The past, present and future

At the moment I am officially celebrating two things in the world of pop:

1. The 10th anniversary of the release of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”
Me and my beatnik friends weren’t sure what to make of this when it came out. I mean, they were, like, a “manufactured” pop group, and therefore evil (but no one was really sure why), but this song was insanely catchy and we all secretly liked it but no one was really sure why.

Then the Girls went on to release 12 singles, five of which were absolute scorchers. I mean, if “Who do you think you are” is not the shit, then surely “2 become 1” is.

They spawned a slew of imitators, but no one really managed to follow in their footsteps. They can also be blamed for the “Idol” phenomena. Oh, and it turns out that while they originally came together via an audition, they ended up being as shrewd and controlling as any good follower of Madonna should. Zig-a-zig ah.

2. The release of the first single of Justin Timberlake’s second solo album
I was alerted to the release of SexyBack by a noticed on MySpace (Justin is my MySpace friend!!!). I listened to it and immediately noted that it was in a similar vein to “Like I love you”, but it has swear words in it (He says the MF word!!!).

The name has a double meaning – as well as a straight translation as “nice arse”, Justin’s also on a mission to bring sexy back, because goodness know there’s been a lack of mansex from the pop charts. (Actually, there has, so maybe he’s on to something).

The new Justin album is called “FutureSex/LoveSounds”, leading to worry if perhaps Justin’s spacebar had broken. One is very excited about this.

Spice… Nice!

It’s quite fashionable to dislike the Spice Girls. I’ve had discussions with people who dislike the Spice Girls and I’ve asked them what’s wrong with the group. The response is usually along the lines of “They’re crap”, “They suck”. So I ask why the Spice Girls are “crap” or “suck” and the answer is “because they… because they just do”.

I was listening to bFM, the local student radio station, and the announcer had just played a remix of “Who do you think you are”. He said he’d give away tickets to an Everything But The Girl concert for the first caller who identified the group. It took about 15 or so calls guessing all sorts of bands, before someone called and correctly answered. I think the idea of a station like bFM playing the Spice Girls was a bit too much for some people to comprehend.

For the last five years popular music has been dominated by so-called “alternative” music. Guitar-based songs that came to replace the excessive monsters of rock that previously dominated music. “Alternative” music became a genre known for its no-nonsense approach to music. Bands like Nirvana performed songs with honest truthful lyrics, songs that made social comments or explored themes that were previously untapped.

But that’s all gone now. The music scene is changing. Electronic-based music is becoming more popular. Even the previously guitar-based Smashing Pumpkins are releasing very electronic songs.

So along come the Spice Girls. And it feels good. They’re not singing songs of woe and angst, they instead sing about subjects that are more real to the average person. The average teenager can’t really relate to a song about how the singer’s record company makes him feel like a whore, but a song about putting a boyfriend in place strikes more of a chord.

The Spice Girls’ debut album “Spice” reminds me of Madonna’s second album “Like a Virgin”. The songs aren’t heavy political issues, but life is not always heavy. They’re not manic depressives feeling suicidal, so singing about death would be silly.

The group also embraced some feminist politics, with their “girl power”. This might seem contradictory to their image as sexy babes, but what I think it signifies is that they can wear what they damn well please. In other words,”Girl power” does not have a dress code.

But it can not be denied that the Spice Girl’s physical appearance has won over a lot of males. Their appearance in bikinis on the cover of the March ’97 The Face might have made the magazine a little more popular than usual, but didn’t change their music. Back in the early 1980s the Go-Go’s appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in their underwear, but that didn’t make their music any worse or better.

The band, particularly Geri, is known for supporting the British conservative party. This is rare in rock. A lot of artists support popular, but decidedly liberal political causes. For a band like the Spice Girls to come out on favour of conservative politics is quite phenomenal.

Emma is undecided.
Geri is a supporter of the Conservative party.
Mel B is the anti-christ, oh I mean Anarchist.
Mel C is a Labour party supporter.
Victoria is a Conservative party supporter.

So I don’t think the Spice Girls suck, nor do I think they’re crap. Their music is great, not perfect, but they do what they do very well. There’s nothing wrong with their music. Leave the angst, pain and suffering to artists like Alanis Morrisette. The Spice Girls are going to have a good time.