By Hayley Doyle
I’ll tell ya what I want, what I really, really, want… November 4 2022 to hurry, hurry, hurry!
Have you pre-ordered your album yet?
Stop right now!
Look. I won’t apologise for the cheesy references (nor can I guarantee there won’t be more to come), because if anybody out there encourages us to embrace who we are with all our quirks, our cringes and our come-as-you-are, it’s our five Viva Forever friends. So if you’re not in the gang, then don’t be wast-iiing ma’ precious time…Goodbye, my friend. For those of you planning to stick around, slam it to the left, shake it to the right and let’s get nostalgic.
The Spice Girls themselves recently said how the Spiceworld era was such a fun time for them. In a statement they issued, they reminded us that, “We'd just had a number one album with Spice, we were traveling all over the world and meeting our amazing fans, we released our second album AND had our very own movie! Who would’ve thought it? It’s crazy to think that 25 years have passed.”
Crazy indeed. In 1997, after only making their debut a year earlier, they were THE biggest pop group on the planet. Their superstar status generated a whopping £300m in a single year, through tie-ins with soft drinks, TV channels, supermarkets, crisps, and an endless stream of merch only recently rivalled by Frozen. I had the PJs, but my sister (who, to this day, will challenge anybody who declares they are the Number One Spice Girls fan) had the dolls, books, games and the SpiceCam. Every inch of her bedroom wall was decorated with a cut-out from Smash Hits. She wore leopard print and learned not only every word to every song, but every harmony (rather brilliantly) too. The Spice Girls became her life, and it was a life she wholeheartedly loved and felt proud of, along with all of her Spicy friends. She says, “They were fun and free and strong. Every girl wanted to be just like that.”
In the summer of 1996, I remember being in the car with my mum and hearing ‘Wannabe’, thinking hmm, this is catchy. No, it’s crazy. No, it’s sweet. No, it’s silly. Actually, it was all of it! I wondered who these girls were sounding like they having the most fun ever. There’d been plenty of girl bands before them, but there was instantly something different about The Spice Girls and it was just that; they were different. They didn’t wear a band uniform or colour coordinate. They didn’t have matching hairstyles. Every photo of them, splashed across every magazine or tabloid, just looked like a gang of mates on a night out having a laugh. And it was so easy to get to know them, too. Not only were their regular everyday names - Emma, Geri, Mel B, Mel C and Victoria - splashed across all articles and merchandise, but they displayed their nicknames loud and proud - Baby, Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Posh - making them easy to remember. Baby looked cute, with pigtails and a lollipop. Ginger was ginger. Scary pulled scary faces. Sporty only wore tracksuits. Posh was undeniably stinking posh. Suddenly, without much choice in the matter, the Spice Girls were unashamedly in your face.
So as ‘Wannabe’ stuck around at the top of the charts for seven weeks, the hottest topic of conversation was, “So which Spice Girl are you?” Everybody was one of them, or even a spicy mix of a few. I was a bit of Baby with a look of Ginger. Within friendship groups, there was a shift. The pressure to become clones of one another started to fade, replaced with members becoming their own versions of a Spice Girl, each taking on whatever role met their persona. Yes, we all wanted to be just like the Spice Girls, but that was because it meant we could all be different. We were free to be ourselves! However, when we stuck together, standing united as a group with all of our peculiar quicks side by side, it was the ultimate Girl Power.
As a woman who remembers being a young teenager when the Spice Girls burst onto the scene, it means I also remember when TV only had four channels and this fresh new girl band launched Channel 5. Being of this generation, girls were commonly taught to sit still, look pretty and speak only when spoken to. It wasn’t the norm to be given the power. If I wanted to use my voice, I was “bossy”. If my school report said, “she has a tendency to chatter,” this was a negative comment. It was the era of the “ladette” and being cool meant being “accepted” by the boys. Until the Spice Girls rocked up, of course.
Real girls, they were. Loud. Cute. Shocking. Giggly. Strong. Opinionated. Moody. Smart. Argumentative. Hilarious. Sweet. Excited. Honest. Angry. Like I said, real girls. They came along and really changed how girls felt they could - or should - behave. They put friendship before relationships. They took over the world by simply being girls. Yes, they were on our TVs, but they absolutely broke the fourth wall. We didn’t watch the Spice Girls from afar and think, oh, I wish I could be like them. No. We watched them up-close and thought, wow, I am like them.
Then, at the height of their fame, Geri did that thing an annoying mate does. She left. My little sister’s heart broke and she couldn’t even face going to school. She’d recently been to Paris on a coach, all the way from the north of England, to watch her five idols in concert because it was the only ticket she could get hold of. Geri wanting out felt somewhat personal. And yet, it was part of the phenomena. Lows had to be expected to counteract those incredible highs. But hey, Ginger Spice just did was Ginger Spice needed to do. We got it. We still loved her.
We still love ‘em all.
Whenever they appear in the media, even 25 years later, there’s a buzz of excitement. A reminder of the days when they made girls believe that anything was possible. Their aura will always shine bright, either as individuals, or as a group. Which, speaking of group, we should mention the music, shouldn’t we? And that’s the thing about the Spice Girls. They were first and foremost a pop band. But were they any good? You betcha!
As far as pop songs go, the Spice Girls have stood the test of time. Their five-piece sound was unique and fresh, with bold lyrics, integrity, a catchy beat and charismatic live performances. The forthcoming release of #Spiceworld25 is a new anniversary edition featuring demos, new remixes and unreleased live recordings and tracks including the much-anticipated ‘Step To Me’. Not only will this album evoke memories, but it’s set to create new ones, as we spice up our lives with today’s little girls and teenagers, because the songs are proving to be timeless. All you need is positivity!
I have just one request. One which I’d like to use my voice for, screaming from the mountaintops; Please, Spice Girls, please, go on a #Spiceworld25 tour! In such times of uncertainty, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just forget our troubles for one night and zig-a-zig-ah?