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Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Wannabe' is 18? A lot of us singing teenagers will feel positively ancient now

It wasn't funny, and it wasn't very clever, either.

But the Spice Girls' Wannabe was an iconic song, for everything that was both right and wrong about it, and for the generation that grew up with Girl Power.

Yesterday, the song celebrated its 18th birthday. Gulp.

That's a lot of us in our late 20s and early 30s who now feel positively ancient.

Spice Boots, Union Jack dresses and Girl Power have all gone the way of the dodo, but there's an enduring legacy to the fabulous five that almost defies description.

When the Spice Girls (below) strutted into our lives defiantly, or in the case of Posh, sulkily, they were unlike anything before them.

"Manufactured" scoffed my secret music snob Dad but after I taught him the words one day he couldn't help but hum along.

At the age of 11 my musical passions were divided almost equally between Oasis and Boyzone, and when the Spice Girls came along I was intensely suspicious.

After all, I certainly didn't want a lover - yuk - and who the hell knew what 'zig ah zig ah' was supposed to mean?

It was only when our primary school principal Sr Maureen announced she was leaving us to go to a school in Dublin that the Spice Girls really became central to my life.

Along with four of my friends, one of whom 'blacked up' in her mother's tangotastic Max Factor foundation to portray Sporty Spice (things were less PC back in 1996, or maybe just in the country), I spent every evening for weeks rehearsing every moves for Wannabe.

sporty

For a nun. A strange juxtaposition. Not being as cunning as I am now, I ended up in the less enviable role of Sporty Spice, so while the others got to wear mini skirts.

I had to borrow a Liverpool jersey from one of the boys in our class.

I'm still not 100pc over it, and I have since learned that you never attend a committee meeting without rigging its decisions in advance.

Then again, in the years since Wannabe, Sporty - or Melanie C as she is now known - has turned out to be the only one who could sing, and even released quite a decent album afterwards.

She's also had an award-winning turn as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar.

In a departure nobody could ever have predicted in 1996, Posh - nowadays Victoria Beckham - has become celeb royalty.

She's become a prestigious fashion designer and stayed married to David Beckham throughout all sorts of turbulence (remember Rebecca Loos?).

Posh is also, despite her reportedly weird diet, thinness and generally perfect image, almost universally respected.

That's quite a feat in the murky world of celebrity magazines.

Baby - Emma Bunton - pops up every now and again and seems to be doing quite well as a radio presenter.

Ginger - Geri Halliwell - has remained circling the celebrity fish bowl.

romances

High profile romances, a long and public obsession with Bikram yoga, and even, this week, a denial that she is engaged to a formula one driver have kept her in the magazines.

Meanwhile, Scary - Mel B - is apparently set to launch her singing comeback. Allegedly, she will be leaning on Simon Cowell to give her a spot on the new season of X Factor.

And there's the crucial bit of the Spice Girls story. For all their Girl Power, who did best out of the Spice Girls? Cowell.

The only one of those six names known to any modern 11 year old is probably the man in the high-waisted pants on whose say-so hundreds of desperate wannabes have risen or fallen.

Zig ah, zig ah, indeed.

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