Melanie Brown is an English pop singer and songwriter turned actress and television personality best known as one of the members of the girl group the Spice Girls, one of the most successful female groups of all time. She was given the nickname "Scary Spice" by the British media because of her outrageous, "in-your-face" attitude, 'loud' Leeds accent, throaty laugh, manner of dress (which often consisted of leopard-print outfits), and her voluminously curly hair.
Brown was born in Harehills, Leeds, West Yorkshire, to a white English mother, Andrea, and a black Nevisian father, Martin. She has a younger sister named Danielle who is an actress. She studied performing arts at Intake High School, in Leeds, before entering the entertainment industry. For a time she worked as a dancer in the holiday resort, Blackpool, Lancashire.
After seeing an advertisement for an audition in a newspaper, Brown started her music career in a band known as Touch. The group left the original management team and eventually teamed up with music manager Simon Fuller. Here, she and the other girls were launched on the world as the Spice Girls. After worldwide success in the group she embarked on a solo music career in 1998. Her first solo album, with Virgin Records, was somewhat of a success, including a number one hit. However, it did not sell or chart very well. In 2005, she released a second solo album which did not attract much attention.
1994-2001: Scary Spice
In 1996 Brown, along with Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, and Victoria Beckham (at that time Victoria Adams), shot to fame as a member of the Spice Girls with the release of "Wannabe". The debut album, Spice, shot to number one all over the globe, including the U.S.. Because of the fact she was often to be found in leopard print clothing and big wild hair and having a loud attitude, Brown received the nickname "Scary Spice" from Top of the Pops Magazine (each member of the group was given a humorous nickname in a small piece titled "Spice Rack"). The Spice Girls were popular in the late 1990s, selling over thirty-five million albums in just two years. They went on to become one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, selling more than fifty-five million records worldwide. They had nine UK number-one singles and two number-one albums. After a third album release, Forever (UK number-two), the members went their separate ways, and Brown developed a solo career.
Early solo work
At the height of the Spice Girls' success, Brown was invited to work with Missy Elliott on the single "I Want You Back", a song for the soundtrack of the film Why Do Fools Fall in Love. It was recorded in just one afternoon, due to Brown's busy Spice Girls schedule. The video featured Brown's then husband Jimmy Gulzar, who appeared chained and submissive to his wife. Upon its British release in September 1998, I Want You Back sold 80,000 copies in its first week alone, giving Brown her first and only solo #1 in her home country. This was confirmed on the day that the Spice Girls played their last world tour concert at Wembley Stadium in front of 52,000 fans. Ultimately the single sold 218,000 copies and became the 82nd Bestselling British Single of 1998.
At the suggestion of her then-husband Jimmy Gulzar, Brown covered Cameo's 1986 hit Word Up as her next solo release. The track was notable for being produced by Timbaland. The track was already released on the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. This resulted in its flopping in the UK (peaking at #14), making it the lowest charting Spice Girls related single of the 90s.The European video was a surreal animation, directed by Jimmy. A further video was shot which featured the mini me character from Austin Powers. The track was not included on Brown's UK version of her debut solo album, and speaking at the time of her album release she stated that she "didn't really like 'Word Up'".
Following the disappointing performance of Word Up , Brown stopped releasing records for a while, but worked quietly on tracks for her debut solo album and the third Spice Girls album. Turning to television work, she hosted Pure Naughty, a weekly BBC2 magazine show focusing on black music. She also hosted the MOBO Awards on two occasions, in 1998 with Bill Bellamy and in 1999 with Wyclef Jean, and took part in a BBC funded short film entitled Fish.
Hot - debut solo album
As a way of dealing with the problems of her marriage, Brown continued working on her debut solo album. She worked with producers such as Sisqo, Teddy Riley, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Prince), with whom she was also working on the Spice Girls' third album, Forever.
In September 2000, she said that she heard the first single release from the album, "Tell Me". The track debuted at #4 in the UK charts with about 40,000 copies sold in its first week. It finally sold approximately 100,000 copies, making it the 158th "best seller" of 2000. The album, Hot, was released one month later on 3 October, was not a success and garnered mediocre reviews. It sold a disappointing 7,419 copies in its first week and charted at a weak #28, before quickly falling out of the charts.
Following the release of "Feels So Good", rumours began that if her next single flopped she would be dropped by her record company, Virgin Records. In May, Brown performed a small set at the London G-A-Y Astoria club, her only solo gig until 2004. A third single was released in June 2001, "Lullaby", a pop number dedicated to her daughter. It was accompanied by a very simple video shot in Morocco and featured Brown with Phoenix Chi. The media criticised Brown for using her child in the music video and single artwork, labelling her Desperate Spice and insinuating that she was exploiting her child as a marketing tool. The single entered and peaked at a disappointing #13, and Virgin duly dumped Brown from their label.
Return to music: LA State of Mind
In April 2004, Brown was approached to take part in the musical Rent. She played the role of Mimi, a drug-addicted young girl, and achieved positive reviews, but not from the show's fanbase. A few weeks after Brown finished her Rent stint, she played her second and last solo gig to date in a New York club, performing some songs from the musical and showcasing some new material she had written. As the songs received positive feedback, Brown decided to release them a year later through an independent label, Amber Café.
The only single from the album, "Today", saw a UK release in June 2005. Brown had stated it was just a gift to her fans, and minus a few small appearances no promotion was made. "Today" entered the singles chart at #41, selling around 1,000 copies in its first week.
The album, LA State Of Mind, was released on 27 June 2005 in two formats: as a regular CD and as a Limited Edition with a 30 minute DVD documentary detailing Brown's life in LA. The album fared even worse than its lead single, selling just 670 copies in its first week and charting at #453
Rumours of a second single were fuelled by "Beautiful Girl" bouncing around on the UK Singles Release Schedule for a couple of months. Allegedly a video was made, but due to the poor sales of both the previous single and the album, this release never materialised. Brown was not dropped from Amber Café; both parties decided to amicably part ways.
Return of the Spice Girls
After several years of speculation, Brown reunited with the other Spice Girls for a reunion tour that began in December 2007 and concluded in February 2008. The tour was a major success, and also coincided with a greatest hits album, documentary and promotion.
Third album (Reimagined)
Brown revealed in June 2008 that she had completed ten tracks and will be working with Janet Jackson and Missy Elliott. However in July 2008, following a report by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton that Brown had lied about her collaboration with Jackson, Brown admitted that there was no truth to her previous claim. Brown is also busy recording tracks for a new album she expects to have ready for release late 2008. "It's an R&B-pop kind of thing, a cross between early Pink and Destiny's Child. Urban pop. That's what I do best, where I come from, what people know me for, I've recorded four songs so far with some really great people," she says. One of the producers behind the album is Rodney Jerkins, aka Darkchild, who previously worked with Brown on the Spice Girls' final studio album, Forever, in 2000.Scott Storch revealed they are currently working on Mel’s new album together. Brown revealed in June 2008 that she had completed ten tracks and will be working with Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim. Melanie has also recorded on Missy's 7th studio album on a track called "Milk and Cookies". Melanie made a brief appearance on British morning show GMTV and announced that she would be releasing a fitness DVD, and then continued to say the new album is not ready yet and said the expected arrival of the album would be in 2009. The first single is rumored to be called "Who's Is It", and is expected to be dropping in late 2008.
Artist descriptions on Last.fm are editable by everyone. Feel free to contribute!
All user-contributed text on this page is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.