Spice Girls songs
1 ho Do You Think You Are 1996 Time has been kinder to the Spice Girls than detractors at the height of their 90s fame might have expected, not least because of a new generation of female artists lauding their influence. Yet their music sometimes seemed secondary, a means by which their personalities could be marketed. However, at the core of their appeal are a string of punchy, undeniable pop songs and this is the best: a rich, brass-driven disco pastiche.
2 ay You’ll Be There 1996 The follow-up to their debut single Wannabe was a more sophisticated song. The verse and chorus here are instantly memorable, the G-funk influence is audible; there’s a Stevie Wonderish harmonica solo; and Mel C gets to really exercise her pipes.
3 Stop 1997 This is as close as the girls came to joining in with the retromania of Britpop, although it focused on an area of 60s pop that most platinum indie bands ignored. Although there is something obligatory about a girl band making a Motown pastiche, Stop is joyous enough to disarm any criticism.
4 2 Become 1 1996 The clunky safe-sex lyric isn’t great, but the tune here is fantastic and the arrangement lush, with strings courtesy of Massive Attack-approved composer Craig Armstrong. Plus, in a world of AutoTune, the vocals sound genuinely charming and full of character.
5 Wannabe 1996 By far their most enduring song – with 250m more plays on Spotify than its closest rival – there is almost nothing to Wannabe: a bassline indebted to EMF’s Unbelievable, a jingle-like chorus and some shouting. It is not snippy to say that the shouting is crucial: it gives Wannabe a different energy to your average girl group effort.
6 Viva Forever 1997 Released as a single in July, timed to soundtrack holiday romances, Viva Forever lays it on a bit thick: flamenco guitars, “hasta mañana”, etc. But its note of lush melancholy (for all the pledges of undying love, you somehow know that it’s over) is hard to resist.
7 Walk of Life 1997 Yes, the Spice Girls did record a reggae track. Moreover, it is surprisingly good, although you could perhaps live without Mel B’s toasting. In its combination of a remarkably gritty backing skank and lyrical homage to the streets of the UK capital, it presages Lily Allen’s LDN.
8 Spice Up Your Life 1997 Second album Spiceworld was recorded – as producersongwriter Matt Rowe has recalled – “in the middle of the chaos” and occasionally it showed: Spice Up Your Life was written and recorded in an afternoon. This accounts for both its woeful lyrics (“Yellow man in Timbuktu / Colour for both me and you”) and a certain raw energy that powers it along.
9 Baby Come Round 1996 One of their few B-sides to warrant repeated listens, the R&B-infused Baby Come Round is an infinitely classier, noticeably tougher track than the double A-side of Mama and Who Do You Think You Are and brings another demonstration of Mel B’s cheeringly Leeds-accented rapping.
10 Love Thing 1996 Love Thing ended up as an album track, but the record label apparently proposed it as an early single. What would have happened to them had they agreed is an intriguing question, but it’s a superior pop confection that would certainly have been a hit in the wake of Wannabe.