Q: Which Spice Girl is currently nicknamed “Old Spice”?
A: Which one isn’t?
Haw! No, seriously. I’ll tell you what you want, what you really, really want. To go beyond partisan pop prejudices and give these soccer moms their due! Forget that they provided Simon Fuller a power base to inflict battalions of bland Idols upon the world. Maybe enough time has passed that you could hear “Wanna Be” as the precursor to Lady Sovereign, or allow the Spice Girls to pass into history as benignly as an ersatz Bananarama +2. Or as a friend described them to me in 1996, “They’re, like, the KISS of all chick groups, man!”
Listening to this collection, surprisingly lumbered with ballads, you’re reminded why Alvin, Simon & Theodore never went on to have convincing solo careers, either. No one here has a voice that doesn’t sound like the shakiest American Idol audition unless it’s glumped alongside four similar timbres bathed in reverb, a failing which the Pussycat Dolls sidestepped completely by matching the genuinely talented Nicole Scherzinger with a buncha pole dancers. No surprise, then, that the Spices sound best in the anonymous disco surroundings of “Who Do You Think You Are,” the faux Motown of “Stop,” and “Spice Up Your Life,” the official “Livin’ La Vida Loca” for limeys.
Despite not following their own sage advice from “Move Over” (“Generation X, don’t do over”), they were tempted to retrace old glories for the recent shoot-me-now charity single “Headlines (Friendships Never End).” To be charitable, these gals couldn’t even stay friends long enough to continue their world tour through another four-and-a half continents. To be even more charitable, you’ll note that this review didn’t say anything about Eddie Murphy, Baby Spice’s spaghetti-sauce commercial, or Victoria Beckham’s skinny legs, which look like a Stretch Armstrong doll pulled too much in the wrong direction.