“Um, blah blah blah… girl power… feminism, do you know what I mean?”
I managed to make it through the late 90s without too much exposure to the Spice Girls. I didn’t listen to much pop music back then, so I didn’t hear “Wannabe” an exorbitant amount of times.
I was lucky, I guess.
Their lyrics are banal and their pop sound is generic, but looking back, the Spice Girls’ infectious spirits did win me over, even if there’s something manufactured and ultimately doll-like about their looks and personas. Over the years, I’ve been a casual fan of singles like “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life” as 90s throwbacks, though a greater purview of their catalogue for the purpose of this podcast gave me more appreciation for “Say You’ll Be There,” “Too Much,” and especially “Stop.”
That’s right. I now have a favorite Spice Girls song!
Even at the height of their popularity, there was always something cheesy about the Spice Girls. But now that almost everything from the 90s is cheesy, I appreciate the model of female friendship and, yes, “Girl Power!” they provided for young girls. The Spice Girls dressed and danced provocatively, but always because they wanted to. They never seemed to care what guys thought about them. They sang love songs, but their primary interest always seemed to be in having a good time with the girls. That was relatively rare in pop music at the time. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera never weren’t putting sex front and center. The Spice Girls had more in common with the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, coming across as chaste and chummy. But girl groups didn’t become ubiquitous in the late 90s the way boy bands did. The Spice Girls carved out a niche all their own, then got out before they’d worn out their welcome. (The less said about their post-Ginger exploits, the better.)
I won’t be listening to Spice Girls often now that we’re done with the podcast. But this did provide a nice reminder of Geri Halliwell’s solo efforts — I’m an old fan of “Look At Me” and a new fan of “Bag It Up,” in which she poisons her boyfriend with “girl powder” and whips a factory of shirtless, pink-haired men into shape. That’s my preferred brand of Girl Power; I wish Geri had caught on more as a solo artist in the United States, as she had more direct things to say about empowering women, even if that, too, was only in a catchy, silly pop music kind of way.