An Open Letter to Sporty Spice Melanie C About Saving the Spice Girls’ 20th Anniversary
How are you? How is winter in London or wherever you’re hanging out these days? How was your Christmas? Are you staying warm? How’s the kid? Okay, enough small talk. Let’s get down to business. The end of 2016 is imminent and the Spice Girls have been, despite their massive individual fortunes and public profiles, unable to cobble together even a simple package to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the girlband who, let’s face it, disrupted the way pop culture is manufactured and sold.
Frankly, it’s a hot mess. But hope is not lost…yet. I think you can be the unsung heroine to inspire hope again–but it’s going to take some guts from you. I think you need to be the unsung heroine of the Spice Girls’ 20th anniversary.
I get it. You want to leave this part of your life behind, buried under the sands of time. At least that’s what you’ve been saying in interviews. We all have parts of our life we believe might be better left buried…and yet I’m not too persuaded here because from one side of your mouth you’re telling us you don’t want to engage with the past that set up the brickwork for your solo career…and from the other, you’re still singing the very hits from those good ol’ days you’re trying to forget, with the assistance of some exciting new talent.
You know, Mel. About twenty years ago, I remember riding in the car with my parents to the supermarket and knowing, within the first split-second of “Say You’ll Be There” coming on the radio, that a Spice Girls song was on the radio. My heart skipped a beat. A few months ago, I also saw a clip of you performing this song with pop singer MØ at one of her concerts. That same sense of joy that overtook the room when you came out on stage, and the sense of love shared between you and MØ. That joy was palatable to me, a guy in his thirties watching a low quality video clip.
It is a kind of joy that I could also experience through a clip of you joining Years & Years to perform “2 Become 1” and that one you did with Bryan Adams so many years ago. Somehow, even I got goosebumps watching a shaky cam recording of this performance with scratchy sound quality.
There is a word here that keeps coming up–and not because I am bad with words–and it’s “joy.” The Spice Girls served the world an inimitable kind of joy. You and your bandmates served the kind of joy that most bands these days simply cannot; most bands are too calculated in their approach and there was a sense of whimsy and spontaneity when the Spice Girls did it. I actually felt a similar joy the morning I listened to “Anymore” before driving to work. In so many ways, it felt like the perfect evolution of a Spice Girl. It was dark, mature–and yet, touched on many of the same themes your band’s greatest hits did.
I understand your cold feet to join the remaining four girls for a 20th anniversary effort, especially if such an effort produces something as banal as “Song For Her.” But let’s face some cold, hard facts: You are the Voice of the Spice Girls. However, I think this is where rather than saying, “No,” it’s where you may have to go back to the bargaining table with the other girls…and pitch an alternate idea. A better idea.
Whatever this idea would be, it’s got to be something that doesn’t put the burden of trying to tackle the current pop landscape on you and your fellow bandmates. Instead, it ought to position the Spice Girls as torch-bearers inspiring the next wave of pop’s disruptors. You’ve already introduced this idea to us by joining MØ and Years & Years on-stage. Did you know there is other talent out there using your band’s music as their own form of expression? Here is Alexandria who was able to put a delightfully hipster spin on “Wannabe”:
I trust you to find others–this is simply the surface.
Also, while the rest of the world overlooked “Anymore,” there are a lot of us who didn’t–and who could imagine it as being a next-wave Spice Girls classic. It doesn’t try too hard to sound cool–it organically achieves it. You don’t even need to be in the same room as the other girls to achieve this! Contact your bandmates–even Victoria–and ask them to email you files of them singing back-up vocals, harmonies, ad-libs, and whatever else needed to round out the track. Forward that email to your producer and get that person to remix “Anymore” for this package; send Calvin Harris or Blood Orange an SMS ask one of them if they’d shine the track up a little.
I also get that you’re afraid of being haunted by the specter of a Spice Girls comeback every few years–I mean your band did ask us to “never give up on the good times.” A simple solve? Present this entire package a charity effort. Remember your band’s mantel of “Girl Power!”? Of course you do, because you still embody it proudly. Use that as your anchor to get political…without getting political. Use “Girl Power!” to buoy the kind of charities globally that serve and support women–and contribute 100% of your proceeds to these charities (Pro-Tip: Planned Parenthood in the U.S. would probably be a great charity to align with if you’re looking for stateside listeners to sit up and take notice.)
Also, there’s the expectation of world tours. Honestly, none of us need you ladies to tour as a five-piece. You’re all grown up with your families, careers, and ambitions and believe it or not, so are your fans. Perhaps schedule a television event featuring some surprise special guests; perhaps do two–one for the UK and another for the States.
Look, Mel. It’s up to you right now. You’re the Voice of the Spice Girls and you can keep acting coy on chat shows, trying to put distance between you and the other girls, or you can spearhead something brilliant to make all of us forget “Song For Her” was ever something that existed. (Please make us forget that ever existed.)
We believe in you. We’re looking forward to you and the girls spicing our lives up again soon.
An Aging Spice Girls Fan
Rohin Guha is an Editor at The Aerogram; you can follow him on Twitter (@ohrohin) if you'd like. He remains hard at work on a book which may or may not ever see the light of day.
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