The Big Business of the Spice Girls

If all you want, all you really, really want for Christmas is to see the Spice Girls on tour, it's going to cost you.

On the eve of this reunion tour's kickoff Sunday in Vancouver, Canada, several online services are hawking pricey tickets to sold-out concerts across the United States.

A front-row seat for one of three December appearances at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas can cost you as much as $2,059, according to ticket reseller A premium seat could set you back $2,500 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

It's been almost a decade since the British pop sensation first stormed across the Atlantic and ushered in an era of chart-climbing success for other young pop artists including 'NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys and Brittany Spears.

"For a while radio was completely dominated by their singles," said Keith Caulfield, an analyst with Billboard magazine.

The Spices -- Posh (Victoria Beckham), Scary (Melanie Brown), Baby (Emma Bunton), Ginger (Geri Halliwell) and Sporty (Melanie Chisholm) had a string of seven consecutive Top 20 hits in the United States: "Wannabe," "Say You'll Be There," "Two Become One," "Spice of Your Life," "Too Much," "Stop" and "Goodbye."

According to Nielsen Soundscan, their first album, "Spice", sold 7.4 million copies in the United States and the follow-up CD, "Spice World," has sold 4.2 million copies.

Time Is Right for Reunion

But as 1998 drew to a close, things fizzled in the wake of Halliwell's departure from the group. By 2000 some of the members had already embarked on solo careers in music or fashion.

"There are tons and tons of British acts that have had lots of success outside of America -- they are big in Europe, but they never translated here," said Caulfield.

"The Spice Girls were really different, they sold millions and millions of albums, had Top 10 singles here unlike most of their counterparts in the U.K., and that is really unique to them."

So, why a reunion and why now?

Practically speaking the timing could never be better. This year the spotlight shined on two of the Spice Girls coming to America.

Melanie Brown was never scary when she wowed crowds recently with her performances on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars;" the outgoing Spice Girl took second place in the contest, and thanked Americans for embracing her.

Brown was also headline material earlier this year when she gave birth to her second child, Angel Iris, whose father -- actor-comedian Eddie Murphy -- initially denied paternity.

Victoria Beckham and her soccer-star husband David have also made a big splash in the United States. The couple and their three young boys moved to Los Angeles with much fanfare after the city's soccer team, the Galaxy, dangled a lucrative multimillion dollar deal before the mid-fielder.

Victoria Beckham even gave reality television a whirl, but her show did not do well and was canceled.

One pop culture observer sees today's difficult times as calling for a little Spice.

"There is a lot of nostalgia for the time that we associate with them, for the mid-'90s -- a time of celebrated, unapologetic pop. It was a sign of that confident, cool optimistic youth culture," said Elizabeth Goodman, an editor-at-large for Blender magazine.

And what about the appeal of the music a decade later? Goodman said just look at the ticket sales.

"It is pretty stunning how intense the sales have been. It's not just old-school Spice Girls fans," said Goodman. "It's not like we are looking for them to change up their arrangements or enrich these pop classics they've done. It is about a feeling. It is about a moment.

"Each one of them has a specific name we ascribe to them -- they are archetypes, they are little pop archetypes. That is one of the reasons they were so popular in the first place, they really are a phenomenon, not just a band."

A Passion for Fashion

And befitting such a phenomenon, the Spice Girls' management, 19 Entertainment, is sparing no expense on the tour. 19, owned by Simon Fuller, perhaps best-known as the creator of "American Idol," has hired top stylists, choreographers and designers to prepare the girl group for criss-crossing the globe.

The animal prints, Union Jack-emblazoned spandex and athletic warm-up suits of the 1990s have given way to elegant, contemporary high fashions created by Roberto Cavalli. The Italian fashion designer has outfitted a host of models and fashion types, as well as pop stars like Jennifer Lopez and Alicia Keys.

"I think [the new look] is chic and elegant and sexy. I love the silver, silver and greys are very in this year. Their style has matured," said Hollywood stylist Phillip Bloch as he eyes the sketch of some of the Cavalli creations.

Meanwhile Victoria's Secret had the group perform at their recent lingerie runway show (set to air on CBS Dec. 4) and inked a deal to sell the new CD, "Spice Girls: Greatest Hits," exclusively until mid-January.

Limited Brands, which owns Victoria's Secret, will not release sales figures, but the head of creative services for the apparel company said the move was a no-brainer, especially with the prediction of a sluggish holiday shopping season.

'"We thought that the Spice Girls CD…would give us a marketing 'leg up' and another reason for people to come into the stores during the critical holiday period," said Ed Razek, President of Creative Services for the Limited brands, which owns Victoria's Secret.

"We want to try to capture some of the energy and phenomenon of the Spice Girls momentum."