On November 4, 1996, five British singers released their debut album Spice and forever changed both popular culture and the music industry. The Spice Girls and their humble beginnings, girl power anthems, and ownership over their sexuality created a revolution among young women who were looking for idols during a period that promoted underage sexualization and a never-ending stream of songs about young love. Melanie Brown, Geri Halliwell, Victoria (Adams) Beckham, Melanie Chisholm and Emma Bunton wrote about love too, but the number one person they promoted loving was yourself.
For anyone who came of age in the mid-90s, it’s virtually impossible to hear Mel B’s rally cry “Yoooo” at the opening of “Wannabe” and not instantly be transported back in time. The five Spice Girls and their distinct personalities allowed for every fan to identify their tribe. Whether you were in the throws of a dramatic commitment to grunge and listened to the girl group on the sly or ravenously consumed every sticker, candy bar, sleeping bag, lip gloss, and countless other products bearing an image of the five women, Spice Girls became a part of the narrative for anyone coming of age during the groups’ glory years.
During the height of girl power mania, the Spice Girls sold out arenas around the world, performed on SNL, met the Queen of England, and starred in their own feature film, Spice World. Was the film awful? Yes. Did every Spice Girls fan love it unconditionally and watch it repeatedly? Still yes.
Their music and new brand of in-you-face girl power feminism helped inspire generations of girls and women to feel empowered and strong, a message that continues to resonate today. Would there be an Adele without the Spice Girls? Probably. But there’s no denying that the women gave young girls a visual representation of what it looked like to achieve your dreams.
The group’s lead album created a worldwide phenomenon of Spicemania thanks to their catchy and sex-positive tracks like “Say You’ll Be There” and “2 Become 1,” as well as their accompanying iconic music videos. Spice skyrocketed to number one in many countries and eventually sold 31 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest selling-album by a girl group and one of the best selling albums of all time.
The Spice Girls went on to release their second album Spice World in 1997 and their final album Forever 2000, their first and only record after original member Geri ‘Ginger’ Halliwell had left the band.
Following Geri’s departure and Forever, the Spice Girls disbanded, pursuing solo work and starting families. Thankfully, this wasn’t the end of Spice Girls, with the band reuniting several times since.
In 2007, Spice Girls toured with all five members for the first time since 1998. The 47-date tour took the band through North America and Europe, with Ginger, Scary, Posh, Baby, and Sporty performing their greatest hits and grossing over $70 million US worldwide.
The group famously reunited once again for a very British performance at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Winter Olympics in London, complete with Union Jack dresses and English cars.
Now in 2016, Mel B has confirmed that she along with Emma and Geri are planning something to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Spice, but nothing concrete has been announced yet. Aside from the tentative upcoming anniversary performance, all five Spice Girls have maintained busy and impressive careers post-Spicemania.
Melanie Chisholm – Sporty Spice
Although all five members of the Spice Girls have released solo albums, none have experienced the amount of success or longevity in the business as Melanie C. The singer’s solo career started with a bang, thanks to the success of her “When You’re Gone” duet with Bryan Adams in 1998. Since then, Mel C has released seven solo albums, including Version of Me, which dropped this past October.
Melanie Brown – Scary Spice
Mel B released two solo albums after leaving the Spice Girls, including 2000’s Hot, which featured the single “I Want You Back” with Missy Elliott, and 2005’s L.A. State of Mind. Mel B spent some time on stage, acting in The Vagina Monologues and Rent before starting her career in TV by placing second on the 2007 season of Dancing With The Stars. The singer has transitioned into a successful TV career as a judge on reality competitions The X Factor and America’s Got Talent.
Emma Bunton – Baby Spice
Following the dissolution of the Spice Girls, Emma Bunton released three solo albums to marginal success in her native UK. The youngest member of the Spice Girls went on to work as a Radio DJ and an actor and presenter, appearing in Neighbours, The X Factor, Dancing on Ice, Britain’s Got Talent and more.
Victoria Beckham – Posh Spice
Victoria’s short-lived solo career, which comprised of her only solo album, 2001’s Victoria Beckham, represented the lowest selling of all solo albums from the Spice Girls. But, don’t cry for Posh Spice. The fashion designer has turned her name into a brand, launching a hugely successful fashion line in 2008 and making the difficult crossover from pop icon to respected designer. Along with her famous football playing husband David Beckham, the two have starred in four reality series, with Victoria also penning two best-selling books.
Geri Halliwell – Ginger Spice
Geri Halliwell broke millions of hearts worldwide when she left the Spice Girls in 1998. The singer subsequently released three solo albums, including her 1999 debut Schizophonic which featured the single “Look At Me.” Halliwell has spoken publicly about her struggle with depression and bulimia, writing the autobiography If Only and starring in the documentary Geri. In addition to appearing in a handful of movies and TV series as an actor and presenter, Halliwell has spent much of her time working with the UN and becoming involved in politics.