October 5, 2005

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Print More

It was a dark and stormy night in Ithaca, and as torrents of rain pounded against my non-weather-proofed windows, it occurred to me that the suck-tastic weather was a reaffirmation that even nature realized how inherently horrible testing season can be. I’m not going to say “prelim” because it is merely a contrived appellation made to inflate the already burgeoning collection of words that merely mean “instant academic failure.” I mean, “tests.” Anyhow, there I was, silently crying to myself on the inside while jovially checking The Facebook on the outside. The occasional snide giggle that escaped upon seeing groups like “I Look So Much Better in Person Than in My Facebook Picture” (yeah and I look so much better in fantasy land than in person) was merely a defense mechanism to hide the tortured soul whimpering within.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the room, my roommate, who was busy being eaten alive by a devilishly pre-med combo of micro-bio and bio-chem, suddenly gave a cry of aggravation and decided to put on some music to alleviate the frustrating atmosphere. As the strains of over-produced pop with a dash of R&B drowned out our study anxieties, I found myself actually nodding my head along to the music. It was the perfect mix of superficiality and catchiness, the perfect song for the occasion and its name was “Holler.” And I bet you’ll never guess the artist responsible for its creation. If you’ve stopped reading by now because you simply don’t care, I’d say that it’s a perfectly reasonable although entirely unacceptable choice considering that the artist in question is none other than what could potentially have been the other Fab Four, that is to say the Spice Girls. Yes, I understand that there was originally five members in the group but by the time “Holler” came out, Geri had already United Nation-ed herself away to the land of Real Adults.

The first single from the Spice Girls’ last album, Forever, “Holler” reworks all the conventions of what makes a solid pop/rock/R&B hit and adds a dash of nostalgia. I was going to say “spice,” but even I find such Sex and the City-level pun-making to be nauseating. My roommate, whose music tastes run closer to diva-esque (Mariah, Alicia, with a side of Kelly), admitted that even she was initially taken aback by how consumable the album was. Gone are the obnoxious shouting, saccharin noise, girl power fanaticism and stacked heel platforms of earlier albums. Forever even contained the we-know-we’re-doomed “Goodbye,” a rare moment of self-awareness in the pop world.

You’ll have to forgive the awkward rapping from Mel B. on “Right Back At Ya” and the otherwise bland lyrics, but the sprawling feel of “Let Love Lead The Way” and the infectious bounciness of “Tell Me Why” should make up for it.

The album doesn’t have the frenetic feel of earlier releases, mostly because the former single adjective girl power mafia wanted to aim for something on the mature side. Released in the fall of 2000, Forever was born in an ambiguous era of transition. Victoria was the first Spice Girl to acquire a full last name rather than a simple consonant and Emma was about to embark on the wonderful adventure known as plastic surgery. Little did the girls know, the next few years would bring a string of unfulfilling self-titled solo releases and a battle for emaciation with Victoria skin-and-bones Beckham emerging as the winner.

However, before things really started to go sour, the Spice Girls were still applicable as a living remnant of ’90s hype at its best, or worst if you want to be cruel. And remember, after four hours of chemical reactions, this is the only type of artificial shallow-ness that seems tolerable.

Archived article by Tracy Zhang
Arts and Entertainment Editor