Kate's Notes

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Caroline Beckham (born on the 17th April, 1974) came into prominence as the feisty, extraordinary beauty, “Posh Spice,” from the late 1990s pop sensation, Spice Girls. However, since her inception into the international lime light, she has gained notoriety separate from the all-girl group as the highly-fashionable Victoria Beckham, wife to former Manchester United and current Real Madrid footballer David Beckham, and fashion designer, socialite, businesswoman and sometime singer, songwriter and actress.

Whether it be for her fashion choices, high-profile appearances, or indulgent shopping spree, Beckham is almost always featured in the weekly supermarket tabloids, and is widely considered to be one of the most written about, discussed, and analyzed British celebrities of the modern era. She has gone onto have her manicured hands in all spectrums of media, including a reality show documenting her cross-over to the United States, and authoring two books.

Early Life

Born in Hertfordshire, England, to Jackie and Tony Adams, Beckham has two siblings, brother Christian and sister Louise. When she was young, her father ran a successful electrical wholesale business and her family was well-off by most standards. As a child, Victoria was surprisingly lonely and insecure; other children often teased her because she had severe acne, and because she was embarrassed by their family’s wealth, she would ask her father not to drop her off in front of school so as not to be seen in the family's Rolls-Royce. Though she was a shy child, Beckham was in a band while in school, and studied at the Jason Theatre School before moving on to the Laine Arts Theatre College, where she dabbled in dance and modeling; and although her original band never took off, her life was forever changed when saw an ad in The Stage looking for five women who could sing and dance with the intent to form a group. This ad led her to the formation of Spice Girls.

Released in 1996, the Spice Girls' first single, "Wannabe," and their debut album, Spice, were smash hits in the United States and abroad. Beckham, along with her band mates Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, and Geri Halliwell became instant household names, with success that spurned a movie, Spice World, starring the five-some, and a platinum album to boot. With hits like "2 Become 1" and "Spice Up Your Life," Spice Girls went on to sell over 35 million albums and 25 million singles worldwide, igniting a worldwide phenomenon in the process. But this mega success was relatively short-lived. Worldwide tours, millions of albums sold, and a movie (Spiceworld) later, Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell decided to split from Spice Girls in May 1998, which left a huge void in the group. After the remaining foursome released Forever in 2000, which was met with lukewarm sales, Spice Girls decided to split up and pursue solo projects. Taking some time off and falling in love in the process, "Posh Spice" married soccer star David Beckham in July 1999, and together they have three sons, Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz.

Solo Career

Despite being one of the most famous celebrities in Britain, and having all her music reach the United Kingdom top ten, Beckham's career as a solo artist is largely considered to have been a commercial failure. She was the last of the Spice Girls to launch a solo career, allegedly due to her reluctance to "go it alone."

In August 2000, Beckham released her first single outside of Spice Girls: “Out Of Your Mind”: a collaboration with the garage act the Truesteppers and Dane Bowers. The week of release coincided with the release of “Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor, resulting in a chart battle dubbed "Posh vs. Posher" by the tabloids. Following a huge publicity campaign, “Out Of Your Mind” was outsold by 20,000 copies and debuted at number two with first week sales of 180,584 copies (a figure that would have usually guaranteed a #1 position, but given the publicity battle, it fell short).

Beckham was given a solo recording contract by her group label Virgin Records. Her true debut single as a solo artist, “Not Such An Innocent Girl,” was released in September 2001. Again, she faced competition in another hugely hyped chart battle, this time with Kylie Minogue's single “Can't Get You Out Of My Head.” Victoria was unlikely to beat Kylie, but she gave the project huge promotion, and the record had an expensive and futuristic video.

In the week of release, the United Kingdom tabloid newspaper The Sun ran a daily progress chart covering the chart battle, but they gave up half way through the week when it was clear the battle was a one horse race; that horse being Kylie Minogue. A potential factor attributable to Beckham’s weaker sales could be the due to the media furor she created after wearing a fake lip ring during a live performance in Birmingham, an event that also saw her getting booed and pelted with fruit by a hostile public. She was widely criticized by many groups, including the British Dental Association, for setting a bad example that her younger fans may wish to emulate. It has since been argued that this 'stunt' and the ensuing media backlash was the beginning of the end of Beckham’s music career.

Released a after “Not Such An Innocent Girl,” Beckham’s debut album reached number 10 in the United Kingdom album chart. The album featured the much talked about “Every Part Of Me,” a song co-written by Beckham and dedicated to her son, Brooklyn, who is featured in the beginning of the song; Brooklyn's "part" was allegedly an off-chance recording which took place during a recording session break.

The second and final single to be released from the album was A Mind Of Its Own; this track was much slower catching on. The single stalled at number 6 in the United Kingdom and sold 56,500 copies. Following this lackluster chart performance, rumors started spreading that Beckham was soon to be dropped by her label. These were refuted at the time.

A third single, “I Wish,” was promoted but never materialized. The single version was a remix featuring Robbie Craig, and was performed on television on “Friday Night's All Wright.” Many hoped this single would revitalize the album's reputation, but following the announcement of Beckham's second pregnancy it was shelved, and Beckham parted ways with Virgin Records.

Telstar: The Attempt to Go Solo

However, to the surprise of the music industry, Telstar Records signed Beckham in 2002 in a deal made with Simon Fuller's 19 Management. She spent much of 2002 recording a 'pop-influenced' album, but it was shelved after Beckham was not happy with the results. Instead of pop, Beckham wanted to record tracks with a more R&B and hip-hop influence, and to accomplish this she began working with urban producer Damon Dash. These plans reportedly worried Telstar and Simon Fuller, but they compromised with Beckham, allowing her to release a Dash produced track (“This Groove”) along-side one of her earlier pop tracks (“Let Your Head Go”) from the shelved album.

The resulting double A-side single “Let Your Head Go / This Groove” was released in the United Kingdom in late December 2003, following heavy promotion and many television appearances around Christmas. The single hit #3 on the charts, although critics were fast to point out this was not much of an accomplishment due to singles receiving their lowest sales of the year the week after Christmas. “This Groove” sparked some media interest and controversy because of its lascivious content: phone sex. This double A-side remains Beckham's last single release to date.

As another compromise, Telstar allowed her to release some of her urban tracks on The Real Beckhams DVD. This 2003 documentary was released in January 2004, and bonus material included the videos for “Let Your Head Go” and “This Groove,” as well as four previously unreleased tracks: “Resentment,” “That Dude,” “Me And You This Time and Valentine” (none of the songs had a writing credit from Beckham); “Resentment” has since been covered by Beyoncé Knowles and released on her solo album B'Day (2006).

Outside of the United Kingdom, Damon Dash had plans for Beckham in the United States, including a potential release of “Let Your Head Go / This Groove” under the name of "Posh Spice Victoria Beckham." The release was proposed for sometime between March to May 2004, but never occurred. A Dash produced track “It's That Simple,” featuring M.O.P. was released on vinyl, and received a premiere on BBC urban music radio station, 1Xtra. This only generated further criticism, with the feeling being that Beckham was a far from convincing urban act. Around this time, a 90 second snippet of a track called “Come Together” was released to the media, which was notable for sampling The Beatles' song “Come Together.” However, a full version never leaked.

With the United Kingdom media describing her music career a failure, and combined with a rumored fall out between Dash and Fuller, remaining plans for Beckham's music career were cancelled. To try and salvage her music career, Beckham again began work on pop-styled tracks in 2004. It is known that she recorded a track written for her by Cathy Dennis entitled “My Love Is For Real.” With the collapse of Telstar Records, the pressure to stay with her family caused by the Rebecca Loos scandal (David Beckham, her husband, was found out to be cheating on Beckham with Loos), and the announcement of Beckham's third pregnancy, this song has never been heard, except for a leaked remix by Armand van Helden.

Unreleased Music

A previously unknown track, “Back To Life,” was put online in 2005 after someone found it in a small record store. Although uncertain, it is believed this track dates from early recording sessions for the Beckham album. It sold for £390, although the buyer never leaked the songs onto the internet after being warned by lawyers representing the copyright owner of the material.

Future in Music

On February 26, 2006, Beckham stated in an interview with the Sunday Mirror, "I'm never going to sing again, unless it was a chance to do something with the Spice Girls. I don't really miss the shows we did together. I miss the girls more. I see Geri a lot — I love her, she's amazing. I speak to the others from time to time. I love them too and miss them."

Beckham also declared that, for the moment, she and her former Spice Girls are enjoying their solo careers in various fields. She says: "We're all still doing our own thing. But that's the great thing about the position we're in now — when we decide we want to do more stuff, we can. There's no pressure and, at the end of the day, our fans have been so supportive — and so loyal — that hopefully, when we do come back they'll still be there.”

Her spokeswoman added that, "She's focusing on her fashion activity at the moment and should she wish to do music at a later date then obviously that's something we can consider. She has a flexible career with which she can do whatever she wants to.”

Fashion Career

In 2000, Beckham made a guest appearance on the catwalk for Maria Grachvogel.

In 2004, Beckham designed a fashion line for Rock and Republic called "VB Rocks," consisting mainly of jeans for the high end of the market (retailing at approximately $300 in the U.S.) The line was successful, and Beckham contributed further lines, including children's and men's wear, for the Spring/Autumn of 2006. She has also worked on a range of women's clothes including shirts and skirts. The clothing features a logo of a crown with the letters "VB." In September 2006, Beckham stopped working with Rock and Republic to launch her own jeans label following the success of her VB denim range for Rock and Republic. The new line of Beckham’s jeans collection is called DVB Style.

Beckham was briefly the face of Rocawear, and has for or a number of years produced a range of handbags and jewelry in association with the Japanese store Samantha Thavasa. In July 2006, Beckham released a line of sunglasses (which she had been seen wearing at the World Cup games). The range is currently available at Harrods in London and in exclusive stores in Paris and Dubai. In September 2006, “Intimately Beckham,” a his-and-hers fragrance line in association with Coty the world's largest fragrance house, was launched.

Book Career

Beckham has written an autobiography, entitled Learning to Fly (the title was taken from a line in a song from the musical Fame, which Beckham adored as a child). The book was the 3rd best selling non-fiction title of 2001 (total United Kingdom sales stand at more than 500,000 copies), and has been translated into several languages.

Victoria is widely believed to have told a Spanish journalist in 2005 that "I've never read a book in my life." Although often used to criticize and ridicule Beckham, this 'quote' was actually a mistranslation from the original Spanish in which the interview was printed - she actually stated she never had time to finish reading a book because she was always running around after her children.

Her second book, a non-fiction fashion book titled That Extra Half an Inch: Hair, Heels and Everything In Between, was published on October 30, 2006. It was co-written by Hadley Freeman, deputy fashion editor of the Guardian and a contributing editor of Vogue and includes photography by Mario Testino, Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel.

On the Sunday Times Book Charts, the book stood at # 2.


In August 2006, former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller announced that he was developing a television fashion show for Victoria, and on February 28, 2007, Victoria announced that she is working on a reality show that will document her move to Los Angeles from London. She signed a deal with NBC for six episodes of a half-hour unscripted series. The series, which may air as early as this summer, will be produced by Simon Fuller.

Personal Life and Media Attention

Beckham began dating English footballer David Beckham of the famous team Manchester United, in 1997. Their relationship immediately attracted a great deal of media interest. They were married at Luttrellstown Castle, Ireland on July 4, 1999; the wedding attracted tremendous media coverage. Beckham's teammate Gary Neville was the best man, and the couple's son, Brooklyn, then four months old, was the ring bearer. The media were kept away from the ceremony, as the Beckhams had an exclusive deal with OK! magazine, but newspapers were still able to obtain photographs showing them sitting on golden thrones. Employed for the wedding reception was 437 staff, which was estimated to have cost £500,000. The Beckhams, who came to be known in the United Kingdom as "Posh and Becks," had three sons together: Brooklyn Joseph Beckham (born March 4, 1999), Romeo James Beckham (September 1, 2002) and Cruz David Beckham (20 February 2005).

During the 2006 World Cup, Beckham was seen by the press as the leading "WAG" (as the wives and girlfriends of the England team came to be dubbed). In September 2006, amid speculation that Beckham was pregnant with the couple's fourth child, she dispelled the rumors by revealing that she is currently using the Pill, though in the same interview she also mentioned her hope that when the time is right she will have a daughter.

Beckham often generates criticism for her weight and very thin physique; people consider her to be a poor role model for the younger generations of woman who are expected to live up to an unachievable standard. Many news outlets have claimed that she is too skinny, and that she may have an eating disorder; however, in December 2006 on the BBC Radio program "Gordon Ramsay's Perfect Christmas Lunch," she stated that she is disciplined in what she eats and tries to eat healthily with lots of of fruits, vegetables, and fish.

In October of 2006, Beckham admitted that having three children and then losing so much weight afterwards has left a rather unsightly legacy on her tummy. "I've got so much saggy skin on my stomach," she says. While despite the efforts of airbrushing experts - working on a recent poster advertising the couple's new fragrance - to make us think otherwise, she actually has "no bum at all." Beckham added: "I might fit into jeans but, trust me, I look really awful naked."

However, in January of 2007 it was reported that Playboy was offering to do a spread of her for the men’s magazine. According to British paper, The Times, Hugh Hefner is eager to have Beckham pose naked for Playboy magazine, saying "She should do a pictorial with us. We’ve got big plans for her. I think she’s going to fit in fine."

She was also repeatedly falsely accused of wearing real fur and almost became a target for PETA. She had a number of faux fur outfits recreated from designs she had seen at a Roberto Cavalli fashion show. After realizing their mistake, PETA are now praising the singer for her leading example. Yvonne Taylor from PETA says, "Victoria has let PETA know that not only is she supportive of its high-profile anti-fur campaigns, she has pledged never to work with fur in any of her own fashion collections."

Charity Work and Activism

The Beckhams also threw a party which raised £2 million in May of 2006. The couple invited their celebrity friends and acquaintances to a “Full Length and Fabulous” charity party last weekend, and raised £2 million for UNICEF in the process.

Conceived as a party to usher in the soccer World Cup, the event boasted a guest list that included Robbie Williams, P. Diddy, Kate Moss, Sarah Ferguson, top football players and others. Guests bid on items ranging from a £300,000 limited edition Bentley car to a meal cooked by Ozzy Osbourne— the latter was snapped up by a businessman for £62,000.

In late December of 2006, the Beckhams were in the news for their altruism when they bought a wheelchair for 13-year-old schoolboy, Ollie Rycraft, a UK schoolboy fighting a fourth brain tumor who desperately needed a new life-changing wheelchair. It was reported that Ollie’s mother Debbie told how she was apparently overwhelmed when she answered a phone call from Victoria Beckham’s mum Jackie Adams; “When she said that David and Victoria would like to buy Ollie the wheelchair I burst into floods of tears,” she said. “At first I thought it was a joke but then when the news sunk in I just sobbed ‘thank you’ down the phone.”

A letter from Ollie’s physiotherapist Kate Mills had brought the courageous youngster’s struggle to the couple’s attention: “I wrote and told them what Ollie had been through and within two weeks I received a call from Victoria’s mum to say they would fund the wheelchair and organise everything,” said Kate. A delighted Ollie expressed his gratitude to the famous couple, saying, “I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the wheelchair because it helps me to get around and be independent [...] I might be a Chelsea fan but I think David Beckham is great and a really good player.”

A spokesman for the Beckhams said they donated the money through their own children’s charity, but said that they prefer not to comment on individual cases as the work was not done for publicity reasons. “The Beckhams’ children’s charity provides mobility equipment for children that need it –– they do it as and when they can and also do charity work for other charities such as the NSPCC and UNICEF,” he said. “The fund is a small but significant part of the charity work they do.”

Beckham created a charm for Cancer Research UK’s “Charms for Charity” campaign, and also supports several other charities, including Cancer Research UK, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Meningitis Trust, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Prince's Trust and UNICEF.


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