The group was formed in 1993 when Bob Herbert and his son advertised through Stage newspaper. Of those who responded to the advertisement five girls were picked Geri Halliwell, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown and Michelle Stephenson. They formed a group called Touch. Later, Michelle Stephenson left to pursue her education and was replaced with Emma Bunton.
In 1996 they changed both their name to Spice Girls and their manager to Simon Fuller. And soon they had their first hit in 1996 (early 1997, in America) with the catchy "Wannabe." A cleverly constructed image combined sex appeal with post-feminist self-confidence, and their self-titled album followed with many millions of copies sold around the globe, including seven million in America alone. Several number one hits, including "Mama", "Who Do You Think You Are", "Say You'll Be There", and "2 Become 1" followed, particularly in Britain; the latter two were also smash hits in America in 1997, whereas "Mama" and "Who Do You Think You Are" had no American release, because, according to the Spice Girls, American charts are slower moving than most other nations' charts, not because they were not catchy songs. Nevertheless, the Spice Girls were so huge in 1997 and 1998 that it did not prevent American MTV and MTV2 from playing the unreleased "Who Do You Think You Are" video, occasionally.
Part of the group's success was the individual members' appeal to different types of teenage fans. The five members were dubbed "Ginger", "Baby", "Scary", "Posh", and "Sporty" Spice (originally by a British pop music magazine aimed at teenage girls, though the nicknames soon became universal). Their diverse appearance and class/cultural backgrounds ensured broad demographic appeal, along with any innate catchiness of the music various producers selected.
In 1997, their next album, "Spiceworld", was released, with a film of the same name featuring many of the songs. The film was in the same vein as some of the Beatles films, a factor deliberately played on by director Bob Spiers (the director of The Goodies, Absolutely Fabulous, and Press Gang amongst other, notable British comedy successes) and the resulting film was a commercial success. The critics hated it, however, and the girls won a Golden Raspberry award each for their efforts. They actually hold a world record documented in the Guinness Book of Records for receiving the most Razzies at one time. (Five)
In 1998, one member, Geri Halliwell, chose to leave the group to pursue solo projects. In 2001, she covered the Weather Girls 1983 song "It's Raining Men". She had changed her image since her Spice Girls days, and by all accounts looked "damn hot". The group continued as a foursome, but they are currently (as of December 2003) in the middle of a long hiatus from recording and touring as a group, and each has released solo albums (with respectable commercial success, if not in the class of their group efforts), and several have had children. As their layoff extends, speculation grows that the group will likely not perform or record again. In January 2003 the five spice girls met up for the first time since Geri split from the group. Despite rumours about the band reforming no announcements have been made.
Even by the standards of manufactured pop groups, the Spice Girls are generally regarded as very modestly musically talented. Nevertheless, their commercial success marked the trend at the time, away from singer-songwriters and back towards production-line pop.
Members of the group: