When Frankie recommended writing about the Spice Girls this week, I kind of cringed. The Spice Girls? Really? I made fun of them when I was 12!
But I’m the same guy who adores the idealism of Full House, the charm of Boy Meets World and of course the corniness that is Saved By The Bell. Who am I to be a pop culture snob when I love such…crap.
So to ignore The Spice Girls and “Girl Power” would be wrong.
Get with your friends? Wouldn’t that ruin the relationship?
I digress. The legendary Spice Girls were formed in 1994 comprised of Posh Spice (The future and current Mrs. David Beckham), Scary Spice (Melanie Brown), Baby Spice (Emma Bunton aka TJ’s favorite Spice Girl), Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisolm) and Ginger Spice (The one and only Geri Halliwell).
The above lyrics are from “Wannabe” their mega hit released in 1996 that spawned their run in the mid-to-late 90s. That debut album Spice sold 28 million copies, making it the best-selling album by a female group in music history.
Overall, they’ve sold 75 million records worldwide good to make them the best-selling female group of all time. Those numbers are impossible to ignore and it’s not hyperbole when the numbers back it up.
In the era of the ring tone hit and the digital download it seems impossible for today’s newly released music to make the same impact. So it’s a little jarring to see how many records the Spice Girls have sold through the years and the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue they brought in.
My first big recollection of the group was in 6th grade. Pop culture wise, two things stand out that year; Titanic and The Spice Girls. I didn’t get the big fascination with the girls from England, but the girls in my class were all about them (Things you pretend to tolerate because of the opposite sex).
Word broke this week that the highly-anticipated (?) musical Viva Forever, based on the music of the Spice Girls, would debut in England this fall. It comes from the producer of Mamma Mia, which of course is based on the music of ABBA. It reminded us that nearly 15 years ago, during the peak of “Girl Power,” they decided to capitalize on their fame and massive success with a major motion picture. Music artists making movies was nothing new. Elvis had done it and of course, The Beatles did it with A Hard Day’s Night and influenced the Spice Girls movie venture, Spice World.
It was January 1998 and the United States was hit with Spice World. It was nonsensical, ridiculous, over the top and similar adjectives. It tells the story of the events leading up to a Spice Girls concert, the biggest one yet, at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
They deal with the pressures of fame, a newspaper that seeks to destroy their reputation, a film crew who wants to make a documentary about them, George Wendt and Mark McKinney as Hollywood writers, all while trying to hang out with their pregnant best friend Nicola. That’s a lot to deal with!
No surprise, it was a “favorite” at the Razzies, each girl winning the award for Worst Actress. It would also be nominated for Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, and other “Worsts.” It has a solid 29 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert gave it a half-star rating.
Pop star movies had an uphill climb anyway: Britney Spears’ Crossroads was financially successful but critically reviled a few years later, and we still haven’t entirely lived down the Fat Boys’ sole cinematic venture, Disorderlies. Fact is, you had a big, glossy production hung on a rail-thin plot and built around a group of non-actors thrust into starring roles. I don’t care if you are playing yourself, it’s just not a good formula.
Perhaps a documentary would have suited them well–certainly the filmmakers entertained that notion by casting Alan Cumming as an overzealous director looking to make his own Spice Girls doc.
Even with all the negative reviews, and many saying, “I can’t believe I was into them!” when talking about The Spice Girls now, their significance cannot be ignored. Those who are in their 20s and 30s now are the ones who were screaming like crazy for them in the late 90s. If our generation wasn’t so into them, then they wouldn’t be so memorable today.
Because sooner or later, someone will resurrect everything you ever loved as a child so you can throw more money at it. Viva, Forever is going to make a ton of money on stage, and should that happen, it’ll be made into a movie.
I get the feeling the Spice Girls are going to be around in some form or another for a while.
Maybe it’s not the worst thing.
Even I can admit it: once upon a time, I was into them.