Wannabe received mixed reviews from music critics.
Allmusic's reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave a positive review: Erlwine said "none of the Girls have great voices, but they do exude personality and charisma, which is what drives bouncy dance-pop like 'Wannabe', with its ridiculous 'zig-a-zig-ahhh' hook, into pure pop guilty pleasure".
Christina Kelly from Rolling Stone gave a negative review: Kelly called the Spice Girls "another bubblegum pop group that offer a watered-down mix of hip-hop and cheesy pop balladry, brought together by a manager with a marketing concept", adding "Spice Girls's idea of power seems to be flaunting that they are all that, but the lyrics make Alanis Morissette's sound like Patti Smith's. A few nuggets: 'If you want to get with me, better make it fast...' Despite their pro-woman posing, the Girls don't get bogged down by anything deeper than mugging for promo shots and giving out tips on getting boys in bed." In a poll conducted by the magazine to identify the ten most annoying songs, this song was ranked eighth.
Matt Diehl from Entertainment Weekly gave a positive review: Diehl also noticed the combination of genres describing "Wannabe" as "more a compendium of music styles (from ABBA-style choruses to unconvincing hip hop) than an actual song", but added that "there's something endearing about this goofily formulaic Euro pop".
Pedro B. (a.k.a. ReturnTo Rock) from Sputnikmusic gave a negative review: In a review for Spice, B. called the lyrics "dire" and wondered "how could parents feed this to their 10-year-olds? The album's lyrics are so heavily laden with smut, I'm surprised they even let their kids have the album" and then used "Wannabe" as an example saying "The gist of the song is basically get your act together and treat me right, or there's no show. Not to mention the famous zig-a-zig-ha... try replacing it with the word 'sex' in the lyrics and see how it all suddenly makes perfect sense", adding "this track is built around an infectious keyboard riff, and so profoundly annoying, you'll want to rip your toenails off just so it will stop. But it's also really catchy, which makes you hate it even more."
Another review by Daniel Incognito from Sputnikmusic gave a positive review: Incognito said "The lively bubble-gum pop of the Spice Girls embodied a gender not willing to lie down, and their debut single "Wannabe" acted as a proverbial kick in the pants for male chauvinists worldwide."
Australia: Wannabe debuted at number forty-five, reaching the top of the ARIA Singles Chart for eleven weeks, and ending at number-five at the 1996 year-end chart. In New Zealand the single debuted on 1 September 1996 at number thirty-eight, reaching the first position ten weeks later, staying there for only one week, and thirty-two weeks in total.
Austria: The single reached the second position in Austria
Bulgaria: Wannabe also reached the first position in both of the Belgian charts (Flanders and Wallonia).
Canada: Wannabe debuted at the eighty-nine position of the RPM singles chart,reaching its peak at number nine in its eighth week, remaining on the chart for sixteen weeks, and ending at the sixty-eight position on the year-end chart. The song was more successful on the Dance Chart, where it reached the top for three weeks, and ended at the top of the year-end chart.
Finland: The song reached the top for one week, and stayed thirteen weeks in total. In Norway it debuted at number eight, reaching the top of the chart for five consecutive weeks, and was certified platinum by the IFPI.
France: The song debuted on 27 July 1996 at number forty-seven, reached the top position ten weeks later for three consecutive weeks, remained twenty-four weeks on the chart, and received a diamond certification by the Syndicat National de l'Edition Phonographique in June 1997. In Germany the song debuted on 12 August 1996 at the sixty-one position, reaching the top of the chart five weeks later for four consecutive weeks, remaining twenty-two weeks in the chart, and received a gold certification by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
Ireland: The song reached the number-one position the first week of August, staying at the top for four consecutive weeks.
Italy: The single reached the third position in Italy.
Netherlands: The song reached the top position of the Dutch Top 40 for two weeks, and received a gold certification by the NVPI. In Switzerland the single debuted on 25 August 1996 at number five, reaching the top of the chart for five consecutive weeks. It stayed twenty-four weeks on the chart, and received a gold certification by the IFPI.
Spain: In Spain, the single reached the number one position in the Airplay charts.
Sweden: The single debuted on 2 August 1996 at number twenty-eight, reached the top of the chart for three weeks, and received a gold certification by the Swedish Recording Industry Association (GLF).
United Kingdom: Wannabe was released in the United Kingdom on 8 July 1996, debuting on the UK Singles Chart at number three, before climbing to number one the next week, knocking Gary Barlow's Forever Love. It then spent seven weeks at the top and received a platinum certification by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI)., the second longest stay by an all female group, only behind Shakespear's Sisters Stay, which spent eight weeks at number one in 1992. With eighteen weeks in the Top 40, and twenty-six weeks in the Top 75, it sold over 1,269,841 million copies, becoming the second biggest-selling single of the year, the twelfth best-selling single of the decade, the fortieth best-selling single ever in the UK, and is still the biggest selling single by a female group in the UK.
United States: The song debuted on 25 January 1997 at number eleven. At the time was the highest-ever debut by a British act in the U.S. beating the record previously held by The Beatles for I Want to Hold Your Hand at number twelve. It reached the top of the chart in its fifth week, knocking Toni Braxton's Un-Break My Heart, staying there for four consecutive weeks simultaneously with the group's fourth single (Mama/Who Do You Think You Are) being at number one in the UK, and becoming their only number one single in the US. It was a successful number-one single, reaching the sixth position of the Hot 100 Airplay chart, and topping the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart for four consecutive weeks. The song was a crossover success, reaching the top of the Rhythmic Top 40, and hitting the top twenty of the Hot Dance Club Play chart, and the top ten in the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. It ended at number ten at the 1997 year-end chart.
Europe: The single reached the number-one position in almost every country it charted. On 14 September 1996 the song reached the top of the Eurochart Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks, before it was replaced by the group's second single, Say You'll Be There.
Worldwide: The singles wen to number one in thirty-one countries overall, and certificated with platinum selling over 7 million copies. Awards and honours Wannabe is one of the most recognisable and successful songs of the 1990s. By the end of 1996 it had topped the charts in 22 nations, and by March of 1997 this number had climbed to 31, before it became the best-selling single by a female group in the history of recorded sound, selling over six million copies worldwide.
Awards and honoursEdit
Despite receiving mixed reviews from music critics, the song won International Hit Of The Year and Best British-Written Single at the 1997 Ivor Novello Awards presented by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters and Best Single at the 1997 BRIT Awards.
Victoria commented on the success of the single:
"We're as shocked as everyone else by the success of Wannabe. It doesn't put us under any pressure to follow it up. If it's the only number one we ever have, at least it proves what we're capable of. It's brilliant because it was the public who put it there, so it shows they enjoy what we do, but it's still just a paper fact about record sales. It's only one tiny step for us as a band. We've already recorded an album which we're incredibly proud of and that is what we're really anxious for people to get into."
In 2007, online voters rated Wannabe #33 on VH1's list of "The 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s".
On 30 June 2010, Rob Morgan of MSN Music named the song as 10 songs that changed the world placing the song at fifth place.
Charts, peaks and certificationsEdit