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Clearly a cultural phenomenon and heroines to millions of fans around the world, the Spice Girls are definitely the biggest band in the world. They exude confidence, strength, beauty, creativity, kindness, and fun...some key ingredients in the philosophy of Girl Power that became their trademark when they hit the British pop scene back in the summer of 1996, and less than a year later stormed the shores of America.
They have sold in excess of 50 million albums worldwide. They have created scenes of fan hysteria not seen since the Beatles. They are a hot property in every corner of the globe and their success shows no signs of slowing down.
How did the beloved quintet meet? In March 1994, four of them (Emma excluded) answered the following advertisement for an all-girl group in The Stage, a British periodical for star wannabes: "R.U. 18-23 with the ability to sing/dance? R.U. streetwise, outgoing, ambitious, and dedicated?" Not only did the four girls fit the bill, but they were also furious fame-seekers who knew each other from various auditions around London. Under the guidance of father-and-son management team Bob and Chris Herbert, the four future Spice Girls and a woman named Michelle formed the group Touch. Michelle soon quit the group due to an illness in her family and a desire to go to college. (If you listen closely, the sound of her kicking herself can still be faintly heard across the Atlantic.) Emma came in after Michelle left. They all lived together in a house in Maidenhead, a town west of London. Their managers at the time provided them with songs, which the girls hated, and tried to make them all dress the same. They knew from the beginning that the managers were no good. When the managers tried to tie them down to what they felt was an unacceptable contract, in October 1993, the girls walked out, paying off the managers' expenses with a loan. just before then they had changed their name to Spice Girls.
They spent the next year "writing, recording, dancing, and eating on toast" and eventually hooked up with a management company run by Annie Lennox's manager, Simon Fuller, in March 1995. With Fuller's help, they signed a record deal with Virgin in August. Working with Stannard and Rowe and the production duo Absolute, the Spice Girls co-wrote and recorded their debut, Spice, a feisty album of grooving bubblegum pop and hip-hop-inflected old-school R&B. Their nicknames,"Scary", "Baby", "Ginger", "Posh", and "Sporty", were given to them by a British teen magazine called Top of the Pops.
While critics may think the gals are just a flash in the pan, some major corporations appear to disagree. The British pop princesses inked a worldwide deal with Pepsi to sing cola jingles and appear in TV commercials, and landed dozens of endorsement deals in the U.K. At the end of 1997, the Girls released their second album, Spiceworld, as well as a feature film by the same name. In early 1998, shortly after they fired manager Simon Fuller (electing to represent themselves instead), they were recognized as the top-selling group in the U.S. for the previous year, having sold more than 5.3 million copies of Spice alone. Although they were snubbed when it came to Grammy nominations, the Girls spiced up the 1998 American Music Awards, taking home three of the little statues. In April of 1998, they announced an extensive U.S. tour.
Unfortunately, the Fab Five became the Fab Four on Sunday, May 31st of 1998 with the sad departure of Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell, citing "differences between us." Incredibly, Geri's departure demonstrated just how the Spice Girls had become such major popular icons, when that week thousands of young girls, so troubled by the split, tied up suicide hotlines in the UK. Thousands more were in tears. But the Spicy foursome bounced right back to perform with Pavarotti in Italy on 9th June for the War Child Charity Concert, and began the huge North American leg of the Spiceworld tour the very same week. They claimed to be "stronger than ever," and they definitely seemed to be.
Girl Power worked its maternal magic, and the quartet continued its chart-topping ways. Their first single released after Geri , "Viva Forever," hit No. 1 in the U.K. in July. November found the foursome accepting awards for Best Group and Best New Pop Album at the MTV Europe Music Video Awards.
After their amazing sell-out world tour in 1998, the Spice Girls went back into the studio and recorded another huge hit, "Goodbye," which was released as an LP record in December of 1998. The single went straight to #1 in the UK, becoming only the second band in the UK to have 3 Christmas number 1's in a row. Only the beatles can claim the same.
The first half of 1999 gave the Girls a change to relax. Melanie G and husband Jimmy Gulzar gave birth to her daughter, Pheonix Chi, and just weeks later, Victoria and David Beckham gave birth to their son, Brooklyn Joseph, and married in July.
But the Spice Girls have always been known to be extrememly hard workers. They may have taken off half a year to have children and get some sleep, but August marks the month that the Girls will go back to the studio again to record their 3rd and most anticipated album. Victoria and Melanie G even plan to bring their babies to work with them - no nannies for them.
1999 was the first the group haven't released a record in, but they've been anything but anonymous. Victoria had married to Manchester United and England footballer David Beckham. Of the four members and Geri, only Victoria has thus far not launched a solo career, and her compatriots have enjoyed degrees of success that have varied minutely but can only be described as impressive from any rational standpoint. Mel C kicked things off, ditching the tracksuits to duet with Canadian rocker Bryan Adams on the massive late '98 hit single 'When You're Gone'; her 'Northern Star' album and solo tour arrived in the autumn following her punk reinvention as premiered at Britain's V99 Festivals. Mel G, as she is now, covered Cameo's 'Word Up' on the soundtrack to Mike Myers' second Austin Powers movie, and worked with US rap superstar Missy Elliot for her first solo single,'I Want You Back'. Emma emerged in the company of pop/dance outfit Tin Tin Out in the last quarter of '99 with a cover of the Edie Brickell hit 'What I Am'. Halliwell may well have severed her ties to the band - a TV documentary and autobiography helping her state her case to the world - though the precise reasons for her quitting the band remain somewhat mysterious.
The Spice Girls have made a career out of defeating their critics by simply not caring. They have transcended the deadly sell-out charge by embracing it, offering no excuses or apologies for their mission of world domination, although they say that they have matured since they first came together and their promotional strategies and goals for the future have changed. Since their inception, the Spice Girls have played to royalty, won countless awards and broken records around the world, entertained millions and millions of people, made a successful movie, and changed the world of popular music. It is clear that the sky is the limit for these four incredible young women!