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Music / Spice Girls

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1997 and 2007.

"Girl Power!"

The Spice Girls are a British (English) Girl Group who played a huge role in forming the 1990s for young children across the globe. With songs they co-wrote themselves with Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe, their sound was created to appeal to pre-teens and teenagers alike, using familiar riffs and somewhat suggestive lyrics. As a result, not only were they able to easily break through to the American market, but the group can also be credited as a major factor in shifting the tide in The '90s from Alternative Rock to teen pop music (later solidified by boy bands, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera).

The five girl band consisted of:

  • Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell
  • Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown
  • Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton
  • Melanie "Sporty Spice" Chisholm
  • Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham (nee Adams)

Despite most European pop bands finding it difficult to break into American mainstream, The Spice Girls' very first single, "Wannabe," shot straight to number one in more than 30 countries, including The United States. Oddly though in the UK, it actually entered the charts at number 3, before going on the spend 7 weeks at number 1.

After their overnight success, a movie, Spice World was released in 1997/early 1998.

Sixty five million records later, the Spice Girls became one of the best selling girl groups of all time. They performed at the launch of Channel 5 in 1997. They suffered a setback in June 1998 after a relatively short run (considering their phenomenal success) when Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice) had a bit of a Creator Breakdown and left the group just days before they were due on stage to perform a sold-out concert at Wembley Stadium. Still, the show went on, and the remaining four released a third album without Halliwell, Forever. After numerous denials that they were going to split, they did.

That wasn't the end of the Spice Girls, however. In 2007, they confirmed that all five would return for a reunion tour, which sold out in every single country they visited. The tour grossed over 100 million USD and was accompanied by a successful greatest hits album, which featured a new single by the girl group. In 2012 they reunited for a performance at the London Olympics. In 2018, a second reunion tour was announced for the UK in 2019, albeit without Victoria's participation.


"Trope Power!":

  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: This is Victoria's reputation and gimmick. Somewhat averted by Melanie C who, while camera-shy, came across as friendlier than Victoria.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Melanie C, not helped by the fact she had a butch look. This was a fabrication by the media, as she is actually straight. (Mel B was the one who went public about having a relationship with a woman.)
  • Boyish Short Hair: Victoria sported this from 1998 to the band's split in 2000. Melanie C sported this from mid-1999 to 2000 in addition to bleaching her hair blonde.
  • Break Up Song: "Goodbye", the first single released after Geri's departure.
  • Briefer Than They Think: 3 albums, 2 with the original group, 5 years releasing, 3 tours, yet spearheaded the whole Teen Pop movement and opened the doors for many artists in the late 90s and early 00s. Their first "era", from their first single up until Geri's departure and accounted for the majority of their success, spanned less than two years!
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The theme of "Viva Forever", a Love Nostalgia Song.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: All of them play up to this in Spice World. Geri tends to come across as a mild version in her interviews.
  • Cultural Rebel: At least at the beginning, when they presented themselves and behaved in ways completely unexpected for girl groups of the time. After they became massive superstars and sold out for countless advertising deals, this effect was lessened considerably.
  • Cute Bruiser: Mel C. Emma, too, as her mother is a karate instructor and she was a trained Green Belt.
  • The Cutie: Emma's appeal/gimmick, making her a perfect Kid-Appeal Character.
  • Daddy's Girl: Geri, who was very close to her much older father, who was separated from Geri's mother.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Victoria. Various people who've worked with her, such as Damon Dash and press officer Alan Edwards, have stated that she has a very dry sense of humour, and is the funniest member of the band.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Guess I'd rather be hated then pitied in "Naked" from their first album, "Spice".
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: The Girls perform the song "Naked" all sitting on high-backed chairs turned backwards, which also serve to protect their modesty, as they are apparently naked. Actually wearing flesh-coloured bodysuits.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Geri alluded to this in one interview, saying that Emma got, "Aww, it's Baby Spice" while she more often heard, "Oy, Ginger!"
  • Failed Audition Plot: Completely subverted and averted by Geri. She showed up to the auditions for the band after the first round had already been screened and decisions were being made. She wasn't prepared and had very little idea what she was even auditioning for, yet she managed to get a spot as one of the five on the strength of her personality and determination.
  • The Fashionista: Victoria was called "Posh Spice" because she was the one that dressed in the most luxurious way (in contrast to the other four, who dressed sporty or sexy or "childish" or "weird".
  • Fiery Redhead: Geri is a redhead, and called "Ginger Spice" to refer not just to her hair, but also her character.
  • Flanderization: All of them. Documentaries and interviews with them before they ever signed a record deal show that the styles and personalities they became known for were always there, but after they got some fame and money behind them, and more importantly were given their nicknames by the British media, things quickly went up to eleven.
    • Comparing their early TV appearances when they were more or less just being themselves, to their appearances in late 1996 after Top of the Pops magazine gave them their nicknames when they were hamming it up, then to their peak Flanderization around the time of Spice World in 1997, when they had fully embraced the nicknames and were essentially playing cartoon characters of themselves.
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Especially egregious with Victoria, who seemed to turn into the one that was just meant to stand there and look pretty. Despite singing on almost every track on all three albums, she is often touted as "the one who never sings" because she doesn't a have a solo part in Wannabe, the song which the girls perform most (she missed the session when the song was written because she had to attend a family function). She even parodied this perception of herself during the reunion tour when she walked the runway as a fashion model instead of singing a solo like the others.
  • The Four Chords of Pop: The chorus of "Wannabe", starting unconventionally with V.
  • Gender Flip: unlike most previous manufactured Girl Groups, which didn't typically bother to differentiate their members all that much, the Spice Girls nicked the Boy Bands' trick of giving each member a distinguishing character trait and 'role' in the group. It's been speculated that this is one of the reasons they broke through so strongly in the Boy Band-dominated nineties. As a result, the five of them fit the traditional Boy Band archetypes very neatly:
    • The Heartthrob: Geri (Ginger).
    • The Bad Girl: Mel B (Scary).
    • The Quiet One: Victoria (Posh).
    • The Big Sister: Mel C (Sporty).
    • The Cute One: Emma (Baby).
  • Genki Girl: Geri. Mel B has shades of this too.
  • The Gimmick: The "characters" and individual styles of each girl was a major part of their success. Though they were not manufactured personas assigned to them by the record company, once the marketing potential in their own characters became clear they played it up for all it was worth. Which was a lot. Toned down after Geri left for a more uniform look between the remaining four, as Geri was the main proponent of the more exaggerated outfits they wore.
  • Girl Group: They are one of the most famous girl groups of all time.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Emma, especially in the early years.
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Girlish Pigtails and inclination toward pastel motifs + trained martial artist = Emma. (Emphasized in "Say You'll B There," which had her billed as "Kung Fu Candy.")
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The rap that makes up the second verse of "If U Can't Dance".
  • Headbutting Heroes: According to the girls themselves, there was a lot of tension between Geri and Mel B.
    • According to Mel B, she and Mel C had "a few punch-ups". In her first autobiography Geri also alludes to Mel C and Mel B having physical "sibling scraps".
  • Hidden Depths:
    • It's a common misconception that the band was entirely manufactured by a record company and thus had no input into their careers, but this was not the case. After being brought together in auditions for a girl group, the five of them left to seek out management on their own, and always insisted on maintaining their own personalities and styles. They also co-wrote all of their music, with a clause in their contract stipulating that they each receive an equal share of the songwriting credit along with their regular writing/producing team, "Absolute".
    • On an individual level, it was often pointed out that Geri was... not the most gifted in terms of vocals or dance ability, having charmed her way into the group through sheer force of personality and becoming known for her flamboyant dress sense and old nude photographs of her doing the rounds. But she also had a degree in business, and came up with a lot of the branding, costuming and marketing ideas that made them such a success, as well as being their primary songwriter. After she left, her absence is clear in more ways than one.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The "Say You'll Be There" video featured the girls in sexy black leather outfits, and provided far more Fanservice than that of "Wannabe". Emma jokes at that being the point they started attracting male fans.
  • Iconic Outfit: Geri's Union Jack dress at the 1997 Brit Awards is the biggest example, though they all have recognisable looks; Victoria's bob and Little Black Dress, Emma's pigtails and babydoll dresses, Mel B's afro and leopard-print ensembles and Mel C's ponytail and tracksuits.
  • Important Haircut:
    • Geri dyed her signature fire-engine-red hair a much more muted strawberry blonde after she left the group, not going ginger again until a reunion tour more than 20 years later.
    • Mel C also got her hair cut short and dyed it blonde for her solo career (though later outgrew it to chin length) and Mel B had her hair straightened.
  • Intercourse with You: What sounds like a silly arse kicking song in childhood sounds like a sex song in adulthood; 2 Become 1, Holler, If U Can't Dance and many more. There were also two unreleased songs which attempted this (both were eventually deemed too rude for airplay). The first one was called Feed Your Love and was allegedly about giving a blow job and the second one was called C U Next Thursday, which if you look at first letters of each word ...
  • Irony:
    • The "one who never sang" Victoria ended up as the one who remained in the public eye the most. It should be noted, though, that Victoria didn't remain in the public eye because of her music. Also, Posh Spice married a footballer instead of Sporty.
    • Mel C was thought to be a lesbian, but Mel B turned out to have had relationships with women, including an (alleged) one night stand with the extremely straight-laced Geri.
    • Baby Spice was the most innocent looking of the girls, but she was the daughter of a karate instructor.
    • Halliwell was considered the fiery one, but also the one who ended up dealing with depression.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Sort of. Even the Girls themselves, much less their producers, never expected the wild success they wound up having — it was more of a case of good timing, as on both sides of the Atlantic, the alt-rock and Britpop scenes were both basically collapsing in on themselves for various reasons (Britpop in particular had run into an identity crisis), while the rap scene was undergoing the East Coast/West Coast wars and subsequent reconfiguring; the Girls' style of bright, fun pop music was able to break through the dourness and gained momentum from there.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Emma is the youngest. She's a type 2 and her nickname even plays this for laughs.
  • Little Black Dress: Victoria was a big fan of these, to the extent that any imitation or parody of her invariably includes one.
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: Geri writes in her autobiography that when she wanted to see the film Desperately Seeking Susan at the age of twelve, she padded out her chest with her brother's football socks to make herself look fifteen.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Girls were arguably a collective example. Each of them had their own distinctive style that could appeal to particular fans.
  • The Musical: 'Viva Forever', announced by the girls in June 2012 and being written by Jennifer Saunders for a December 2012 premiere.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Victoria has become this in relation to the others in recent years, having distanced herself from the group and the music industry in general to focus on her fashion career.
  • New Sound Album: Forever introduced a very American R&B sound, which led to it not being very well received (in the collective minds of British public it has been mostly forgotten). Their previous albums had been more rooted in pop and 90s dance music.
  • Not So Stoic: Victoria very rarely smiled during her run with the band. In fact, she smiled so little that any time she was caught grinning, it was almost shocking to anyone seeing it for the first time. Particularly because she has an absolutely adorable smile.
  • "Number of Objects" Title: Before they came up with name "Spice Girls", originally "Spice", their original management team suggested names such as "Take Five", "Plus Five", "Five Alive", which were firmly vetoed by the girls. The same team later went on to produce a band called 5ive.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Melanie Brown and Melanie Chisholm. This is why they shortened their full names to avoid confusion.
  • The Oner: "Wannabe"'s video is a one-take shot.
  • Oop North: Mel C is from a suburb of Cheshire near Liverpool, while Mel B is from Yorkshire (Leeds to be exact). In fact, when she appeared on The Masked Singer with her voice disguised, some were able to guess it was her because of the way she pronounced 'show' in her northern accent.
  • Personality Powers
  • Power of Friendship: Theme of Headlines (Friendship Never Ends) and one of their major messages in general.
  • Prank Punishment: In her autobiography, Geri Halliwell writes that she stapled the sleeves of a colleague who kept reporting her to management, just before she resigned.
  • Pretty in Mink: Three of the remaining four in the Goodbye music video (Mel C is the exception).
  • Progressively Prettier: The girls described their initial image as being relatable to the average girls who might be listening to their music - a lot of them dressed very casually, with only Victoria being The Fashionista and Geri being Ms. Fanservice. As they spent more time in the public eye, their appearances became more fashionable and polished. Mel C for example was the tomboy, but received a huge Girliness Upgrade by the time of their 2007 reunion.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • As mentioned previously, the reason Victoria doesn't have solo lines in Wannabe is that she missed the recording session to attend a family function.
    • "Christmas Wrapping", the B-side to "Goodbye", only has vocals from Emma and Mel C, because the other two were heavily pregnant at the time. "Goodbye" itself was also originally written to be about a relationship ending. With Geri's sudden departure, the lyrics became about her instead.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Geri/Mel B VS Emma/Victoria, whilst Mel C is a purple oni.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Mel B.
  • Scary Black Woman: Mel B, who was indeed nicknamed "Scary Spice".
  • Series Fauxnale: Many, including the girls themselves, believed that Goodbye might be their last single. Obviously, it wasn't.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Since she was "Sporty Spice" Mel C was always dressed in a very simple and tomboyish style. She is so well known for it, it's always a little strange to see her more dressed up.
  • Shorttank: Justified with Melanie "Sporty Spice" Chisolm.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Naked" has this at the beginning of the song, after the first chorus, and the middle is done as a phone conversation heard on Emma's end: "'s me...I thought you'd understand...well, maybe I should give it my best shot...I keep seeing such a pretty picture...But I don't want to be hated or pitied either...maybe I should leave it up to your imagination...I just want to be me..."
  • Technician Versus Performer: The group was made up of a mixture of these, playing to each other's strengths. Victoria with her musical theatre training was a Technician, Mel B and Geri were more performers who made up for their vocal limitations with stage presence and charisma (Geri especially had no professional training at all), Mel C and Emma were able to do both; providing heavy lifting on a lot of songs, but still able to perform excitingly.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Mels are the Tomboys, while Emma and Victoria are on the Girly Girl side. Geri seems to be halfway between both types.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mel C went from being a cute, sporty chick who wore very little makeup comparatively to sporting a gold tooth and a nose ring, dyeing red streaks in her hair and doing backflips and karate moves on stage.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Geri famously had one when the girls accepted their BRIT Award in 1997. She was wearing a strapless dress and accidentally exposed one breast when climbing the stairs. Mel C helped cover it and she'd readjusted the dress by the time they got up again.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Geri and her famed Union Jack dress (which became her signature outfit of sorts) from the Brit Awards. For their 2007 reunion she had a new dress made with a similar pattern, after unsuccessfully trying to buy back the original, and for the 2019 tour she upgraded to a floor length version.
  • Winter Royal Lady: The girls evoke this appearance in the Goodbye music video, though Victoria makes it a somewhat black version.

Alternative Title(s): The Spice Girls