One of the Rutgers TV (RU-TV) stations was playing Spiceworld last week. Of course, I watched it. I’m obsessed with the 90s (#90s baby) and loved the Spice Girls. I mean who wouldn’t. I even got their greatest hits album when it came out in 2007 (I was eleven). I’ve seen the movie a bunch of times but watched it anyway. The movie ends with a concert of their of their song “Spice Up Your Life.” Great song. Very Catchy. I loved it.
Although I was just a baby when this group was out making music, their music was incredibly popular. They were a 90s British pop girl band created to rival the popularity of boy bands in that time. Composed of five girls, they topped the charts all, becoming one of the most recognized groups since the Beatles. Their motto of girl power made them icons and a cultural phenomenon.
One of the most popular songs from their second studio album, Spiceworld, was “Spice Up Your Life.” In comparison to their usual pop songs, this one was a dance-pop song with influences of salsa and samba rhythms. While it was a commercial success, it wasn’t as well received by music critics. But why? Was it because it was different from there usual pop songs? Or was it because it promoted something other than love, relationships, and sex? It was most likely a combination of both.
A bit of background on its creation. They were quoted saying that the inspiration for this song was that they “wanted to create a song for the world.” It took a while to write and record the song as well as the album as a whole because they were currently filming their movie, named for their second album that features this song. When it does come out, it becomes instantly popular, being the most popular single from the album. Music critics had mixed feelings. They either criticized the lyrics as nonsense, to focused on body movement as opposed to social movements, or as unimportant as “Barbie Girl.” Or they criticized the music for being too poppy for the message, not as poppy as “Wannabe,” or as a throwaway Latin song.
There are some critics, however, who applauded the song for its ability to engage the world in a world wide audience in a dialogue of social consciousness through upbeat and uplifting music. I for one agree with that sentiment.
If we look at the lyrics of the first part of the chorus:
Colors of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life, aahh
We can see they are very literally telling their listeners to change things up. No matter what color, what gender, or where you are in the world, you should spice up your life. The lyrics at times are incredibly repetitive but that can be attributed to how simple the command is. They are trying to get people to be more socially conscious. I think what was also useful in pushing this was the music video. It was set in a dark futuristic city with the idea of controlling every aspect of society. The director was inspired by the movie Blade Runner. Although the Spice Girls didn’t want it that way, preferring a carnival theme, the theme of world domination went well with there message. To me, if you don’t spice up your life and explore things other than what you know, you run the risk of becoming easily manipulated and controlled. Not saying that if you don’t, the world will become a dark place where we cannot control aspects of our daily life, but if you aren’t aware of what is going on, you might miss it.