Refined Carbs for the Soul  – Spice Up Your Life!
Long ago, in a time before Katy Perry encouraged closet lesbianism, before Lady GaGa sang anthems about dancing in a drug haze, and before Miley Cyrus packaged fun times in a bright, toothy smile and a squeaky clean manner, there came a group of five females who sang the catchiest (and secretly dirtiest) ditties in history and introduced the concept of feminism to young girls everywhere. Gone were the days when Gloria Steinem blew open the hidden workings of the Playboy empire, or the years and years of hard work of feminist workers everywhere. And while no one can credit these pop-starlings with re-writing “The Feminine Mystique” for the new generation, what with their tiny, skin-tight body suits and their sexy gyrating, no one can deny that they showed us the novel concept of how normal girls like us could do just fine without males.
Mmhmm, I’m talking about none other than the glittery-glam queens of 90’s pop, the Spice Girls. We all remember (whether with affection or horror) the unmatchable Posh, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Scary Spice, the pioneers of female pop for Generation X (or Generation Next, as Pepsi called us back then). I’ve finally come to the stage where I’m no longer embarrassed about my pre-teen love for these women and their music (Whatever that says about me… I won’t apologize =P). I mean, let’s face it; if you’re a female who grew up in the 90’s, I’m pretty sure “Wannabe” was a life changing moment for you. A song that put friends above guys? One that dictated terms and conditions on the purity of commitment? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN MY WHOLE LIFE? Mock them as you may, the girls definitely succeeded in putting the “fiyah!” back in “defiance”. (Yes, I totally just made that up. Thank you. Thank you very much. I’ll be here all night.)
I remember clearly the day I bought the girls’ second album, Spiceworld. My family was conveniently living in Britain at the time, and the Spice Fever was at its ultimate peak, merely a year after they broke out on the scene. I was in the fifth grade then, meaning I fought tooth and nail with a bunch of girls who wore too much makeup and whose skirts were too short, while standing in line outside a small music store on the corner opposite my middle school campus, all on a sweltering Friday after school. I also remember this well, because the music store was right next door to a very very dinghy pub, and the construction workers who walked by us on their way for a pint would inevitably leer and whistle, and occasionally attempt to hit on us. I know – it was beyond gross. We were all about ten years old, for crying out loud! Of course, being such devoted Spice addicts, we all united in our efforts to glare at them, sing empowering lyrics at them, and/or simply flip them off until they gave us half-smiles and uncomfortably walked away. It was a beautiful moment in “Girl Power! ©”. Never mind that they probably thought we were deranged lunatics on the loose, or something.
So here I was, armed with my shiny new cassette, complete with the handy lyrics insert. I ran all the way home, stole my mother’s car keys, and climbed into the driver’s seat. Nooo, for heaven’s sake, I was not crazy enough to take defiance to a beyond-scary level and drive away, reign in that imagination! I just wanted to hear my purchase and the only cassette player was in the car! Which I did listen to. All day. Until my mother, freaked out by my disappearance and her missing car keys, came out and grounded me.
But it somehow came to be that the only cassette in our entire collection was that one album, and, at my insistence, we heard it on every road trip down to the Lake District, every trip to the grocery, every weekend drive along the quayside. Everyday. And I sang along every time. To this day, I know the lyrics to every. Single. Song. On that damn album, and my sister and I can still conduct acapella renditions complete with the dance steps. Requests for the DJ at the school dance? I was the one who’d pick “Spice Up Your Life”. The Christmas pantomime that year? “The Spice Girls Are Coming To Town”. And yes, I totally played Sporty Spice, thanks to the long brown hair. She was the only one who could sing anyway 😉
Of course, after that long year of hearing nothing else, the magic sort of died out. Heck, even poor Ginger couldn’t do it anymore. Her departure and the resulting decline of the Spice Magic marked the end of my girlhood in a strange, poignant way. It hasn’t been the same since… until now.
This week, I have a challenge for you. Are you ready for it? I want each and every one of you to pull out your favorite Spice Girls tune(s) and take a trip down memory lane. Dust off your sister’s old CDs, download from iTunes, Youtube it… whatever floats your goat. Whether it’s the sexy “2 Become 1” (I didn’t know it was a song about sex at the time, fyi), the kick-that-loser-out-to-the-curb anthem of “Stop“, the loving salute to your “Mama“, the adult contemporary venture “Too Much“, or just the classic vintage goodness of “Wannabe“, go ahead and embrace your inner tween girl. Let’s all go back and celebrate the beginning of female pop as we know it. And until next week…
HI-C-YA! HOLD TIGHT! =D