Editors' Notes “I get really emotional when I talk about it,” Melanie C tells Apple music of her self-titled eighth album. “I've had well-documented issues [with eating disorders and depression], but this record finds me in a more self-accepting place.” In order to get there, she had to go right back to the beginning, joining her former bandmates for a sold-out stadium tour in summer 2019. “Like a lot of people, I've spent time feeling not good enough. But when I was onstage with the Spice Girls, I had this moment of realisation about the impact we had on a generation of young people, and it blew me away. It felt like it was time to acknowledge that I'm part of something really incredible.”

Embracing her past—Sporty Spice and all—inspired a return to pop following experimentations in rock and electronica. “I knew I wanted to dance, but it can be hard to write uptempo tracks with lyrical depth,” she says. “So I was listening to artists like Robyn and Mark Ronson, who are amazing at sad disco.” Sure enough, the feather-light pop of single “In and Out of Love” jostles alongside ruminations on toxic relationships (the tropical-tinged “Overload”) and panic attacks (the Billie Eilish-indebted “Nowhere to Run”). Key to that evolution was working with a fresh raft of co-writers, including Jonny Lattimer (Ellie Goulding, Rag’n’Bone Man), Future Cut (Little Mix, Lily Allen), Tom Neville (Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris), Nadia Rose and Shura. “I loved getting back in the studio with youthful, talented people who had influences that were quite different to mine,” says Melanie. “They encouraged me to experiment more, and I feel reinvigorated. This is a new chapter.” Read on as Melanie talks us through her revelatory eighth record, track by track.

Who I Am
“I wrote this with Biff Stannard, who I've written with since my Spice Girls days, and Bryn Christopher, who I hadn't worked with before. So it was a really nice combination of having that history and the security to be vulnerable, and then having someone new and fresh in the mix. It's about how I've spent a lot of time not speaking up for myself, and now that I do, it confuses people who are used to me going with the flow. Instead of feeling embarrassed or ashamed of those things, it's time for me to own them, and be proud that I overcame them. The whole album is a massive healing process.”

Blame It on Me
“I was bitching and moaning with Niamh Murphy, one of the co-writers, about friends who had let us down, and the lyrics came out of that. It's about having someone who you rely on, and then something happening which rocks your world and makes you think, ‘That was the dynamic of our friendship and I never even saw it.’ I'm not confrontational, I don't really fall out with people, so being able to express those feelings in songs is a great way of getting my emotions out. It's one of the tracks where I've used my voice quite differently—it's a lower tone and a bit more aggressive on the mic than I'd normally be.”

Good Enough
“I wrote this with Future Cut and Shura, who is an artist that I adore. She's another Northern lass with very similar musical influences to me. It was the first time that the three of us had worked together, so it was a bit like an awkward first date. Again, I was bitching and moaning—I do a lot of that in the studio—about someone who was driving me to distraction, finding fault in everything, nitpicking and saying nothing is ever good enough. Sometimes I feel nervous to do things I deem youthful, because I don't want to be trying to be something I'm not. But working with younger artists has been a great way to push me out of my comfort zone.”

Escape
“I came into the studio and was having one of those days when I was feeling overwhelmed and didn't know what I wanted. I was feeling like life is such a treadmill, and we're all on it working so hard to achieve certain things. But what if it's all bollocks? What if we just did something completely different? That's where the idea for ‘Escape’ came from. It's weird because since we wrote it, COVID has happened, and we've all had the opportunity to stop, or at least slow down. Now I'm getting back to work, I can identify with the sentiment again.”

Overload
“I like to have references to my other songs—song titles or lyrics—in my work. And on ‘Overload’, the lyric ‘I don't want to be your acceptable version of me’ harks back to my last album, Version of Me. It's about feeling under a lot of pressure, and people driving you mad. There's a big theme of people driving me mad on this album (funnily enough, I was writing it during Spice Girls tour rehearsals!). This was written in one of the first sessions, with Jonny Lattimer. I loved his work with Ellie Goulding, so it was brilliant to get in the studio, just the two of us. I've worked in a more modern way on this album, with bigger teams, so it was nice to go back to something a bit more intimate.”

Fearless (feat. Nadia Rose)
“I'd seen Nadia Rose being interviewed on Kathy Burke's All Woman documentary and kind of fell in love with her. Then I watched her video for ‘Skwod’ and thought she had such a great, tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, as well as being a brilliant rapper. About two weeks later I was DJing at a Fashion Week party, and as I was heading for the exit, someone came running after me—and it was her. I took it as a sign that we should collaborate, which she was super excited to do. We set up a session with Paul O'Duffy and drove up to his place in Hertfordshire together, chatting in the car. We were talking about being a woman in music, and how, in order to pursue your dreams, you have to do petrifying things—whether that's going onstage in front of thousands of people or turning up at a stranger’s house for a session. Out of that came the idea of encouraging people to be fearless and go for their dreams, like we both have. I love how lush and expensive this one sounds.”

Here I Am
“This is a really important song for me. I was in the studio with Tom Neville and Poppy Bascombe to re-vocal something, and when we'd finished we thought, ‘Shall we have a crack at another song?’ I'd had a mad dream the night before where I was tumbling down in water. I could see my boyfriend, but he was obscured and I didn't know if he could see me or knew that I needed help. I'm always reading stuff into dreams, and I thought it would make a good starting point for a song. For me, the dream was about how so often you feel like you can't keep your head above water, but at some point you have to help yourself.”

Nowhere to Run
“I was listening to and getting quite obsessed with Billie Eilish, so I was inspired to look at doing some darker production. I wrote it with Biff, who also loves to write songs that are very 'up' and dancey, and which then go really dark. Something that I'd never explored in a writing capacity, but which felt comfortable to do with him, was the experience of having panic attacks. We'd written the first verse and chorus, but I didn't have any words for the second verse. I hadn't had a panic attack for months, and then I went out to a restaurant and had one in public for the first time ever, which was terrifying. But as soon as it passed I thought, ‘That’s brilliant, I've got a great idea for the second verse now.’ Weirdly, one of the lyrics that we'd already written was ‘I see exit signs, but there's no way out.’ Then, when I was having the panic attack, I could see the exit, but would've had to cross through the restaurant to leave. So there really was no way out. Life was imitating art.”

In and Out of Love
“I wanted to do something really fun and disco. It's about being on the pull, inspired by the days when I had no responsibilities and would go on a night out and find romance on the dance floor. It's super frivolous, which I think is a welcome change of pace after 'Nowhere to Run’. My daughter is 11 and she's in control of the dial when we're in the car, so I'd been listening to a lot of her pop playlists, a lot of Dua Lipa.”

End of Everything
“This was written in an early session with Sacha Skarbek, who comes from a much more traditional songwriting background. Lyrically, it's about all the changes that I've been through, including leaving my manager of 18 years and changing most of my team, and all of the emotions that come with that. I wanted to explore the feeling of something ending in your life and being left void of any emotion. It's an interesting space to inhabit. This song was always earmarked to close the album.”

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