A friend of mine is a huge fan of the Spice Girls. This is a bit of an understatement. He once wrote a college paper about how influential he believes they are. The guy loves the band. His biggest regret is not having enough money to fly to England for their reunion tour.
I didn’t understand it.
My memories of the band were of a slightly annoying pop group, and I didn’t like them very much. Of course, I was a teenage boy when they were popular, and that probably part of the reason for my dismissive attitude. There are schoolyard pressures to what music you enjoy as a teen, and while I went off in unexpected directions with my own musical tastes – mine was the only car in the high school parking lot with Radiohead’s Kid A in the CD Player, and that album sent me off in many strange directions – there were definitely still unwritten rules surrounding what was acceptable. And the Spice Girls? That wasn’t it.
You could go weird, but you couldn’t go pop.
But my friend’s fierce adoration lead me to give the group another chance. Maybe there was something there? After all, he loved them a lot, and while I don’t necessarily agree with everything he loves, I’d like to believe I’m somewhat open minded.
With that in mind, I listened to their second album Spice World, picked for no specific reason at all, and realized that it was a pretty good. I was actually surprised.
But I also realized that I wouldn’t have liked it as much when it was new, because it certainly sounds very much like an album from the late ‘90s. Somehow, 20 years has rendered the era charming rather than annoying, and I realized a lack of familiarity helped their case. I haven’t actually listened to the band for about that long so it felt fresh in a way that was impossible when they were constantly getting radio play.
But really, the primary reason that I didn’t like them was pretty much because it wasn’t something that my demographic did. I was expected to listen to Eminem, because he was edgy and cool and would make my mom angry.
There’s another artist who I’ve completely flipped on. At the time I thought it was great, for the reasons listed above, because I was a teenager and it’s the perfect music for a teenage boy.
Not that I recommend parents play it for their teenage boys, but it’s definitely exactly what they want.
Listening to it now, it’s just really embarrassing, mostly edgy jokes that make it sound like novelty songs as a grown up. The guy had talent, as can be evidenced by the songs that aren’t pitched directly at the demographic I was definitely a part of, but I can’t sit through an entire Eminem album without feeling embarrassed, roughly the way I felt about the Spice Girls at the same time.
However, I’m going to credit the weird side of my music taste for my growth, because that’s what made me realize I didn’t need anyone’s approval for the music I like. Thanks, Radiohead, for allowing me to enjoy the Spice Girls. That’s not a result anyone expected.