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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Spice Girls' rise to fame
Spice Girls
The original five hailed a new era for pop music
The Spice Girls, whose brand of Girl Power and polished pop propelled them to global fame five years ago, look set to go their separate ways. BBC News Online takes a look back at the band's rise to fame.

Girl Power seems to be ebbing somewhat.

Victoria Beckham and Mel B have sacked their manager, and reports of squabbles between the band members are emerging.

This is a far cry from the five girls who took the charts by storm back in 1996, when they were united by their determination to succeed and make their mark on the music industry.

But running alongside their success have been consistent rumours that the band were on the verge of splitting - although these were always met with a swift denial.

The latest speculation that the band's demise is imminent is fuelled by the lack of new material coming out of the collective Spice camp.

Mel C
Mel C is praised for her singing talent
All four remaining members - Victoria Beckham, Mel B, Mel C and Emma Bunton - are pursuing solo careers, as is former member Geri Halliwell.

But back in 1996, they were a united team, hand-picked and thrown together by a management guru.

Few believed that after their first single Wannabe went straight to number one, they would go on to dominate pop music for so long.

But Baby, Sporty, Scary, Ginger and Posh could not put a foot wrong - they captured the imagination of young girls around the globe.

Record after record was broken , as they notched up a string of number ones.

Baby Spice
Baby solo career has had a mixed success
The girls even starred in their own movie, Spiceworld, and were the darlings of the advertising industry, fronting a high-profile campaign for Pepsi.

But everything changed when Geri Halliwell made the shock move of leaving the group at the height of their success in 1998.

Although not known for being the most talented of the five, Halliwell had helped give the group its identity as the leaders of Girl Power.

She cited differences with her fellow members, but it was widely reported it was down to a power struggle between herself and Melanie Brown.

Geri Halliwell
Geri entertained British troops in Oman
Now it is a supposed rift between Posh Spice Victoria Beckham and Brown which could force the demise of the band.

After Halliwell's departure the group decided to carry on, but marriage, motherhood and solo careers soon began to eclipse the Spice Girls' world domination.

Brown had a short-lived marriage to dancer Jimmy Gulzar and gave birth to their daughter Phoenix Chi.

Posh followed by getting wed to Manchester United star David Beckham, and the couple celebrated the second birthday of son Brooklyn in March.

The Spice Girls began to move away from pure pop to a harder R'n'B feel with their first album release as a foursome with Forever.

Mel B
Mel B's new style of music was a turn-off for fans
But it was famously beaten to the top of the charts by Westlife.

All was not lost, however, as the double A-side Holler/Let Love Lead The Way single made it to the top in October 2000.

They became the first female group to notch up nine number one hit singles.

It was the first single the girls had recorded together since the release of Goodbye in December 1998, and their fans' loyalty was dwindling - the album dropped out of the top 40 within weeks.

Posh Spice
Posh was the last of the Spices to embark on a solo career
Meanwhile, all four of the remaining Spices have had a stab at carving out solo careers - with varying degrees of success.

Baby Spice Emma Bunton went head-to-head with Halliwell in a fight for the top spot with her first effort. but was famously beaten to number two in the charts.

Bunton's next solo single, What Took You So Long? made it to number one but the album did not perform well.

Brown's attempt at success without the others was a joint single with Missy Elliot entitled I Want You Back.

She then did a cover version of Cameo's Word Up, which only reached number 14 in the charts, followed by the disappointing Lullaby.

The future

The album Hot fared even worse, peaking at number 28 before disappearing.

She was then dropped by Virgin as a recording artist, and has been presenting a talent show for ITV.

Posh Spice, meanwhile, opted to team up with Another Level singer Dane Bowers to release her first single away from the band, but was beaten to the top spot by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Her first solo single, Not Such an Innocent Girl, had to battle the charts with an even tougher opponent - Kylie Minogue - and she lost.

Her self-titled album entered the chart at number six before limping out of the top 40 within weeks.

Mel C has so far had two number one singles and her Northern Star album eventually reached number four.

But Halliwell has achieved the most commercial success in the UK, bagging three number one hits and reinventing herself as the forces' sweetheart and media darling.

She can also rival Beckham in her ability to generate column inches in the tabloids.

But for the Spice Girls, with no new material in the pipeline and solo careers dominating their work, it appears unlikely they will be making another assault on the charts for some time to come - if ever.

See also:

08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Mel C 'not quitting Spices'
10 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Bye Bye Spices, say Westlife
29 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Spice Girls make pop history
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