Spice Girls – Wannabe

First Hit #1: February 22, 1997

The year 1997 is going to be haunted by death, especially on the Hot 100, so it’s nice that the year starts with something that is incredibly happy and light. The Spice Girls made their name off of this song, which was marketed as a “Girl Power” anthem from a group that wanted to embody that ethos. It’s kind of a heavy message to strap to a decidedly light and silly song, but it also works because it’s not a message song, and it’s not trying to be. It’s a basic mantra – sisters before bros, I suppose it could be worded – and as they’re trying rather hard to be inspiration to young women – the girl part of the equation was quite deliberately chosen – it kind of makes sense to make something a bit light and silly. Girl power can mean whatever you want, and in this case it meant friendship above all else, a very teen girl message but appropriate for a band that kind of tried to perch on the line between superstars and older sisters.

It actually borders on a message song about female empowerment, but then boils everything down to a very simple message: Girls are fun, being friends with girls is fun, being a girl is fun. Boys are okay, but not top priority. It does this by being a fun song delivered with enthusiasm, and even if the lyrics sometimes go a bit nonsensical – what is a zig-e-zig-ah anyway? And why do you want one so much – the song made the group’s name by just being a joyous celebration of female friendship. While one can certainly argue successfully that the Spice Girls were a bit corporate, considering they were assembled by audition, sometimes corporate isn’t so bad actually.

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One Response to Spice Girls – Wannabe

  1. RBerman says:

    Where Boyz II Men were marketed specifically as a group, the Spice Girls from the get-go were assembled and publicized as a collection of party girl personalities: Sporty Spice, Itchy Spice, Dowdy Spice, etc. Melanie Brown got the short end of the stick as “Scary Spice,” which I guess is a reference to her spiky hair,

    I was just thinking, “Hey, it’s the late 90s, so the ‘twenty years ago’ rule would predict it’s time for a disco revival.” And here it is, complete with wah guitar tones! No disco lasers though. The song has three musical sections, starting off with a bang. The bass piano under the rap (perhaps really just more of a chant) section bears a strong similarity to the modal bassline from the chorus of EMF’s “Unbelievable.” Unlike Britain’s last big girl group Banarama, the Spice Girls know how to harmonize.

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