1997 starts with an album released late in 1996, proving to be the #1 selling album of 1997. Regardless of musical trends and genres, simple and light pop music will always have a market and an audience, and the visual flash of the Spice Girls were an instant hit upon the release of their debut album. I have always respected the message of their biggest hit, particularly from a woman’s view, that solidarity and friendship is paramount to health and happiness in life.
This record is a very easy and uncomplicated listen. The album opens with “Wannabe”, their debut mega-hit that still is the identity song most associate with the Spice Girls. Like many of their songs, the vocals are collaborative and alternated between the five singers, although usually each track somewhat features a lead part for one of them. Simple, infectious pop music… it is hard to dislike a song like this.
The rest of the album doesn’t hold quite the allure, but there are several other songs that were successful singles for the group. The next two songs were also the next two songs released as singles. “Say You’ll Be There” is another bouncy, up-tempo song that is as good a follow-up to “Wannabe” that they could have hoped to produce. It gets a little cheesier with “2 Become 1”, a sappy ballad that while again laden with nice harmonies and a catchy chorus, this song is definitely a guiltier pleasure than most if you enjoy this one.
The rest of the album is easy but uneventful, and it isn’t hard to see why it was so popular, packaged as it was. I was actually a bit disappointed my favorite Spice Girls song, “Stop” wasn’t on this record. I can’t say I always loved this track, but discovered it in early 2020 when the Struts covered it as a part of their COVID recording sessions. Like this album, it is tons of fun and is paired up with the required dance moves that were hilariously showcased by Struts guitarist Adam Slack.
Nothing but respect here for the Spice Girls and their girl group vibe, the latest reinvention of a musical trend that dates back all the way to the 1940s and probably even before. They are excellent ambassadors for their brand, as well as the UK pop scene in general.