Spice Girls: As Wannabe turns 25, here’s a look back at Posh, Ginger, Baby, Scary and Sporty through the years
Written by Hitmix News on 3 July 2021
It’s been a quarter of a century since the Spice Girls first zig-a-zig-ahhed into our lives, making the message clear from the start.
“If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends,” was their sing-song warning to the boys, in a song about friendship and, of course, girl power, that paved the way for world domination – delivered with a no-nonsense attitude that gave modern feminism “a kick up the arse”, as they would later put it.
Chaotically dancing their way through what was then the Midland Grand Hotel in London’s St Pancras, the video introduced us to a sequin-leotarded Geri Halliwell tottering in heels, Mel B taking charge and demanding we all listen carefully, a pig-tailed Emma Bunton stoically negotiating the moves in wedges, the famous Mel C back-flip, and what would become the Victoria Beckham (then Adams) signature pout.
Originally released on 8 July 1996, according to Official Charts, Wannabe debuted at number three in the UK before climbing to the top spot a week later; it remained at number one for a total of seven weeks, which is still the longest-reigning chart-topper by a girl group.
Wannabe was also hugely successful around the world, hitting number one in no less than 37 countries. In the UK, it has 2.03 million chart sales, including 1.32 million pure sales (making it the seventh best-selling debut single of all time), and 84.2 million streams, the Official Charts figures show.
In Baby, Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Posh, a pop phenomenon was born. As we celebrate 25 years of Spice Girls, here’s the story from A-Z…
Image: ‘Slam your body down and wind it all around. Got it?’ This is one of the first pictures of the Spice Girls available, taken from an audition tape in 1994 Image: Pictured at around the time of Wannabe’s release, Victoria bagsied the wink as her signature look early on. Pic: Stephen Sweet/Rex/ShutterstockHalliwell Image: The video for second single Say You’ll Be There (officially the best Spice Girls song) also led to Posh snagging Becks, who was reportedly a fan of the PVC catsuit. Pic: Spice Girls/YouTube Image: The Brits in the ’90s will always be remembered for Jarvis Cocker’s Michael Jackson stage invasion (’96), Chumbawumba soaking John Prescott (’98), and Geri’s ‘tea towel’ Union Flag dress in 1996. Pic: Alan Davidson/Shutterstock Image: Plus there was a wardrobe malfunction for Geri’s second outfit of the night, as the band went up to collect one of two awards, and Mel C later challenged Spice Girls critic Liam Gallagher to ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ Image: From Brits to brands: The Spice Girls professed their love of Pepsi in these subtle ensembles Image: You know you’ve made it when you’re posing with a massive remote. Less than a year after their debut, the Spice Girls were launching a whole new TV channel – Channel 5 was born in March 1997 Image: Of the many accolades they would win during their career, Mel B’s spectacle wearer of the year award is no doubt up there on the mantelpiece Image: When pop royalty meets actual royalty: Super fan Prince Charles reportedly knew all of the girls’ nicknames, and Geri made headlines by pinching his bum (she later clarified it was just a pat), when they met in May 1997 Image: Pictured at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York, Geri swapped the Union Flag for stars and stripes Image: Attracting almost as much media attention as the real thing, the Spice Girls dolls were launched in London in October 1997 Image: Twice in one year – does that make Prince Charles officially a groupie? The royal met the girls again in South Africa, alongside then president Nelson Mandela Image: A young Prince Harry also got to spice up his life during their South Africa trip Image: Back in London in December 1997, the band met the Queen after the Royal Variety Performance (no bum pinching was reported this time) Image: They also launched their own film, Spice World, just before Christmas that year, ditching their individual looks for matching black pinstripes Image: Becks liked it so he put a ring on it in January 1998, with the couple announcing their engagement outside a swanky hotel in Chester Image: Liverpool FC’s Spice Boys may have received the nickname because of the band, but the girls were no doubt in turn inspired by the famous cream suits of the club’s 1996 FA Cup final appearance for their outfits for the US Spice World premiere Image: Back to the Brits to perform Stop in 1998, the group also picked up the award for best-selling British album act. Never not promoting girl power, Posh (and her new ‘do) thanked her four ‘wicked’ best mates and Sporty praised women in the industry Image: Outfits got shiny as a world tour started in Dublin in February 1998 Image: In April that year they announced more live dates for the summer, and laughed off speculation that a split was imminent… Geri and Mel C obviously missed the suits and bras memo Image: Do you think anyone will notice if I keep my dressing gown on? They girls performed at Wembley Arena in April 1998 Image: Did you even go out in the ’90s if you didn’t have a pair of pedal pushers? Baby combined hers with a corset (another staple of the era) as the girls went out out for the Wembley after party Image: However, all was not well in the Spice Girls camp, and Geri’s shock departure just a month later meant they had to carry on as a foursome Image: As five became four, Geri missed out on all sorts – like meeting Pavarotti in Italy in June 1998 Image: The girls started taking advantage of solo opportunities, and Mel B teamed up with rapper Missy Elliott to release I Want You Back, which topped the charts in September 1998. Pic: YouTube Image: Meanwhile, Mel C was wandering round the house all night, wondering what the hell to do, with Bryan Adams. When You’re Gone charted at number three in the UK. Pic: Action Press/Shutterstock Image: Both Victoria and Mel B were pregnant with baby spices Brooklyn and Phoenix when they filmed the video for Goodbye, their first song without Geri, released in December 1998 Image: The Spice Girls also dipped their toes into modelling over the years – here’s Mel B with designer Julien MacDonald and supermodel Kate Moss at London Fashion Week in 1999 Image: It was out with the sequins and platforms, in with the twinset and demure plait for the launch of Geri’s autobiography, If Only, 18 months after leaving the band Image: Meanwhile, Emma Bunton released her first solo song, What I Am with Tin Tin Out. Pic: YouTube/TinTinOutVEVO Image: I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want – to be immortalised in wax, that’s what. One more celebrity milestone ticked, the Spice Girls became the first band since The Beatles to make it as a group at Madame Tussaud’s Image: Another Brits, another award – this time for outstanding contribution to music in 2000… Image: … although the girls were slightly upstaged by Geri, who ditched the demure to make a dramatic entrance from between a pair of giant legs for her performance of solo single, Bag It Up. Awkward Image: When Posh started to get really posh: Victoria made her debut on the catwalk at the Grachvogels Autumn/Winter Collection as part of London Fashion Week in 2000 Image: This tune’s gonna punish you: Posh then hooked up with Another Level’s Dane Bowers and garage act True Steppers for Out Of Your Mind, her first foray into life as a solo artist, in 2000 Image: With a look we like to call ‘Halloween sexy devil-inspired’, the Spice Girls returned with an RnB sound for third album Forever and lead single Holler towards the end of 2000, but it wasn’t long before they began an indefinite break Image: After babies, several hairdos, and various solo stints in the charts, the Spice Girls announced their first reunion in 2007 Image: They performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Hollywood later that year Image: ‘Can I say the line about where the exits are?’ ‘Yeah, I’ll do the bit about oxygen masks, then. Emma, you hand out the mini wines.’ The girls unveiled Spice One – like Air Force One, but with more leopard print – in December 2007 Image: In 2010, Geri and Mel B – the ‘naughtiest’ Spice Girls – collected the prize for ‘best Brit performance of 30 years’ on behalf of the band Image: Back to where it all started – the steps of the now St Pancras Renaissance Hotel – in 2012, to launch the musical, Viva Forever. VB, by now a fashion designer, quietly praying no one mentions doing the dance Image: The Spice Girls also performed during the London Olympic Games 2012 closing ceremony – the last time they were all on stage together Image: In December that year, Mel B, Geri, Emma and Mel C attended the Viva Forever premiere… Image: Victoria took along Becks and the kids for a family night out Image: Stop right now, thank you very much: The Spice Girls rebranded as GEM in 2016, without Vicky B or Mel C Image: But of course, friendship never ends! Posh caused a stir with this post on Instagram in 2018 Image: Later in 2018, they revealed they were reuniting once again – sadly minus VB, despite her earlier Instagram post. What a tease Image: Viva Forever! On stage at their first reunion gig in Dublin in 2019 – will there be more planned for 25 years of Spice? Pic: Andrew Timms/PA Wire