After two albums and two years of girl power, Union Jack mini dresses, and the first full-on multi-platform marketing domination Ginger Spice herself announced that she was breaking up the sisterhood and stepping out as a solo artist.
CHRISTOPHER LULU: No shade to Paul McCartney-- the Spice Girls came. I was obsessed with everything British and I wanted to go to boarding school to put myself geographically closer to the Spice Girls.
SAM REED: Today, we're going to talk about a story from A to Z, The Spice Girls.
So the Spice Girls formed in 1994. Their first hit single was "Wannabee." We all heard it over and over, and over again. In 1996 it was a number one hit in over 35 countries.
They were signed to Virgin Records. And their debut album would go on to sell more than 23 million copies, becoming the best selling album by a female group in history-- Black Pink probably coming for that. And they followed up with Spice World released in 1997.
We all saw it. We all had dolls. We all had their songs stuck in our heads constantly. But Christopher, I wanted to ask you, can you talk about the impact that the Spice Girls really had on the culture in the '90s?
CHRISTOPHER LULU: So growing up, as someone who grew up in the '90s, like we were sponges for like, all of this new like, media. Like, we had MTV, we had music videos. And never before the Spice Girls, was something like coming from every single direction.
Like, we never got a single entity that was like, a movie, an album, lollipops, Pepsi, concerts, blockbuster musicals, posters, it was like everything coming at us at once. And so it was just like, for the first time, it was like this 365 degree immersion into like a band. And I think that's why everyone was so obsessed, because like, you could go to the concert, but if you couldn't go to the concert you could get a lollipop, and you still felt like you were part of the club.
Like, we would watch the commercials. They were like, if they were on TV we would like record them on our VCRS, because that's [? old. ?]
SAM REED: Oh my god. Yes.
CHRISTOPHER LULU: VHS tapes of Spice Girls performances nonstop, so we could learn the dances and sing songs. "Two Become One" was outlawed by my family. It was too sexy.
And the thing is, everybody could be a different Spice Girl. So like, there was Sporty Spice, Baby Spice, Ginger Spice, Scary Spice, and Posh Spice. And like, no matter who you were, you could be a Spice Girl.
SAM REED: I never identified with Posh. She was like, too slick for me. I was like, I could do Sporty. I could do Scary.
I didn't really ever identify with Ginger either, because I think her thing was like her hair color-- no offense to Ginger, but--
CHRISTOPHER LULU: They were literally the biggest act in the entire world. And then Ginger Spice left.
SAM REED: So two years into their rise to fame, as you mentioned, Geri was like, I'm out, bye. And everyone was freaking out. I was-- I was a little young, I have to admit, to remember the panic. But I do remember that like, the adults-- there was something brewing in like the teachers at my school. Like, there was gossip and stuff about, you know, the biggest breakup. And I have to ask, where were you when you heard the news and what was your reaction?
CHRISTOPHER LULU: So I can't remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. But I guarantee you that the first thing I did was change my AIM away message to sort of like, a tribute to the Spice Girls. My username 1,000% had the word posh in it somewhere. It was a huge deal, because like, the Spice Girls were all about like, a sisterhood.
Like we're-- we're friends forever. They have a song called "Friends Forever." And then they just like, up and left, so like, it was kind of a betrayal to all of us. We felt like Geri wasn't one of us anymore.
SAM REED: Two years is not a long time. And if you think about how much they fit into that time, like, that was kind of crazy. And wasn't Geri was going on to try to do solo stuff?
CHRISTOPHER LULU: Yeah. So Geri wanted to be like, yo, I can do this by myself. And then like, you thought about it, and it was always kind of like, the Spice Girls were best friends and sisters, but they never said that they couldn't do things by themselves.
So like, after you let it like, marinade, you're kind of just like, oh. Well like, Geri can go do that and that's fine. But the thing that like hurt everything else was like, the other four kept going. And so then it was just like, do we have to pick a team. Like, do we have-- OGs and stick with the four that kept going with the one more album, or do we have to pick Geri?
SAM REED: And who did you pick?
CHRISTOPHER LULU: I picked the four, and I think I chose wrong.
SAM REED: So what did the Spice Girls mean to you and what impact did their breakup have on you?
CHRISTOPHER LULU: So the Spice Girls meant friendship and sisterhood more than anything else. And when they broke up, it was when I was like, moving to a different school because I think I graduated from Junior high like, around that time. And then if anybody knows what that's like, not all your friends come with you to your new school.
And so like, if the Spice Girls could make it separately, I felt like that meant the rest of us can make it separately too. And that seems very strange to think about. But like, Geri leaving meant that like, the Spice Girls could continue. If your Baby Spice went to a different school, like, the rest of your friends could have carried on.
So I don't know how it is everyone else. But I still love the Spice Girls, still listen to the Spice Girls. And I think everybody that loved them back then likes them even more now, because they've grown professionally.
And like, we've all grown along with them. Like, they have kids and some of us have kids. They like, pivoted into new careers and some of us have done that too.
So it's like, if Posh Spice is like yo, Spice Girls, continue on without me. I have a fashion empire to build. And she gets-- they give her blessing, it's just like wow that's like-- just like in junior high, when your friends went to do different things. It's like, we can all be successful still.
And then like, every time they get together, like when they were at the Olympics, like we all freaked out. When they played like, Glastonbury, we all freaked out. When they [INAUDIBLE] were coming back, we all freaked out. So obviously we're all still very, very hungry for the Spice Girls.
So Geri left and it felt kind of natural for her, because she was the singer and she wanted to sing more. Obviously she can do that more without four other people. And I feel like that step made it acceptable for other people later on to do the same thing, like when Beyonce left Destiny's Child and had a solo career, and when Gwen Stefani has a solo career, and Fergie has a solo career. Like, if you don't have a solo career after your group, you're not doing it right. And Geri-- Geri's the one that showed us that.
SAM REED: So at the time it was the biggest breakup since The Beatles and we were all grieving. But when you look back they did sell 85 million records. They were the biggest British pop success since the Beatles. And they've had their reunions. They've made us happy.
So you know, things work out. You can still be friends with your ex. It's OK. Friendship never ends.
CHRISTOPHER LULU: Friendship never ends. It's in a song.