Today marks Geri Halliwell’s 41st birthday. The English pop singer and songwriter, clothes designer, author and actress is best known for her role as Ginger Spice of the 1990s group the Spice Girls. Halliwell left the group due to depression and other issues and launched a solo career in 1998 with her album Schizophrenic. In 2001 she released the album Scream If You Wanna Go Faster, followed by 2004’s Passion. Although she was quite the successful solo artist in the United Kingdom, she returned with the Spice Girls in 2007 for the Return of the Spice Girls tour.
The Spice Girls, comprised of Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) and Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice), joined together in 1994. With the release of their first single, they were instant teen pop sensations. The group promoted messages of strength, power and independence and were great role models for young girls. Still today, they top the all-time list of best-selling girl groups.
In honor of Halliwell’s birthday, here is a list of the top ten Spice Girls songs.
10) “Say You’ll Be There” – Spice
This song was written by the Spice girls along with Eliot Kennedy for thieir 1996 debut album Spice. As there second single released in 1996, it also became the band’s second Number One hit in the United Kingdom. The lyrics sing of the bonds of friendship that the girls share, and tell how they’ll always be there for each other through thick and thin. Baby Spice opens the song, with the others joining in as the song develops. The catchy and mid-tempo pop song contains a touch of girly hip hop influence and even features a harmonica solo courtesy of Judd Lander. The music video, which was filmed in the Mojave Desert in California, was inspired by the films Pulp Fiction and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! features the Spice Girls dressed up as their alter-egos, including Melanie Chrisholm as “Katrina Highkick,” Geri Halliwell as “Trixie Firecracker,” Emma Bunton as “Kung Fu Candy,” Victoria Beckham as “Midnight Miss Suki” and Melanie Brown as “Blazin’ Bad Zula.” These martial arts and ninja-inspired fighters embody the lyrics of the song. Together, they bond to successfully capture a man (American actor and model Tony Ward). The video won numerous awards, including Best Pop Video, in the United Kingdom.
9) “Let Love Lead the Way” – Forever
The final single from the Spice Girls’ third album, this 2000 hit was the group’s ninth Number One single. This album was their only album they produced without Halliwell. The song, which is a powerful pop ballad, sings of a girl with an unknown future, reassuring her that everything will turn out okay if she just lets love lead her. Many fans interpreted this song to be for Halliwell, the group member who had moved on to other things. In the music video, each of the girls represent one of the four elements: Chisholm as water, Beckham as fire, Bunton as earth and Brown as air. During the verses, each girl is pictured alone in their element. When it comes to the chorus, the girls are brought together in one room, mixing the four elements together.
8) “Move Over (Generation Next)” – Spiceworld
Although it was featured on the Spiceworld album, this song is mainly known for its Pepsi endorsement status. Released as a promotional single in 1998, the Spice Girls were featured constantly in television commercials for Pepsi. Although this song doesn’t have much in the way of lyrics, the tune is extremely catchy, upbeat and danceable. It is one that creeps its way into your head and stays there for days on end.
7) “Never Give Up On The Good Times” – Spiceworld
This disco-ish song is an upbeat song that remains encouraging throughout the entire song. Even if unexpected events come along, we just need to keep holding on to the good times we experience. This song off the 1997 album is another great dance number from the Spice Girls, as well as a song that will keep you going in even the toughest of times.
6) “Viva Forever” – Spiceworld
Featured on the Spice Girls’ second album, this song became the group’s eighth Number One single in 1998, as well as their last Number One hit with Halliwell. Oscar winner Steve Box directed the music video for this song. The video begins with two boys discovering an egg-like case that the Spice Girls (including Halliwell), as fairies, fly out of. The lyrics of this song are intensely sad, singing about a loved one dying and all the memories that remain of them. However, it also proves to be uplifting, with the Spanish phrase “Hasta mañana,” which means “until tomorrow.”
5) “Mama” – Spice
Written by the Spice Girls along with Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard, this ballad was released in November 1996. The group set their ‘spice’ aside and produced their sweetest song to date. The song is about how teenagers have rocky relationships with their mothers, treating them poorly and undermining everything that moms do for them. However, when we grow up, we realize how much our mothers mean to us, and how much they’ve done for us. We finally realize that mothers really do know what is best for us. This song, which became the group’s fourth consecutive Number One single in the United Kingdom, made the Spice Girls the first group in the history of the UK to have its first four singles hit Number One on the charts. In the music video, the Spice Girls sing on stage to an audience of children and mothers, including the singers’ own mothers. Young versions of the Spice Girls are also portrayed dancing and playing around.
4) “Goodbye” – Forever
This song was the debut of the four-girl group after Halliwell left the group. This song gives a good representation of what the group was probably feeling when Halliwell departed from them, and served as an emotional tribute to her. The lyrics tell about a girl who tries to find her place in the world. Her friends assure her that they will be with her always. Written by the four remaining Spice Girls, Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe, this song was first released in 1998 as a Christmas single, and was later a part of the Foreveralbum. The sweetly-sung ballad reached Number One on the charts, marking their eight Number One single in the United Kingdom. The music video, filmed in Mentmore, Buckinghamshire, features the girls in separate black cars riding in a forest at night alongside white wolves. When they reach a house, they find frozen couples, who eventually melt back to life by the end of the video.
3) “Stop” – Spiceworld
This upbeat dance-pop song with hints of Motown influences was written by the group along with Paul Wilson and Andy Watkins. Released in 1998, this song only peaked at number two on the charts in the United Kingdom, which held the Spice Girls at six consecutive Number One singles. Filmed in Ireland, the music video features the group dancing and singing around a street and a local fair in the ’50s. Although this song is extremely pop, the message of a relationship moving way too fast is surprisingly true and important.
2) “Spice Up Your Life” – Spiceworld
Many of the songs on this list are sweet and soulful, but this one holds true to the group’s name and has spice written all over it. With latin salsa and samba dance influences, this song was written by the Spice Girls with Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard and released in 1997. This song once again topped the charts in the United Kingdom and became the group’s fifth consecutive Number One hit. In the music video, inspired by 1982’s Blade Runner, the group sings in a futuristic world. The lyrics, although a little silly and nonsensical, tell eveyone who is listening to spice up their lives, especially through dance. Numerous different dance styles are mentioned, including lambada, hip-hop, flamenco, foxtrot, polka and salsa. The song is sure to make you want to get up and dance every one of those styles.
1) “Wannabe” – Spice
This is the song that introduced the world to the Spice Girls. It was their first Number One single and is a widely known dance-pop song. This was also the group’s only Number One hit in the United States. Written by Matt Rowe, Richard Stannard and the Spice Girls and released in 1996, it was an immediate hit. The all-time best-selling single by a female group, this song gained the group much press interest. The lyrics express the importance of female friendship and empowerment over relationships with guys. The song is energetic, witty and fun – after all, it’s the song that brought us the word “zigazig-ha.” Even for those people who aren’t fans of pop, this is often a guilty pleasure.