I was about 8 years old when I realized that I wanted to become a Spice Girl, and, to this day, I guess that I still kind of do. I mean, what wasn't there to like? This was a bunch of kick ass ladies who got to hang out with their best mates all day, wear gigantic shoes, and spend all their days preaching some kind of message about girls being powerful while doing dance routines. Frankly, after spending the evening re-listening to some of their biggest hits, I think the Spice Girls deserve far more credit for their overall talent and for inspiring a generation of young girls to have fun, be powerful and just enjoy being themselves. While listening to the Spice Girls I was expecting to be stunned by the levels of cheeky innuendos that had been slipped into songs or the amount of tunes which actually full of total nonsense equal to the "zig-a-zig-ahs" of "Wannabe," but I was so wrong.
Instead, this adventure reminded me of just how important they were to me as a child and to every other young girl who became obsessed with them when they came out. Their songs were mostly very well thought out and even better made, with vocals which sounded way stronger than I ever remembered and with messages with weren't anywhere near as cynical or vacuous as the term "Girl Power" became. So throw on your Union Jack mini-dress, set your fingers into a peace sign and join me on this musical journey of Spicey rediscovery, won't you?
1. They Managed To Make A Ballad About Their Moms Totally Cool
I mean, can you think of anything less cool than writing a mainstream pop song to your mom? And yet, the Spice Girls manage to nail it. In fact, "Mama" is a pretty touching ballad where the Spice Girls urge their (mostly young and female) fan base to show some love to the women who raised them and to ultimately respect moms everywhere (word to your mothers). I'd be lying if I said that this song didn't make me think "you know, my mom actually is one of my best friends and I should definitely be nicer to her" when I was a kid.
2. They Also Managed To Make A Song About Condoms Into A Big Sexy Tune
"2 Become 1" is a big, horny ballad about getting some, but, most importantly, the Spice Girls wanted it to be a song in promotion of enjoying safe sex. When Emma Bunton sings "Get it on, get it on..." she doesn't just mean it in a sexy, Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On" type way, she literally means get that condom on and lets have some responsible and safe sexy fun. So do as the Spice Girls say and "be a little bit wiser" — these are lessons for life, people.
3. "Wannabe" Was Their First Big Hit But "Say You'll Be There" Was Their Best Song
"Wannabe" set us all up to expect some excellence from the Spice Girls, and "Say You'll Be There" was the song to deliver it. Like, are you kidding me with this tune? It features a harmonica solo, a funk bass, and guitar combo, a sweeping synth, and a bizarre pre-ending breakdown where the girls all shout the chorus out into a blast of swaggering excitement. It makes zero sense to the song, and I love it.
4. "Who Do You Think You Are" Is An Underrated Marvel Of A Pop Song
It deserves so much more love than it's ever probably received. That chorus is gigantic and makes it the best Spice Girls song to dance to wherever you happen to find yourself. And that ending? Sweet child of mine, Mel C had pipes!
5. Mel C Had The Strongest Voice
Though Emma Bunton and Mel B both also had undeniably terrific voices (and ones which sounded pretty damn great when used together), it's Mel C's voice which truly stands out overall amongst everyone else's vocals. I'm not just saying this because she's from my hometown (Liverpool UK, represent) but, at times, her voice sounded so big that it was like the musical equivalent of pouring 10 gallons of water into a five gallon container.
6. They Made Fiery, Shouting Girl Gang Vocals Mainstream
I guess it has something to do with "girl power", but when they weren't all being drowned out by vocal queen Mel C or whispering seductively about safe sex then they were going big on the vocals and just shouting en masse. Seriously, between "Spice Up Your Life" and that pre-ending breakdown on "Say You'll Be There", The Spice Girls sounded like a lost, British girl gang from The Warriors. On a completely separate note, was it really necessary for the all-British Spice Girls to go quite as in-depth with the Hispanic musical and lyrical references on "Spice Up Your Life" as they did? Those parts of this song have not aged well.
7. They Never Had A Defining Musical Style But Somehow Still Created A Defining Sound
With songs that combine styles ranging from pop to funk to R&B and even including big band ballads like the Spiceworld: The Movie theme song, "Too Much," The Spice Girls just basically played whatever the hell they damn pleased. Yet their voices and the way that each song has been produced makes every Spice Girls song sound like no other band ever.
8. Geri Halliwell Might Not Have Been The Best Singer In The Band, But It Was Noticeable When She Left
It just wasn't the same, right? The other Spice Girls might have exhibited stronger vocal ranges and power but Geri was the one who gave all the songs personality. With the exception of Mel B, she was certainly more bold and daring than the other Spice Girls, and that was evident from her vocal style which was without bells and whistles; it was all sass and no show off and it gave the ladies some quirky balance.
9. Their Songs Are So Much Better Than You Might Remember
Admittedly, it's been a while since I've even listened to a Spice Girls song and was fully expecting to cringe my way through most of them, but their back catalogue holds up amazingly well. In fact, listening to many of their songs as a woman now older than the Spice Girls where when they first started out has opened my eyes to the fact that they were actually way more talented than people gave them credit for. Not only that, but their songs are, for the most part, actually dynamite little slices of pop perfection.
I don't know how you feel right now but I'm about ready to order a pair of platform sneakers in my size, hook up with four of my favorite friends, and like, take over the World? Yeah. That sounds about right.