Quintet was "really determined’ to get to No. 1 in America, Melanie C told Billboard.
America was late to the Spice Girls party. By the time the initial single “Wannabe” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of Jan. 25, 1997, the quintet’s first three U.K. singles had already topped the chart in their homeland. When “Wannabe” landed in first place in the U.S. 20 years ago today, it fulfilled one of the group’s dreams. “Being No. 1 in America [was] something we were always really determined to do,” Melanie Chisholm (a.k.a. Melanie C, a.k.a. Sporty Spice) told Billboard in 1998. “We were ecstatic about it.”
They may have seemed like overnight successes, but the group had been working together for four years when they conquered America. The five individual women had been working as dancers and singers in the U.K. “Our paths crossed at various auditions and we’d done various jobs together,” Chisholm said. Then Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Victoria Adams and Chisholm, along with Michelle Stephenson, answered an ad in The Stage that asked, “Are you street smart, extrovert, ambitious and able to sing and dance?” Stephenson was quickly out of the group and Emma Bunton was added.