Spice Girls

Terry McGinnis / Gettyimages

Get ready to feel really old. "Wannabe," that pivotal and venerable song from the Spice Girls was released 20 years ago today.


The jam that still occupies hearts and minds today was the girl band's very first single. They swooped onto the scene in July 1996 in all their platformed and eyeshadowed glory, singing about getting with their future, forgetting their past and everything in between. "Wannabe" was an instant hit, debuting at number three on the UK charts before hitting the top spot the following week and staying there for another seven. The song also went on to hit number one in almost 40 countries, and it became the biggest-selling debut single by a female group.

All of those stats are impressive, but not so surprising as we sit here twenty years later. We know that "Wannabe" was a hot jam on a level like no other, and that it will always maintain a formidable hold on the fabric of pop culture. 

But just how formidable is that hold? In fact, the Spice Girls' very first song made its mark on the industry in more ways than one. To celebrate this most momentous occasion, let's take a look at all the ways it changed pop culture forever.

1. "Wannabe" paved the way for early 2000's girl bands. After the home run hit raked in millions of dollars, record execs and talent managers everywhere rushed to recreate the magic. So now B*Witched, DREAM and All Saints know who to thank.

2. Make that the girl bands of today, too. After all, there would be no Fifth Harmony without the success of the Spice Girls. You're welcome, Taylor Swift.

3. It was the 20-year precursor to athleisure. Mel C (Sporty Spice, duh!) started passing off sports bras as tops long before Kendall and Gigi.


Spice Girls Wannabe GIF

4. It created Victoria Beckham. Before all this she was simply Victoria Adams, and she and David met because he was a famous soccer player and she was the famous singer behind "Wannabe." Now, twenty years later, they're arguably the most enviable Hollywood couple.

5. Brooklyn Beckham. Don't make us spell out the birds and the bees for you, just be thankful that he exists. 

6. It gave us the cinematic masterpiece that was Spice World. Game, set, match.

7. The never-ending pop culture debate: What are the damn lyrics? Send your body down the party's all around? Slam your body down? Who really knows.

8. Karaoke. You'll never go to a bar and not hear this song being butchered by drunk sorority girls. (See above re: lyrics.)

9. "Stop." "2 Become 1." "Say You'll Be There." If "Wannabe" hadn't been such a huge hit there never would have been these pivotal follow-up singles. 

10. 20 years of "Wannabe" means 20 years of Halloween costumes. You know you're thankful for it, so long as you were never forced to be Baby Spice.


Spice Girls Wannabe GIF

11. It solidified Anglomania. We'd already been obsessing over the royal wedding between Diana and Charles, but this put America's infatuation with the Brits over the edge.

12. Saying zigga-zig-ah. We're still not free of it.

13. The phrase Girl Power. We're not free of that either, but that's a repetition we can get behind. 

14. The "Wannabe" video made it okay to be a singer without being a good dancer. Because man, these girls can't hold a rhythm. 


Spice Girls Wannabe GIF

15. The upcoming (rumored) Hyde Park reunion concert. It doesn't take a dummy to know that without a group's creation there will be no reunion.

16. F-you lyrics. One of the best parts of "Wannabe" was that the Spice Girls weren't afraid to take a stand towards the fictional man at the other end of the message. Since then, many songs have followed suit and we couldn't be happier.

17. Pop group outfits that don't have to match. In fact, the Spice Girls didn't even coordinate—they just wore whatever the heck they felt like (did you hear that, 'NSync?). One Direction thanks you kindly, Spice Girls.

18. Beatlemania came back. It wasn't since Paul and Ringo and the gang hit the scene that Britain (and the world) found themselves so enamored with a pop group. Now, of course, the frenzy is here in full force, and the screaming masses seem to come out for anyone with a microphone.

19. The Union Jack dress. When the band hit the Brit Awards (where they received a statuette for "Wannabe"), Geri, a.k.a. Ginger Spice, wore that infamous teeny tiny flag print ensemble and the world of flag print wearing was never the same.

20. Spicy Crispy Chicks. No, this is not a hoax. Jack in the Box, in all seriousness, used a ripoff Spice Girls in their TV ads for the Spicy Crispy Sandwich to try to capitalize off of Spice fever and also sell a few 'wiches. 

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