Who runs Girl World?

Before Beyoncé proclaimed that girls “Run the World” with her 2011 hit, she emerged on the scene as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child via 1997’s “No, No, No.”  When Destiny’s Child made their entry into the pop stratosphere, girls were indeed running the world – however, Destiny’s Child weren’t those girls quite yet.

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Those girls, were the Spice Girls.  Of course, like the Supremes did before them, there were other (R&B) girl groups who reigned supreme in the 90s: TLC, En Vogue, SWV, and others.  However, none of those groups became a cultural phenomenon quite like the Spice Girls.

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TLC had their moment, of course, they crossed over and were undoubtedly huge.  But, when one looks back on late 1990s and early 2000s pop – generally, who comes to mind are: the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC for the “boy bands,” and the Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child for the “girl groups.”  Then of course, there’s Britney – the lone princess.  (Christina, you say?  Lets be honest, she came close, and she’s worth a mention, but she was never quite on Britney’s level.  Now, please allow Kermit to steep, sip and savor that tea.)

Anyway, let me stop spicing up the tea.  If any year was laden in Spice, it was 1997.  Although their debut album, Spice, was released in the UK in late 1996, the sensation surrounding Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Scary and Baby was at its peak in 1997.  They conquered America in 1997 with the release of “Wannabe” in January, and the stateside release of the Spice album in May.

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The Spice Girls were everywhere. Later in 1997, they released “Spice Up Your Life,” the lead single from their second album, Spiceworld.  Because, after all, it was indeed the Spice Girls’ world in 1997.  Not only was Spiceworld the title of their album, but it was also the title of a major, big-screen motion picture released in December 1997.  Additionally, just about every sort of Spice Girls merchandise imaginable existed for their legions of tween and teenage fans to consume with ferocity.

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How do I know, you ask? Because I was one of them!  Only seven years old, I too succumbed to the Spice Girls mania.  I remember their albums, obsessing over the singles, singing along to their songs with other kids my age, and being beyond excited for that (horrible, in hindsight) Spice World movie.  Ah yes, it was an amazing year…

In all honestly, it only really lasted a year.  Amidst their 1998 Spiceworld Tour,  Geri “Ginger Spice” left the group and the Spiceworld came to a crashing halt.  While the Spice Girls went on to release another album without her, 2000’s Forever, it was pretty much dead on arrival and, ironically, despite the title – it was their last.  However, seven years later, the ladies reunited for 2007’s hugely successful The Return of the Spice Girls tour.

It’s interesting how the messiness of the Spice Girls’ lineup changes negatively impacted their success after Spiceworld.  The same goes for En Vogue.  In 1997, they lost their lead singer, Dawn, and the group’s relevancy quickly faded.  Comparatively, the press of Destiny’s Child’s lineup changes really helped the ladies become huge.  It’s almost as if the girl-group torch was passed silently.  As the Spice Girls’ relevancy waned by 1999, Destiny’s Child’s reign began with 1999’s #1 smash hit, “Bills, Bills, Bills” – their biggest hit yet that helped them truly crossover.

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And, while the Spice Girls’ image focused heavily on spreading this idea of “girl power” (they even “wrote” a book about it!), lyrically, their music wasn’t exactly what you’d call female empowerment.  Destiny’s Child, on the other hand, seemingly took note and churned out a string of singles with a message of female empowerment (and, according to some, “male-bashing”).  So, while Destiny’s Child never did match the Spice Girls’ level of success as far as album sales or even cultural impact, they did indeed takeover.  And, if any 90s pop act stands in a position to have a successful comeback in 2014, it’s Destiny’s Child.

Maybe it was obvious; maybe it was… destiny?  After all, the writing’s on the wall, right?

To be continued…

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