Official Chart Flashback: Spice Girls' Wannabe gives Geri Horner, Melanie C, Mel B, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham their first Number 1 single

So here's a story from A to Z about one of pop music's most iconic debuts

It's hard to imagine the Spice Girls stomping into the public consciousness in anything other than a blaze of Buffalo boots, mountains of merchandise and chants of 'Girl Power!'. But, in reality, their introduction was slightly more modest.

On July 8 1996 Geri Horner (née Halliwell), Melanie C, Mel B, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham (then Adams) released their debut single Wannabe. That summer, the girl group landscape was basically barren. With the exception of Eternal, who were yet to reach their commercial peak, boy bands saturated the charts. The patriarchy ruled pop.

Until something shifted.

MORE: Spice Girls announce Spiceworld25

Famously recorded in less than an hour, the Spice Girls' debut was co-written with Matt Rowe and Richard 'Biff' Stannard at East London's Strongroom studios, then finessed by producer Mark 'Spike' Stent.

"I think we wrote it in about fifteen, twenty minutes," Emma explained in the group's 2007 reunion documentary Giving You Everything. "Just five of us, throwing ideas in."

"It was so unique, it was like nothing you'd ever heard before," added Melanie C. "We thought 'that is our first single, that is it!'"

A 2-minute-and-52-second tour de force, it immediately outlined the band's ethos ('friendship never ends'), introduced each member by means of an irresistibly-catchy rap and added 'Zig a Zig Ah' to our lexicon.

With the backing of music mogul Simon Fuller and 19 Management, the group's first assault on the Official Singles Chart proved pretty successful.

Going up against a newly-solo Gary Barlow was never going to be easy, and the former Take That star's debut solo single Forever Love snatched the Number 1 spot that week. Just behind it, Fugees' Killing Me Softly slipped one place to Number 2.

In at Number 3, Wannabe became the girls' first-ever Top 5 single. And how did the girls celebrate? "We were in my sister's garden and we cracked open a bottle of bubbly," Geri explained in Giving You Everything. "We [took a photo saying] 'Yay, we're Number 3!' We were so excited by it."

MORE: See the Spice Girls' full Official Charts history

While a great achievement, of course, it certainly wasn't one representative of the group's imminent global domination.

Over the coming days, as the group (who didn't even have their Top of the Pops Magazine-coined nicknames yet) infiltrated playgrounds across the country, Wannabe gained momentum.

The following week, the track knocked Gary off the top spot to become the girls' first Number 1.

"We flew out to Japan that very same day, doing promotion over there, then we heard it'd gone to Number 1," Emma remembered in the girls' 2007 documentary. "It was just amazing, for a first single and a bunch of girls who didn't know quite what was happening."

"It was all so spontaneous and last minute," added Melanie B. "It was like 'we have to get them to do Top of the Pops in Japan, let's fly a crew over and film it.’ It was all so exciting."

Wannabe remained at Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart for seven weeks, becoming the second-longest-running chart-topper by an all-female act, behind Shakespears Sister's Stay.

To date, the song has racked up over 2.2 million chart sales in the UK alone. An incredible 1.1 million of these consist of sales of its physical formats, with the song also boasting over 108.5 million streams and counting.

The Spice Girls went on to score 9 UK Number 1 singles between 1996 and 2000, officially becoming the girl group with the most chart-toppers to their name.

And what's next for the girls? Well, we've got some Spiceworld25 celebrations on the way...

Check out the full Official Singles Chart from this week in 1996 here.

Listen to the UK Top 40 from this week in 1996 on Spotify below. Also available on Apple Music | Deezer

Article images: Shutterstock/Spice Girls/BBC

Related artists

Join the conversation by joining the Official Charts community and dropping comment.

Already registered?

Log in

No account?



Geoffrey St. John


Back in the days when anyone could hit the charts.


Dayv Morris


anyone couldnt hit easily especially rappers