As part of our 35th-anniversary, we’re naming the most influential artists of the past 35 years. Today, we’re at #30. From London, UK, here are the Spice Girls.

CREDIT: Paul Bergen/Redferns

In the early 1990s, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and Bratmobile ushered in the feminist punk riot grrrl movement. But when the Spice Girls released their breakthrough single, “Wannabe,” in 1996, the English five-piece — Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), Geri Horner (Ginger Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice) and Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) — brought that ethos to the mainstream. With the group’s popularity came an electric mantra of “girl power” and a branded style of female empowerment that would define an era. 

Beyond music, the Spice Girls were everywhere — from movies (their A Hard Day’s Night-tinged satire Spice World) to collectible lollipop stickers. And with their platforms, Union Jack gear, black mini dresses and tracksuits, they also launched a style revolution that infiltrated pop culture.

The quintet’s music delivered messages of unbreakable friendship, but it also preached consent and self-respect (like on “2 Become 1” and “Stop”). With their three albums — Spice, Spiceworld and Forever — Spice Girls set the stage for artists like Dua Lipa and Little Mix, who have integrated “girl power” into their particular strands of pop. And Spice Girls devotion has yet to fade: By reuniting in 2019 for a European tour (sans Beckham), the Spice Girls were clearly still spicing up everyone’s lives. Hopefully they’ll be doing so stateside once it’s safe to tour again.

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