photo of Spice Girls doll Spice Girls
Is the new album what we want,
what we really really want?

A new chapter of prosperity in American life had just begun. The US was entering its highest period of economic growth ever. There was peace in the Middle East -- a little bit of dissention in those Eastern European countries, and here and there in Africa -- but there's only so much you can ask for at once. It was a kinder time, a gentler time. Before Lewinsky, before Columbine, before the iMac, before even Britney. It was 1996, and quirky British-pop-sensations the Spice Girls had just bought their tickets to the tilt-a-whirl of stardom.

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  Sporty's wearing a dress!
With the tallest shoes ever, these five girls managed to give American music a much-needed kick in the ass. Pop music was born anew, and we were the lucky recipients of the best pre-packaged, mass-marketed synergy that our new global economy had to offer. With such irresistibly choreographed characters affixed to Baby, Sporty, Scary, Posh, and Ginger, how could you not love them? How could you not pick a favorite? How could you not buy the maxi single, the poster, the movie, the doll, the pencil case, the lunch box, the address book, and the spooky lollipops emblazoned with their likenesses? The Spice Girls were a marketing exec's and a teen girl's dream! But times change: Suddenly Ginger's calling herself Geri and working for the UN, and it seems every remaining Spice Girl has managed to get herself knocked-up and hitched.

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 Have they lost their flavor?
For the 21st Century, the Spice Girls have been re-invented. Gone are the platform shoes and quirky personas. Now, the Top 40 audience is being sold a sort of anglo-TLC, in a vain attempt to snatch up the R&B equivalent of the Dixie Chicks' market. The first single, "Holler" is a blatant Destiny's Child rip-off, except seriously lacking in sassiness. Lyrically the song is about as provocative as "Louie, Louie," only not as well written. (Though you have to give it up for anyone who manages to rhyme "holler" with "follow.") The only thing lamer than the bland dance beat backing this single is the annoying guy in the background chanting "Holla-holla-holla, holla c'mon."

photo of Spice Girls dollIs this what we wanted? Sure, "Wannabe" was no genius creation of songwriting, and the screaming electronic beats of "Spice Up Your Life" tended to induce migraines, but was that really why people bought those records? Of course not! It was because of Baby's pigtails and Ginger's boob-job. Nobody cares about the Spice Girls' music, and this new attempt to push them as serious musicians is destined only for disaster. In defense of the execs behind the Spice Girls' make-over, the climate of the Top 40 charts is very different than it was 4 years ago. "Wannabe" ushered in a return to pop music, and (metaphorically of course) launched a thousand ships. Now there's TRL, and Carson, and a million, billion cute, young anonymous pop-supergirls stealing their market-share and co-opting the characters the Spice Girls embodied. A few years ago, only the Spice Girls were wacky enough and shameless enough to be larger than life, but somewhere along the line while they were so busy getting married and becoming moms they seem to have lost their unstoppable energy. I miss the characters! I miss the drama! I just hope it's not too late for them to take their own advice: C'mon girls, Spice up your Life!

--Sarah Feuquay
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