IN THIS PHOTO: The Spice Girls captured last week/PHOTO CREDIT: @GeriHalliwell
Why a Spice Girls ‘Reunion’ Is a Missed Opportunity
DEPENDING on how far along the spin-cycle…
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
your union flag dress is – the more interested you’ll be in the news the Spice Girls are getting back together. I have never been a massive fan of the band, myself. You can lob criticism at their way all day long. They are manufactured – albeit more credible than the reality muppets they pump out now – and were primed, moulded and cut to an insane length. One suspects the girls’ weights were charted each week to ensure they were ‘commercially acceptable’ – I think there was a conflict when it was suggested, by management, Geri Halliwell (now Horner) was putting on too much weight – and that they were living a very clean and uncontroversial life. They only recorded a few albums and only two of them were good: 2000’s Forever, minus Halliwell, was a record too far. Each member had their role and place. ‘Sporty Spice’ (Melanie Chisholm) was the good singer and, well, sporty one; ‘Scary Spice’ (Melanie Brown) was the tough and edgy one; ‘Baby Spice’ (Emma Bunton) the cute and innocent member; ‘Ginger Spice’ (Geri Halliwell) the standout and ‘most likely to succeed’; ‘Posh Spice’ (Victoria Beckham) the least talented singer – but the most fashionable one. The last actual reunion was in 2007 when the girls embarked on a worldwide tour. It was reported over one-million people in the U.K. signed up for tickets – over five-million around the world.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ray Burmiston/Photoshot/Getty Images
Their first concert in Canada saw them perform to 15,000; they recorded a Children in Need single Headlines (Friendship Never Ends) and scooped awards – mostly for their existing and older music. It was hoped the girls would get back together for good but, following the limited run of the Viva Forever musical; the fascination faded and it was seen as the last throw of the dice. Although their recorded career lasted around four years; the Spice Girls created a legacy and inspired legions of fans. The reason I was not a fan of theirs had nothing to do with the music: strangely it was their political stance and lack of independence that got me. Some might say a manufactured girl group are meant to be subservient and disciplined. They were told what to wear and where to go; other writers penned their songs – although the girls pitched in on most of their tracks – and their love lives were under the microscope. Maybe rebelling and doing their own thing would have compromised their record deal and their popularity. For a band who invented ‘Girl Power’ – more on that later… - they were being directed by a group of men. That is not their fault – a lot of the girl groups through the years have had to exist a certain way. The Spice Girls were not as sassy and cool as En Vogue or Destiny’s Child; they were better than (if not as credible/tough) as All Saints; not quite as compelling as the best girl groups of the U.S.
What does this latest meetup mean for the band? The shot at the top of this feature is them all back together – although I suspect it is heavily edited and filtered! – and they were meeting to discuss possible ideas. From 1996-2002 – between Wannabe’s release and their split – the band helped add something very special to the world. Although they made some good music back in the day; when it came to politics…perhaps comments should have been left out of the media. They once dubbed Margaret Thatcher a Spice Girl – almost the same way The Beatles dubbed Sir George Martin the ‘fifth Beatle’. Not only does the Spice Girls’ patronage of Thatcher mark them out as mega twats – it derailed and undermined their Girl Power movement and what it stood for. I thought their latest regrouping would be a way of backing Jeremy Corbyn and throwing their weight behind him. Maybe they would make another silly mistake and label Theresa May the latest member of the group – who knows with them?! There are rumours as to what the reunion could yield. Some say a multi-million-pound deal could happen in China; the girls launching fashion brands and relaunching their music…maybe doing some shows here and there. The greatest relief for many seems to be they are not going to record any new music! If they had the same ability and sound as they did back in 1996, I would say the world needs Spice Girls to come back. The sight (and sound) of five near-middle-aged women slipping into P.V.C. suits and gyrating around the stage is unseemly, to say the least.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
If there was a reincarnation then it would be a more mature and different version of who they were. The details regarding the Spice Girls’ relaunch are vague but it puts them back into the consciousness. There is endless debate around sexism in the industry – barely a week goes by without my addressing it – and with music changing and adapting (there are few girl bands; girl-based groups who play Punk and Rock) the days of Spice Girls Pop rule seems like a distant memory. Once was the day you could not walk the high-street without seeing some Spice Girls merchandise staring at you. People – teens and girls, mainly – would line the streets for the latest Spice Girls album. Say what you want about the music and the authenticity of their ‘rebellion’ – there is a role for the girls in 2018. I wonder whether we will ever see a Pop girl group who perform instant hits and create movements and identities. Even the biggest, hardest-hitting bands around are a little bland and contrived. Gone are the days of genuine Punk spirit and those who could ensure for years. Pop is changing too - but is in no danger of moving back to the 1990s. In an industry where many ask whether looks and sex appeal are being placed over quality and talent. Maybe a regenerated Spice Girls would either be a tragic hark to their best days or a ‘grown-up’ (read: a bit crap) band. Creating a new band in their image would lack any spontaneity and credibility. I am in no rush to hear new material from them – having my public hair plucked individually by a convicted sex offender would be a more salubrious option – but there is something intriguing about their reformation.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
The role of women in music – and how far they have come – is, in part, down to band like Spice Girls. Maybe their brand of Pop has evolved beyond recognition but they were one of the first female bands (outside of Punk) to really stand out and stick a finger to the doubters. Perhaps their brand of rebellion was more cheeky and fun as opposed political and purposeful. Whether you see the Girl Power movement as a fad and gimmick or something that gave women/girls hope and meaning; you cannot deny it captured a spirit and defined a time. There was plenty of world-class music around in the mid-late-1990s. The fact Spice Girls managed to stand out – when the likes of Oasis and Blur were still in the popular forefront – was no mean feat. Alongside the Britpop movement (which was starting to dwindle and foster the next generation); the uplifting and catchy Pop of Spice Girls was perfectly timed. Although the girls cannot recapture the mood and feeling of the time: is the money-driven (one suspects) motives of 2018-Spice Girls a missed opportunity? I am sure they are less financially viable than in their pomp. None of the members has had especially lucrative or successful solo careers. None of them has side-stepped into acting (not in any meaningful way) and they seem content with a more domesticated role in life. They all had solo careers with varying degrees of success.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Geri Horner’s career started promisingly but was short-lived; both Melanies had the odd hit whereas Emma Bunton did not really get off the blocks – the less said about Victoria Beckham’s attempt at a solo career the better! Rather than record new music; a wiser option would be something education and constructive. The world does not need Spice Girls-branded clothes or any ventures in the Asian market. They helped launch something unifying back in the 1990s. They helped promote feminism and, through image and music, brought pop girl groups into the fore. There has been nothing like them since. Sexism is a bigger issue and problem, many might say, than it was when Spice Girls came onto the scene. I am not sure how they would modernise and adapt Girl Power for the 2018 world. I know it would be a more popular decision than marketing and clothing. Female musicians are fighting and attacking prejudice but should one of Pop’s great female bands sit by and ignore a need for leadership and a powerful voice? Maybe that is part of their plan but the five members could, between them, do something great. The Spice Girls were always strongest and most relevant when they were a unit: the solo careers produced nothing of much note and endurance. The same goes for business ventures and a striking voice. I suspect the lucrative deals they are discussing are good for their bottom-line but seems like a needlessly over-speculated and hyped move for what it actually is. Few people, fans and non-fans, will care about any new Spice Girls merchandise, clothing or deals. The music world, when it comes to them, would prefer their take on modern gender imbalance and ways to inspire and guide young women. I think that is a safer and more lucrative course that should give the five-piece…
REASON to have a rethink.