4 Apr 2015

viva forever

(One night at the start of this semester while still working far too late, I found myself listening to every song every released by the Spice Girls and clearly entered some kind of surrealist automatic-writing-esque state because before I knew what was happening I'd written this monstrosity. The following week I took it to the writers meeting at the magazine and some people seemed to sort of like it, so I thought I'd put it here rather than letting it just gather dust on my hard drive. You are welcome.)

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The Spice Girls: were they really the prolific crop-top-wearing purveyors of girl-power pop songs they appeared to be, or could they have been omniscient soothsayers come to warn us of the trials that lay ahead in the British political landscape? Literally everyone asked by this writer said “What? No, of course not. Are you OK? Do you need to sit down?” However, in this essay I will provide ample evidence from the lyrical oeuvre of the union of undercover Higher Beings commonly known as the Spice Girls that proves this to indeed be the case.

Firstly, in order to quash the inevitable cries of “But the Spice Girls were just a group of averagely tuneful young women who sang songs about the power of friendship! Shall I bring you a glass of water? I’m going to ring your mum…” I put it to you that with some careful listening it becomes evident that the ensemble were taunting us with the truth we were all too stubborn to see – namely that they are benevolent time-travelling visitors from outwith our galaxy. Clues range from the less-than-subtle references to their time-traversing nature – “We fall into the future” (Headlines) – to explicit, almost mocking, claims of other-worldliness – “The spicy girls are here on planet Earth […] We are the chosen ones” (Spice Invaders). If you need any more proof than this, the last studio album Forever (2000) plays host to a recurrent sense of frustration with their assumed human forms: “I’m tired of being undercover,” they sing in Get Down With Me, while the soulful ballad Let Love Lead The Way features the melancholic lament “Why is there joy? And why is there pain? (ooh) Why is there sunshine and the rain?” Clearly, after nearly a decade of trying fruitlessly to communicate essential information about the future while the world responded only by shimmying and wearing Union Flags about their person, the sheer futility of their efforts was beginning to take its toll. They were tired, and ultimately left us to our own devices, going their separate ways to live out the rest of their human lives with varying degrees of material success.

But what of their premonitions? I propose that looking a little deeper reveals significance far beyond catchy tunes that extol the benefits of personal empowerment through casual sex and having fun with your gal pals. Lyrics such as “Started getting burning hot, I’ve found my pride not easy” (Last Time Lover) while appearing to refer to the tribulations of romantic relationships in the crazy mixed-up world of the 90s, may in fact be a harrowing vision of the effects of global warming and the dangerous refusal of our world leaders to admit to the problem. Will the government’s “pride” ultimately lead to our “burning hot” downfall? Perhaps, but global climate change is a phenomenon documented well prior to the formation of the Spice Girls and this hardly constitutes evidence of their foretelling abilities. In the same composition, however, we hear the line “I wouldn't tell just anybody about the fox that I've been chasing.” Could this be a vision of the ban on fox hunting that will be implemented in 2005, ten years in the future? Almost certainly, I would say.

This is merely the tip of the iceberg. On the track Tell Me Why, the seer known as Posh Spice sings “…when you’re the one who decided to erase all our plans and say you approved”: ostensibly a rebuke directed towards a former lover, the themes of disappointment and betrayal are eerily reminiscent of the sentiments expressed by the disillusioned youth of Britain after Nick Clegg’s notorious and irreparable backtracking on his stance on tuition fees. The lyric “Too much of nothing is just as tough” from the hit single Too Much offers a discomforting prediction about the coming global recession that will see the country fall on hard financial times, while Something Kinda Funny from the same album (Spiceworld, 1997) pleads “Ooh, don’t take from me more than you really need” – a request that will have proved in vain when the expenses scandal comes to the nation’s attention in 2010.

On a lighter note, the unusual address at the beginning of Goodbye of “Listen little child…” can only be in reference to the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son George, whom the augurs in their infinite wisdom see fit to offer such valuable life advice as “Look for the rainbow in every storm”.  Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence to be found amongst the quintet’s entire discography, however, is that of 2 Become 1: a haunting Neoplatonic canticle that appears to predict the immensely improbable union of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties into one coalition government. If this final revelation cannot secure your belief in the divining powers of the Girls of Spice, surely nothing can.

In conclusion, we have seen that the Spice Girls were never just the simple chanteuses they appeared to be and in fact toiled diligently for many years to bring us vital and disquieting visions of the future which we, dull mortals, were too dazzled to comprehend until it was too late. How many more of their warnings will only become apparent to us after the fact? Will the true significance of “zig-a-zig ah” ever be revealed? Only time will tell.

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