Monday, December 15, 2008

A Spice Girls Kind of Christmas

Last Christmas, the Spice Girls were enjoying the fruits of their successful reformation tour. There is another reason to discuss Spice this holiday season, 10 years ago on Decemeber 14th, 1998, the Spice Girls released their first single without (then-departed) group mate Geri Halliwell, entitled "Goodbye." The single, their eighth, topped the U.K. charts, giving them their eighth U.K. #1 single. It would also be their third chart topper in the Christmas season consecutively for their third year running. The Spice Girls hold a multitude of records and their run of three number ones at Christmas in the U.K. is a distinctive one. It was a record held by The Beatles.

In celebration of the holiday season, the Spice Girls, and these three amazing pop songs that were released in Christmas' past, I look back and give my thoughts on all three songs.

"2 Become 1" from Spice (1996)

Single, released on 12/16/96
Written By: Spice Girls, Richard Stannard, Matt Rowe
U.K. Pole Position: #1 (3 Weeks)
U.S. Pole Position: #4 (Released 7/29/97)
Video Directed by: Big! TV

This genteel slice of pop has become a standard within the Spice Girls discography. Popular on both sides of the Atlantic, the song wouldn't see its American release until the summer of 1997, "2 Become 1" was, at that time, their most mature outing. The content dealt with love making, of the safe sex variety, and encouraged unity through body and soul, tastefully of course.

Against a lush string accompaniment, the Girls each vocalized with ease separately before they formed to a unified chorus. Also unique is the shift of lyric in the second verse on the single edit. Victoria handled the line: "Once again if we endeavour, love will bring us back together, take it or leave it." The switch from the album version where Geri sang, "Any deal that we endeavor, boys and girls go good together, take it or leave it" was done to leave the appeal open to the Girls GLBT audience.

"Too Much" from Spiceworld (1997)

Single, released: 12/15/97
Written By: Spice Girls, Absolute (Paul Wilson & Andy Watkins)
U.K. Pole Position: #1 (2 Weeks)
U.S. Pole Position: #9 (Released 1/27/98)
Video Directed By: Howard Greenhalgh

Rivaling similar U.K. slices of soul-pop genius such as "Time (Clock of the Heart)" (Culture Club) and "Careless Whisper" (Wham!)  in artistic and emotional depth,"Too Much" was pop doing a fantastic doo-wop impersonation. Lyrically, the song was a complex reading of dissatisfaction about doing with or without love. It is the Spice Girls at their silkiest, where everyone shined and never sounded better than they did here.

"Goodbye" from Forever (2000)

Single, Released 12/14/98
Written By: Spice Girls, Richard Stannard, Matt Rowe
U.K. Pole Position: #1 (1 Week)
U.S. Pole Position: #11 (Released 12/15/98)
Video Directed By: Howard Greenhalgh

Written while on the North American leg of their Spice World tour, and after Geri Halliwell's abrupt exit from the group, the song discussed the universal concepts of endings and beginnings. It's open ended enough where anyone who has experienced any loss can relate to the track. "Goodbye"  showcased the Girls as lyricists, separating them from groups that only shared a genre tag versus any sort of musical compatibility. "Goodbye," a beautiful and simple composition, is a proper ballad throughout.

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