Writer(s): Spice Girls (Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams, Emma Bunton), Matt Rowe, Richard Stannard (see lyrics here)
Released: June 26, 1996
First Charted: July 20, 1996
Peak: 14 US, 2 GR, 4 RR, 27 A40, 17 UK, 9 CN, 111 AU, 8 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 2.91 US, 1.71 UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 668.64 video, 793.31 streaming
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About the Song:
The Spice Girls consisted of Victoria Adams (later Beckham, aka “Posh Spice”), Melanie Brown (aka Mel B or “Scary Spice”), Emma Bunton (aka “Baby Spice”), Melanie Chisholm (aka Mel C or “Sporty Spice”), and Gerri Halliwell (aka “Ginger Spice”). The group was assembled in 1994 by the father-and-son team of Bob and Chris Herbert, a management team who, in the mid-‘90s, set out to create a girl group to compete with popular UK boy groups at the time like Take That and East 17. WK2
“None of the girls had great voices, but they excuded personality, energy and charisma.” LW The group impressed songwriter Richard Stannard at an industry showcase that November and he and Matt Rowe, his songwriting partner, started writing with the group. WK1 The uptempo dance-pop “Wannabe,” which was written in 30 minutes and recorded in less than an hour, was designed as a showcase of their personalities WK1 and a celebration of female friendship and empowerment.
By 1995, the group left the Herberts’ Heart Management group and signed with Simon Fuller, WK2 best-known for creating American Idol. Brown and Halliwell were adamant that “Wannabe,” “a glorious mix of pop, R&B-lite with a hint-of hip-hop,” LW should be the group’s lead single despite Fuller and the record company’s objections. The Spice Girls won in the end and a video was assembled for the song in May 1996. Within two hours of its appearance on British cable network The Box, the video had topped the viewers’ chart. It became the most requested track in the channel’s history. WK1
Between the success of the video, an early single release in Japan, and a flurry of promotion, the Spice Girls exploded in the UK immediately. The song debuted at #3 on the UK charts and climbed to the top the next week, where it stayed for 7 weeks. In the U.S., the song wouldn’t hit the top of the charts until February 1997, by which time the Spice Girls had already landed three #1’s in the UK and were on the brink of their fourth consecutive chart-topper, making them the first act in UK chart history to do so. FB All told, “Wannabe” hit the top in 37 countries and became the best-selling single in the world by a girl group. WK1 In 1997, it received the Brit Award for British Single of the Year. In 2014, it was named the most easily recognizable pop song of the last 60 years. WK1
The Spice Girls hit #1 eight times in the UK during the ‘90s, becoming the biggest act of the decade. Their debut album Spice sold 31 million sales worldwide, making it the best-selling album in history by a female group. With more than 85 million records sold worldwide during their career, they became the best-selling girl group of all time and the biggest pop success since the Beatles. WK2
First posted 10/31/2019; last updated 11/25/2022.