I have a theory that no one ever loves anything the way they loved whatever their favorite thing was when they were 8. Maybe it was a sports franchise or a game; perhaps it was dinosaurs or the Beatles or Harry Potter. For me, it was the Spice Girls.
I did not love the Spice Girls so much as I knew, with total certainty, that they—their music, their members, their platform boots—were the greatest thing that had ever happened in the history of human civilization. I maintained a shoebox of archival documents (streaky printouts found on the pre-Google internet). I knew their real names, their birthdays, their hobbies. I hoarded Spice Girls lollipops and kept the wrappers. I collected pictures of Posh Spice smiling. I had the first memorable argument of my life with my mother, who was A-OK with me taking my remarkable Baby Spice likeness (blonde; correct number of limbs) to the school talent show until I demanded to do so in her loveliest white mini dress, which was in fact a heretofore unknown garment called a “negligee.” I wore a friend’s mom’s slip instead.
So I am, in short, the very definition of a member of a target market for the Spice Girls reunion tour, in the way that you might be part of the target market for an exhibition game of the 1996 Phillies or a Zelda retrospective or any recipe that even vaguely promises to recreate the experience of butterbeer.
All we really know about Spice Girls 2K18, which was announced on Wednesday, is that it will include stops in the U.K. and U.S. and will feature all five relevant Spices. TMZ reports that a Vegas residency—the comfortable and profitable home of many a we-shall-not-call-them-washed ’90s star—is out; so too, we can imagine, is a Caribbean nostalgia cruise à la New Kids on the Block. The Spice Girls are going to do a real tour.
This will end just one way for me: me screaming “take my money” and my money being resolutely taken. Which is fine: I look forward to it. But there are a lot of ways this might end for the Spice Girls, beyond their acquisition of a cache of former 8-year-olds’ money. And most of those ways are … not good. Cringey group dancing. Bad music. Dull shows. Besmirched memories. The 20-year-old hits played like, well, their performers are 20 years older.
And so I am here to offer my humble advice: a four-step plan for Spice Girls (re-)domination. No one is expecting a return of ’90s mania: Our Girls are all in their 40s now, with families and lives and fashion empires, and none of them have exactly experienced much musical success since the group’s de facto breakup in 2000. But it’s hard to think of a moment riper for an explosion of fiery and eclectic girl power. If the Spice Girls are going to come back, then they’d better do it right.
We Need Some New Freaking Music
This is not the first time we’ve been offered a Spice Girls reunion. In 2007, they went on a 47-show world tour, and the first London date sold out in 38 seconds, ultimately leading to a 17-night sellout at the O2 Arena. But the only new additions to that tour’s set list were a handful of songs borrowed from the Spice Girls’ respective solo albums—if you didn’t know they had any, that should tell you everything—which was emphatically not what anyone had come to hear.
More recently, the Spice Girls did a medley of greatest hits at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, which was a win insofar as we were all ready to declare any instance of recognizable Britishisms a success, and a failure insofar as the matching cabs that brought them on stage—one pink, one in leopard print, one with a Union Jack, etc.—turned out to be the better dancers by far.
This reliance on yesterday’s hits is fine. Let’s be real: This whole tour is a nostalgia play, and any Spice Girls show that didn’t consist in its near entirety of the albums Spice and Spiceworld (sorry, Ginger-less Forever) would end in a riot. But if the Girls don’t want to play Vegas, that suggests that they’re hoping for something at least a little beyond a ’90s retread, and if they really do want to break through, they’re going to need a new album.
The good news for the Spice Girls: Because they split up so soon after their peak, they’ve essentially been locked in carbonite for potential listeners for the better part of two decades. The bad news: They basically have been locked in carbonite. The Spice Girls don’t seem to have been together in a recording studio since before we all got braces. Add to this that their music was always über-manufactured, as much sonic kayfabe as anything else.
BUT! I would posit that because they’ve been locked safely in our collective hearts, and because any five-Spice union is all but guaranteed to sell out of whatever is being sold, many a pop mastermind or collaborator can be secured. Let others do the heavy lifting. Can anyone imagine a world in which Ed Sheeran turns down a chance to write for the Spice Girls? Let’s stick to the basics here: The Spice Girls were always an exercise in bubblegum pop—the pre-poptimism variety—and so they ought to remain. Throw in a couple of ballads—“Too Much” is a jam and no person alive can convince me otherwise—and we’re gravy. A new Spice Girls album doesn’t have to be great, or even particularly good: An OK record with one single with a memorably up-tempo hook is plenty for our purposes.
Is recording an album a lot to ask of five adults who live in different places and have had 20 years to harden their myriad incompatibilities? Sure. But, heck—stitch this thing together from afar. Posh can do her thing in L.A., and Scary can stay in London. If the National can do it, so can they. All the Spice Girls will need then is something splashy to go alongside the album. About that …
Blow It All Up in a Music Video
Do we need music videos in the year 2018? We mostly do not, no. Do ’90s stars with numerous music videos imprinted upon the world’s collective consciousness need them? You see where I’m going.
Look, don’t try to make the thing make sense. Take that single memorable Ed Sheeran hook to the desert and throw some boomerangs around. Rampage through a fancy dinner club. Wave to Kate Middleton—or Pippa? Maybe try Pippa?—from a bus. A nonsensical video medley whose entire premise is Hey, remember us? is more than enough.
Spice Girls mania is a puddle of gasoline. Two sequins hitting one another would probably be enough to set the whole thing off.
Lean Into the Clichés
There is no pivot. There is no growth. My sincere apologies to the actual adults with names behind their nicknames and life experiences beyond “I am 21 years old and I love my single-personality-trait best friends,” but that’s what we need here. Baby wears pink and white; Sporty wears tracksuits; Posh doesn’t smile (possibly a real-life trait, too). One-note oversaturation is the name of the game.
Yes: It worked once. For about 12 seconds. Please do not try again.