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Spice Girls
The Spice Girls return together this month with a new album that brings you their biggest hits along with brand new tracks. Have solo careers, marriage and babies mellowed the girls down? Will their 2007 avatars lead to nicknames that are different from Posh, Ginger, Scary, Baby and Sporty? Only time will tell. For now get ready to, in their words, “spice up your life”.

Music, just like fashion, seems to be cyclical and this year it looks like it is time to relive the 90s ~ or the Brit pop of the 90s to be more precise. Take That and All Saints already made their big comebacks in the middle of 2007, and now it’s time for perhaps the biggest girl group ever to show us that they still have what it takes to make you go zig-a-zig-ah! That takes us back to the beginning…

In the year 1992, Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams, and Melanie Chisholm were five young British girls doing the rounds of studios and casting sessions around England hoping to land the acting or singing part that would set them on their way to careers in show business. In 1993, all of them answered a newspaper ad calling for girls to be part of a singing group. At the London audition, hundreds of girls lined up and each had only one minute to sing and dance for the judges. The two Melanies and Victoria were finalised along with another girl called Michelle Stephenson. Geri actually missed the first audition, but when she arrived later, she managed to convince the judges to let her try out. She was then selected. The five shortlisted girls were put up in a house together where they immediately began vocal and dance rehearsals. The group was initially called Touch until Geri came up with the name Spice during rehearsals. Since there was already an artist called Spice in the US, they ended up calling themselves Spice Girls.

Before they could get their album out, some changes were already taking place. Michelle, it was decided, was not really a good fit for the group and she was replaced by Emma Bunton. The girls also parted ways with the manager they had and began looking for management on their own. The search led nowhere for months until they met a man called Simon Fuller who immediately recognised their potential. He began shopping for a record deal for them and soon they were signed to Virgin Records. Work on their debut album had now begun.

The first Spice Girls video debuted in May 1996. They were an energetic lot and the feisty two and a half minute track Wannabe was the perfect introductory piece for the group. The track rose rapidly to the top of the charts and became one of the most requested songs on the radio and on TV. The girls were everywhere and the fans couldn’t get enough. Then in July 1996, an article appeared in Top Of The Pops magazine that would turn out to be more significant than any other feature on the girls yet ~ it gave them their famous nicknames. The editor Peter Loraine suggested to the girls at a meeting that it would be fun for them to have nicknames. Soon they came up with Posh for Victoria because she looked very sophisticated, Sporty for the athletic Mel C, Ginger for the red-haired Geri, Baby for the pig-tailed, baby-faced Emma and Scary for Mel B, inspired by her boisterous personality. Soon other publications also began referring to them by the nicknames and eventually the identities stuck.

Their first single Wannabe was burning up the charts. It rose to #1, stayed there for seven weeks and sold four million copies. The single was doing well all over Europe and the girls continued to ride the wave of success with their next single Say You’ll Be There. The video especially drew attention to their sexy image. It was a playful affair, shot in the Mojave desert, with each girl donning a futuristic outfit for her alter ego ~ Mel C as Katrina Highkick, Geri as Trixie Firecracker, Emma as Kung Fu Candy, Victoria as Midnight Miss Suki and Mel B as Blazin’ Bad Zula. The song packed a girl-power punch and it was clear that the group was having a great time. The anticipation for their debut album Spice was high so it was no surprise that when it was released in November 1996 it sold two million copies in the first two weeks itself. It then went on to become the biggest album of 1996 in the UK, and the biggest album of 1997 in the US, selling 10 million copies worldwide in less than seven months.

You can read the rest of our feature on the Spice Girls in the December 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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