Here’s the Story From A to Z: Inside the World of Spice Girls
The Spice Girls ruled the lives of most tween girls in the late '90s. There's a real reason the band is the highest-selling girl group of all time. Though it's been over 20 years since we first got a taste of all five Spices — Baby, Sporty, Scary, Posh and Ginger — the group is itching for a revival. Despite a failed attempt to rebrand themselves as a group called "GEM" and some tour dates sans Victoria Beckham, the girls are just as popular as ever. Now, fire up some "Wannabe" karaoke, put on your favorite pleather pants, and read these facts about the best British girl group of all time. Where's our Spice World VHS?
The Spice Girls Didn't Pick Their Own Names
Sporty, Baby, Ginger, Scary and Posh so absolutely embodied each Spice Girl, it’s hard to imagine that they didn’t actually choose their own names. So how did one of the most iconic girl groups in the world get their famous nicknames?
As it turns out, Top of the Pops magazine came up with names for each of the girls in 1996, and it just sort of worked. Before that, the five women went by their regular names: Mel B, Emma Bunton, Melanie C, and Geri Halliwell. The Spice Girls had no spices, which definitely means they lacked a little flavor. Today, Rolling Stone reporter David Sinclair believes they’re the most widely recognized group of people since the Beatles.
Ginger Missed Her Audition
A little sunburn goes a long way. Geri Halliwell almost missed out on being a Spice Girl because she skipped her audition. The star got sunburned during a ski trip to Spain and was embarrassed about showing up to the gig completely red-faced (though, it does fit nicely with her ginger tag).
As we all know, Geri did get a second chance. During the audition, they asked how old she was and she wouldn’t even reveal her real age. "I'm as old as you want me to be," she said.
The Girls Chose Powerful Audition Songs
It’s always interesting to find out what audition song landed the Spice Girls their precious roles. Since there was no such thing as X-Factor or American Idol in 1994 (though we’re betting Simon Cowell would’ve still capitalized if he could), we just have to hear it through the grapevine.
According to Buzzfeed, Mel B. sang Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All,” which is quite bold considering the power behind Houston’s voice. Victoria sang “Mein Herr” from Cabaret. Posh apparently did a theatre-inspired performance. Mel C sang “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters. Geri, as you know, didn’t audition until much later.
The Spice Girls Were Originally Called 'Touch'
The Spice Girls became a thing because manager Chris Herbert wanted to create a female version of the British band Take That. Each of the Spices replied to his advertisement looking for “streetwise, ambitious and dedicated” young women. The five women were plucked from the audition ranks in June 1994 and dubbed Touch. Touch. Honestly, not the stickiest of pop band names, but hey, it was the ‘90s. It was short-lived anyway.
By the fall of 1994, the girls changed their name to the Spice Girls and all was right in the world. After the name change, they lived in a rented house where they lived, breathed and ate Spice Girls — collaborating, writing songs and rehearsing.
Michelle Stephenson Was the Secret Spice
Ever heard of Michelle Stephenson? The singer was an original Spice Girl before Emma Bunton joined the group. As the tale goes, Stephenson was one of the first five women Herbert picked from his girl group auditions, but she ended up quitting amidst a family illness. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The would-be star also wanted to go to college, though Herbert claimed she was fired because she didn’t fit in.
Bunton ended up being added to the group in September of 1994, and Stephenson missed out on her million dollar payday. Hey, fame isn’t for everyone, right?
Ginger Quit In 1998
The exit of Ginger Spice would forever be one of the first times most millennial girls learned about heartbreak and betrayal. The star was the first of the Spices to quit the group (long before Victoria Beckham’s multi-million dollar fashion line).
Geri made her exit in 1998 and shocked fans everywhere. The group claimed they had irreconcilable differences. Perhaps Geri didn’t like the direction of their new music or perhaps she was sick of being the fifth Spice Girl everyone treated as an afterthought. Either way, they didn’t need her and she was never replaced. Today, the tables have turned and it’s Posh Spice who doesn’t want to link up for a reunion.
"Wannabe" Was Their Cross-Over Success
1997’s hit “Wannabe” was the first time the Spice Girls broke into the US market. It debuted at No. 11 on the Hot 100, which, at the time, was the highest debut for a non-American act. Subsequently, the group released Spice, which was certified platinum a whopping seven times and sold more than 28 million copies worldwide. This made it the biggest selling album from a girl group of all time.
If you thought “Wannabe” was popular in America, it was even more popular in Britain. The track was reportedly played 10 times a day on the TV station The Box at its height of popularity. And you know what, we’re still not sick of it all these years later.
Ginger's Union Jack Dress Broke Records
Ginger’s Union Jack dress is absolutely iconic. The star first wore it at the 1997 BRIT awards, but it later became the single most memorable image from all of Spice Girls history. Apparently, that dress also fetches a pretty penny at auction - $68,000 to be exact.
The garment nabbed the title of the most expensive piece of pop star clothing ever sold when it ran up an almost $70,000 price tag at a 2007 auction. Today, it’s so famous it has its own dedicated Wikipedia page, and you can buy a (much, much cheaper) replica of the outfit on Amazon, or probably Spirit Halloween. Really, it’s a common Halloween costume because it’s just that famous.
The Group Was Involved In a Viral KFC Joke
Let’s be real: corporate social media has been getting a lot better, or at least a lot funnier. KFC made headlines when everyone realized their social media person is a huge Spice Girls fan. In 2017, users notices that the fast food chicken brand only follows 11 people. Who are they? Six dudes named Herb and all five of the Spice Girls.
The subtle but powerful joke bounced off of KFC secret recipe composed of 11 herbs and spices. Who better than to fill your spice quota then members of the spiciest of all girl groups imaginable? Well played, Colonels Sanders.
Jack In The Box Ripped Them Off To Sell Sandwiches
As the best-selling girl group in history, the Spice Girls are used to knockoffs (though, let’s hope Victoria Beckham doesn’t experience that too much with her fashion brand). In the ‘90s, famed fast food establishment (and literally the last place we’d want to buy a taco) Jack in the Box used a Spice Girls knockoff to sell chicken sandwiches.
The fake band, which kind of seemed like a dollar store version if we’re being honest, were called the Spicy Crispy Chicks - appetizing. The Spicy Crispy Chicks hawked the joint’s Spicy Crispy Sandwiches on TVs across America. Are we smelling a reunion?
They've Got Their Own Airplane
There’s Air Force One and then there’s Spice One. Yes, the Spice Girls actually have an airplane named after them because they’re that popular. And you thought Beatlemania was bad!
According to NME, the girls went to LAX to unveil the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747. The airplane was named as part of the promotion for the band’s reunion world tour. They held a competition where fans got to name the jumbo jet. The three final names were: Spice Girl, Girl Power and Spice One. Spice One just has a way better ring to it. If you’re wondering about the Virgin Airlines-Spice Girls connection, the girls were signed to Virgin Records in 1996.
Posh Threw Her Undies out of a Cab to Celebrate Their Record Deal
The Spice Girls ended up firing their first manager Herbert, but they had to pay him off. The girls actually took out a loan to get rid of him. That’s when they also took the next step and put on a showcase for a bunch of record labels. Simon Fuller was one of the people who attended and was interested in signing the group. They brought him six songs and he signed them on the spot.
As you can probably guess, being signed to Virgin is a huge deal. To celebrate their burgeoning career, Victoria pulled off her panties and threw them out the window of a cab. Whoever picked them up probably doesn’t even know how much they’re worth today.
Tony Blair Almost Starred In the "Wannabe" Music Video
“Wannabe” might be the group’s most successful hits, but it was only written in 20 minutes. The debut single climbed to No. 1 on the UK charts when the group was in Japan on their world tour.
Though most of us remember the music video, some of us are mourning over what it could have been (though arguably, it turned out great). The band reportedly asked Tony Blair — the British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 — to be in the video but he declined.
Emma's Favorite Video
Each spice definitely has their own preference about their favorite songs. For Emma, her favorite Spice Girls video was “Say You’ll Be There.” The video was filmed in the Southern California Mojave Desert. The girls showed up to film every single day from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. (and you thought your work days were bad).
Emma was trained in karate, so she ended up teaching the other girls some moves for the video’s choreography. Victoria ended up spending 40 minutes standing on the hood car for a particularly grueling shot. She said you could actually wring the sweat out of her catsuit. Sounds pleasant.
Ginger Got a Fingernail Stuck in Her Ear During a Video Shoot
Music videos are hazardous, and it’s a lot more than wringing sweat out of pleather catsuits. Geri once got a fake fingernail stuck in her ear while filming a video. Because the Spice Girls are one of Britain’s biggest exports, the story ended up on the front page of The Sun, Britain’s best-selling tabloid. Inside, fans could join a competition to win the actual fingernail that almost ruined the beloved Spice Girl’s hearing abilities.
There’s so much to this story that’s still up in the air. Though we can’t be certain it actually happened, we want to know how the story even came about. It’s not like fake fingernails don't adhere to your actual nail. How does it get inside your ear?
You Get a House, and You Get a House
It’s been a long time since the Spice Girls were struggling to make ends meet. They were pretty much superstars since their first single was ever released (back in the golden age of the music industry where artists weren’t fighting over fractions of a cent for Spotify streams). What did they spend their first big paycheck on? Homes, mostly.
According to Buzzfeed, Emma grew up in an apartment, so the first thing she bought was a house with a garden for her mom. Mel C first purchased a house for her mom and a car for her brother. Victoria bought a house for her sister and her boyfriend, and Geri, the classy lady she is, spent her first paycheck on a red convertible.
Spice Girl Struggles
Not everything is rosy in the world of unyielding girl power that is the Spice Girls. The group definitely had their individual struggles. For Geri and Melanie C, that meant battling eating disorders and the height of their fame (can we stop putting pressure on stars to adhere to impossible beauty standards already?). Melanie C also admitted she suffered from depression while she was in the band. It’s true what they say: it’s lonely at the top.
Years after the Spice Girls’ debuted, Mel B revealed that she suffered during her abusive marriage to Stephen Belafonte. It got so bad that, at points, she feared for her life.
Mel B Struggled Behind the Scenes of X-Factor
Mel B hid her abusive relationship while she was a judge on X-Factor. She claimed her friends and family hand warned her about Belafonte, who pleaded guilty to battery of a former partner in 2003. Nonetheless, when things went south in her relationship, she put up a major front at work.
“It was just a spiel. And inside I’d be thinking, ‘You’ve no idea how evil this person is I’m going to have to go home to in a few hours,” she told The Guardian. “Can I please stay at work a little bit longer – or is there a park I can go to with my kids?’” Eventually, Mel B found the strength to leave and hasn’t looked back.
Why Geri Walked Away From GEM
The Spice Girls did try to reunite to celebrate 20 years of their major success - unfortunately, only three spices signed on. Emma, Mel B, and Geri decided to create a side-project-slash-revival called GEM, but Geri ended up walking away a little soured over the fact that Melanie C and Victoria Beckham wouldn’t participate.
"I really pushed to get everyone back together. It got to the point where I just had to let it go," she explained. “ … I still love the girls, and there are other bits and bobs in the pipeline … I want to reclaim my identity [and] do things I'm proud of and contribute to the world,” she said.
The Spice Girls Are Touring In 2019
Though GEM ultimately didn’t work out, the Spice Girls do have something in the pipeline for 2019. The stars announced a Spice Girls reunion tour and sold out three nights a Wembley Stadium, three nights at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, and three nights in Edinburgh, Bristol and Coventry. They’re also playing an additional tour date in Wales and launched a branded t-shirt for a charity that they’ll be selling at each date.
This time Becks still isn’t on board (she’s too busy being married to a super-hot soccer star and having more money than the queen) but the rest of the girls are giving it a go without her.