Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday Review: Spice Girl's "Spice" (1996)

Spice Girls - Spice (1996, USA)
Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: Wannabe, Say You'll Be There, Naked, If U Can't Dance

For our first musical Throwback Thursday, I wanted to review the very first CD I owed and still have. Yes, back in the day I was a big Spice Girls fan. I absolutely enjoyed their music, had the dolls, and even seen and owned the movie on VHS. I knew a bit of their choreography since my friends and I thought we really were the Spice Girls and I surprisingly still remember some of it. Of course, lyrics have never left my mind, so I can still effortlessly sing a good portion of the songs in their discography. Let's shake it to the right with Spice Girls' debut album, Spice.

"Wannabe", the first track of the album, is where it all started for most fans and people who knew about the Spice Girls. It was their debut single and music video and it was the perfect track to show us who they are and the perfect way to start an album. "Wannabe" is a simple, upbeat pop tune with a catchy bridge and chorus that everyone couldn't resist but to sing along. It stuck in your head whether you wanted it there or not. I remember people always struggled and fumbled with Mel B's rap or that third verse that her and Geri split. They never knew what the heck she was saying and tended to fail singing along to that part. It was a bit of a nonsense song, but it was full of nothing but fun and energy in not only the video, but the lyrics as well.

I bet some people wondered how the girls were going to top such an addicting song like "Wannabe". Well, their second track "Say You'll Be There" kept that fun playfulness, but added a little more musical substance. While "Wannabe" had some nonsensical moments in their lyrics, "Say You'll Be There" had more comprehensive content about a relationship that's easier to point out than their first song. The video also showed off the members' individual personalities that matched their nicknames and gave each girl a chance to sing. Each member has a very distinct vocal duty and you could clearly tell who's singing which part. The music video was fairly simple and gave each member camera time as they sung their parts, while still having fun with basic choreography and visual effects.

"2 Become 1" was a more mature and sensual track that really displayed each members' vocal talents a little more than "Say You'll Be There". It was a slower track that even younger me enjoyed to some extent, even though I didn't fully grasp the content of the lyrics until I was a little older. It's a very innocent intimate piece that expands on their view of relationships compared to the previous two tracks. The video was more serious and chic, but still held onto the group's personality without being too loud with crazy costumes or a strange concepts. I strangely can imagine that one person wanting this to be their first dance song at a wedding reception or something. Listening to the track now, I can still appreciate how beautiful and emotional this track is and that it shows a different side to the group aside from their crazy, boisterous, and confident side.

"Love Thing" goes back to a more upbeat tempo with a slight funk edge. It's a confident, empowering track about overcoming a rough relationship and moving forward with life. It was a track that stuck with their group concept of girl power. The vocals are consistently strong and the arrangement knew exactly where to put the punches then unify the girls' voices into a catchy hook. "Last Time Lover" is another funk pop track with some lovely bass lines. It's a sensual track that primarily focuses on the deep vocal range of Mel B and Geri. It's a slightly playful track with tons of sass in the verses and a bit in the chorus. It has an easy beat that you could nod your head along to, but it's not a track that'll stick to your head like "Wannabe" or "Say You'll Be There". Nonetheless, it is an empowering track to take hold of a relationship you want to let go while feeling above that ex-lover or whatever.

Back in the 90s, it seemed like the popular thing to do is to make a song dedicated to the mothers. "Mama" is that track. It's a slightly uptempo song with the girls taking turns singing to their mothers. The video features footage and pictures of the members as young girls with their mothers holding pictures of them. The lyrics are pretty simple, but carry enough substance to make you smile and put a small tear in your eye. It's not a track I listened to very often as a kid as I wanted something more upbeat and fun, but back then and now, I never thought this song was a bad one. It's a little cheesy or even pandering, but there is some sincerity and lightness to the track. The girls could've done a more mature ballad piece like Boyz II Men, but decided to keep their fun to appeal to their younger fanbase, light appeal instead which isn't bad.

Similar to "Wannabe", "Who Do You Think You Are" is an extremely fun, upbeat track with a nonsensical music video full of random fun. It's a confident track with a pseudo-disco pop beat and a super catchy chorus. It's definitely a dance track or at least one that's fun to bounce around to like the first track. The video is completely random and fun with the girls playing around their wardrobe, but I honestly wouldn't expect anything else from a song like this. Much like the previous tracks as well as just the whole album, the song exudes tons of confidence, a bit a sexuality, and freshness. It's a good track to listen to pick up your spirits.

"Something Kinda Funny" is a smooth funk track that's pretty easy to listen to. It's really not that memorable compared to some of the other tracks, but the vocals are nice to hear. The melody fits with their voices and somewhat eclectic style. It's not a track I listen to often, but it's not a bad song in the least. Strangely, "Naked" is a track I listened to fairly often when I was younger and still appreciate the track to this day. It's pretty much the slowest track or at least the same tempo as "Mama". It's a pop track with some great guitar melodies and bass. The verses are more spoken word than song which is interesting and ties into the bridge which is sung by, I'm guessing, Emma and Mel B, then smoothly transitions to the chorus. The song has a slight dark, mysterious edge to it. Very vulnerable and raw. It kinda reminds me of Madonna's "Justify My Love" in the rawness. It's an amazing track with a great melody and composition. "If U Can't Dance" is a nice bookend to the album as it is just a fun and nonsensical as "Wannabe". It has a bit of hip-hop mixed with pop and funk elements. It also features that semi-rap delivery in the verses from Geri and Mel B, which I have fun singing along to although I'm sure people would stumble on that first verse. It also features Geri doing a verse completely in Spanish. It's a fun track with mindless lyrics, but it's fairly enjoyable.

Spice was a solid effort from the rising British girl group. From track to track, the sound and concepts are consistent and cohesive. There's a good balance of fun, upbeat songs, slower more intimate songs, and more experimental tracks. The album represented the group in a good light and showcased their personalities and vocal talents. Looking back on this album, I still believe this was a solid effort and deserved the praise and awards that it received. I hope you all enjoyed today's first musical Throwback Thursday and there will definitely be more to come.

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