Friday, February 09, 2007

Although "Wannabe" may be their signature song, my favorite Spice Girls song has always been "Spice Up Your Life". Released as the first single off 1997's Spice World, it was initially delayed to avoid chart conflict with Elton John's rewrite of "Candle in the Wind", following the death of Princess Diana of Wales. The seven-day delay worked well, allowing the Girls to claim their fifth consecutive UK #1 after the track was finally released on October 13, 1997.

The single did not fare so well in America, however:
Due to the song's idiosyncratic sound — a hybrid of pop and samba — it was unable to fit into a particular musical mould. Hence, the song was seldom played on U.S. radio (peaking at a very low number seventy-two on the Hot 100 Airplay), resulting in it stalling at a lowly number eighteen on the Billboard Hot 100. Some would argue that it would have been wise for Virgin to release the more U.S.-friendly tracks from Spiceworld to radio instead, namely "Saturday Night Divas" or "Denying". Despite its disappointing chart position in the U.S., the track added another U.S. top-twenty to the group's already impressive list. "Life" also helped the Spiceworld LP debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart at number eight (it would eventually climb to a peak of number three after the release of the group's first film, Spiceworld: the Movie). (1)

"Spice Up Your Life" still sounds like nothing so much as the actual physical movement of a paradigm shifting, a thousand bags of pop rocks mixing with a thousand bottle of fizzy rootbear in the hollowed-out skull of a decadent and decrepit society. A statement for the ages, the ultimate distillation of "Girl Power" to a skeptical world.

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