The Spice Girls: Which One Were You?

The Spice Girls: Which One Were You?

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that in the 1990s a giggling teenage girl in possession of a Spice Girls CD must be in want of brick-red hair dye.

Come on – own up, all you ladies aged between 22 and 30. I have no doubt that you’re looking at the above picture and recalling to mind the embarrassing things you did; when you pulled your hair up into bunches and danced around your living room, chewing bubblegum and wishing you had a pair of pink platform boots to gatecrash parties in.

Maybe you begged your mum to let you get your tongue pierced, or stole her handbag and perfected your pout in the bathroom mirror. Or perhaps, like me, you lived in tracksuits, practised high kicks and memorised those oh-so-cool screechingly-high harmonies. You knew all the moves.

We all did it; when Girl Power hit Britain in 1996 we all fell for the charms of the franchise which went on to break a host of records, making the Spice Girls the bestselling girl group of all time and creating a hype comparable to Beatlemania.

It’s both funny and tragic how after puberty the music we liked and the idols we followed as young teenagers so quickly become objects of shame; to be hidden at the back of our minds in a cupboard marked ‘guilty pleasures’; never mentioned again, lest we be deemed somehow ‘uncool’ by our adult contemporaries. It most certainly applied for my generation. It felt like a matter of moments between the roaring success of Wannabe and the day I wouldn’t admit I still had my copy of Spice in my CD rack.

That CD just so happened to be the first I ever bought, and my first ever album. The fact that I didn’t actually own a CD player at the time didn’t matter. I begged use of the monstrosity with the broken LED display in my brother’s room and otherwise made do with taking the insert out to memorise the lyrics and fold the pages in such a way that Melanie C showed.

Fifty years ago today the Beatles played their first gig at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. My brother loved an 80s boy band called New Kids on the Block; a fact I’m sure he’d now kill me for sharing with the general public. Then you have the endless legions of teenage girls who love Justin Bieber and the equally abundant legions of teenage girls who hate Justin Bieber with exactly the same amount of passion, because out of some cruel twist of fate this has become the ‘in’ thing to do. This is perhaps the saddest thing of all.

I’m the last person who is going to claim that Justin Bieber has any great musical talent. The Spice Girls didn’t either. Most pop acts are purely commercial, shallow, throwaway flashes in the pan which capture the hearts of a single age group then disappear into obscurity a year or two later. That’s the way it works. But I wonder; when did pop stop being about enjoying music and start being all about fashionable hate?

I still have my Spice Girls CD with the battered insert. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.


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