The Spice Girls eh? What a phenomenon, manufactured in a way that only the Poms can. And, back in 1996, it was all about Girl Power. What a beautifully elegant invention: bring together five feisty young ladies — vocal talents optional — board them in a share house, and unleash them on a teeny/tweeny market in a concerted ‘cop this’ campaign of unprecedented scale and intensity. Zigga-zig Ahhhhh.
But just to backtrack a moment, let’s recap on the dramatis personae.
Sporty Spice: Rarely seen in anything other than trakky daks and a crop top, Sporty had a karate kick ready for every photo shoot. Generally considered to have the voice of the group, which was hardly raising the bar to unattainable heights. Gave ferret-like, mall-bothering girls in shells suits hope of a better life.
Ginger Spice: A natural brunette, Ginger carried the mouth of the soccer hooligan. Famous for her Union Jack couture, Ginger was always ready with a smart putdown and a mini skirt. Could sing a bit. Gave loud-mouthed ‘go stick it’ girls around the world a role model.
Scary Spice: Every ensemble cast needs an ‘ethnic’ member and Scary was it. Not too dark… as that would be a bit too scary, but thanks to her big shock of curly hair she was clearly of undetermined Afro/Carribean stock. You wouldn’t mess with Scary. Gave ‘dark’, scary girls around the globe hope that they too could lip sync in front of millions.
Baby Spice: Cute — in a squeeze her cheek, coochie-coo type way — Baby was about as non-threatening a figure as you’re ever likely to encounter in modern-day pop culture. Gave shy, slightly podgy/daggy girls around the world hope that they too could be cool.
Posh Spice: A congenital facio/cranial condition meant she was unable to crack a smile, but Posh’s blank, inscrutable look was interpreted as the work of an upper-crust clothes horse. Rarely sang, but ironically had the most successful post-Spice Girls career as Mrs Beckham. Gave average chicks the world over hope that they too could marry a famous footballer.
Just as an interesting ‘compare and contrast’ exercise, let’s take a similar look at the modern version of the Spice Girls… the Pussy Cat Dolls.
Nicole Doll: The one that does all the singing. Dusky, sexy, skinny.
Ashley Doll: Skinny, white, skanky.
Kimberly Doll: See above.
Melody Doll: Very skinny, dusky, trashy.
Jessica Doll: See above.
Carmit Doll: Looks like Jessica Rabbit.
The Pussy Cat Dolls give tweeny girls everywhere the hope that the dieting pills they’re taking might help them to be ‘hot’. ‘Inspirational’. ‘Empowering’. Yeah, right.
But getting back to ‘The Spiceys’, it was with a real sense of nostalgia that I dipped my toe into Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)… actually, given the Spice Girls didn’t write (and some might say, didn’t perform) their own songs, the track could probably be re-named Headlines (Royalties Never Began). But I’m not here to pass judgement on why the Girls got back together, perhaps it really is because ‘friendship never ends’ (sniff).
As for the song itself, well it’s all down-tempo froth really. It slips from your consciousness before the final chord ends. Of most interest is seeing the Spice Girls ‘all grown up’. Without their various Spice identities — the baby doll dresses, trakky daks, Union Jack corsets etc — they’re just a very average bunch of chicks. There is and was something very real about the Spice Girls. Yes, I know it was stage-managed to the last arched eyebrow but, my goodness, compared to the contemporary girl bands they’re almost credible.