Happy Thursday everyone! It’s that time again where I delve into my pop culture past and reminisce about something I’ve loved. This week, it’s all girl power, platforms and ridiculous nicknames as I look back on the Spice Girls’ debut album Spice.
The Spice Girls exploded into my life back in 1996. I was an impressionable nine year old and they were SO EXCITING. Here was a group of girls who wore bright (often shiny) clothes, crazy shoes (I was desperate to wear high heels) and seemed to be having just the best time. I was a quiet, shy kid with secret desires to sing and dance and be on stage and the Spice Girls seemed to epitomise to me just how fun it was to be a performer.
And the thing was – as all of you around at the time will know – they were absolutely everywhere. I remember first seeing the video for ‘Wannabe’ Top of the Pops (this was when it still aired on a Friday night at 7:30) and being mesmerised. They seemed to be misbehaving, but getting away with it, in a way I hadn’t really seen girls do before. Cheeky, impish characters were usually only the province of boys in my experience. The song made little to no sense (I still don’t really understand zig-a-zig-ah) but it was catchy and I loved it instantly.
The world had Spice Girls fever and I was overjoyed at receiving the Spice album on cassette tape for Christmas ’96. It’s etched in my memory, guys. I soon knew that tape back to front. In fact, I played it so often that the end of ‘If U Can’t Dance’ melded with with the beginning of ‘Wannabe’ in a sort of backward, trippy, bass filled mumble. My friends and I would gather in each other’s bedrooms, making up dance routines and singing along, word perfect, to every song. I wanted to be Baby Spice (as I think all little girls did) but usually ended up being both Mels (there were only four of us in our little gang). It did mean I got to jump and do a lot of high kicks though, so I was still onto a winner as far as I was concerned.
I devoured all information available on the Spice Girls. I had a book, I had posters torn out of Smash Hits and TOTP Magazine, I had the Posh and Baby dolls. I knew all these facts about them (as proven by being champ at our sleepover Spice Girls trivia contest. We were exactly as cool as we sound). I sang blithely along to ‘2 Become 1’, blissfully unaware of the actual meaning of the song. Lesser known album track ‘Love Thing’ was my favourite and I leapt around my room to it for hours, weeks, months, still in love with the Spice Girls and this album.
The Spice Girls were fun, they were cheeky, they were confident, they were loud and unashamedly themselves. To a meek nine year old, they were like something from another planet. They bonded me with other girls, they made joyful, celebratory, good pop music and they made me feel like girls could be riotous and tough and girly and still be cool and important. It’s easy to dismiss the Spice Girls and ‘girl power’ now, but I don’t think we should underestimate the phenomenon they were and the hugely positive image they created for pre-teen girls, myself included. The love people still have for them is evident each time there’s even a whisper of a reunion or when they appeared at the London Olympics. I put the Spice album on (after downloading it, as alas, my cassette seems to have gone missing) for the first time in years not that long ago. I was amazed and delighted to find that I still knew all the words to EVERY SONG. ‘Something Kinda Funny’ came on while I was cooking and I was absent-mindedly singing and still getting every word. They are a part of my childhood DNA and God, I still love ’em. Don’t you?
(I still haven’t quite forgiven them for Viva Forever, though. That was really, truly terrible)