoria Beckham, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown and Emma Bunton have not formally broken up (a fifth member, Geri Halliwell having left in 1998), but have not performed together or released any new recordings since 2000, and the members have all released solo material.

Contents

In the beginning

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The Spice Girls in the British Channel 5 commercial, 1996

The group was formed in 1994 when Bob Herbert and his son Chris 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 that they could become friends before (it was hoped) going on to become a successful girl group. Things became tough when many arguments broke out, and the tension was only increased by promises of a record contract that never seemed to materialise. Despite constant rehearsals and even a visit from a few record executives, the girls were still not given a contract, and one night they eventually walked out with no money, still hoping to find a record contract.

Although he took 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.

In 1996 they changed their name to "Spice Girls", and quickly gained popularity. 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 exploited both the name and the suggested persona 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 a large female fanbase, at least.

Birth of Spice

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Spice CD cover

On July 8, 1996, the Spice Girls released their first 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 entered the UK singles chart at number three, and reached number one the following week. It topped the charts for seven weeks, and became one of the best-selling singles of the decade, and the second-best selling of the year. By the following year, the song had reached number one in thirty-one countries including the United States, where it spent four weeks at the top, Canada, where it spent five weeks at the top, and Australia, where it spent eleven weeks at the top. The Spice Girls became one of the few British acts not only to break America, but to gain huge fame there from the earliest stage of their career.

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 number one on the UK charts, was another global success, and hit the top three in the United States. However, by the time "Wannabe" and "Say You'll Be There" were released in the U.S., the girls had released their fourth single in the UK. The third single, "2 Become 1", became the first of three consecutive Christmas number-one singles for the girls in the UK, and their first album, Spice, topped the charts for fifteen weeks during late 1996 and early 1997, selling more than three million copies, and becoming the thirteenth biggest selling album of all time in the UK. When released in the U.S. the following year, it sold eight million copies, and "2 Become 1" was also able to reach the top five there (at number four).

In early 1997, "Who Do You Think You Are"/"Mama" became the official Comic Relief song of the year, and sold 672,577 copies, from which many charities benefitted. It topped the UK charts for three weeks, making the Spice Girls the first act to have their first four singles make number one on the UK charts, breaking the record set by Gerry & the Pacemakers thirty-four years earlier. 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 autumn of 1997, it (as well as "Mama" and "Who Do You Think You Are") had long run its course in Europe.

Spiceworld released internationally

In the autumn of 1997, "Spice Up Your Life" was released internationally, and was hailed as the return of the Spice Girls, since it marked the first single from their forthcoming 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 touting "Spice Up Your Life" as the group's "return", since it hit the airwaves while "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, which it then overtook at the top upon release.

"Spice Up Your Life" was an international hit, topping the Canadian, Australian, Spanish, and UK charts, making them the first act to have their first five singles reach number one in their home country. However, it peaked quite quickly in the top twenty (number eighteen) of the Billboard Hot 100 and did not succeed in America on the massive level that its three predecessors had. Despite not being as successful as predicted, it did show some evolution in the girls' music, with more of a latin/samba feel 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' second Christmas number one single in the UK and also made them the first act to have their first six singles make number one there. It was fairly successful in the U.S., peaking at number eight, and receiving quite the amount of airplay, however once again, it did not (like "Spice Up Your Life") receive the massive airplay that Spice's singles had received. Unlike its four released predcessors, "Too Much" was unable to go to number one in Canada, peaking at number nine, and halting the girls' consecutive number-ones. This was a confusing shock to many, but still allowed them to be the first international girl group to have their first four singles make number one in Canada.

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Spiceworld DVD cover

The group's second album, Spiceworld, was released towards the end of 1997. Despite selling seven million copies in only two weeks (the highest ever for a follow-up release in two weeks), it only made number three on the Billboard 200 and was not as successful as Spice, topping the UK charts for only three weeks, when Spice had managed fifteen. Although they were 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, Press Gang, and Absolutely Fabulous 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. [1] (http://members.aol.com/reedyb/oscar/awards/razzie.htm)

The girls still celebrated "Girl Power" and after the release of their film, 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 would obviously create controversy. Next, "Stop", the third single taken from Spiceworld was released and was their least successful song in terms of chart performance. It peaked at number sixteen in the U.S. and quickly dropped out of the top forty of the airplay charts with very minimal radio airplay. It also became their first single to fail to top the UK charts, ending their run at six, despite being the only single of theirs that incorporated a dance routine, and being the majority of younger listeners' favourite song.

Five become four

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The Spice Girls in the memorable scene from the music video for "Wannabe"

Geri Halliwell announced her desire to quit the group shortly after the release of "Stop". She claimed she was tired, fed up, and wanted to pursue 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 UK state lottery, the National Lottery, and only four of them showed up. This stirred more "Geri Quits" headlines in the papers than ever before. Then, right before the start of the American tour, on May 30, 1998, 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!" They then went on to complete the American tour without Geri.

After Geri's departure, a fourth single from Spiceworld, "Viva Forever", was released in Australia and Europe (not in North America due to fan reduction and an uncertainty in the video's theme). It was pretty successful in the UK topping the charts for two weeks and becoming their 7th UK chart topper. Over two million copies were sold across Europe as well. 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 using tin puppets of all five girls were placed in it. This was the last of the group's singles on which Geri was featured.

Further decline - last attempt with Forever

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Forever CD cover

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 Christmas week of 1998, giving them 3 consecutive Christmas number-one singles there, and eight in total. It made the top twenty in the U.S. (reaching number eleven), and was their last single to do so over there. In Canada, the single now ranks as the third highest selling song of the 1990s, but despite this, it seemed the career of the Spice Girls as a group had come to an end, as during the following year there were no single releases, no talk of a third album, and both of the Melanies started solo careers.

However, the girls made one last attempt at resurrecting their career with the single "Holler" in 2000, a much more urban and soulful offering than any of their previous songs. "Holler" was released with the ballad, "Let Love Lead the Way", making it a double-A side, from their third album, Forever. It topped the UK charts for a week in 2000, giving them nine chart toppers in total. [2] (http://www.onlineweb.com/theones/1995_1999.htm)

Their album was more successful in the UK than expected, making number two and selling quite well. Worldwide, it was a massive flop, peaking at number thirty-nine in the United States, and selling only a fragment of what its predecessors had. Many blame the poor performance of the album in the U.S. on there being no lead single released to promote it. Geri's departure had evidently destroyed the "Girl Power" movement, and the prospects of a comeback third album were dashed.

Current status

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). Though formerly successful internationally, each of the girls' solo popularity has waned over the past four years in North America.

  • Melanie Brown was successful initially in the UK, with her debut single making number one but her popularity quickly fizzled out. Since then, she has also starred as Mimi in Rent on Broadway, and written a book entitled Catch a Fire. She has one daughter, Phoenix. Her second album, L.A. State of Mind, was released in June 2005.
  • Melanie Chisholm was successful worldwide with her debut album, Northern Star, scoring two UK number-one singles and charting on the Billboard Hot 100 with dance remixes of "I Turn to You". However, her second album, Reason, was a massive flop, after which she was dropped by Virgin Records. She is currently promoting her third album, Beautiful Intentions, on her own record label, Red Girl.
  • Geri Halliwell scored great success as a solo artist in Europe, especially in the UK, where she hit the top spot four consecutive times, and to date, has scored eight top ten hits. Her two top selling albums were Schizophonic and Scream If You Wanna Go Faster. She's also written two autobiographies, If Only and Just for the Record. Currently, she is working on promoting her third album Passion. A cover she did of "It's Raining Men" was added to the dance music game DDRMAX2: Dance Dance Revolution 7thMIX.
  • Emma Bunton has scored a solo chart topper and has become moderately successful in Europe. Her second album, Free Me, was a fairly large success, with sales much higher than her first. Free Me was also released in the U.S., early in 2005 and is now a big hit. Emma is currently working on her third album.
  • Victoria Beckham is still married to David, and is 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 three twice. However, she is responsible for writing Learning to Fly, her autobiography. She has three sons, Brooklyn, Romeo, and Cruz.

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.

In May 2005, Mel B stated in an interview in Britain that the Spice Girls were to going to reunite in 2006 to mark the tenth anniversary of their first single, "Wannabe". Though this wasn't completely certain, other sources indicated that the four were indeed planning a reunion. In an article on the Top of the Pops website, it was stated that Mel B had been in contact with all of the girls, including Geri, and that all were eager to reunite at some point in the future. A greatest-hits album will definitely be released in 2006, and possibly a tour or a single concert. [3] (http://www.sky.com/showbiz/article/0,,50002-1181764,00.html)

Rumours of a full reunion intensified as it became known that they wanted to perform together at the Live 8 concert. This was confirmed when organisers excluded them from the schedule. According to the Daily Mirror, organisers were quoted as having said "their style of music did not fit in with the serious political message about world poverty the transatlantic event hopes to portray". Live Aid founder Bob Geldof, when making the official announcement for the concerts on May 31, 2005, said that they were reconsidering allowing the Spice Girls to perform.

Members of the group

Geri was initially referred to as "Sexy Spice" in the United States, but it reverted to "Ginger Spice" by the release of Spiceworld.

Discography

Studio albums

  • 1996: Spice#1 UK; #1 CAN; #1 US; #1 AU — Worldwide sales: 23 million
  • 1997: Spiceworld#1 UK; #1 CAN; #3 US — Worldwide sales: 19 million
  • 2000: Forever — #2 UK; #6 CAN; #39 US — Worldwide sales: 4 million

Singles

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Victoria in a scene from the music video for "2 Become 1"
  • from Spiceworld
    • 1997: "Spice Up Your Life" — #1 (1 week) UK; #1 (2 weeks) CAN; #18 US; #1 (1 week) AU
    • 1997: "Too Much" — #1 (2 weeks) UK; #9 CAN; #8 US; #7 AU
    • 1998: "Stop" — #2 UK; #3 CAN; #18 US; #5 AU
    • 1998: "Viva Forever" — #1 (2 weeks) UK; #2 AU
  • from Goodbye (1998 four-song CD)
    • 1998: "Goodbye" — #1 (1 week) UK; #1 (6 weeks) CAN; #11 US; #3 AU

Career records and achievements

  • Biggest selling girl group of all time, selling in excess of 46 million albums. They have also sold in excess of 30 million singles, the most ever for a female group.
  • First (and only female) act to have their first six singles ("Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1", "Who Do You Think You Are"/"Mama", "Spice Up Your Life", and "Too Much") make number one on the UK charts. (Their run was broken by "Stop", which peaked at number two in February 1998.)
  • Female group with the most chart toppers in the UK (9). (The aforementioned six number-ones plus "Viva Forever", "Goodbye" and "Holler"/"Let Love Lead the Way".)
  • Tied with ABBA in sixth place for most number one singles in the UK, behind Elvis Presley (21), The Beatles (17), Cliff Richard (14), Westlife (12), and Madonna (10).
  • Female group with the most consecutive number one singles in the UK (6).
  • Spice is the thirteenth biggest selling album of all time in the UK with over three million copies sold. It topped the charts for fifteen weeks (non-consecutive), the most by a female group in the UK.
  • Highest international debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at number five with "Say You'll Be There". (This record still holds to date.) [4] (http://www.billboard.com/bb/search/article_display.jsp?schema=&vnu_content_id=1000911907)
  • Spiceworld sold seven million copies in just two weeks, the highest sales ever for an LP in fourteen days.
  • Credited for starting the revolution in music that got single digit year-olds to beg their parents to purchase mainstream music for them. (This trend is ongoing; it is being continued by Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson to name a few.)
  • Though the group has never won any Grammy Awards, they have garnered over thirty awards from around the world, including Brit Awards and multiple MTV Video Music Awards.

See also

External links

it:Spice Girls he:Spice girls ms:Kumpulan Spice Girls nl:Spice Girls no:Spice Girls pl:Spice Girls fi:Spice Girls sv:Spice Girls zh:辣妹

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