back to top

22 Things You Didn't Know About Spice Girls' Debut Song "Wannabe"

It was released 20 years ago TODAY.

Posted on

1. “Wannabe”, the Spice Girls' debut single, was written in just 20 minutes.

Virgin

2. It was nearly an R&B song.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Geri described the R&B version as "bloody awful" in her second autobiography.

3. The song entered the UK charts at No. 3. The group celebrated with a bottle of champagne in Geri’s sister’s garden.

Virgin

4. It was the Fugees’ "Killing Me Softly" and Gary Barlow’s first solo single, "Forever Love", that initially kept it off the top spot.

BMG

5. And then the track climbed up to No. 1 when the group were in Japan on a tour.

John Mather / All Action General

6. As a result, Top of the Pops flew a crew over to Japan so the group could film a performance for the show.

Virgin

7. The girls were in Japan at the time because "Wannabe" was actually released in Tokyo two weeks before the UK.

John Giles / EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

8. The band asked Tony Blair to appear in the music video for “Wannabe”. But sadly he declined.

Virgin

9. The video for it was almost filmed in Barcelona, Spain.

Neil Rogers / EMPICS Entertainment Archive

10. But after logistical issues, it ended up being at the Midland Grand Hotel in St. Pancras, London, instead. And the stairs have been iconic as a result to this day.

Ian West / PA WIRE

11. The whole video was filmed in one shot.

Virgin

12. Music bosses hated the video and wanted to totally redo it for numerous reasons.

These reportedly included it being too gloomy and that there were too many old people in it to appeal to a young audience.
Fiona Hanson / EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

These reportedly included it being too gloomy and that there were too many old people in it to appeal to a young audience.

13. It was pretty damn cold in the hotel, resulting in Mel B's, um, nipples showing (another reason execs wanted to retake it). As a result the video was banned in several Asian countries.

Virgin

14. "Wannabe" almost wasn't their debut single. Virgin's executives apparently wanted "Say You'll Be There" or "Love Thing" to be the first introduction to the Girl Power group.

Virgin

15. But the girls were adamant it should be "Wannabe", so Geri Halliwell acted as their spokesperson and refused to budge.

Virgin

16. Johan Camitz, a little-known Swedish director who had worked on commercials, took charge of the video and it was shot two months before the single was released.

By Ben Curtis / EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

17. Their first TV appearance performing the song was pretty average to say the least. They appeared on Surprise Surprise and lip-synched along to it in an underground car park.

View this video on YouTube

youtu.be

18. It went on to beat a record set by the Beatles.

BBC

"Wannabe" entered the US Hot 100 at No. 11 in 1997 and remains the highest debut on the chart by a brand-new British act. The Beatles previously held the record by debuting at No. 12 in 1964 with their iconic track "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

19. The song has appeared in The Simpsons, among other shows.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Other TV programmes its appeared on include Glee, Melrose Place, and Small Soldiers.

20. Victoria was the only Spice Girl who didn't have her own line in "Wannabe".

Virgin

21. But when Geri left in 1998 she got her chance by taking her lines in the song.

Columbia Pictures

22. And the song was released 20 years ago today. So now we feel insanely old. Happy birthday to the Spice Girls' debut track!

ITV/Virgin

And may Girl Power forever live on...