25 incredible facts about Spice Girls' iconic debut album
Zig-a-zig-WHAAT? Unbelievably (especially to those who were there at the time), it's now 25 years since Spice Girls released their debut album.
To celebrate, Ginger, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Posh have reissused the album with demos, mixes and previously unreleased songs - offering a rare insight into a group whose rise to fame was as quick as it was chaotic. Below, we reveal 25 seriously spicey facts about Spice...
1. Spice reached Number 1 in 17 countries. Its lowest chart placing was in Hungary, where it reached Number 10.
2. It is the best-selling girl group album of all time, with a reported 31 million copies sold worldwide.
3. It’s also the best-selling girl group album in the UK, where it’s overall chart sales are 3.01 million, making it 10x Platinum. This figure is made up of: 2.94 million physical sales, 60,000 streaming equivalent sales, and 12,200 downloads, according to Official Charts Company data.
4. First week sales for Spice in the UK were 128,873. It outsold its closest competitor that week – The Beautiful South’s Blue Is The Colour – by 85,000 sales. Look at the full Top 100 from its debut week on the Official Albums Chart here.
5. The album’s highest week of sales in the UK was the penultimate week of 1996, when it shifted a massive 364,675 copies. By the end of 1996 Spice had sold 1.54 million in the UK.
Spice Girls in 1996 (Richard Young/Shutterstock)
6. In total, Spice has spent 15 non-consecutive weeks at Number 1 on the Official UK Albums Chart across five different stints.
7. The album spent 63 weeks in the Top 40 – the most for a girl group ever at the time.
8. Since streaming was introduced in 2014, Spice’s tracks have racked up a collective 156 million plays in the UK.
9. Spice was what Spice Girls were going to call themselves (after their original early working name Touch). They added ‘Girls’ in as a rapper named Spice was active in America at the time.
10. Reviews for Spice were mixed, with Rolling Stone giving it a particularly scathing 1.5 star review at the time.
11. Despite not being a hit with critics, Spice was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1997 (DJ Roni Size ultimately won that year).
12. Spice’s first single Wannabe is also the group’s biggest single overall, with 2.1 million chart sales, including 92 million streams. The track debuted at Number 3 but rose to Number 1 the following week, logging seven weeks at the summit.
Spice Girls on the Say You'll Be There video set.
13. The album’s second single Say You’ll Be There landed straight in at Number 1 and spent two weeks there, opening with 323,645 sales – a considerable leap from Wannabe’s first-week sales of 59,071.
14. Speaking of Say You’ll Be There, the harmonica section in the track is performed by Judd Lander, who also played it on Culture Club’s chart-topping Karma Chameleon some 13 years earlier.
15. Staying on SYBT, its chorus borrows a melody from a little-known song by R&B group After 7 titled U R 2 Me, released in 1995.
Spice Girls feeling festive in 1996 (Rex/Shutterstock)
17. 2 Become 1 doesn’t appear on the Hong Kong release of the album, reportedly because of its inappropriate lyrics. However, fellow album track Naked does.
18. The fourth and final single from the record, Mama/Who Do You Think You Are, served as the official single for the 1997 Comic Relief. It spent three weeks at Number 1.
19. Spice has so far spent 94 weeks on the Official Albums Chart Top 100. The collection re-entered the Top 100 in November 2018, when they announced their reunion tour, and again in June 2019 during the tour itself.
20. Leaning into the album’s R&B influence, album track If U Can’t Dance contains a sample from The Humpty Dance by legendary US hip hop group Digital Underground.
21. Record label execs were keen for Love Thing to be the lead single over Wannabe – probably because its R&B-leaning, new jack swing sound was hugely popular at the time with girl groups like TLC.
Spice Girls performing on Top Of The Pops in 1996 (Rex/Shutterstock)
22. Despite never making it to single status, Love Thing is the album’s most-streamed and downloaded song, after the four singles, of course.
23. It was upon hearing a demo of Something Kinda Funny that sparked Simon Fuller’s interest in the group and ultimately led to them being signed. Sadly that demo doesn’t appear on the 25th anniversary reissue.
24. R&B jam Last Time Lover was meant to be First Time Lover - a song about losing your virginity - but as the label were aiming them at a young audience, they were asked to change it.
25. The reissue of Spice includes two previously unreleased songs, One Of These Girls and Shall We Say Goodbye Then? The former was co-produced with Andy Watkins and Paul Wilson, who worked on the more R&B-leaning tracks on the record, including Something Kinda Funny, Last Time Lover and Naked.
Article image: Christophe Gstalder Mar