Spice (25th Anniversary / Deluxe Edition)

Spice (25th Anniversary / Deluxe Edition)

“As with anything Spice Girls, it was pure chaos,” Melanie Chisholm, aka Melanie C, tells Apple Music, recalling the writing and recording of the group’s 1996 debut album, Spice. “We were very green and quite manic, but we had this huge belief in ourselves. I’m not sure we would’ve been as confident as solo artists, but we’d instilled it in each other. And encountering sexism in the music industry had given us so much to prove. Even before we were signed to a label, we just knew that we were going to be the biggest band in the world.” The Spice Girls’ relentless optimism proved infectious. Spice became the best-selling girl-group album of all time and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, with each of its four singles going to No. 1 in the UK. A charming lack of polish became the group’s calling card, but that’s not to say the songs weren’t meticulously crafted. From the Northern Soul stylings of “Say You’ll Be There” to the strutting disco of “Who Do You Think You Are,” every track was imbued with the irrepressible spirit of girl power. Unusually, writing credits and vocals were evenly split five ways. “We knew that we were different—from each other and from other bands,” says Chisholm. “We wanted to celebrate that. Our whole ethos was about equality, and in order to have a healthy dynamic, we needed to all be equal. Spice really conveys the energy of what we were all about.” Here, Mel C guides us through the special 25th anniversary edition of Spice and its three previously unheard tracks. “Wannabe” “‘Wannabe’ was the first song that the Spice Girls wrote from scratch. We’d probably eaten quite a lot of Haribo, and it was a mad half hour in the studio. I don’t think any of us really thought it would see the light of the day. It was just us getting to know the songwriting process, having a bit of fun, being silly. [Cowriters] Matt [Rowe] and ‘Biff’ [Stannard] are so clever because they allowed us to be totally free. We were so tight and had all of our in-jokes and phrases, including ‘zig-a-zig-ah.’ We always used to say that it meant whatever you wanted it to mean, but it meant sex.” “Say You’ll Be There” “We knew ‘Wannabe’ either had to be the first single or not on the album at all, because it was so unique. And we knew that having it as the first single would mean we were expected to be a one-hit wonder, but we also knew we had a really strong second single in ‘Say You’ll Be There.’ We were very courageous, and people loved us for it. I think that’s what started to build up excitement about the band. There were execs who thought ‘Say You’ll Be There’ should be the first single, but even at Virgin Records, people just didn’t mess with us. We kind of always got our own way.” “2 Become 1” “We wrote ‘2 Become 1’ with Matt and Biff in the same sessions as ‘Wannabe.’ There was definitely a vibe between Geri and Matt at the time, and I think this was partly inspired by his adoration of her. We’d all grown up in the ’80s during the start of the HIV epidemic, which was a petrifying time. So we felt it was important to include a safe-sex message, which is where the ‘Be a little bit wiser, baby/Put it on’ lyric came from. We also changed the lyric from ‘Boys and girls look good together’ to ‘Love will bring us back together,’ because we wanted to be more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community.” “Love Thing” “This was written with Eliot Kennedy just after we’d left our first management. We’ll always be grateful to them, because without them we wouldn’t have found each other, but we felt very constrained. When we wrote this, we had this feeling of having been set free. Geri was always the person doing big gestures, usually something sweet and thoughtful and often a bit nuts. And it was during this session that she disappeared and then presented us with the Spice rings. They were just from H. Samuel or something, but those cheap-ass rings became very significant. They showed our love and commitment to each other, and that’s why one was included on the album artwork. Even though we drive each other mad, we still share an unbreakable bond. And we have more love, respect, and admiration for each other than ever.” “Last Time Lover” “We did this with [producers and cowriters] Absolute, who had a very quirky studio near Chertsey Way. We’d all pile into Geri’s battered Fiat Uno and drive up there. We loved working with them because they had a very different energy, coming from an acid jazz background. Originally, this was called ‘First Time Lover,’ and was about losing your virginity. Then we liked the idea of a ‘Last Time Lover’ being the last person you’ll ever be with, your forever lover, which felt more poignant.” “Something Kinda Funny” “The lyrics are about how the Spice Girls had ‘Something Kinda Funny’ about us. We were all from different parts of the UK and were so incredibly different in the way we presented ourselves and our personalities. It shouldn’t work, but it does. We definitely wanted our songs to have meaning and not just be run-of-the-mill love songs, or songs about having a good time or getting it on or whatever. There had to be an underlying message.” “Mama” “Although the Spice Girls are very different, something we really share is that adoration and respect for our mums. And because they were always involved behind the scenes, it was nice to have them star in the video for ‘Mama’ and actually celebrate them. Now, because we’re all mums ourselves, the song has taken on a new meaning.” “Who Do You Think You Are” “It’s such a feel-good track, but again, there’s meaning behind it. It’s giving someone a dressing-down who’s got above their station and thinks they’re better than somebody else. We were thinking about success and fame, and how that can really change people, but we weren’t going allow that to happen to us.” “Naked” “I have a really vivid memory of sitting on the floor in Absolute’s studio, working on the lyrics for this. It’s showing a more vulnerable side and is about when you’re comfortable in a relationship and you can be naked with that person—being able to expose who you are from within. It was a really fun one to perform on our first world tour, sitting backwards on chairs in our nude pants.” “If U Can’t Dance” “I think my favorite thing about ‘If U Can’t Dance’ is Mel B rapping in a Leeds accent. That was the magic of the Spice Girls—celebrating who we are and where we’re from. Some of my favorite memories of the very early Spice Girls days are when we used to go out clubbing, on the pull. We never paid to get in anywhere, even before anybody knew who we were. We’d storm up to the front of a queue to get in a club—tell them we were a pop group and blag our way in, pure Spice Girls style. The song is reminiscent of those times when you’d be out, you’d see some cute guy, but he was a terrible dancer, which was such a huge turnoff. Geri’s mum is Spanish and should probably have a writing credit on this, because I think she wrote most of Geri’s Spanish rap.” “Take Me Home” “This was a sad moment in the studio, which produced a beautiful song. Working in the band, a lot of us were quite far away from our families, and I think we were all feeling a little bit homesick. It’s about being away from the place where you feel like you belong.” “Feed Your Love” “‘Feed Your Love’ was one of the first songs we wrote, and it was sweet but never quite reached its potential. It also had some sexual connotations which we felt might have been a bit much for the album. It’s very different now, when you hear what Ariana Grande sings about, but at the time it didn’t feel appropriate. We had another risqué song called ‘C U Next Tuesday,’ which was vetoed for the 25th anniversary edition, but I do have plans for it. It sounds like a Lily Allen song; it’s absolutely brilliant.” “One of These Girls” “People thought that our different characters were a bit of marketing genius, but they were completely organic. This was one of our early songs, and the lyrics were all about celebrating our differences, which are what ended up drawing so many people to us. We all grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, so we were huge Sesame Street fans, and the music on Sesame Street really inspired this track!”

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