How the Spice Girls Became Pop Icons

Five girls, one passion: The Spice Girls made a name for themselves with ’90s girls around the world. They may sing about friendship and sticking up for one another, but it seems that there is always more than we can see on the surface. These ladies became famous for their diva ways, after all!

The Spice Girls - Melanie B, Melanie C, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams And Emma Bunton

The Spice Girls – Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Beckham And Emma Bunton. Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images

The Spice Girls made their mark on the music industry by inspiring girls to be the best version of themselves. These ladies forever changed the way that the world looks at female musicians and friendships. You will instantly “Spice Up Your Life” just by reading this story! The Spice Girls changed the meaning of girl power for the better!

Who Are the Spice Girls?

The Spice Girls are a legendary pop music group formed in 1994. The group consisted of different personalities who created the group that has sung their way into our hearts. The group was formed in England after an ad was published searching for a specific “cool” girl. They led the resurgence of teen pop in the 1990s.

Spice Girls, portrait, in the street in Paris, France, 1996

Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images

This sensational group has also been named the “second British invasion” of the United States and became the image of youth culture in 1990s United Kingdom life. The group consisted of five women from different walks of life – who would all become role models to young people worldwide. Melanie Brown (known as Mel B), Melanie Chisholm (Mel C), Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, and Victoria Beckham would soon be known by their aliases.

WANTED: R.U. NEXT?

Before they were The Spice Girls, they were just many beautiful, young girls looking for something new to do. The first managers of the band placed an ad in Stage Magazine that yielded a ton of results. The ad read, “WANTED: R.U. 18–23 with the ability to sing/dance? R.U. streetwise, outgoing, ambitious, and dedicated? Heart Management Ltd. is 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. 11 am-5:30 pm. Please bring sheet music or backing cassette.”

Smash Hits Poll Winner Party, Docklands, London, Britain

Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images

No surprise, about 400 women answered the advertisement, and the managers had their pick of aspiring pop stars who wanted in on this one-of-a-kind opportunity. Among those women were four of the five who became The Spice Girls. One, however, was unable to do the audition. Geri Halliwell saw the ad but failed to attend because she had just returned from skiing in Spain and had a sunburnt face!

How They Got Their Nicknames

The ladies of this newly formed band were quickly given nicknames that would define their roles in the group. It was actually the work of a journalist for Britain’s Top of The Pops magazine who supposedly gave the girls nicknames because he felt it was “too much work” to remember each girl’s name.

Spice Girls In Paris

Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images

Peter Lorraine, the man behind this U.K. magazine and television show in the 1990s, reportedly devised the nicknames the ladies would be known as for a feature story on the group in 1996. You could say that his laziness in remembering their names changed history. He gave the girls nicknames, and they did not hate it!

Giving Posh a New Meaning

While it was believed that Victoria Beckham (née Adams) received her nickname “Posh” because of her wealthy upbringing, it was only a tiny part of it. Beckham was obsessed with ecclesiastical law and holding herself to a higher standard as a model. Though ecclesiastical law is a pretty religious form of self-governance relating to the church, she saw it as a way to say she had a higher calling.

Spice Girls World Tour 2007

Photo by MJ Kim/Spice Girls LLP via Getty Images

Her “higher calling” was her sophisticated sense of style and what she said was a force guiding her far beyond her control. She put herself on a pedestal and decided that she would keep her spot up there. She definitely gave posh a new meaning, and we could not imagine her having a different name!

Ginger, the Self-Explanatory Spice Girl

Geri Halliwell’s beautiful, fiery red hair contributed to her gaining the alias Ginger Spice. However, it seems that the nickname came from more than gorgeous hair color. Though her professional background told a different story, Halliwell dreamed of becoming a botanist one day! What a way to get a nickname!

Geri Halliwell

Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images

While she dreamed of becoming a botanist one day, she studied the evolutionary methods of her favorite plant. The Zingiber Officinale is best known as Ginger and has been used for centuries in China and India before making its way west.

The Baby Juggler

The nickname “Baby” came interestingly. Sure, Emma Bunton was adorable to look at and watch perform, but she had some extra tricks up her sleeve. The London native got her nickname from her history of juggling babies! While it is incredibly strange, that is a particular type of talent to have! OK… that sounds farfetched. Maybe it’s just a rumor.

Emma Bunton/Wicked Women

Photo by Sean Dempsey – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

It is speculated that maybe she earned the name “Baby” because she was the last girl to join the group. The name seems pretty fitting, as she is as cute as ever. We’ll chalk her nickname up to rumors because there is definitely a story out there, and we still don’t know what it is!

Sporty as They Get

Those who know Mel C. understand where her name comes from. She was known for being athletic and fit. However, this hitmaker revealed some shocking news to the public: She was terrible at sports, especially team sports! She admitted to struggling with anything with a ball and not being great at being part of a team.

Melanie Chisholm

Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images

In her 2020 interview with Attitude Magazine, she admitted that her nickname was just that. “My hand/eye coordination isn’t great – I’m s**t at tennis, I’m terrible at golf, I was always rubbish at football… I’m not very good at being a team player, unless I’m with the Spice Girls, of course.”

She Isn’t So Scary

While the nickname might say otherwise, Mel B. chalks up her nickname yet again to the lazy journalist who could not be bothered to learn her name. Though they had a lot of fun hearing about the new characters they were given, they laughed the most when it came to how Mel B. became known as “Scary” Spice.

Spectacle award Mel B

Photo by John Stillwell – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Scary Spice was known for being very “in your face” and loud. She was from Leeds, a city in England with a reputation for having a loud and raucous crowd. The star reflected on how well the name fit her. “I was even more so back then. I was, what, 17, 18, like, ‘What! What do you want?!’ So, I guess I could have come off as scary. But I like my name.”

Geri’s Second Chance

Remember that we mentioned that one of the Spice Girls missed the original audition? Well, it seems that Ginger Spice seemed to have fate working in her favor. While there were many conflicting reports on why she missed it, she managed to clear up the rumors in an interview with Marie Claire.

English pop group The Spice Girls, Paris, September 1996.

Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images

In this interview, she confirmed that she was definitely in Spain; she just had been visiting her grandmother. This caused her to miss the audition, but upon returning to the UK, she decided to call Chris and Bob Herbert to see if they were still looking for people. They were, and they arranged for her to come to the second audition. She showed the world what she could do and was named a member of the group!

A World Without Posh

We could not imagine this iconic pop group without all the distinct personalities in the group. Their attitudes defined the group and made the Spice Girls the group that we know today! Victoria Beckham was only selected for the group after a minor stroke of luck worked in her favor. Lucky Posh!

Photo of SPICE GIRLS

Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns

Initially, teen singer Mel Coloma was picked to be a member of the group. However, after only a couple of weeks, she was kicked out of the group because her voice was “too good,” and the managers were worried she would outshine her counterparts. This led to management giving the OK to Victoria Beckham.

The Original Baby Quit

When the group was created, the five original girls moved into a house to rehearse and get in sync with their bandmates. They were recording demos at a studio near the house, and after just a few months, Michelle Stephenson learned some troubling news: Her mother was ill and she would need to care for her.

The Spice Girls IN NYC

Photo by Ann Summa/Liaison

Though there are rumors that she had been fired, Stephenson remains adamant that she left because her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Managers scrambled to find a replacement and drafted in Abigail Kis. Kis chose to spend more time with her boyfriend instead of filling the spot in the band, so managers finally decided to give 18-year-old Emma Bunton the opportunity. Good for you, Emma!

They Were Originally Called “Touch”

We cannot quite shake the fact that The Spice Girls once went by a different name. The original band lineup was being tinkered with, and if that was not enough, they could not quite settle on a name. After some bumps in the road, management settled on the name “Touch.” There was not a single answer as to why, but it was not the best name, so fortunately, it was changed quickly.

The Spice Girls Comic Relief Red Nose Day

Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic

There are several stories about how they landed on the final name. It is believed that they recorded a song called “Sugar and Spice” and saw the potential in the name Spice. There was already a rapper going by that name, so they added “girls” and were then known as The Spice Girls!

The Making of Wannabe

The iconic song “Wannabe” became a staple in the lives of young girls everywhere. Part of what brought this song to the top of the charts was the outrageous music video, where the girls ran around and wreaked havoc on the Midland Grand Hotel in London. Initially, the director had a different idea.

Portrait of the Spice Girls photographed in February 1997

Photo by Ray Burmiston/Photoshot/Getty Images

First-time music video director Johan Camitz had the idea to have the girls running “riot” in an exotic building in Barcelona, Spain. However, he was unable to get the approval necessary to use the facility. Instead, they had to settle on the London hotel, which served the purpose!

Nelson Mandela Loved the Spice Girls

Most people associate the group with a fanbase of young girls. Don’t be fooled, though – these ladies had a global reach that many compare to another iconic British band, The Beatles! They conquered pop culture across the globe and had the fanbase to match. While performing at a charity event in South Africa, the group caught the attention of a local world leader.

The Prince Of Wales and Prince Harry Visit South Africa

Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

The girls had caught the eye of Nelson Mandela, a former South African president. They met with the activist back in 1995 and posed for a photo with him. While in front of the press, Mandela complimented the group. “You know, these are my heroes!”

Dietary Troubles

Like many young girls, Mel C (most commonly known as Sporty Spice) developed a bit of an eating disorder. In an interview with The Telegraph, the now 44-year-old admitted that living up to a specific image took a toll on her, and she suffered from an eating disorder during the time of her rise to fame.

Mel C. of the Spice Girls Performing

Photo by Rune Hellestad/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

In her interview, the star expressed her feelings of guilt for becoming famous. She felt terrible about trying to live the life of a pop star. Sporty was diagnosed with depression in 2000 but has fortunately been able to control her body in a healthy way. She uses methods like medication, therapy, and acupuncture.

Is Your Microphone On?

On more than one occasion, the producers for the band turned off Posh’s microphone. During a Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the former pop sensation spilled the beans on the extra step producers took to make the group look and sound their best.

Photo of SPICE GIRLS, Group portrait

Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns

Posh definitely came out stronger. “They used to turn it off and just let the others sing. I got the last laugh— and now my mic is well and truly on, finally!” Good for you, Posh. Stick it to the man; you’ve got the upper hand now!

The Union Jack Dress

The 1997 BRIT Awards were memorable, to say the least. Not only did The Spice Girls perform, but they also won two awards. The group sang their hit, “Who Do You Think You Are?” and made waves with their outfits, too. It was here that Ginger Spice rocked the famous Union Jack dress.

Geri Halliwell performing live on stage, Union Jack dress

Photo by JMEnternational/Redferns

The dress had a significant impact both on British culture and across the world. The dress was sold at auction the following year for a whopping £41,320! The Union Jack dress was only created a few days before the event. The star had purchased a short, black Gucci dress but felt it was too dull. She wanted to incorporate some British spirit and had her sister stick a Union Jack tea towel to the dress!

Top-Notch Marketers

These ladies were able to sell just about anything their name was attached to. When they were at the peak of their popularity in the 1990s, people wanted to buy everything connected to the Spice Girls’ name. These ladies made millions in merchandise and endorsements, as every brand wished to have the Spice Girls’ touch.

Spice Girls Photo Shoot in Bali - April 29, 1997

Photo by John Stanton/WireImage

The stars helped spruce up products and brand images for Pepsi, Cadbury Chocolate, Target, and Asda. Even a body spray allowed people to “spice up their lives” while they applied deodorant! Teamed with Impulse, the ladies were able to select their own scents like tangerine, lavender and vanilla, African paduk wood and musk, warm amber and red pepper, along with jasmine and lily of the valley. Each scent had a woman to match – but it makes us wonder, why would someone put all those different scents into one spray?

Victoria’s New Man

While the Spice Girls were at the height of their fame in 1997, Posh was living her best life. Not only was Victoria Adams part of the biggest girl group around, but she was also making more money than most people would ever experience in their lifetime. Little did she know that her future husband was about to walk into her life.

Victoria Adams (Posh Spice) and David Beckham

Photo by John Giles – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

She met David Beckham, the legendary Manchester United player, in a bar following a charity football game. She was instantly hooked when the two met in the Manchester United Players’ Lounge, and the two were engaged within a year. They are still married to this day!

Once a Spice Girl, Always a Spice Girl

These ladies might not be an active group anymore, but their Spice will never die. Throughout the years, the former bandmates have reminisced about their time together. There have even been some reunions here and there, but that’s a story for a different time. Ginger Spice honored her time with the group in a unique way.

Geri Halliwell and Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner

Geri Halliwell and Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner. Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

When Geri Halliwell got married and became Geri Horner, she performed the hit single “Wannabe” at her wedding! The former pop star must have wanted to send her single days off into the sunset, and she chose a unique way of doing so!

Ginger Spice in Sex and the City

These starlets had their choice of shows and movies to appear in. They sometimes would appear as themselves but usually would be portrayed as someone else. When Ginger Spice made an appearance on Sex and the City, she was almost unrecognizable. You had to know her every feature to recognize her!

Geri Horner Appears At G-A-Y

Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images

To start, she was unrecognizable because her trademark, fiery red hair was not depicted. She appeared on screen as Samantha’s blonde British friend who was leaving a pool party at some posh NYC hotel to beat the heat. She looked so different!

No Grammys for These Girls

Despite breaking records all over the place and becoming the biggest thing in music in the late 1990s, these ladies were missing something that would have genuinely certified their successes. Even though they had topped global charts and won tons of awards, they never won a Grammy.

Spice Girls Group Picture

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There are some theories why they won all these other awards but not the granddaddy of them all. Even though they sold over 85 million albums worldwide along with nine UK number one hits, they never hit their mark with the Grammy judges. They only recorded three albums, so that could be a big part of it.

Welcome to Spice World

The girls worked their way through every part of the entertainment industry. In proper 1990s form, they all played themselves in a movie about fictional events leading up to their concert in London. The film was filled with cliches of the time, like flashbacks and dream sequences. Naturally, hijinks ensued!

1997 MTV Video Music Awards

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

The film highlighted their stardom and focused a lot on their public image. There was always someone who wanted to make them look bad and someone who tried to ruin their reputation. These girls were not going to let that happen!

Spicy Hijinks

The movie starts with the girls singing one of their hits on the show Top of the Pops – the same show that gave them their aliases in the first place. They seemed unhappy with their fame and fortune, to which we just have to say: boo-hoo! Simultaneously a newspaper owner was trying to ruin their reputation in order to get his newspaper some more significant ratings.

The Prince of Wales gets a warm reception from the Spice girls

Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Paparazzi wanted to take their photos, and Hollywood writers tracked the girls down to pitch ideas for their feature film, but every piece of it was bizarre. The movie shows them getting ready for the biggest show of their careers and depicts them as frustrated when they cannot be there for the birth of their pregnant friend Nicola’s baby. They could not help but wonder: Is our fame and fortune worth what we have to sacrifice?

Fighting the Clock

The rest of the movie consisted of cheesy flashbacks to their humble beginnings. It did not take long for them to bop to the top, and they all took time to reminisce. After a tough couple of days, they reunite in front of an abandoned café, where they practiced for gigs together. This was entirely by chance.

Spice World publicity still

Source: MovieStillsDB.com, Copyrights: Columbia Pictures

They continued from there to take their pregnant friend out dancing moments before she goes into labor. They went from the nightclub to the hospital, where they interacted with even more paparazzi who were pretending to be doctors. They realized they would be late for their show, so when they couldn’t find their driver, Posh decided to take the wheel. She drove recklessly and got to the show just in time.

Made to Entertain

When the girls finally arrived at the show’s venue, they ran into a final problem. A police officer was not a fan of their driving! Before they could get the show started, they needed to convince the officer to let them off for their performance. He tried to charge them for many things, including scaring the pigeons!

Spice World publicity still

Source: MovieStillsDB.com, Copyrights: Columbia Pictures

Fortunately, Baby Spice was able to convince the officer to let them off with just a warning. The film ends with a performance of their hit “Spice Up Your Life,” which is broadcast across the globe. Fortunately, they were already in the venue… their bus had a bomb in it and exploded during the show. Luckily, they were safe!

Romantic Entanglement

Victoria Beckham is not the only one to have found a famous lover during her time as a Spice Girl. Mel B, better known as Scary Spice, was once part of a Hollywood power couple with world-renowned comedian Eddie Murphy. Things were going well… until they weren’t!

Mel B And Attorney Gloria Allred Hold News Conference

Mel B And Attorney Gloria Allred Hold News Conference. Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images

The couple went from proclamations of being the “love of my life” to hostility quite quickly. The two dated immediately after Murphy’s divorce from Nicole Mitchell, and Scary Spice soon became pregnant with his child. Unfortunately, things went south, and the two were in court battling over child support. Recently, her earnings went down significantly with the coronavirus pandemic, so she requested that he start paying another £21,000 per month in child support!

Scary and Ginger Got Intimate

There have been rumors throughout the years of the girls getting down and funky together… in a different way than they do on stage. There has been speculation from song lyrics that some of the girls got involved physically, and it seems that Scary Spice decided to put the rumors to rest.

Mel B and Geri Horner

Mel B and Geri Horner. Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images

Scary Spice confirmed the rumors that she and Ginger had gotten intimate in an appearance on Good Morning Britain. When Mel B was being interviewed, she was asked multiple times if she had slept with Geri. She finally caved and gave a sleek smile and shook her head yes. “She’s going to kill me for sharing that!”

Their Olympic Honor

The last time the ladies performed their hit single “Wannabe” as a group was back in 2012. This was a particularly notable performance, though, and it was a rare opportunity for anyone. The Spice Girls were guests of honor at the London Olympics in 2012. These girls were the definition of “cool Britannia!”

The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games

Photo by Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty Images

These pop sensations dominated headlines after they performed at the closing ceremony. They showed up in true Spice Girls’ fashion; five black London cabs resembling a different Spice persona. They stood atop the cabs as they belted out “Spice Up Your Life” as their cabs drove at high speed!

There Was Bullying Involved

Unfortunately, girls tend to be unnecessarily mean to each other. The Spice Girls were no exception. Mel C (better known as Sporty Spice) dealt with a little too much bullying. Mel B (Scary Spice) is a suspected perpetrator. Come on, ladies, lift each other up, don’t break each other down!

Olympic Summer Games - Closing Ceremony

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There is a chance that the bullying persisted because of the unrealistic expectations they had regarding weight and appearance. In an interview with The Guardian, Sporty confirmed suspicions and divulged that Scary was taunting her. Scary, indeed!

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

Nine years after Geri left her post as Ginger Spice, the group reunited at the 2007 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. It is usually pretty challenging to outshine the women who are strutting their stuff down the runway, especially when they are nearly naked. Enter the Spice Girls, who can upstage anyone!

12th Annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

They used it as an opportunity to give a sneak peek at their upcoming world tour. They came out to a stage filled with glittering lights that spelled out “Spice,” as if anyone forgot who the real stars of the show were. They gave supermodels like Heidi Klum a run for their money.

America’s Got Talent Gets Scary

Naturally, the girls needed to figure out their next step after their days as the Spice Girls wrapped up. Some tried to break into solo careers, while others attempted to make a name themselves in other industries. Mel B, Scary Spice, went on to be a judge for America’s Got Talent.

Mel B attends

Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Scary Spice was a judge on America’s Got Talent: The Champions, but she decided not to return for the next season. She left because she wanted to return home to Leeds, England, from her typical post in Los Angeles.

Asia’s Got Talent Gets Sporty

First, we did not even know that there was such a thing as Asia’s Got Talent, but it makes sense; Talent exists in every corner of the world! While America’s Got Talent had Mel B as a judge on Champions, the Asian version had Mel C on their side.

Asia's Got Talent Photocall

Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Sporty Spice was only a judge for that show for a brief moment, but she did a great job. She left the show after the first season and was replaced by a Korean rapper named Jay Park. Now, she’s onto the next big project!

Ginger vs. The Spice Girls

The first to move on was Geri Halliwell. Months before she announced that she was moving on from the Spice Girls, Ginger Spice started shedding that side of herself. She dyed her hair a lighter color, ridding herself of the trademark fiery red hair. Her costumes became less flashy, and she made some noticeable changes in her appearance.

Photo of Geri HALLIWELL

Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns

When she announced that she was leaving the group, her public statement included the typical sentiments. “I wish them all the best!” She was not afraid to tell the world that she was leaving because the girls had their differences. There was an air of “Ginger versus the group,” and it wasn’t all in her head.

They Wanted Solo Careers

When you have a music group, you have a lot of talent in one place. These ladies wanted to break off and do their own thing, much like other iconic groups in the music industry. The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, One Direction, The Supremes – they’ve all had artists break out and find success individually.

Viva Forever - Press Night - Inside Arrivals

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After her departure, it was clear that the group was missing something. The group did not have the same sound, and their next studio album, Forever, was noticeably less successful than the first two. They announced an indefinite hiatus, then broke off and did their own thing.

No Solo Success for Posh

After Geri left, the group made it clear that they would try to work things out individually. Solo success worked out for some of them, but unfortunately, not for all of them. Of all five women, only four were able to get to the most coveted number one spot.

Victoria Beckham attends the Portrait Gala 2019

Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Victoria Beckham did not have the same solo success as her Spice Girl counterparts. She was not entirely unsuccessful, though. She went on to become an icon in the fashion world and truly lived up to her name. Posh will never be the same!

Geri Regretted the Way She Left Her Bandmates

The girls were halfway through their world tour when Ginger Spice decided she wanted out. Geri Halliwell up and left, sending her fans into a tizzy. Everyone was shocked, especially her band members. It would take years for her to open up about the incident. It sounded traumatic!

Celebrities Attend Wimbledon 2019

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Twelve years after her departure, she shared that she initially planned to leave the group after the tour. She wanted to complete an interview on cancer awareness but was told she was not allowed to. She was fed up and wanted out, right then and there.

Harsh on Management

These ladies went through several changes in management during their time together. They started with Bob and Chris Herbert, a father-son duo who helped the group get off the ground and into the spotlight. Geri thought that the group was destined for something better. They sought out new management.

Viva Forever - Press Night - Inside Arrivals

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The girls signed with Simon Fuller, who solidified their deal with Virgin Records. After they got what they needed from him, the group felt they were tired of his style and wanted to strike out independently. Many believe it was part of their downfall.

Girl Power

Many people associated the phrase “Girl Power” with these pop sensations. The expression was particularly close to Ginger Spice’s heart, and she told Marie Claire, “Girl power, for me, was a voice for the voiceless, screamed from a megaphone and kicked out hard: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.”

Spice Girls book signing for

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Though many associate it with the group, you cannot credit them with the phrase. Another British group, Shampoo, had coined the term a year earlier with their promotional single “Trouble,” taken from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie. It may not come from them, but that’s how the world sees it: It’s a Spice Girls’ phrase!