Header Ads

Celebrate: 20 Years of Spice Girls' "Wannabe"

On this day 20 years ago, the Spice Girls released their debut single "Wannabe" and changed the future of pop music and women in music. Face it - without five loud British girls stammering about in platform shoes screaming out "Girl Power" there would be no Girls Aloud, Destiny's Child, Britney, or Taylor Swift.

Spice Girls (l-r: MelanieC, Geri Haliwell, Victoria Beckahm, Emma Bunton, Mel B), (RAY BURMISTON/PHOTOSHOT/GETTY IMAGES)

The Spice Girls came along at a time when girl singers were not seen as marketable as their male counterparts. The 90's music scene was dominated by male groups Boys II Men, Take That, New Kids On The Block, Boyzone, and the newly minted Backstreet Boys, yet until the Spice Girls there were no comparable girl groups apart from possibly TLC. Groups like Eternal and Expose were popular but not nearly successful as their male counters.

"Wannabe" was written by all five Spice members; Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, and Victoria Beckham (nee Adams at the time), along with Richard Standard and Matt Rowe. Beckham was out of town during the writing process and communicated by phone, being the reason that solos were divided upon the other four girls.

"I think the only pre-planned thing with 'Wannabe' was wanting to represent them as a band as well as the essence of what they were," Standard has commented on writing the track. "That fearless, headstrong, fantastically intimidating essence. They were outspoken right from the start."

The song took about thirty minutes to write as some parts had been previously thought up by the girls. For her part on writing the global hit, Halliwell would later state in her autobiography If Only, "We started off simply mucking about with chords and raps. Right from that moment, I think we all realized that this was something special. It happened so naturally that the song seemed to symbolize what we were about."

After the girls recruited Simon Fuller, known for managing Annie Lennox, and signed to Virgin Records, the song was sent to america to be mixed with an R'n'B flavor - a decision thats result Halliwell has described as "bloody awful." The record company also thought the R'n'B track "Love Thing" should be the group's lead single instead of "Wannabe." This decision was also strongly rebuffed by the group.

Halliwell recalled leaving Fuller's office when the idea of releasing "Love Thing" was mentioned and phoning the others to tell them. "Emma was the most clear-cut. She had a childlike certainty that couldn't be shaken. Mel C automatically said, 'Wannabe is the one.'" Halliwell went back to Fuller's office with an ultimatum. The girls prevailed and "Wannabe" was chosen as their first single.

Spice Girls performing "Wannabe" at the 2012 Olympics in London. (PA/ABACA)
The song was initially met with mixed reviews from critics. Paul Gorman of Music Week called the group "smart, witty, abrasive, and downright fun." Kate Thorton, editor of Top of the Pops magazine found the song too threatening and commented that the idea of an all-girl group was "not going to happen." Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune called it "insidiously snappy."

The song went on to chart at the number one spot in 37 countries and created a way of Spice Girls mania worldwide.  A study in 2014 conducted by the University of Amsterdam with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester found that "Wannabe" as the most recognizable and catchiest pop song of the last 60 years. 

In 2016 The Global Goals Campaign used "Wannabe" in a viral video featuring women and girls in the UK, India, and South Africa to promote gender equality. This lead to members of the group sharing the video on social media with Beckham tweeting, "20 year on- Girl over being used to empower a new generation." Melanie C tweeted, "Flattered and honored that our crazy song is being used so beautifully." 

No comments

Powered by Blogger.