Songs of Sisterhood: How the Spice Girls Changed the World

Known as the most successful female band in history, the Spice Girls have achieved so much more than international acclaim. During their six year life span, which took place between 1994 and 2000, this group of five seemingly ordinary young women influenced British pop culture in an extraordinary way. Armed with unassailable talent and an inexorable passion to create a distinctive musical style, band members Geri Halliwell, Melanie Chrisholm, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton and Victoria Adams united to transform the then male-dominated music industry. Over the course of their reign, they not only gained a pivotal standing in the British music industry, but also succeeded in inspiring a generation of young women to exercise the self-belief and values of friendship, which are discussed in depth in the lyrics of their songs.

Having been formed in a manufactured way, the girls were determined to interject their own ideologies into the music they produced and the image they portrayed – a desire which was frequently opposed by the various managers with whom they worked. Throughout their career, the band struggled against the restrictive ideas of many managers and producers, eventually going on to successfully managing themselves.

Despite the influence that various composers and lyricists had on their music, the key ideas of the band were consistently apparent in their songs. In all of their songs, the band always illustrated their central belief: that any woman from anywhere, regardless of social class or background, can achieve anything.

Their music injected a much-needed philosophy of gender equality in to the British music industry with songs such as ‘Say You’ll Be There’, which, as well as being irresistibly catchy, advocated the idea that the commitment in romantic relationships should be shared equally between lovers. Their first and arguably most famous hit, ‘Wannabe’, contains within it strong connotations of friendship over romance, advising young women to consider the long-lasting value of friendship when choosing a romantic partner. Perhaps the most important message they have provided young women with, appears in ‘2 Become 1’, in which the well-crafted lyrics implore young female listeners to not give in to social pressure to lose their virginity as quickly as possible, but to wait for a sexual partner who respects them entirely for who they are.

Although the governing ideas in these songs may sound simple to many listeners, they are invaluable to young girls trying to find themselves in an overtly sexualised and frightening world. These songs did not just provide young women with sing-a-long material; they provided a life-line for them, from one woman to another. Young female fans learnt lessons which they have carried into their adult lives today. Through tireless endeavour, teamwork and, most significantly, friendship, the music of the Spice Girls inspired a generation of young women.

It was not just their music that made them stand out. The girls themselves, each from different parts of the country and from different walks of life, demonstrated that social class or racial background have no influence over what a person can do with their life. Most boy bands consisted of members that belonged to the same social group, some even originating from the same town. Therefore, the variety of accents and mannerisms which existed in the Spice Girls illustrated one of the central principles that each shared: that it is not our origins which define us, but our ambitions.

The diversity of the band helped to illuminate the growing idea in the late 1990s that social background should not limit a person’s potential. Overall, every aspect of the band defined their distinction within a world of generic pop. The main focus of self-belief and individuality resonates throughout all of their songs, which in turn express the distinctive personality of each band member. Thanks to their innovative outlook, each song encourages each and every woman to be unique and different. To the Spice Girls, self-expression is everything, which is why they are still recognised as one of the most influential bands in British history.

Beth Andralojc

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