“Tell me what you want, what you really really want” might not seem like a pioneering lyric in 2021, but 25 years ago this week, when Melanie Brown shouted it down the camera at us dancing around the St Pancras hotel in a tiny lime green crop-top and jazzy trousers, pop music changed.
‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls signalled the arrival of a new brand of girl power and opened the door for a new wave of bands to even the score within the (even more) male-dominated industry. I was at primary school and completely uninterested in Take That, baffled by why my pals loved them so much… and then the Spice Girls came along. They were my first music obsession (aside from Kylie and Michael Jackson, but Victoria and co. were my first foray into new music) and I remember feeling like an actual queen when I was the first of my friends to get the Spice Girls annual. In 2008 I marched to The O2 excitedly to watch their reunion, and applauded loudest for VB just doing a catwalk rather than singing a solo. Know your strengths guys, it’s OK!
Since then, the biggest girl band of all time has gone on to teach us a fair few things about life, music, and everything in between. Here’s what we’ve learnt in the past quarter of a decade…
It’s incredibly easy to pull Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams had a lovely time in the ’90s and ’00s; we know this. And perhaps the biggest indicator of this being when he told the story of getting, er, serviced by a woman posing as a cleaner in a castle he’d hired. He also recently clarified that he didn’t actually sleep with four of the five Spice Girls, just the three. It seems if you were around Robbie for longer than 40 minutes between the years of 1995 and 2010, you might have ended up, er… dating him? Though I’ve never seen David Beckham have any awkwardness with him though, so maybe Victoria managed to resist.
The girl band is just the start
Since the girls broke into our cassette players and our hearts with their wall-to wall-bangers, they’ve all gone from strength to strength. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Victoria Beckham – global fashion designer and make-up mogul – was even in a girl band. Emma Bunton now has a successful radio career, Mel C won an Olivier Award for her turn in Blood Brothers, as well having perhaps the most successful solo career of them all; most importantly, however, she appeared on Celebrity Gogglebox this year. Geri had a semi-decent solo career (‘Mi Chico Latino’ remains a tune) and is now married to a squillionaire Formula One guy. Mel B has never been far away from our screens, and has had a huge career in the Simon Cowell universe. Can we another have another reunion to show the next generation what you once were, please?
You can meet your heroes
Let’s never forget the duets. Mel C’s ‘Baby When You’re Gone’ with Bryan Adams is one of the best pop songs of the last twenty years (don’t argue with me) and Mel B collaborated with Missy Elliot on ‘I Want You Back’, an underrated R&B club classic. Neither of them compare to VB and Dane Bowers though; ‘Out Of Your Mind’ is a truly iconic ’00s track that was beaten to its rightful place at the top of the charts by Sophie Ellis Bextor’s ‘If This Ain’t Love’. Remember chart wars?!
You don’t need to be controversial to be a huge star
They still managed to be the coolest women in pop without becoming arseholes in the process, and they’ve all talked about their struggles, respectively: Mel C opening the conversation on mental health and eating disorders and Mel B discussing her abusive ex-relationship. None of them have ever been arrested, cancelled, or been called out on any bad behaviour in the press. Squeezing Prince Charles’ bum doesn’t count as bad.
Feminism is popular with women, who knew?
The ‘90s was the time of the ‘Ladette’ trying to keep up with the boys, and with the largely macho Britpop scene in full swing, it might not have seemed like a welcoming environment for five girls in their teens and early twenties. But they burst onto the scene as feminists and declared that Girl Power was cool, showing women they could be themselves and be at the top of your game.
Eddie Murphy might not be the man we all hoped he was
Do better next time, Eddie.
Success doesn’t have to corrupt you
The girls are all still friends, and hang out together every now and then. FAITH RESTORED.
You can get what you really, really want
If the Spice Girls have taught us anything, it’s that you can get wherever you want to be if you work hard enough. You can get through the darkest times of your life, and the pressures that come with achieving the things you want to, and come out the other side. With your best friends in tact. That’s Girl Power.