Emma Lee Bunton (born 21 January 1976) is a British pop singer/songwriter, actress, model and TV and radio presenter. She is a member of the girl group, The Spice Girls formed in the 1990s, in which she is known as Baby Spice as she is the youngest member. She is currently a Radio Presenter on Heart FM Saturday evening slot from 5pm to 7pm, and on London's Heart (106.2fm and Heart.co.uk) with Jamie Theakston every weekday morning from 6am till 9am.
Her debut solo album A Girl Like Me was released in the United Kingdom on 16 April 2001 by Virgin Records. The album debuted and peaked at number four on the UK Albums Chart. On 7 September 2001, A Girl Like Me was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry for sales in excess of 100,000 copies, ultimately becoming the 147th best-selling album in the UK for 2001. The album brought the UK number-one "What Took You So Long?" as well as top five hits "What I Am" (a cover of a 1988 song by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians) and "Take My Breath Away" and the top 20 hit "We're Not Gonna Sleep Tonight". The album sold 125,000 copies in the UK.
Bunton's second album, Free Me, was released in 2004 through 19 Entertainment/Universal Records. Four singles were taken from it: "Free Me",written by Hélène Muddiman "Maybe",written by Yak Bondy "I'll Be There" written by Hélène Muddiman and "Crickets Sing For Anamaria". The album spent over twelve weeks inside the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number seven and selling over 141,712 copies, earning gold award status. After Free Me and Maybe were released as singles and had success in the American dance charts, the album was released in North America. Life In Mono was released on 4 December 2006 and two singles where released from the album, Bunton reunited with the Spice Girls in 2007 for an international tour and greatest hits album. From 2003 to 2012 Bunton had a recurring role on the BBC comedy series Absolutely Fabulous. Bunton performed at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremonyon 12 August with the Spice Girls.
1976–92: Early life and career beginningsEdit
Bunton was born in Finchley, North London, brought up as a Catholic, and grew up in Woodside Park.Her parents, Pauline, a karate instructor, and Trevor, a milkman, split up when she was 11, after which she stayed with her mother. She has a younger brother, Paul James. Bunton went to St. Theresa's Primary School in Finchley, then to Sylvia Young Theatre School in Marylebone. She appeared briefly in the BBC series EastEnders in 1992 as a mugger. In 1993, she appeared in the ITV1 police series, The Bill, and also made a brief appearance as a prostitute in the BBC drama series To Play the King. After appearing on the show she was offered a temporary role as a troubled prostitute trying to kick her drug habit, but she turned it down because she wanted to maintain a wholesome image. Bunton also appeared in a public information film for the British government concerning fire safety.
1993–2000: Spice GirlsEdit
She joined the Spice Girls (then called Touch) in 1993 after Michelle Stephenson left. Bunton was called Baby Spice because she was the youngest, had long blonde pigtails, wore babydoll dresses and had a girly girlpersonality.Edit
The debut single Wannabe was the first of nine number ones in the United Kingdom for the Spice Girls, and reached the top in 37 countries. As a songwriter, Bunton set the shortest time to achieve six No.1 UK singles, one year and five months from Wannabe to Too Much.In 1999, she presented Emma on VH1. She recorded "(Hey You) Free Up Your Mind" for the film Pokémon: The First Movie.
Her debut solo album A Girl Like Me, released in the United Kingdom on 16 April 2001 by Virgin Records. The album debuted and peaked at number four on the UK Albums Chart, with 21,500 copies sold in its first week. Although initial success was promising, A Girl Like Me fell down the chart quickly. However, singles "What Took You So Long?", "Take My Breath Away", and "We're Not Gonna Sleep Tonight" helped the album stay on the UK Albums Chart for several weeks. On 7 September 2001, A Girl Like Me was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry for sales in excess of 100,000 copies, ultimately becoming the 147th best-selling album in the UK for 2001. Lacklustre sales may be partially explained by the fact that the album was not released in Latin America (except in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile) and North America. The album brought the UK number-one "What Took You So Long?" as well as top five hits "What I Am" (a cover of a 1988 song by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians) and "Take My Breath Away" and the top 20 hit "We're Not Gonna Sleep Tonight". The album sold 125,000 copies in the UK. Disappointing sales led to Bunton's leaving Virgin in 2002.
Bunton's second album, Free Me, was released in 2003 through 19 Entertainment/Universal Records. Four singles were taken from it: "Free Me", "Maybe", "I'll Be There" and "Crickets Sing For Anamaria". After success in the American dance charts the album was sold in North America. The American edition included remixes and a different cover. The album was the second to follow her 2001 release, A Girl Like Me, and spent over twelve weeks inside the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number seven and selling over 141,712 copies, earning gold award status. The album was widely acclaimed by critics as being the "one of best solo Spice records ever" due to its catchy and fun use of sounds from the Motown and the 1960s era. The album was largely produced by Mike Peden and Yak Bondy, who have produced tracks for S Club 7 and Lucie Silvas, to name a few. Other contributions on the album courtesy of Cathy Dennis, Henry Binns and Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi. "One Thing I Know", an unreleased track co-written by Bunton for Free Me, was recorded by another 19 Management act, S Club 8, for their album Sundown. Bunton's original vocals can clearly be heard on S Club 8's version.
The lead single, "Free Me", was released in the spring of 2003. The song immediately picked up airplay, and the single sold well in the UK, peaking at number five on the UK Singles Chart. "Maybe" was released as the second single in the autumn of 2003, and also gained extensive airplay throughout the UK, peaking at number six, one position lower than its predecessor.
In the spring of 2004, the album and its third single, "I'll Be There", were released. The single, like its two predecessors, performed well on the charts, peaking at number seven, one position below "Maybe", and two positions below "Free Me". The album sold more copies in its first week then her debut solo record had, and would ultimately go on to outsell it by 25,000 copies. With this, Bunton became the only Spice Girls member to have sold more copies of her second album than her first in UK. Later in the year, the fourth single, "Crickets Sing for Anamaria", was released. Despite its harder beat and grittier sound, by now the impact of Free Me was beginning to wear off, and the song only came in at number fifteen on the UK Singles Chart, totalling 25,000 copies, and becoming Bunton's lowest-selling single.
In the U.S., both "Free Me" and "Maybe" were dance club regulars, reaching number four and number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play respectively. In 2005, Bunton filmed guest roles in two Bollywood films: Pyaar Mein Twist and Chocolate: Deep Dark Secrets.
Bunton performing during the return of the Spice Girls tour in 2007In October 2006, Bunton was a contestant in the BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing, partnered by Darren Bennett. She finished third place in the final.
In November 2006, Bunton released the charity single for the BBC Children in Need appeal, recording Petula Clark's 1960s song "Downtown". It reached number three on the UK Singles Chart and was followed by her third studio album, Life in Mono on 4 December. The album was originally set for a November release in the UK, however it was later pushed back to 4 December 2006. Life In Mono, much like her previous album, Free Me, experimented with elements of 1960s pop music. For this particular album the musical arrangement was more directed towards the 1960s French pop music, with some elements of British 1960s pop and Motown. The first single taken from the album was a cover of Petula Clark's 1964 hit single "Downtown", released on 13 November. "Downtown" is the 2006 BBC Children in Need official charity single and reached No.3 in the UK singles chart. "All I Need to Know" was released as second single.
Bunton had been working on her third release since winter 2004. The album's title track is a cover version of the hit "Life in Mono" by 1990s trip hop band Mono, best known through its usage in the 1998 film Great Expectations. The track "Take Me to Another Town" contains a sample from Herb Alpert's 1965 "Green Peppers". Due to Emma’s pregnancy all forms of promotion were cancelled after a few months. Rumours of a third single surfaced through sites after Emma stated she was thinking of releasing a third single, however this never came. The songs I Wasn’t Looking (When I Found Love),Perfect Strangers and Take Me To Another Town were rumoured.
Although it sold almost 13,000 copies in its first week, the album was Emma's first not to reach the UK Top 10. It debuted on the UK Albums Chart at No.65 on 10 December 2006 falling to No.75 in its second week and dropped out of the chart the following week. On the whole, the album sold around 60,000 copies in the UK. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at 65, selling 13,000 copies in its first week. The second single from it was "All I Need to Know", on 12 February 2007, intended for Valentine's Day. Bunton shot the video around Old Street in East London, in the week before Christmas 2006. Entering the UK Singles Chart at 60, "All I Need to Know" became the lowest-charting single of Bunton's solo career.
On October 2009, reports suggested that the Spice Girls are to star in a reality show in which they will cast female actors to play their roles in a musical. Melanie Brown denied this claim, stating that all members of the group were already accounted for and planning "something exciting". Next year of 2010, Judy Craymer has teamed up with the Spice Girls and Simon Fuller to start developing a Spice Girls musical entitled Viva Forever. Although the girls are not to be in the show, they are to influence the show's cast and production choices in a story which uses their music but bears no relation to their personal story; similar to that of ABBA's music in Mamma Mia!. On 28 August 2010, it was reported that Jennifer Saunders would pen the script for the Spice Girls' musical, Viva Forever.Saunders had twice previously worked with the group: the first time, appearing in the Comic Relief version for the "Who Do You Think You Are" video, the second, making a cameo appearance in the 1997 feature film, Spice World. On 26 June 2012, all five Spice Girls were in attendance at a press conference in London to promote the launch of Viva Forever: The Musical. The press conference was held at St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, the location where the Spice Girls filmed the music video for their breakthrough hit "Wannabe", sixteen years earlier, to the day. The musical is due to open at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre on 11 December 2012.
She will also star in the new Keith Lemon film set to premiere in August.
On 12 August 2012, after much speculation, Bunton and the Spice Girls performed a medley of "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life" at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, reuniting solely for the event. Their performance was the most tweeted moment of Olympics closing ceremony with over 116,000 tweets on Twitter per minute. Bunton also worked with Spice Girls groupmate Melanie C's album, Stages for the album track "I Know Him So Well". The song was released as a single on 11 November 2012.
In February, and again between May and June 2009, she starred as guest presenter on Heart London's Heart Breakfast alongside Jamie Theakston and Harriet Scott. Bunton began hosting her own pre-recorded Saturday drive time radio show on Heart in the Saturday afternoon slot 4pm – 7pm starting on Saturday 13 June 2009.Bunton provided maternity leave cover for Heart Breakfast co-presenter Harriet Scott from 3 October until 23 December 2011 on Heart London. On January 2012, Bunton reprised her role as one of fictional PR manager Edina Monsoon's disgruntled clients in a revival of the BBC's Absolutely Fabulous. Following Harriet Scott's departure from Heart Breakfast in November 2012, it was announced Bunton would succeed her as co-host along with Jamie Theakston from 7 January 2013.
Bunton has been seen in a television commercial for the supermarket chain Tesco. She also had a cameo role on the Australian soap opera Neighbours on the episode titled "What's a Spice Girl Like You...?", aired on 19 March 2007 in Australia, and on 25 May 2007 in the UK. Bunton returned to US screens with a nationwide commercial for Prego in May 2007.
In July 2008, Bunton stood in as co-presenter alongside Richard Madeley on the UK television show Richard & Judy while Judy Finnigan was recovering from a knee operation. In October 2008, Bunton appeared on the UK series of The X Factor to assist judge Dannii Minogue in choosing the three best over-25s acts to take to the live X Factor finals. In December 2008, Bunton debuted as a member of the panel on Loose Women on ITV.
In January 2010, Emma joined the "Ice Panel" on ITV dancing show Dancing on Ice replacing former judge Ruthie Henshall. She stepped down from this role on 2 December 2011 in order to pursue new projects. In February 2010, Bunton appeared in a UK National Television campaign first aired during Coronation Street, showing her in the Heart Radio studios at the start and the end of the advert. In summer 2010, she presented the Fiveprogram Don't Stop Believing.