So I was watching the newly reunited S Club 7 perform on Children on Need the Friday before last and suddenly I felt an inexorable wave of nostalgia engulf me. The performance was definitely not that good. I accept that. There were more off tune notes than at the X Factor auditions, the dancing was just embarrassing and several have aged visibly. But we all age, get over it! Having said that though Rachel, Paul and Hannah actually look exactly the same and Tina probably looks better, especially now she’s 38!). However, flaws and all, it immediately transported me back to dancing around in my bedroom in the early 2000’s and reminded me of how much fun S Club 7 were back in their prime. They also managed to release a hell of a lot of good tunes before that berk Paul went and spoiled the party, quitting to form a heinous rock band which thankfully died a death almost before it had begun. Either way, I’m hella excited for the tour now! And you can bet that I’ll be the first on the scene if they release any new music.
It’s easy to underestimate S Club 7’s influence in hindsight but, like the Spice Girls and Steps, for a brief but wonderful period S Club 7 were completely unavoidable. They undoubtedly one of the greatest marketing success stories ever, dominating both TV and music for the 4 years that they were around. Forming in 1998 the group managed to ensure maximum media saturation by simultaneously releasing their TV show Miami 7 and debut album S Club. This marketing strategy was genius as it allowed them to market their own music through the show, and the show through the music. It’s no surprise that S Club 7 were the brainchild of Spice Girls creator Simon Fuller who, after being fired by the girls, decided to sprinkle some of his pop fairy dust on S Club 7. Their debut album went on to go double platinum in the UK and yeiled the No.1 single “Bring It All Back” and the No.2s “S Club Party” and “Two in a Million/You’re My Number One”.
With all zeitgeist pop acts it’s all about keeping the ball rolling with little gap between musical releases. Most pop acts average one album per year and S Club 7 were no different. That’s usually the reason why most pop acts are eventually doomed to implode: the gruelling schedule of relentless touring, recording and releasing music takes its strain and leads to infighting. Sorry One DIrectioners but I’m predicting that that ticking timebomb won’t last much longer. Spice Girls, Steps and S Club 7 all lasted around 4 years at the top before they succumbed to the pressure. To be fair, 1D have done well to stay together this long. Four albums is pretty good for that type of act. Anyway sorry for that tangent, back to S Club 7.
“Two in a Million/You’re My Number One” was released in December 1999 and their next lead single was ready the following summer. Now that’s efficiency! Upon release, “Reach” became a massive hit for the group, peaking at No.2 for three weeks behind Sonique’s “It Feels So Good” and served as the theme tune for the group’s second TV series L.A 7. The group followed this up with the slinky “Natural” which featured Rachel Stevens on lead vocals for the first time and inexplicably sampled the classical piece Pavane by Gabriel Fauré, which was also used to great effect in Little Mix’s hit “Little Me” this year.
Then we get to “Never Had a Dream Come True”, which is undoubtedly the crown jewel in S Club 7’s back catalogue. Surprisingly for a song that’s now 14 years old, it’s actually managed to age quite well, while the same can’t really be said for “S Club Party” (but we still love it anyway). Released as the Children in Need single for 2000 “Never Had A Dream Come True” is a perfect reminder of why S Club 7 deserve to be remembered for the pop legends that they are. It was added to the group’s sophomore album 7 and became their second No.1 single. It also helped S Club 7 break into the notoriously difficult US market when it peaked top ten in early 2001. You go S Club 7!! It also finished 2000 as the UK’s 9th biggest selling single despite being released in late November. In retrospect, the video must have been so cheap to make, featuring the group mooching soulfully against a simple white background with the occasional iceberg thrown in to make it festive. A far cry from the fabuleuse mademoiselle GaGa and her massively OTT music videos which often outshine the songs themselves.
Continuing the group’s relentless onslaught on the charts, their follow up album was ready just five months later, with “Don’t Stop Movin’ serving as the lead single in April 2001. This actually went on to become the group’s highest selling single and peaked at No.1 on two separate occasions in the space of a month, sandwiching Geri Halliwell’s “It’s Raining Men”. It also won the 2002 Brit Award for Best British single and ITV’s Record of the Year accolade. Interestingly, it sampled Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” in the verse if you didn’t know that and the group almost got sued for failing to gain permission to use the sample. Popalicious fact for you there.
The group’s third album Sunshine produced two more singles “Have You Ever”, which peaked at No.1 (their third consecutive) and also served as the group’s second consecutive Children In Need single, and “You” which reached No.2 (that rhymes). S Club 7 were bloody untouchable at this point!
Then it all went wrong. In March 2002 Paul Cattermole announced that he was leaving the group in order to “go back to his rock roots” which meant going back to his bloody god awful nu metal band called Skua which he had formed while at school in 1992. What an arse! After Cattermole’s departure the group’s outlook didn’t look positive and comparisons were made between the Spice Girls’ and Take That’s subsequent implosions after losing a member. However, the group insisted that they were going to soldier on as the newly renamed S Club and record what would be their final album Seeing Double. Lead single “Alive” became the group’s lowest peaking single when it entered at No.5, but nevertheless it extended their run to 10 consecutive top 5 singles. Seeing Double didn’t fare so well, becoming by far the band’s worst performing album, peaking at a lowly No.17 in the UK charts. It was at this time that Jo O’Meara, lead singer of the group, announced that she had an immobilising back condition which prevented her from performing live with the group. This was really the final nail in the coffin for the band and, two weeks after the release of their first feature film Seeing Double, S Club announced their split. Their final single “Say Goodbye” and greatest hits album were released in the summer of 2003, both peaking at No.2. The S Club spell was officially broken.
In retrospect it was probably better that S Club 7 broke up in their prime rather than fading slowly. They left behind an impressive record of 11 consecutive top 5 singles, including four No.1s and four top 3 albums. Some members of the group also got together in 2008 (probably because they had run out of money) and performed in pubs and at universities across Britain. Rumours of a full reunion however still persisted and now they have been proved to be true. Let’s hope that S Club 7 has a bright future ahead and that they make Rachel the lead single instead of Jo this time. It makes sense people. Who knows what the future has in store for the group, but whatever happens they leave behind a great legacy as one of the best and most successful pop bands of our time. I have high hopes for the tour though. Let’s hope that they prove once again that there is indeed no party like an S Club Party!
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.
This week’s Unguilty Pleasure comes as a special request from a good friend of mine who also has impeccable taste in pop as well as an irrepressible thirst for good tunes. So it’s thanks to her that this week’s selection of the crème de la crème of the pop world is not just one song, but a whole album. Yes, you heard right! Seeing as I am a man of the people and I never have been one to shy away from a challenge I have gladly accepted. Prepare yourselves for some delectable pop goodness dating back to 2003. It’s…
Sugababes – Three
The history of the Sugababes is anything but straightforward. Before the group succumbed to the media pressure of in-fights and an ever changing line-up, there was a time when they were one of the most potent forces in pop, reeling out hit after hit in a never ending, relentless assault on the charts.
After the first line-up change in 2001, when founding member Siobhan Donaghy reportedly quit the group by escaping through a toilet window in the middle of an interview, the Sugababes replaced her with former Atomic Kitten Heidi Range and released their sophomore album Angels with Dirty Faces which met with great commercial and critical success, peaking at No.2 in the UK, selling over 900,000 copies in that market alone. It also yielded four top 11 singles, including the No.1’s “Freak Like Me” and “Round Round”. This established the girls’ as one of the UK’s premier new girl bands in the wake of the Spice Girls and All Saints’ split. By October of 2003 the Sugababes were ready with their follow-up album Three which would cement their position at the top of their game.
As an album title Three might not be the most interesting but, to be fair, it was their third album and there were three of them in the group. It was kind of the obvious choice. The album also reached No.3 in the UK upon release, which is spooky. It seems that three really is the magic number. At least for the Sugababes.
Three’s first single was announced as being “Hole in the Head” which also serves as the album opener. The track met with favourable reviews for continuing with the successful sound of previous No.1 hits “Freak Like Me” and “Round Round” and for capitalising on the girls’ killer harmonies, incendiary attitude and spiky beats. The gothic-styled video shows the Babes sabotaging their no good ex-boyfriends’ gig at a seedy club and features Mutya’s jigging so much that her boobs are going all over the shop in her corset. It’s strange and yet wonderful. One of my favourite pop memories of 2003. Although its present throughout the clip, its most prevalent at 0:07. Enjoy…
Oh there’s even a gif! Seems like I’m not the only one who appreciates Mutya.
Despite facing tough competition from Kevin Lyttle’s “Turn Me On”, upon release “Hole in the Head” shot straight to No.1 in the UK, becoming the group’s third No.1 single and ending newcomers The Black Eyed Peas’ 6 week reign atop the singles chart with “Where is the Love?”. There’s a bit of history for you. That held off Dido’s “White Flag”, Rachel Stevens’ “Sweet Dreams My La Ex”, The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and Beyoncé and Sean Paul’s collaboration “Baby Boy”. All tunes, all failed to knock “Where is the Love?” off No.1. Until the Sugababes came along that is.
“Hole in the Head” is undoubtedly the most radio friendly and immediate of all the tracks on Three, although having said that all the singles managed to crack the UK top ten. Three was also supposed to be the Sugababes breakout album in the US but unfortunately “Hole in the Head” bombed there, peaking at a lowly No.96 and the US release of Three was subsequently cancelled. Don’t they know that all good things come in threes!
“Too Lost in You” was released as the second single from Three which was penned by songwriting Diane Warren and is an adaptation of the single “Quand J’ai Peur de Tout” by popular French singer Patricia Kaas. “Too Lost in You” was released as a half-hearted bid for the 2003 Christmas No.1 and was included on the soundtrack for the film Love Actually. Upon release “Too Lost in You” became a victim of the notoriously tough Christmas market which stunted its chart position. Nevertheless, it managed to peak at No.10 for 2 consecutive weeks and remains the Sugababes’ 10th best selling single in the UK despite its lower chart position. Plus, most artists would give their left kidney for a Christmas top ten single so the Sugababes should be very proud of their achievement. What’s more, time has shown “Too Lost In You” to be one of the best Sugababes songs and is considered one of the best singles of the 2000’s. The third and fourth singles from Three “In the Middle” and “Caught in a Moment” also found top ten success in the UK, both peaking at No.8.
Of course, Three is not perfect by any means, but pop albums rarely are. It does, however, serve as a rare example of a very cohesive pop record which maintains its underlying, grungy subtext from the beginning to the bitter end. Three really marks the point when the Sugababes nailed down that signature downbeat style which more than distinguished them from their contemporaries and fulfilled their destiny as the spiritual heirs of All Saints, just as Girls Aloud and Atomic Kitten served as the Spice Girls’ heirs.
It’s true that the Sugababes didn’t have one billionth of the omnipotence of the Spice Girls but actually this factor probably contributed towards their lasting double the time. They always retained a certain cool edginess which mostly emanated from Mutya Buena, whose distinctive vocals and style allowed the Sugababes to stand out. After she left in 2005 the group lost its lifeblood which resulted in them slowly trading in their individuality in favour of glossy pop stompers like “Get Sexy” and “Easy”. Previous and subsequent incarnations of the Sugababes were never really able to live up to the Three line up of Heidi Range, Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan, which undoubtedly represents the peak of the Sugababes brand. Unlike Girls Aloud they didn’t have any useless members: Mutya had an arresting quirkiness which is present in both her look and vocals; Keisha added an urban vibe and soulful rapping and Heidi added the pretty pop factor. It was the perfect mix and no other Sugababes album shows this better than Three due to the fact that all three members contributed their own solo tracks to the album. “Whatever Makes You Happy” was written and performed by Keisha, “Sometimes” by Heidi and “Maya” by Mutya.
One thing to highlight about Three is that it’s definitely not a top heavy album. A lot of pop acts overload the first half with all the singles and unceremoniously plonk the more downbeat lowlights at the end but actually on Three they are spread out evenly which affords the album an even rise and fall. Of course, “Hole in the Head” gets Three off to a blinding start, but strangely the Sugababes choose to reign it in after that, breaking the vibe with downbeat mid tempo tracks like “Situation’s Heavy”. This moody, maudlin vibe remains throughout the whole middle section which slightly bogs it down. The hooks aren’t as sticky in this section with the exception of “Twisted” which makes for light relief with its airy pop guitar bounce which lifts the tone of the album. However, the track listing of Three has been put together so expertly that for every downbeat track there is a more upbeat one to keep the balance. In fact, if I had to pick out album highlights it would be a pretty even spread across the whole album. “Million Different Ways” features a funky beat which is driven along by furious hand claps. “Nasty Ghetto” features some intriguing production and teases an edgier urban vibe. However “Busted” is undoubtedly the star track on the album, standing out as the most inventive track on the album in terms of production and showcasing some kick ass rapping from Keisha, which is always welcome.
In the end, Three will go down as a potent pop statement from a powerful girl group who were, at that point, untouchable. The Sugababes may still be on an indefinite hiatus, but there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing about the good old days. That is the Power of Three.
If you have an Unguilty Pleasure request don’t hesitate in commenting on this post or on the Facebook group. Thanks for reading!
This week’s Unguilty Pleasure has a slight hint of spice…hmmm actually it tastes like 5 SPICE. Yes…that’s right! Continuing the theme of Spice Week we have ourselves another delicious Unguilty Pleasure served up with a side of Girl Power and Cool Britannia.
The Spice Girls were actually the band that I had in mind when I created the Unguilty Pleasure feature because they are one of the bands who have suffered the most from “we’re cooler than that” syndrome. Ok, so they were never going to win a Grammy for their musical sensibilities and nuanced pop art, but they were great fun and their songs were catchy as hell which is why it’s a shame that people are now denying ever liking the Spice Girls. They were a phenomenon and any kid who grew up in the nineties will know what I’m talking about when I say that they have a significant place in my childhood. Mostly for this..
Of course, even once decided on the band, I still had to pick the song and there was a lot of choice because, really, all of their singles could be considered Unguilty Pleasures. My first thoughts of course went to “Wannabe”, the Spice Girls’ debut and signature hit which still gets an airing at cheesy holiday and office parties. Equally it could have been “Spice Up Your Life”, the girls’ mission statement and swansong. Or maybe one of the ballads, “2 Become 1”, “Too Much” and “Goodbye” still get a decent amount of airplay at Christmas. Then my attention switched to another track. You see, the Unguilty Pleasure feature is as much about celebrating underdogs and songs which deserve more attention than they received, which is why I decided to pick “Stop” as this week’s Unguilty pleasure. Now you may cry out that “Stop” is your favourite, and I’m sure it is for many people, but the fact is that it is officially the worst performing Spice Girls single (apart from their 2007 comeback single “Headlines” which peaked at No.11) and the girls’ only single to not reach No.1.
Despite it being the girls’ worst performing single, the Motown-inspired, brassy 60’s throwback sound has ironically meant that it is the Spice Girls track which has best stood the test of time. After all, if the production and sound is already dated, it can’t date any more can it? What’s more, “Stop” kind of sums up the Spice Girls as a group in so far as it manages to capture the essence of fun and individual personalities of all the girls. But mostly because it’s a straightforward tune that gets everybody up on the dance floor to this day.
“Stop” was the group’s last single before Geri’s departure from the band in May 1998, but not the last to include her vocals, that honour goes to “Viva Forever”. Upon release, the single charted pretty well throughout the world, becoming their sixth consecutive top 20 on the US Billboard Chart and peaking in the top 20 of most charts. However, it was held off the No.1 spot in the UK by Run DMC vs Jason Nevins’ “It’s Like That”, which sold almost 250,000 copies in its first week. This broke the Spice Girls’ tally of six consecutive No.1 singles. It’s unfair that this should be the legacy of “Stop”. I mean, it even had dance moves! Much better ones that the bloody “Cha Cha Slide” which we have to suffer every time someone whips it out at a party. And the image of the Posh, Sporty, Scary, Baby and Ginger dancing around on that 1950’s Dublin street will stick with me forever.
And here’s the girls performing “Stop” in 2007 at a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
For a brief period of time the Spice Girls were on top of the world, No.1 singles all over the globe, meeting the Queen and Nelson Mandela, world tours. They had it all. But after the Spice Girls imploded, what happened to the band members? They all had solo music careers, but who had the most hits? Who had any hits? Who will be remembered as the best solo Spice Girl? Let’s countdown the 20 best solo Spice Girl hits. Warning: this list contains a ridiculous amount of pop goodness and cheese:
20) Melanie B Feat. Missy Elliott – I Want You Back
Let’s kick off the top 20 with the first solo Spice Girl single ever. In 1998 Mel B got the ball rolling by cheating on her bandmates with Missy Elliott, who approached the Scary member of the Spice Girls asking her to lend her swag to her tune “I Want You Back”. After checking with the other Spices, Mel B agree immediately and the rest, as we say, is history. “I Want You Back” surged straight to the top of the charts in the UK and managed to peak top 25 in the US, getting Mel B’s solo career off to a blinding start which she never really managed to live up to.
19) Melanie C – Next Best Superstar
Unfortunately Mel C’s star was already starting to wane by the time “Next Best Superstar” was released, resulting in a lower chart placing than this single really deserved. Nevertheless, “Next Best Superstar” became her sixth solo top ten single and her last to date when it peaked at No.10 in 2005. The single proved to be a bold move for the Lancashire born songstress, demonstrating an edgier, guitar-driven rock vibe, a sound which she would end up carrying through with her subsequent musical releases.
18) Melanie B – Feels So Good
Mel B’s only decent solo single in my opinion. “Feels So Good” is actually surprisingly catchy and serves as proof of the bonafide pop star that Mel B could have been if she had continued in the same vein. “Feels So Good” boasts a chilled R&B vibe (not unlike that of Brandy or Ashanti) mixed with synth keyboards. The single managed to peak at No.5, selling 55,000 copies in its first week and finished 2001 as the 80th best seller of that year.
17) Emma Bunton – Free Me
The James Bond theme that never was. For her second studio effort Emma decided to take a more sultry, 60’s inspired route, a move which brought her immediate success with lead single “Free Me” peaking within the top 5 of the UK singles chart in Spring 2003. The new refined style was well received by the public and the success of the single made sure that the album of the same name charted within the top 10 of the UK album charts as its predecessor did before it. Emma looks absolutely stunning in the music video as well which I’m sure did no harm in boosting the singles sales.
16) Geri Halliwell- Bag It Up
At this point in her career Geri was untouchable. When “Bag It Up” managed to become her third No.1 single in a row it became clear that the flame-haired Spice Girl was hotter than a scotch bonnet. This is one of the Watford lass’ sassier efforts and she clearly relishes the opportunity to air her raunchier side and pile on the trumpets.
15) Emma Bunton – I’ll Be There
One of the more understated solo Spice Girl singles, “I’ll Be There” was released as the third single from Emma Bunton’s second studio album Free Me and became her third top ten single in a row when it peaked at No.7 in the UK in January 2004. “I’ll Be There” manages to blend lush violins with a classic Motown feel and Emma’s irrepressible niceness.
14) Geri Halliwell – Lift Me Up
For her third solo single Geri decided to take things down a notch and release her first solo ballad. Despite its November release, “Lift Me Up” is as light as a feather and shone like a star in the middle of the winter. Unfortunately, Geri’s erstwhile bandmate Emma Bunton had also chosen the same week to release her debut solo single “What I Am”. At first, Halliwell wanted to back out but, upon realising that it was too late, in true Geri style she began to furiously promote “Lift Me Up” to make sure that it went to No.1. All the hard work paid off and Geri managed to thwart Bunton on her way towards bagging her second consecutive No.1, with “Lift Me Up” outselling “What I Am” by 33,000 copies.
13) Melanie C – Northern Star
This one is often overlooked as it preceded Mel C’s No.1 singles “Never Be the Same Again” and “I Turn to You”, but nevertheless “Northern Star” managed to peak at No.4 in the UK and sold over 200,000 copies. The song demonstrated a newfound maturity for Sporty Spice both lyrically and musically. In “Northern Star” Mel C speak about living without regret and being someone who will be remembered, which indicates that the song is probably autobiographical. Especially seeing as the song was recorded and released at the same time as Mel C was recording the final Spice Girls album Forever and the band was coming to an end. This remains one of the deepest solo Spice hits.
12) Matt Cardle & Melanie C – Loving You
The most recent entry into this chart. Last year Matt Cardle decided to get together with Mel C for the first single off his third solo album Porcelain. “Loving You” is as steamy as a locomotive and its stomping beat is reminiscent of a Zulu war chant, don’t even get me started on the owl-esque woos. Now that might not be the best pop hit formula, but it all manages to come together on “Loving You” to create an urgent, pulsing jam driven by softly plucking guitars. Sadly, it only managed to reach No.14 in the chart due to a lack of radio airplay. It however did manage to spark several rumours of a relationship between Matt Cardle and Melanie C, despite the latter being 9 years his senior. Check out the video to see the pair making out furiously. Woo indeed.
11) Victoria Beckham – Not Such an Innocent Girl
It’s nice to know that the poshest of all the Spices did manage to have some solo success despite all the haters who say that she can’t sing. “Not Such an Innocent Girl” shows Beckham trying to move away from her Spice Girl image and carve out a niche for herself. Musically, the single has a futuristic synth vibe which was replicated in the video featuring a good and bad Victoria battling out for supremacy. “Not Such an Innocent Girl” managed to become Victoria’s second solo top 6 hit when it was released in September 2001 and went on to sell over 80,000 copies in the UK. Unfortunately, it didn’t manage to do much for the album which became the lowest-selling solo Spice Girl album. Guess that’s why she decided to stick to the fashion designing.
10) Tin Tin Out Featuring Emma Bunton – What I Am
Little Miss Nice managed to bring some Spice to this old classic when she decided to play it safe and team up with seasoned chart botherers Tin Tin Out for her debut solo single. The result is an updated and remixed version of Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians’ 1988 hippie anthem “What I Am”. Emma’s relaxing vocal stylings suit the nature of the songs boho chic lyrics to perfection. As previously mentioned, “What I Am” was beaten to No.1 by a merciless Geri Halliwell’s “Lift Me Up”, but nevertheless did manage to sell over 100,000 copies in its first week. Don’t worry Emma, you managed to beat Geri on this chart!
9) True Steppers Featuring Dane Bowers and Victoria Beckham – Out of Your Mind
Victoria Beckham may have not had the most prolific solo career, but she can boast at least one genuine smash. “Out of Your Mind” was released in the summer of 2000 and Beckham embarked upon a military style promotional campaign in order to ensure that she grabbed herself that No.1 spot. However, Sophie Ellis-Bextor had different ideas. “Out of Your Mind” was No.1 all week until Saturday when it was taken over at the last minute by Spiller featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Groovejet”. Ouch! Neverthless, “Out of Your Mind” remains the solo-Spice Girl single with the biggest first week sales (over 180,000 copies). That makes it even more painful that she is the only Spice Girl to never have had a solo number one.
8) Geri Halliwell – Look At Me
After quitting the Spice Girls when they were still on top of the world, Geri took some time out to hone her oncoming solo assault on the mainstream music market before returning to the spotlight with the brash “Look At Me”. Geri’s debut solo single was fittingly wacky and just as attention-grabbing as Ginger Spice herself. In “Look At Me” the attention is fixed firmly on Geri and she is clearly loving every minute. The song became a massive success, selling over 330,000 copies in the UK alone and over 1 million copies worldwide. The monochrome video also features the funeral of Ginger Spice. Talk about burning bridges.
7) Emma Bunton – Maybe
For her sophomore effort, Bunton decided to take a more Motown, 60’s influenced approach and none of her singles from that period demonstrate this new direction better than “Maybe”. The song contains lounge/bossa influences which lend the song an easy breezy flow and Emma’s cooing happy-go-lucky vocals soar over the string accompaniment to create a really playful little ditty. The highlight is undoubtedly the ba-dah / ba-da-da-da-da-da-dah hook which you’ll find yourself humming for days on end. Despite peaking one place lower than Bunton’s previous single “Free Me”, “Maybe” eventually managed to outsell it and became a hit throughout Europe to boot. In fact, the persisting popularity of “Maybe” meant that it was chosen as Emma’s solo performance on the Return of the Spice Girls tour in late 2007. This is also one of the rare cases when the video really enhances a song, mostly for the funky choreography which is inspired by Rich Man’s Frug from the musical Sweet Charity. It also goes to show that you don’t need a big budget in order to make an entertaining video.
6) Melanie C – I Turn to You
“I Turn to You” is undoubtedly an early prototype of the dance diva smashes which have been lighting up the charts so much lately (I’m thinking “Sweet Nothing”, “Titanium”, “When Love Takes Over”…). The surging strings and urgent, driving beat are even more in vogue now than they were back in 2000. As a result, “I Turn to You” is perhaps the solo Spice Girl hit which has aged the best and, in fact, it still sounds pretty fresh even now. That’s the mark of quality pop. Of course, upon release, the single became an instant club hit and was an enormous smash, topping the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and reaching the top spot in no less than 7 countries throughout Europe. Also, the DJ who provided the upbeat remix for the single version, Hex Hector, won the 2000 Grammy for Remixer of the Year. If you have any doubts that at the peak of her popularity Melanie C was one of the biggest pop stars in the UK, the success of “I Turn to You” is all the proof you need.
5) Emma Bunton – What Took You So Long
Contrary to popular belief “What Took You So Long” was not Emma Bunton’s debut solo single, however it is by far Baby Spice’s most commercially successful and, above all, memorable hit to date. Released as the second single from her debut album A Girl Like Me, “What Took You So Long” shot straight to the top of the UK charts, selling 76,000 copies in the process. The soothing, relaxing beat may fool you, but the lyrics “What Took You So Long” prove that, despite having a reputation the gentle Spice Girl, Baby Spice does sure pack some punch when she wants to.
4) Geri Halliwell- Mi Chico Latino
Believe it or not, after debut single “Look At Me” only managed to peak at No.2 in the UK behind Boyzone, there was talk about Halliwell’s solo career being over even before it had started. And so a desperate Halliwell embarked upon a fierce marketing campaign to ensure the success of her next single and boy did it work! Not only was “Mi Chico Latino” the ideal blend of corniness and catchiness, but also its release was timed to perfection in order to be able to cash in on the Latin pop explosion of summer 1999 which was spearheaded by the sultry Jennifer Lopez and the hip-swivelling Ricky Martin. Needless to say, “Mi Chico Latino” became Geri’s first solo No.1 and went on to be a huge smash in Europe.
3) Bryan Adams & Melanie C – When You’re Gone
The Spice Girls hadn’t even broken up when Mel C managed to bag herself this surprise hit in late 1998. Probably the classiest of all the songs on this list and actually the best-selling, with sales surpassing 650,000 in the UK alone. The song was a massive smash, especially in the UK and got Sporty Spice’s solo career off to a flying start. “When You’re Gone” spent 9 weeks in the UK top ten and became a big hit throughout Oceania and Europe. “When You’re Gone” is essentially a love song but manages to channel the gritty rock edge of both performers. No-one could have predicted that Mel C’s and Bryan Adams’ voices would blend so well. Screw Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett! Mel C and Bryan Adams should make a duet album.
2) Geri Halliwell – It’s Raining Men
God bless Mother Nature! At No.2 we have an unforgettable classic by Geri Halliwell. It was a genius move really, seeing as Halliwell already had a massive gay following. Why not claim gay anthem “It’s Raining Men” for her own? And as if that weren’t enough, let’s include it on the Bridget Jones’ Diary film soundtrack so it will forever be associated with the moment when Colin Firth punched Hugh Grant’s lights out. And of course Europe immediatey fell to its knees and bowed to the Queen of Camp. The song shot straight to No.1 in the UK, selling over 150,000 copies in its first week and became the 12th best-selling single of 2001 in that market. It also meant that Halliwell had bagged herself a fourth consecutive No.1 in a row in the UK which made her the British female artist with the most No.1 singles, a record which she now shares with Rita Ora and Cheryl Cole. However, if you thought that this song was massive in the UK you have another think coming, “It’s Raining Men” sold almost double what it sold in the UK in France and was certified Diamond, yes Diamond for sales of over 800,000 copies. France sure loves its Geri Halliwell. And why not!
1) Melanie C Featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes – Never Be the Same Again
How could this not be No.1? Mel C has undoubtedly had the longest and most well respected solo career of all of the Spice Girls and “Never Be the Same Again” is the crown jewel in her back catalogue. It’s a slow-burning, mid-tempo jam which rides on a wave of mystical intensity aided by Mel C’s reserved, understated vocals and a sassy feature rap from the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez from TLC, who adds a good dose of attitude. The best thing however is that “Never Be the Same Again” still sounds as fresh today as it did in 2000, which is really the hallmark of a good quality tune. Upon release, the single shot straight to the top of the UK charts (incidentally knocking Geri’s “Bag It Up” off No.1) and sold 144,000 copies in its first week. “Never Be the Same Again” ended 2000 as the 18th best seller of that year and ended up selling more than a million copies across Europe, topping the charts in no less than seven countries. The success of “Never Be the Same Again” helped her debut album Northern Star sell over 900,000 copies in the UK alone, making it the best-selling solo Spice Girl album. Case and point.
Although the purpose of this list was to demonstrate that the Spice Girls did manage to produce a whole host of great tunes separately, really one needs to address the elephant in the room. None of these songs match up to the dizzy heights of the Spice Girls singles. There’s nothing as sassy as “Spice Up Your Life”, nothing as sophisticated as “Too Much”, nothing as definitive as “Wannabe”. In fact it could be said that all of their solo material was lacking a certain zig-a-zig-ahhh (if you know what I mean). Girl power forever!
Thanks for reading and feel free to like, share and comment. I’d love to hear what you think!