Today in music history, July 8, marks the 24th anniversary since British girl group Spice Girls released their hit debut single, "Wannabe," in the UK.
More than two decades ago, on July 8, 1996, "Wannabe" hits the UK two weeks after it was first released in Japan. It was also heavily supported by its music video, released in May 1996. The music video, which featured the five taking over a London hotel, became a hit on the British cable channel The Box. Growing public interest over the group forced their record label, Virgin, to release the single in June.
The song tells a woman's condition for a prospective lover. It spawned the memorable lines: "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever, friendship never ends. "The song emphasizes the importance of friendship over romantic relationships.
Since then, the catchy dance-pop song has gone down in music history as one of the most iconic female empowerment anthems. It has been a pillar of the group's Girl Power philosophy.
Asserting Chart Dominance to Becoming a Global Phenomenon
While it was released about a week ago in Japan, the dance-pop single rapidly rose through the UK Singles charts. Six days after its UK release, it debuted at number three. It would become the chart-topper a week later. "Wannabe" spent seven weeks in the number one position.
At the end of 1996, "Wannabe" has already topped the charts in twenty-two countries. By the end of the 1997's first quarter, 37 territories witness this pivotal part of Spice Girls' music history top their local singles charts.
Six months later, in January 1997, their dance-pop hit reached the US. It would further bring success to the Spice Girls as "Wannabe" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. This would be their one and only hit to top the US charts.
Writing the Song and the Iconic Music Video
Their breakthrough single "Wannabe" was the result of the Spice Girls' first professional songwriting session. They worked with Matt Rowe and Richard "Biff" Stannard for the song, which appeared on their debut album "Spice."
While the writing and recording of the song were finished in such a short time, it had to be mixed twice. The first version of the song was found lackluster by their record label and sent to Dave Way. Way's work did not work out with the Girls, who sent the recording for a second mix courtesy of Mark "Spike" Stent.
The music video that accelerated the Spice Girls' ascent into stardom was directed by Johan Camitz. It opens with Mel B ("Scary Spice"), "Geri Halliwell ("Ginger Spice"), Emma Bunton ("Baby Spice"), Melanie C ("Sporty Spice"), and Victoria Beckham ("Posh Spice"). The five women sing acapella as a family leaves their vehicle and into the hotel.
Halliwell would later recall the music video shoot as being "chaotic and cold," adding that they wanted to camera to "capture the madness of the Spice Girls."
In retrospect, madness only nergized their success even further. A Steadicam followed the five members running, singing, and dancing across the hotel. With the five dancing in a central stairwell and Sporty Spice doing a back handspring on a table.
However, it would receive some controversy as the video was banned in some parts of Asia because of Mel B's outfit. While the Virgin execs were "horrified" of the music video and opted for reshoots, the Spice Girls did not relent, thus, giving us one of the most iconic pieces of music history from the second "British Invasion" of the 90s.