Monday, December 17, 2007

Spice gals hitoire - taken from the official spice gals blog

Late 1992
Emma, Geri, Mel B, Melanie C and Victoria, meet on the auditions circuit while chasing work in shows and as TV extras.

Friday 4 March 1993
400 girls have one minute each to sing and dance at the Danceworks studios in Balderton Street, near Selfridges in London. They had all seen an ad in The Stage newspaper, placed by father-and-son management team Bob & Chris Herbert, which said:
R. U. 18-23 with the ability to sing/dance?
R U streetwise, outgoing, ambitious, and dedicated?
Heart Management Ltd are a widely successful music industry management consortium currently forming a choreographed, singing/dancing, all-female pop act for a recording deal.
Open audition
Danceworks, 16 Balderton Street
Friday 4 March
11am – 5.30pm
Please bring sheet music or backing cassette

Melanie C sings I'm So Excited by the Pointer Sisters.
Mel B sings The Greatest Love Of All by Whitney Houston
Victoria Adams sings Mein Herr from Cabaret

17 May 1993
Second and final auditions are held at Nomis Studios, Sanctuary Road, W14.
Geri misses the first audition because she was working that day. She begs Chris Herbert to give her a try. At the second audition, Geri looks older than the others and when asked her age she replies: "I'm as old as you want me to be. I'll be ten with big boobs if you want." She won the panel over with her charm.

From the auditions, girl group Touch is formed. The original line-up is Victoria Adams, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell and Michelle Stephenson.

7 June 1993
The girls meet for the first time at Trinity Studios in Woking, Surrey. Chris rents a house for them (58 Boyn Hill Road, near Maidenhead) and the girls move in – living frugally because they have no wages. They are given minimal pocket money.

Every day the girls go to the studio to work on their singing & dancing. Geri has to put in the most work because she isn't as good as the others. She often says: "Time is running out. This is my last chance and I am going to make it."

It soon becomes clear that Michelle doesn't fit in, so she leaves to care for her sick mum and to then go on to university. She is replaced by Emma Bunton.

"It was quite funny coming into the band late because the others had all known each other for a bit. I had to meet them at a train station the first time and there were quite a few girls hanging around. But as soon as I saw them I knew who they were. We just clicked straight away." – Emma

Emma's first night with the girls is her first night away from home. "I got a bit homesick, so I went and had a cry on Geri's shoulder. That linked us and it's been the same with all the other girls," she says.

July 1993 - March 1994
The girls live in the house in Maidenhead, rehearsing dance routines, going to the studio and eating a lot of toast.

August 1993
Geri comes up with the name Spice during an aerobics class. It seems to fit because "Because we're all really different," says Emma. And they've already recorded a song called Sugar and Spice.

7 December 1993
The girls perform a showcase at Nomis Studios in West London, and meet industry figures, producers and songwriters.

3 March 1994
The girls officially take control of the band. They don't agree with Chris Herbert's idea to dress them all the same and sing cover versions. They retrieve the backing tracks of the songs they had been working on at Trinity Studios and left.

October 1994
With a catalogue of songs, demos and dance routines, the girls set out to find a manager. Travelling around in Geri's car with a Filofax and a phone, they go to meetings around the country. After a couple of months of not getting anywhere they meet Simon Fuller of 19 Management.

“I remember them coming into my office for the first time very well” says Simon later.“They had so much energy and determination, all of them were talking at once and they were very funny. They were very different to the boy groups that were dominating the chart at that time, they had a real sense of personality and I knew that we could achieve great things together”.

March 1995
The girls sign with Simon Fuller / 19 Management and immediately go into the recording studio to start recording the songs that would make them famous.

March – August 1995
Simon Fuller’s first job is to arrange a record deal, and several record labels start to make offers to sign the band. Virgin Records throws a surprise party for them before they fly off to explore record deals in LA – club class.

September 1995
Simon Fuller signs the Spice Girls to Virgin Records and immediately arranges for the girls to pay back their first management company for its investment during the early days of their career. The name Spice is already in use by a US rapper. So, the group name is changed to Spice Girls.

14 October 1995
The Spice Girls are guests of honour at a race meeting at Kempton Park in Surrey. While posing for a photo call with a statue of Desert Orchid, the girls take control and begin to climb on the statue. Race goers look on in disgust and it causes uproar, and it gives them their first publicity – receiving tabloid and local television coverage.

"Simon arranged a day out at the races to introduce us to everybody – all the media-type people. We thought it was funny because it was all stiff upper lip and we were just our normal selves and being really quite mad. Anyway, we jumped on the statue of that old horse, Desert Storm. I've got a great photo of us on it, and you can see the security guards in the background running towards us. There were a few journalists there and I remember we took one into the girls' toilet where the acoustics were good and then sang Wannabe, a capella." – Geri

November 1995
Simon Fuller signs the Girls to music publishers Windswept Pacific, and then takes them to the States to undertake a promotional tour in LA.

April 1996
The girls shoot their first video, for Wannabe, at St Pancras Station, London.

Geri on the video: "I remember the chaos and the cold. It wasn't very controlled – we didn't want it to be. We wanted the camera to capture the madness of Spice. I had very big shoes on and fell over many times. I watched it again recently and thought it was like a comedy, really. All the other girls gave me the award for being the biggest prat in it! It's the most spontaneous of our videos."

May 1996
The video for Wannabe gets a trial airing on The Box music channel. It's an instant hit, and is played 70 times a week. The first music press interview appears in Music Week.

19 June 1996
Quarter-page mini article appears in Smash Hits, titled "Introducing: Spice Girls"

July 1996
A feature in Top of the Pops magazine gives the Spice Girls their nicknames, Posh, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Ginger. Editor Peter Loraine suggests the names during lunch with the girls in Notting Hill.
"I simply said it would be a good idea if they had some nicknames. The girls liked the idea, so I had an editorial meeting back at the office and about four of us started thinking of names. Posh was the first one to be thought up because Victoria looks pretty sophisticated. The rest were pretty easy really because the girls' characters were already really strong. The names jumped out at us. We laughed the most when we came up with Scary. Jennifer Cawthron, who was also from Leeds, came up with that one because Mel B was so loud and had tried to take over our whole photo shoot.
"We ran the names for a couple of issues and the first time the girls saw them they thought it was funny. Then the newspapers started picking up on the names and they cropped up everywhere until they were fully accepted by everyone."

July 1996
A full-page advertisement appears in Smash Hits, saying: "Wanted: Anyone with a sense of fun, freedom and adventure. Hold tight, get ready – Girl Power is comin' at you."

8 July 1996
Debut single Wannabe is released. On the single, Mel C says: "It was recorded in under an hour. Whereas, a lot of the other songs on the album took two or three days at least."

14 July 1996
Wannabe enters the chart at number 3.

18 July 1996
The first national newspaper interview appears in the Daily Star.

21 July 1996
Wannabe climbs to number one (where it stays for seven weeks); the Spice Girls are the first all-female group to top the charts with their debut single. Wannabe stays at number one for seven weeks and goes on to sell four million copies. It reaches the top spot in 31 countries, making it the most successful debut single ever.

Wannabe steals the limelight from two ex Take That stars. The single knocks Gary Barlow's debut solo track Forever Love off the top spot, and it forces Robbie Williams to settle for a number two with his debut single, Freedom.

Victoria says: "We're as shocked as everyone else by the success of Wannabe. It doesn't put us under any pressure to follow it up. If it's the only number one we ever have, at least it proves what we're capable of. It's brilliant because it was the public who put it there, so it shows they enjoy what we do, but it's still just a paper fact about record sales. It's only one tiny step for us as a band. We've already recorded an album which we're incredibly proud of and that is what we're really anxious for people to get into."

September 1996
Simon Fuller takes the girls back to the USA to film the video for second single Say You'll Be There in the Mojave Desert.

Emma says: "This was one of my favourites. We were out in the desert and all getting on really well, so it was a complete laugh. It was very hot and I nearly got sunstroke! Two of the nights we went back to this hotel in the middle of nowhere – it was like Thelma and Louise.”

Mel B says: "It was really friendly and vibey – the crew were great. One night, Geri and I drove out into the desert. It was absolutely amazing. I sat on the car roof and gazed up at the stars. I felt so in touch with everything."

14 October 1996
Say You’ll Be There is released. Mel C says: "We recorded it in our trackies and socks in our studio at the producer's house. It was a cool vibe, dead laid-back. A lot of sentiment in the song is to do with what we've been through together. We've always been there for each other, so we wrote about that."

Emma say: "The track was recorded in Elliot Kennedy's studio, which he actually named Spice, because it had never been used before."

20 October 1996
Say You'll Be There enters the chart at number one, replacing Boyzone's cover version of Words.

4 November 1996
The debut album, Spice, is released and is awarded silver disc status on advance sales alone. Two million copies are sold in the first two weeks, and it goes on to become the biggest album of 1996 in the UK, and the biggest album of 1997 in the US, selling 10 million copies worldwide in less than seven months. Later updates put the UK sales figure around three million and worldwide sales at some 23 million.

November 1996
The Spice Girls attract a crowd of 500,000 when they switch on the Christmas lights in Oxford Street, London – bringing traffic in the West End to a standstill. It is one of several events staged by Simon Fuller to give them added publicity and boost their record sales.

At the same time, Simon Fuller starts to set up million pound sponsorship deals for the Spice Girls with Pepsi, Walkers, Impulse, Cadbury’s and Polaroid. They make the girls more famous than ever, as well as ensuring that their records are constantly being played on the radio, on TV and even in shopping centres and supermarkets.

December 1996
The Spice Girls win three trophies at the Smash Hits awards at the London Arena, including best video for Say You'll Be There.

12 December 1996
The band are interviewed by The Spectator. The issue is the highest selling in the 200-year history of the magazine, and has political commentators beginning to assess the influence of "The Spice Vote".
Geri's "Maggie was the first Spice Girl" is the sound bite which captured the headlines.
What Geri says is: "We Spice Girls are true Thatcherites. Thatcher was the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology, Girl Power. Thatcher had ideals all right – we love Maggie." She added: "We met Tony Blair and he seemed nice enough. His hair's all right, but we don't agree with his tax policies. He's just not a safe pair of hands for the economy."
Victoria says she would never vote Labour but added that John Major was a "boring pillock".
The girls aren't happy to be labelled Thatcherites – particularly Mel B because she's an anarchist and Mel C who is a Labour supporter.

16 December 1996
2 Become 1 is released and sells 209,000 copies in the first three days alone.

Victoria says: "This video was my favourite. My coat was wicked in it and it was really different to the other videos – shot entirely in the studio with high technology and loads of effects. It was really weird having to sing passionately into the camera – I was feeling a right mug in front of all those people singing 'wanna make love to you baby'."

22 December 1996
The Spice Girls have their third number one with 2 Become 1, and their first Christmas number one. It sells 500,000 copies in its first week, making it the fastest selling single of the year.

December 1996
Mel C looks back on the year, saying: "Mad! Totally messed-up and mad. This had been the craziest most knackering year of our lives!"

January 1997
During the promotional tour of the US and Canada, Wannabe goes in at number 11 on the US Billboard chart, and is the highest ever entry for a British band in the USA – beating the Beatles by one place – and the joint highest entry for a debut act (tying with Alanis Morissette).

February 1997
The video for Who Do You Think You Are? is filmed for Comic Relief, featuring Spice wannabes The Sugar Lumps.

24 February 1997
The girls collect two Brit Awards. Fans vote Say You’ll Be There as Best Video and Wannabe wins Best Single. Geri's union jack dress from the girls' live performance hogs the headlines the next day. The following year, the dress was sold for £36,200 at auction.
During the ceremony Geri's boobs pop out twice, but she says: "This is the best night of our lives, so I don't care what happens."
Liam Gallagher causes a stir before the event by refusing to attend, saying he would "probably chin the Spice Girls".

"I've never been so nervous in my life and I will never be that nervous again. I had to be physically put in the car to take me to the Brits show. I was proud – really, really proud. I will never forget Ben Elton saying: 'We've got Sporty, Baby, Posh, Ginger and Scary!' and I remember thinking: 'Well, this is it. I'm going on.' Once on stage, I sort of went on autopilot. It was great though." – Victoria

13 February 1997
Wannabe climbs to number one in the US singles chart, knocking Toni Braxton's Un-Break My Heart off the top. The Spice Girls are the first British group to have a US number one with their first single. The Beatles only managed number 12.

3 March 1997
Double A side Mama/Who Do You Think You Are is released.

Victoria says: "It took a long time to film it, but it was nice that our mums were there and could see what we're doing. They were actually knackered at the end of the day and I said to my mum, 'Ha! Now you know how I feel every day.'"

5 March 1997
Sales of Wannabe reach four million, making it the most successful debut single ever.

9 March 1997
Mama/Who Do You Think You Are goes straight in at number one – making the Spice Girls the first group in history to have four consecutive number one hits. Profits from the single go to Comic Relief and provide the biggest individual contribution of 1997. Worldwide CD sales reach six million albums and seven million singles.

15 March 1997
Simon Fuller takes Victoria Adams to a Chelsea v Manchester United game. Afterwards he introduces her to David Beckham for the first time, in the players' lounge.

26 March 1997
At the Capital FM awards, the Spice Girls win London's Favourite Female Group.

28 March 1997
Girl Power! The Spice Girls first book and manifesto is launched at the Virgin Megastore. It sells 200,000 copies within a day, and is eventually translated into more than 20 languages.

30 March 1997
Spice Girls launch Britain's new Channel 5, singing a re-written version of the 1960s hit 5-4-3-2-1.

March 1997
The album Spice achieves quadruple platinum status across Europe…

5 April 1997
… and quadruple platinum sales of more than 400,000 in Italy alone.

14 April 1997
Spice: the Official Video Volume One is released. It sells half a million copies.

May 1997
The Spice Girls sign a deal with Pepsi for a promo single – Step To Me which comes free, when fans collect special ringpulls. Pepsi records its biggest-ever take up on the promotion.

May 1997
Simon Fuller has one more ace up his sleeve for the band: a major Hollywood film. Written by his brother Kim Fuller, Spiceworld is announced by the Spice Girls at the Cannes Film Festival. They appear on top of the Hotel Martinez entrance for a photo call and bring the area to a standstill.

11 May 1997
The girls perform their first live British gig for the Prince's Trust 21st anniversary concert at the Manchester Opera House. At the show, they breach royal protocol when Mel B and then Geri plant big kisses on Prince Charles's cheeks. Geri told HRH: "You're very sexy. We could spice up your life," and pinched his bottom.

15 May 1997
Spice goes to number one in the US album charts, making the Spice Girls the first British group to top the US charts with a debut album. On the same day, Say You'll Be There enters the Billboard charts at number five.
Mel B says: "We can't believe the album is top of the chart – it's mind-blowing. We were hoping to get in the top ten, but not this."
Geri adds: "It's great. This isn't luck – we have worked damned hard for it."
And in a joint statement, the girls declared: "Pop is back by Girl Power demand and we're thrilled. This proves that with hard work and determination you can do anything. The encouragement of our fans has helped us in our mission to conquer America."

29 May 1997
At the Ivor Novella Awards the girls win International Hit Of The Year and Bestselling British Single in the UK for Wannabe.

"Novellos are special because they're for writing, which is something we don't often get recognised for. Most people don't actually believe that we write our songs, even thought we do. It was great to get them – they're quite serious awards." – Mel C

"It was good to be recognised for not just standing there and singing but for actually having a brain and being able to write songs. That was very important. Actually, I remember thinking I wish I had worn a different pair of knickers because Mel B pulled my skirt up on stage." – Victoria

June 1997
Spiceworld the movie begins filming, with the second album being recorded on location.

"My favourite scene in the film is the one we shot in the Albert Hall. It was performing and that's what we like doing best. We did our new single, Spice Up Your Life, which is really good, and we were all done up and had mics on like Madonna. All the fans were there, which gave us a taster of what our concerts are going to be like. We all loved it." – Mel C

July 1997
Spice has now sold more than 14 million copies. Between them, the singles Say You’ll Be There and 2 Become 1 have reached number 1 in 53 countries.

1 August 1997
Filming of the movie finishes. It is released on Boxing Day and it becomes one of the most profitable films in the history of British cinema. It grossed a total of £8.5 million in the UK, and $30 million in America.

October 1997
Fifth single Spice Up Your Life enters the charts at number one, the girls' fifth consecutive number one hit single.

October 1997
Simon Fuller takes the Spice Girls east to perform their first live concert to 40,000 fans in Istanbul, Turkey.
“It was Las Vegas on The Bosphorous. In terms of pure spectacle, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better.” – The Guardian.
“The girls’ debut was competent and capable and a triumph.” – The Sun.

1 November 1997
The Girls travel to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela, who announces, “These are my heroes. This is one of the greatest moments in my life”. Prince Charles is in attendance, and when asked if it was his greatest moment he responds “second greatest. The first time I met them was the greatest.”

3 November 1997
The album Spiceworld is released. It is their second number one album, and makes the Spice Girls the first British band since the Beatles to have two albums in the US chart at the same time. Spice and Spiceworld have amassed enough sales for one out of every two people in Britain to own a Spice Girls album.

6 November 1997
After performing at the MTV Europe Music Awards at the Ahoy Stadium, Rotterdam the Spice Girls make the decision to take over the running of the group and to drop Simon Fuller as their manager.

The news flashes around the world and generates front page headlines in all the British newspapers. A week later the album they recorded under Simon Fuller’s guidance, Spiceworld, enters the charts at number one. The album sold 191,000 copies in its first week.

29 November 1997
An Audience With The Spice Girls is screened and attracts 11.8 million viewers – one fifth of the population.

15 December 1997
Too Much is released, and becomes their second Christmas number one.

26 December 1997
Spiceworld The Movie is released, featuring Richard E Grant, Roger Moore, Sir Elton John and Stephen Fry. The movie makes £6.8m in its first week of release.

25 January 1998
Victoria Adams and David Beckham announce their engagement

24 February 1998
The 102-date Spiceworld tour kicks off at The Point in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Ticket sales in New York break records by selling at a rate of 1,200 a minute.

The tour set list:
If U Can't Dance
Who Do You Think You Are
Do It
Too Much
Where Did Our Love Go? (Emma Bunton solo)
Move Over
The Lady Is A Vamp
Say You'll Be There
2 Become 1
Walk of Life
Sisters (Are Doin' It For Themselves) (Duet with Melanie Brown & Melanie Chisholm)
Spice Up Your Life
Viva Forever
Never Give Up On The Good Times
We Are Family

15 March 1998
Without Simon Fuller’s guiding light the run of number one singles comes to an end when seventh release, Stop, enters the UK chart at number two. It is stopped from getting to number one by It's Like That by Run DMC v Jason Nevins.

31 May 1998
Days of speculation follow Geri's no-show at two concerts in Norway (May 28 and 29) and the Wednesday National Lottery show. These come to an end with the confirmation that Ginger has left the Spice Girls. Her lawyer announces on her behalf:
"Sadly I would like to confirm that I have left the Spice Girls. This is because of differences between us. I'm sure the group will continue to be successful and I wish them all the best… PS, I'll be back."
Prince Charles sends Geri a letter to say: "The group will not be the same without you."
Shares in record label EMI drop by 10p.

15 June 1998
With their new line-up, the Spice Girls begin their 40-date US tour at the Coral Sky/Sound Advice Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. Due to a dance accident, the set list was modified slightly – Walk of Life was dropped from the North American shows, and Do It was replaced with Step To Me.

"I really miss Geri a lot. Right at the beginning, I was really upset and gutted. The next minute I wanted to punch her in the head. It kept changing from day to day. We'll get through it. I got on really well with Geri and I really like her. I will always be her friend." – Victoria

"The first few times on stage without Geri were strange. Obviously we had to share out the lines she sang between us and sometimes I'd forget to sing her lines." – Mel B

"Thankfully we've been really busy, so we didn't have a lot of time to think about it when Geri first left. But it really hit home when we had a few days off. We were just gutted, we couldn’t even get out of bed. You know, when you feel just so deflated, absolutely deflated. It was like you had just lost part of you, like a death. And on stage it was hard because there is always interaction in the show and there was quite a lot between Geri and me. For the first few shows it was really weird because I kept thinking, where is she?" – Mel C

20 July 1998
Viva Forever is released and enters the chart at number one on 26 July. It stays at number one for two weeks – it is the Spice Girls seventh number one out of eight releases. Geri appears in the animated video, produced by Aardman.

24 August 1998
Spice Girls issue a statement denying rumours that they are on the verge of splitting up, after Melanie Brown and Victoria Adams both announce they are pregnant.

12 & 13 September 1998
The Spice Girls bring the world tour back to the UK with two dates at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. For the "Back To Britain" leg of the tour, the set list was changed again, Denying was replaced with Something Kinda Funny and Move Over was replaced with Love Thing.

19 & 20 September 1998
The Spiceworld tour finishes triumphantly with two sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium.

26 September 1998
Mel B becomes Mel G when she marries dancer Jimmy Gulzar in a 12th century church in Buckinghamshire.

14 December 1998
Goodbye is released and on December 20, it becomes the Spice Girls' third Christmas number one. They are the only act in history to score three consecutive Christmas number ones. (The Beatles did it with I Want To Hold Your Hand, I Feel Fine and Day Tripper)

22 May 1999
Geri's first solo single, Look At Me, goes to number two.

4 July 1999
Victoria Adams marries David Beckham at Luttrellstown Castle near Dublin.

3 March 2000
Spice Girls receive a Lifetime Achievement award at the Brits. BPI chairman Rob Dickens says: "The Spice Girls have smashed most worldwide records books in their own way, much as the Beatles did in the 1960s."

23 October 2000
Double A-side Holler/Let Love Lead The Way goes to number one – the Spice Girls ninth (and final, so far) and a week later their album Forever is released, and charts at number two, going platinum.

21 June 2007
After two years of talking, all five Spice Girls reunite with the manager who made them a worldwide phenomenon. Simon Fuller makes the historic press announcement that the Spice Girls would re-unite.

28 June 2007
All five Spice Girls appear in public for the first time together at the Greenwich Observatory in London to announce that they would be re-uniting for a World Tour, Greatest Hits album and Documentary.

"For us it's about celebrating the past, enjoying each other and it's about our fans. It was kind of now or never," Geri says at the press conference in London.

The Spice Girls by Julia Hold, Hodder & Stoughton
Real Life: Real Spice by the Spice Girls, Zone/Chameleon 1997
Wannabe: How the Spice Girls Reinvented Pop Fame by David Sinclair, Omnibus Press 2004
Spice Power, The Inside Story by Rob McGibbon, Boxtree 1997
Girl Power magazine
Girl Power by Spice Girls, Zone/Chameleon 1997
Posh Spice In My Pocket, Boxtree 1997
Scary Spice In My Pocket, Boxtree 1997
Official Spice Girls Minibook: Mel C Tuff Enuff, Zone Chameleon 1997
Official Spice Girls Minibook: Geri Ginger Nutter, Zone Chameleon 1997
Official Spice Girls Minibook: Mel B DonĂ¢€™t Be Scared, Zone Chameleon 1997
All Things Spice The Complete, Unofficial Story of The Spice Girls by Fergus Kelly, Penguin 1997
Spice Girls Giving You Everything by Rebecca Aplin, UFO Music 1997
Forever Spice by The Spice Girls, Little, Brown & Company 1999
Spiceworld The Official Book Of The Movie by The Spice Girls, Ebury Press 1997

Monday, December 10, 2007

Girl Power: how it betrayed us

Ten years ago the Spice Girls were born, and with them, so-called Girl Power. But in this coruscating denunciation, CAROL SARLER argues their message was a perversion of feminism for which a generation of women have paid a terrible price

The heat was unbearable then, too, in July 1996. But even hotter than the blistering sunshine was the spectacularly branded, packaged, marketed, hyped and, frankly, horrible first single, Wannabe, from a new band called the Spice Girls.

Whoooosh, it went: right up to No 1. For seven weeks. And cheers all round as something called —with risible inaccuracy — Girl Power arrived in Britain.

This week there will be those who raise another glass to mark the ten years since this phenomenon burst onto our social landscape. But there will also be those, and please count me among them, who can think of nothing except the bad that came from the influence of those petty, shallow icons of what was once dubbed Cool Britannia.

It would be absurd, of course, to lay every teenage pregnancy, every inebriated ladette or every cheap tart sleeping with her sixth holiday ‘romance’ in a week at the feet of five barely competent girl singers.

It would be fair, however, to recognise that they presided over a period that saw young womanhood spiral into a previously unimaginable decline; that they wrote its soundtrack, they sang its theme, they invited a generation to play along — and that altogether too many women sadly did.

Just when we thought we were doing so well, too.

The 30 years before the Spice Girls came along had seen unparalleled changes in the lives of women; it’s hard to believe, now, that in 1966 there was not even ready access to the contraceptive Pill that would hand us the chance, for the first time ever, to control our bodies, and therefore our lives.

We seized that chance with relish. If we never quite managed to have it all, we nonetheless gave it a damn good shot as we taught ourselves and, later, our daughters that diligence, hard work, honed skills and the occasional good old strop for ‘wimmin’s rights’ would win the day. In the process, perhaps we even persuaded reluctant men that they could trust us to be competent, able and equal partners at home and at work.

Who would have thought, then, that a few short years later, women in professional life would be rewarded with such paltry returns compared with the millions ‘earned’ by reality TV ‘stars’ such as Jade Goody or Chantelle, or footballers’ partners such as Coleen McLoughlin, for doing absolutely nothing at all?

But then, who could have guessed, only ten years ago, that the path would have been forged for them to do so by an indifferent little band who would turn our happy revolution on its unsuspecting head?

From the start, artistry was not involved. The Spice Girls came into being precisely as they would remain: an artificial construct, designed and marketed by what, at the time, was a word still new to most of us — spin.

An advertisement was placed in The Stage, a usually venerable journal of the dramatic arts, inviting ‘streetwise’ young women, between the ages of 18 and 23, to audition for a band. If ability entered the list of requirements, it was hard to see where.

Only one of the group, Melanie Chisholm, 20 at the time the band formed in 1994, was ever considered to have a decent voice, while the others varied from passable to dire; is there anyone who can forget Geri Halliwell serenading the Prince of Wales with a Happy Birthday so off-key as to make the royal teeth ache?

What was worrying, however, was not the inevitable caterwauling that would emerge from such ungifted vocalists, but that it taught diehard young fans that the absence of talent does not matter a jot in this day and age. My daughter would patiently explain to me that the pouty one, Posh, was the one who couldn’t sing at all — so that’s why she rarely had lines to herself, but just joined in on choruses. The message was: girls don’t need actually to be able to do anything; just get that image right and, honey, you’re off.

It was a credo that would permeate every aspect of the band and its presentation, from the vapid, passive lyrics (‘It’s you I know that I have got to feed / Take from me what you feel that you need’) all the way to the carefully-selected nicknames imposed upon them. Dismally, depressingly, you could choose to aspire to Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger (which, until the very last moment, was supposed to be Sexy) or, most enduringly but least plausibly, Posh.

No trace of clever, sharp, brave, smart, kind, ambitious, resolute or strong; just come-hither Ginger, in that ridiculous union flag dress, squeezing breasts from its top and flashing knickers from its skimpy bottom.

Hard as it is to credit, there were attempts to describe these promoters of under-achievement as viragos of feminism, a claim that would make even those of us who have never described ourselves as feminists choke on the word. It was a claim that drove a feminist friend of mine to declare ruefully that: ‘This is not why we stormed the barricades.’

But I’ll tell you what I hate, what I really, really hate — and that is the trump card in the promotions package, the most outrageously inaccurate of all slogans, ever: Girl Power. Power? The Spice Girls were the antithesis of the very idea, in both their professional and their personal lives.

At a stroke they put the sexual clock back by decades.

They mocked the efforts and the goals of their predecessors by reviving an image of young women that depended entirely on the superficiality of appearance, looking and acting as if they were unthreateningly stupid, and all the while emphasising the importance of flashing enough flesh to grab yourself a man.

While their slightly older sisters had striven to get the jobs to earn the money to buy the hammers to smash through glass ceilings, and while their slightly older cousins, especially, perhaps, the Asian girls of modest backgrounds and equally modest dress, were queueing to take their places to study medicine, finance and law — in other words to prove, to really, really prove they were as good as any man — this bunch of chumps thought their over-sexed antics constituted female power. As if.

One of the greatest ironies, of course, is that the Spice Girls were the invention of a man.

Several, actually — but most especially an invention of the manager who took them to the top: Simon Fuller, by all accounts a nice enough chap and a brilliant practitioner of image control.

It was Fuller, mindful of men’s fantasies and women’s spending power, who exercised control of his new pets; his master-stroke was to take what was in fact his manipulation and allow these girls to call it their Power.

The pity is that it was such a seductive idea that plenty of girls bought in, wholesale, to the Fuller philosophy.

Today, every day, you see what it did for them. You cannot open a newspaper without bearing witness to what some of these girls still like to call Power.

This is the ‘power’ that takes them, cut-price and gagging for it, all the way to Faliraki, there to lay bare their bodies and souls under the numbing influence of the least expensive ouzo, bought by Greek lads who can’t believe their luck.

These are the British girls who honestly think that because they made the first move — ‘Do you think I’m really cool and sexy / I know you want to get with me’, sang the Spices — they’re the ones in charge.

It is the ‘power’ that fills the gaps between such salubrious vacations with sodden Friday nights in wine bars, where girls show off their sophistication to the boys by drinking them under the table.

Today, more than a quarter of our 15- and 16-year-old girls are binge-drinking, outstripping boys of the same age and, while they’re at it, most other European countries, too.

So what’s a little vomit between friends? It’s their choice, innit?

It is the same ‘power’ that takes them — of their own volition, naturally — to hang around, scarcely dressed, wherever the most stupid football players can be found, so that they may be sexually used and abused.

Power, to these girls, has come to mean doing exactly what you want to do, exactly when you want to do it.

As the Spices sang: ‘Give me what I’m needing / You know what I’m dreaming of / Don’t wanna know about that love thing.’ So that’s romance firmly in its place then.

This was presumably much the thinking when seven — yes, seven — girls made the news earlier this month for getting pregnant by the same teenage boy: ‘Give me what I’m needing’ — never mind the consequences, they say. I can manage. Except, we know, they can’t.

Nearly 40,000 girls under 18 are getting pregnant every year, which is a disaster for them, whether or not they choose to have the baby — and, nine times out of ten, it is a disaster for the baby if they do, that being the proportion of single mothers who end up officially in poverty.

They have discovered that the ‘power’ to chuck your body about as you please becomes horribly powerless without the resources to take care of what happens next.

Meanwhile, even those young women who don’t have children to support are playing irresponsibly with financial fire; a survey this week showed that eight out of ten of them, between 21 and 25, out-spend what they earn.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised, when Victoria Beckham appears on the ski slopes in £8,000 of designer ski-wear, with little intention of actually skiing.

And what lessons do the lives of the Spice Girls themselves have for us?

Although two of them, Geri and Mel B, are single mothers, the early efforts — not of their own, but of the genius of Simon Fuller — ensure that, whatever else, their little girls will be fed. But what else can we say for any of them?

Professionally and personally, the bells began to toll after they arrogantly split from Fuller late in 1997, believing they didn’t need him; when they finally disbanded, early in 2001, all the Girl Power they could muster did not save them from, at best, a swift tapering of a career and, at worst, public humiliation.

Geri Halliwell perhaps is the most desperate to cling to waning fame. She moved to Los Angeles to ape the properly famous, complete with ‘bug’ shades and bodyguards, and going to acting classes that nobody takes seriously because nobody believes they’ll work.

Then she had a child alone, which was exposed to public scrutiny for no better reason than that she cannot decide whether or not she likes its two-week-stand father. Power, Geri? It’s pathetic.

And Victoria Beckham? Girl Power for her has come to this: big hair, small thighs, false breasts and an air of desperation that makes Geri Halliwell look fulfilled.

In fact, if I’m to propose a toast to anything on this grim anniversary, it will be to the continuing, inexorable decline of the Spice Girls, their legacy and all who sail in it.

When young women have finally lost all respect for these faded relics, they might turn it instead to where it’s long overdue and urgently needed — to themselves.