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And Now For Something Completely Different

Critics Hate the Spice Girls Musical, But the Spice Girls Don’t Care Because Girl Power!


Somehow the knowledge that a Spice Girls musical is something that exists escaped my notice. I’m not sure how, exactly, as it seems like the sort of thing that would stay lodged in my head upon just hearing it mentioned (much like Wannabe). But alas, though I did not know about it, there is a Spice Girls musical. And critics don’t want it. They really, really don’t want it. Zig-a-zig-ahhh.

The musical, Viva Forever, debuted last night in London and was slammed by critics, who called it “tawdry, lazy and unedifying” (the Daily Telegraph‘s Charles Spencer), “lacking in any truly original or challenging spark” (The Independent‘s Paul Taylor) and “a prize Christmas turkey” (the Daily Mail‘s exceedingly British Quentin Letts).

Viva Forever is a Mamma Mia-style musical in that it tells a new story (in this case that of reality TV show contestant Viva and three of her friends) through Spice Girls music. The show was written by Jennifer Saunders, who co-wrote and -starred in British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous as Edina. Gotta say, I did not expect teenage interests AbFab and the Spice Girls to come together in quite this way.

(I was so ashamed of liking their music that I used to refuse to listen to the radio in the car lest a song of theirs came on and I would be forced to admit to whoever else was there that I enjoyed it. It was a neurotic time for me.)

Though the critics hated it, the Girls themselves don’t. Melanie Chisholm, aka Mel C, aka Sporty Spice, said on the red carpet that “If people criticize it, we don’t care — because we love it.” Of course they do. No one can keep the Spice Girls down. Haven’t you seen Spice World?!

(via: ABC News)

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  • Anonymous

    For me using the words ‘girl power’ and ‘spice girls’ in the same sentence gives me hives! Honestly, a company product of real live barbie girls.

    Baby Spice! Really!? REALLY!!??
    Look, I don’t dispute that the women involved are real people with real emotions and complex personalities, and if they had just sold it as a female version of the generic boys bands I couldn’t have cared less. But trying to make it sound like feminism when it just makes a mockery of it made me ill.

    Jennifer Saunders is brilliant though. I wish her all the success in the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658295430 Calum Syers

    I have to agree with Archasa. “Girl power” is a product, often used to commercialise and sexualise, but to cover the company’s back if anyone dares accuse them of sexism. “What? Sexism, us? No. See, they’ve got girl power. No sexism here at this record company.” This was the get out of jail free card of choice in the 90s.

  • Anonymous

    Ahem . . . I’m uncomfortable defending the Spice Girls music, but I actually think that despite the Girl Power crap, they were genuinely empowering. There was a period, which is fading, when you never saw women in pop culture supporting and caring about each other publicly. There was a persistent and deeply sexist trope in the media that any two women with the spotlight on them must necessarily be at one another’s throats. Many fake cat fights have been manufactured in the media to sell magazines over the years. The Spice Girls, whatever you think of their music, always presented a united front and stuck by one another over the years. I have a soft spot for them just for that reason.

  • Anonymous

    “The show was written by Jennifer Saunders, who co-wrote and -starred in British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous as Edina. Gotta say, I did not expect teenage interests AbFab and the Spice Girls to come together in quite this way.”

    Not the first time they’ve come together though… http://youtu.be/UMniB-HGpfE

  • Life Lessons

    I really like the Spice Girls, I dance to their music, and I’m glad they’ve got a musical.

    And they get spat ’cause they are, HORRORS, girls.

    Ah misogyny, take a hike.

  • Anonymous

    Jennifer Saunders also lent her talents to breathing new life into I need a Hero, as written and composed by Jim Steinman and Dean Pitchford, then sung by one Bonnie Tyler… I still get the jolts from both of those songs…

  • Anonymous

    Oh yes! She was a bad ass fairy godmother in Shrek! So happy to hear I’m not the only one getting fired up by that song :)

  • Anonymous

    I just love Jennifer Saunders’ and Bonnie Tyler’s takes on that song… I just LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/RodimusBen RodimusBen

    I guess it’s your opinion whether the Spice Girls make a mockery of feminism. It sounds like you don’t know how much input the women had in creating their own images. Yes, they were a product, but if you’re looking for something completely free of commercialism, you’ll never find it in the mainstream media.

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, a version of the ‘generic boyband but with girls’ already existed – All Saints. They formed about a year before the Spice Girls, I believe, but they’d have never made it as big as they did without the trail blazed by Wannabe.

    I’ll admit, when I saw the Spice Girls for the first time, I mentally congratulated their manager as being a certified genius. I couldn’t believe no-one had thought of this before – a ‘girlband’ seemed to have so much more potential for colour and life than another of those bland boybands. It also never would have worked without the sheer force of personality possessed by the girls themselves.

  • Anonymous

    Yes it was definitely the combination of those five individual girls that was the ‘secret formula’ for their success. Many, many others came after and although some had a reasonable amount of success, none came close to the sheer worldwide impact of the Spice Girls. Yes they were ‘manufactured’ and originally put together by male management but when they didn’t feel they were getting the support they needed to make it big they took themselves off and found management that *would* push them further. It was their drive and ambition that got them to to the right people who could market them, get the right songwriters and producers, publicise them and negotiate all the endorsement deals etc. They were smart enough to hire the right people for the job and in my opinion they don’t get enough credit for that. No pop group had done that many successful endorsement deals at that time for instance (nor can I think of one who has since). Going by memory off the top of my head the had deals with Impulse, Cadbury, Walkers, Polaroid and Pepsi. If that was *purely* down to some men in suits making decisions without any input from those five girls, then we’d see a lot more pop stars have that many worldwide, high-profile corporate deals.

    They promoted individuality, friendship, solidarity and making the most of opportunities to young girls (and boys!) at a time when that wasn’t happening. I know ‘girl power’ was an easy phrase to latch onto and it doesn’t really mean much but I think they’ve always been quite open about that and Geri Halliwell has been very honest and said that it was just something she heard and liked the sound of (a couple of years before the Spice Girls, a girl group called Shampoo released a song called Girl Power; I’ve always assumed that was where Geri picked up on it). Maybe they were cheesy and of course they weren’t doing everything on their own and they were very much a product. But they were selling themselves as a product I think. They knew they had a shelf life so they took what they could from it while they could. Admittedly I think they tried to milk it for too long after the departure of Geri and it seemed they were trying to take themselves a bit seriously, but at their peak they were just so refreshing.

    I have huge affection for the Spice Girls. I was in my mid-to-late teens when they were around so I was actually probably a little older than their target demographic but I still appreciated them! I honestly don’t think they make a mockery of feminism… Perhaps saying they were feminists would be stretching it a bit, but that may depend on your definition of feminism. But a mockery? Nah I really don’t think so. To me that seems a little harsh.

    All that being said, I’m going nowhere near this musical! I love the Spice Girls and I love musicals but that looks terrible! Ha!