The Spice Girls Are Still Great

November 16, 2016

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When I read the article entitled, My Life as a Spice Girl, by Geri Halliwell (now Horner) in the August 2016 issue of Marie Claire magazine I was so moved by its upbeat message I was practically in tears. Her personal account of the Spice Girls phenomenon is riveting. Here’s a brief overview.

Tea for five (from the left): Melanie Chisholm (Sporty), Victoria Beckham (Posh), Emma Bunton (Baby), Geri Halliwell (Ginger) and Melanie Brown (Scary) at a café in Paris, 1996 

Photo: Courtesy of Marie Claire

THE AUTHOR SAYS that “twenty years ago I was trying to make ends meet by working five jobs a week: two housekeeping assignments, bartending, babysitting and teaching aerobics at a local gym – to fund studio sessions to record an album – when I came across an ad in a trade newspaper called The Stage looking for ‘streetwise’ girls to audition for a pop band.”

“Hundreds of girls auditioned and, lo and behold, just like that, we were a band. We were also five roommates living together in a small three-bedroom house, just outside of London. I was the oldest at 22 and Emma was the youngest at 18.”

GINGER NAMED THE BAND when the word “Spice” popped into her head in an aerobics class. “Girls” came later because when the band showed up to perform, people would always refer to them as The Spice Girls. “During our first year together we worked endlessly and gave our first-ever performance for our family and friends at a community center.”

“We decided to keep our own individual style: Melanie Brown (Scary) was funky, Emma Bunton (Baby) was sweet, Victoria Beckham (Posh) was designer-driven, Melanie Chisholm (Sporty) liked tracksuits and your author here, (Ginger) was vintage and sassy.

A promo shot for the 1997 film Spice World, which starred the girl group as themselves. Photo: Courtesy of Marie Claire

SHE FELT GIRL POWER because, as she states, “from the minute I met the four girls I knew I had found my tribe. We all had different strong points and personalities, yet we were so similar. Of course there were always challenges along the way testing our confidence in our music and ourselves.”

“But it didn’t take any longer than a day to write Wannabe, our first single. Then came the now-famous music video and we were buzzing with excitement on the day of the shoot in an old hotel and a railway station in central London. We didn’t want to do something too choreographed or controlled – we wanted to capture the madness.”

“We released the single, shot our first music video and finished our album. In July 1996 we were listening to the UK singles chart countdown on the radio when we heard Wannabe had entered at Number Three. We screamed with excitement and popped open a bottle of bubbly.”

The Spice Girls making a splash at Cannes, 1995

Photo: Courtesy of Marie Claire

THE SPICE GIRLS ARE FAMOUS The following week the song went to Number One and stayed there for seven weeks. Then the band flew to Japan and, very quickly after, Los Angeles, where they shot the video for their second single in the Mojave Desert.

By the end of 1996 Wannabe had hit Number One in 22 countries. “Reaching the top of the charts was monumental,” says Ginger. “By the end of 1997 Wannabe had sold over seven million copies worldwide.

“Today, after 85 million records sold worldwide, three world tours, three studio albums, one movie, 11 solo albums collectively, four marriages, 11 children – all with the continued support of the best fans in the world – I am proud to say: we are still friends. When we reunited to perform at the London Olympics closing ceremony in 2012, it was amazing.”

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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