Yes, you read that right: while it might seem like only yesterday that you were dancing to Wannabe in your halter-neck top and flares, Wannabe by The Spice Girls has been around for a whole quarter of a century.
Released 25 years ago, on 8 July 1996, Wannabe spent seven weeks at number one in the UK and four in the US. Simultaneously, it catapulted five unknown British girls into global superstardom.
To celebrate Wannabe’s anniversary, here’s the story from A to Z of the iconic track.
The song was written in just 30 minutes
As producer Richard ‘Biff’ Stannard revealed in an interview with Pink News: “We wrote Wannabe quite quickly, but it took ages to get it to sound right.”
But the song would go through several incarnations, including R&B and Jungle versions, before it would sound exactly right. “I remember waking up on the studio floor with this post-it from (co-writer) Matt saying, ‘Press play.’ We’d finally got it. So it was luck and hard work.”
All the Spice Girls chipped in to help write the song
According to Stannard, the five Spice Girls all helped write the lyrics and craft the song.
According to Stannard: “There were seven of uS sitting on the floor in this tiny room. Matt Rowe and I would add the backing track and start with rhythms; everyone had their role; Geri was always concentrating on the theme and all the others would chip in with melodies and lyrics.”
No one really knows what ‘zigazig-ah’ means
The Spice Girls offer conflicting accounts of the origins of ‘zigazig-ah.’ Mel B has previously said that the phrase means “shit and cigar” (in reference to a mysterious 80s pop star who shared studio space with the girls, and used to smoke cigars in the toilet) and “suck a d**k.”
More tamely, Mel C has said that ‘zigazig-ah’ is just a meaningless nonsense phrase: ““You know when you’re in a gang and you’re having a laugh and you make up silly words? Well we were having a giggle and we made up this silly word, zigazig-ah,” she told Billboard.
“We were in the studio and it all came together in this song.”
The group’s record label didn’t want Wannabe to be their first single
Record label bosses wanted to release Say You’ll Be There or album track Love Thing, arguing that Wannabe was too weird and anarchic — but the girls stood their ground: “It’s not negotiable as far as we’re concerned,” they insisted.
“Wannabe is our first single.” History would soon prove the girls right.
Tony Blair was asked to be in the music video
Yes, you read that right.
In what surely must be the peak of Cool Britannia weirdness, Geri approached then-Prime Minister Tony Blair at the 1996 Brit Awards, reportedly asking: “Mr Blair, I’m Geri and I’m in an all-girl band. We’re going to be huge. We’re about to make our first video. Would you be interested in appearing in it?”
Blair respectfully declined.