Yes, the Spice Girls are what we call a 'manufactured' band, but unlike other bands they were friends before their success, and went through a lot together.
Thousands of applicants replied to the advert in the showbiz magazine 'The Stage' for an all girl group. Among those applicants were Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Melanie
Chisholm, Victoria Adams and Michelle Stevenson. These five people were the lucky one's which the
management crew chose.
The girls had to go and live in Maidenhead (England) together; and it was not certain that they had a place in the band. They had to work extremely hard; especially on their 'blending'. Victoria and Michelle shared a room, as did Mel C and Mel B. Geri was in a small room by herself. The girls didn't get paid at first and found it hard to cope with their only income being the dole.
Michelle lacked what the others had,
commitment. She also wasn't the best dancer in the world and as Victoria says in her book Learning To Fly 'She didn't have a pop voice'. So, luckily the management team had noticed Michelle's lack of effort and she was dismissed during the summer break of 1995. Subsequently, through the Spice Girls she has been able to pursue a career in her own right.
The girls' voice coach luckily new someone who would be ideal, Emma Bunton. The girls gelled with Emma and they shared the same interests and ambitions. The girls worked hard, and they partied hard too! But, things weren't right for them, they were fed up with the management crew and after their showcase they abruptly left the management. It was then that the girls were the 'Spice Girls'.
Well in fact as they went around the country in search of people to work with, they were known as 'Spice'. The girls eventually persuaded 19
Management, with Simon Fuller at the helm to be their manger.
The girls paid back Chris
Herbert, and father for their input, and went on to lay down the album 'Spice' which had been wrote in Maidenhead and with people that the girls head-hunted. Such as Elliot Kennedy and Matt and Biff.
It was now only a matter of time before success was theirs, they had impressed companies, and Virgin Records and London Records were the final two that fighted over the band. London Records even threw a party for the girls hours before they signed with Virgin. But the girls were quite final about who they were to sign with. From then on there was no looking backed. It was just a matter of perfecting it, and with the help of Annie Lennox and Simon and crew they were raring to go!
They approached the record company with their idea for a debut single, 'Wannabe'- but Virgin was worried that this could be
disastrous- the girls insisted and were defiant until Virgin gave in.
The video for 'Wannabe' was very cheap, and was done in one take. Hence, Geri always looking back to see where she was going!
Anyway, the girls promoted like mad, and were very pleased to hear that their 'either love or hate' song had reached number 3! It was even more of a shock when the following week it moved up to number 1, and remained their for seven weeks! Wannabe sells 1.25 million copies in the UK alone!
The girls had been so
adamant about 'Wannabe' and it had given Virgin a boost in confidence. Better was to come as their second single 'Say You'll Be There' topped the charts (October 14th, 1996). By now 'Wannabe' was a worldwide
In November the debut album 'Spice' is released, and is awarded a silver disc alone on advance orders! Two million copies were sold in two weeks.
In December 1996 the girls pick up three Smash Hits! awards. On the 16th a single is released entitled '2 Become 1', which tops the charts and remains there as Christmas number 1, beating the Dumblane charity single. It sold more than 500,000 copies. Plus, 'Spice' is still at the top of the charts.
The girls pretty much had the world at their feet, except that hard to crack country, USA. So, in January 1997 they launch a huge promotional tour for the album and 'Wannabe'. Wannabe smashes into the US
Billboard charts at number 11, and is the highest position by a British band ever- even The Beatles only managed number 12!
In February, 'Wannabe' goes to number 1 in America, and the girls
receive five nominations for the Brit Awards, which they had attended as guests the previous year. On the 24th February the night of the awards the girls collect two awards; best video for 'Say You'll Be There' and best single for 'Wannabe'.
By the 5th March the album had sold 4 million copies, making it the most successful debut album ever. Two days earlier the band hit the top spot for the fourth consecutive time, the first band to so! 'Who Do You Think You Are?'/ Mama was a charity single for Comic Relief.
One year on in July 1997, Spice had sold more than 14 million copies, and between 'Say You'll Be There' and '2 Become 1' the girls have been number 1 in 53 different countries!
In June 1997 filming of the girls' fist movie 'Spiceworld' began and finished on 1st August 1997. With Ivor
Novella awards (writing awards) behind them the girls had to pull out the stops for the second album. Written and recorded on the set of the film, the first single came in October. The single had been delayed due to the death of Diana Princess of Wales, allowing Elton John to get the tribute song to number 1.
The girls' first single of the album 'Spiceworld' was 'Spice Up Your Life', this carnival tune, was the next 'Wannabe', and was a worldwide smash. As soon as this single came out, the world saw the girls selling any product that they could. Walkers crisps and Pepsi were among the many. Merchandise; clothes, books, dolls and make up were in the shops. The B side to' Spice Up Your Life' summed it up, 'Spice Invaders'.... 'Spice Up Your Life' was a huge hit.
The band released the long awaited follow up album 'Spiceworld', which was a mass success. At Christmas the girls followed the success of '2 Become 1' when 'Too Much' hit number 1!
The girls by now had achieved far more than they had ever dreamed. The film, 'Spiceworld: The Movie' was a smash hit when released on the Boxing Day of Christmas 1997. The girls were very much in a bubble, which was waiting to be burst.
'The Spice Girls cannot sing', was the most common phrases that critics used. So, the girls embarked on a World tour in 1998. In March they released 'Stop' of 'Spiceworld', and they were kept of the top spot by U2. They reached number 2, and the press saw this as their signal to start the splitting up rumours. They had sacked Simon Fuller, and they had
independence, they were quite happy now and this hype didn't really change much in Spice Camp. In fact, 'Stop' is probably one of the girls most famous songs- and favourites; at the concerts everyone knew the dance routine!
In the UK, fans were promised a single in late Spring, which was rumoured to be 'Viva Forever'. Touring progressed and the girls promotional value seemed to as well. Activities in Spice Camp grew strangely quiet, and in May it came as a shock to many when Geri left the band. The announcement came after weeks of speculation- the girls tried desperately to talk to her, but she was
adamant that she was to leave.
'Viva Forever' was postponed as a release, and the girls went on holiday. They still had a long and
US tour to go. They had a lot to prove, and they did it.
Victoria Adams, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton and Melanie
Chisholm were now the fab four. The press surprisingly liked them as a four piece, which helped un-easy fans. America went very well, and it was a big relief to the girls and Virgin. The Spice Girls had saved Virgin by giving them some
credibility- for the company was having problems.
In July 1998 Viva Forever was released, and
amidst extreme pressure; after the number 2, 'Stop', a departed manager and member the girls had a lot to achieve. But the fans came out in force, letting the girls top the charts, trouncing all the other acts. The animated video featured Geri because it had taken six months to make- the video was seen as a 'Goodbye'.
In August when the fans had just come to terms with what had happened we learn that Melanie B is to get married and is having a baby, and so is Victoria with
fiancÚ David Beckham. What was next, was the worlds speculation. Well quite a lot really.
In September, the girls finished the tour with some gigs in the UK, and Melanie B achieved her first number 1 with Missy Elliot! Melanie C recorded a track with Bryan Adams and Emma was offered an acting job. Phew!
But, when we had thought that they had gone quiet, at Christmas we were in for a treat when the girls said that it was the end of an era, 'Goodbye'- but it wasn't goodbye to the band but really a goodbye to the old Spice Girls. This turned into a number 1, the third Christmas number 1 for the girls in a row! It would be very hard to re-capture those moments in time. It was not just the UK though, but also the rest of the world.
Well since then the girls have
pursued their own solo careers and Melanie C has established herself as
successful solo artist. They spent Christmas 1999 touring together, and
also began writing album number three. In March 2000, they received a
special 'Outstanding Contribution To British Music Awards' award at the
Brits. They gave a special set at the Brits, and up-staged Geri, whose solo
career by now had progressed. They sung live, as they did on tour, and also
sung a new track 'Holler'.
The band then met again in the summer of
2000 to record the videos for a new double A Side single. 'Holler/ Let Love
Lead The Way' was released in October and that hit number 1- the Girls were
back in town! The album 'Forever' was released on the 6th November in the
UK, and the 7th in the USA. In the UK the girls were up against the top boy
band Westlife, and they had a competition on their hands.
Unfortunately due to lack of promotion, and schedule clashes the girls only
notched up number 2. But hey, it is still number 2!
Forever, was originally wrote with
Matt and Biff, but after they worked with Darkchild, those tracks were
scrapped. The sound was very diverse, and very brave. It puts them
in good stead for the future.
After their performance at the European
MTV Awards in late November 2000, the girls haven't worked together
since. They have split into two groups promoting the album, but they
have their own solo careers to pursue right no
sold 40 millions Albums, 6 million albums of 'Forever' and are multi-
talented solo stars in their own right, I can't wait much longer, I
don't know about you!!! :)
They as part of their contract with Virgin are
likely to be obliged to release a 'Greatest Hits' which may contain
unheard or new tracks. A tour or a new album is always also in
the pipeline- though I think we should brace ourselves for a wait!
2002 has seen Melanie B star in the west- end,
present shows, and act in a new BBC drama series! She plans a
music comeback in 2003!
Emma Bunton was dropped from Virgin and left her
management- but she now has gone back to Simon Fuller, the Spice
Girls' sacked manager. She is working on her new album, and it
should soon be ready along with a new record deal.
Victoria left Virgin Records in April and every
since has worked on Album 2, and also found a brand new label-
Telestar! She has had a baby boy, Romeo, to join Brooklyn, and
she will be back to work shortly!
Melanie C of course, has her next album out in a
matter of months now!
Melanie C is the only remaining member of the girls
still signed to Virgin Records as a solo artist, but they ARE still
signed as a group. Geri Halliwell is now starring in Popstars 2:
The Rivals as a judge, though there is still concern for her well
Good Luck Girls- It is a Spice World out there!