The Spice Girls' music was practically a religion in the '90s. Young girls owned every album, learned each dance, had Spice World memorized, and collected paraphernalia from lollipops to dolls. But back then, young and adoring fans may not have realized just how female-forward, powerful, and revolutionary the Spice Girls' lyrics really were.
Although younger audiences may not have understood all the songs' meanings and how incredibly feminist they were, they still received such messages through the Spice Girls' "Girl Power" shirts, peace signs, and use of the lady liberty crown. Listening to their tracks at an older age will help fans understand just how so many of the Spice Girls lyrics were ahead of their time.
"Wannabe" is what started the phenomenon, and the women came out of the gate with lyrics like, "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends / Make it last forever, friendship never ends." The group's introduction to the world made it clear that no man could get in the way of female friendship or self-love — and this notion was woven through all their iconic hits thereafter.
From sex-positivity to body authenticity to the straight-up power of being a woman, these Spice Girls lyrics are still influential today.
1. "We're sowing the seed, every color every creed / Teach never preach, listen up, and and take heed"
The Spice Girls were all about inclusivity and positivity. In "Move Over," a Generation-X anthem, they called upon all people of their generation to be educated and help move each other forward.
2. "'Cause I'm choosy, not a floozy / I get my hit and then I run with it"
Unapologetically singing about dating and desire for men, their hits were all about confidence. They were proud to be picky without settling, and going after what they wanted.
3. "But she's got something new / She's a power girl in a '90s world / She's a downtown-swinging dude"
The fact that the Spice Girls referred to the game-changing "power girl" as a "swinging dude" is feminist AF. To them, "dude" wasn't a term exclusive to men, which is why their female-driven anthems exuded equality.
4. "Every boy and every girl / Spice up your life"
Again, these women effortlessly modeled gender equality in their songs, bringing men and women together without having to distinguish the two groups. "Spicing up life" probably wasn't though of as a common male ideal, but they encouraged men to feel however they wanted, even if it was feminine — and vise versa.
5. "What part of no don't you understand / I want a man, not a boy who thinks he can"
The Spice Girls were firm on their standards — what they wanted and deserved in relationships. They preached about being assertive and accepting nothing less than what they, as women, should receive.
6. "Boy you were a fool, to treat me that way / I'm not gonna let you, I'm gonna forget you / There's nothin' to say"
The last thing the Spice Girls would do is let any man walk all over them. No means no in Spice Girls language, and that's how it should be.
7. "Keep your head up high / Don't you know you are the superfly / And that ain't no lie"
Between all of their songs about friendship, sex, romance, and living life, a central theme in almost all Spice Girls music was loving yourself first. Modern performers like Meghan Trainor, Lady Gaga, and Kesha have preached about accepting and sharing your authentic self, but the Spice Girls really changed the game when it came to that.
8. "Do you think I'm really cool and sexy / And I know you want to get with me"
Along with performers in the '90s like TLC, Janet Jackson, and Toni Braxton, the Spice Girls were really part of this batch of women to openly talk about sex like men would.
9. "This child has fallen from grace / Naked / Don't be afraid to stare, she is only naked"
The song "Naked" and their performance of it (in which they're all naked on stage, sitting on backward chairs) should be in a museum. The song encourages people to be wholeheartedly proud of their womanhood and bare bodies, and captures why the female body is so powerful.
10. "She knows exactly what to do with men like you / Inside out in her mind, there's no doubt where you're coming from"
Part of "Naked" allows women to recognize their sexuality and why it can be so hypnotizing. And women's understanding and ownership of their own bodies is certainly still a significant issue in 2018.
11. "She's a Bond babe, kick some ass / Doctor No, this girl's got class / Charlie's Angels, girls on top / Handbags, heels, their pistols rock"
With the success of Wonder Woman and talk of the first potential female James Bond, women in Hollywood are fighting their way to the forefront. But back in the '90s, the Spice Girls knew ladies could totally kick butt and were capable of anything, even with their handbags and in heels.
12. "'Cause the lady is a vamp, she's a vixen not a tramp / Come on fellas, place your bets, 'cause you ain't seen nothing yet / She's the top of the top, she's the best, yes"
"The Lady is a Vamp" is a sexy anthem for any woman who feels like a force to be reckoned with. It allows for show-stopping, determined women to feel proud of themselves, not ashamed.
13. "Move over, yeah, don't do it over / Cause it's over, yeah yeah, yeah / Generation next"
"Move Over" encouraged listeners, particularly Generation X, to stop living in the past and be active participants in creating their own future. This is a theme millennials, and any future generation, could certainly learn from.
14. "You gotta want me / It's just what I need / I'm not that easy as a matter of fact"
The Spice Girls continuously sang about women knowing their worth and standing by it. They were proud to make men win their affection.
15. "Rules are for fools, and fool's paradise is hard to find / Play my game or get left behind"
This lyric expresses the power of breaking boundaries and marching to the beat of your own drum. And in their case, they weren't prepared to follow anyone's rules but their own, especially as women.
16. "I'd rather be hated than pitied / Maybe I should have left it to your imagination / I just want to be me"
Again, songs about unconditional self-love are extremely prevalent these days. But in the '90s, when they were harder to come by, these women were so adamant about living their true, authentic lives, and would rather be "hated" than show who they really are.
Though this iconic group sadly no longer performs together (or at least not often), their messages and songs are still as liberating as ever.