The Spice Girls’ music was practically a religion in the ’90s. Young girls owned every album, learned each dance, had Spice World memorized, and collected paraphernalia from lollipops to dolls. But back then, young and adoring fans may not have realized just how female-forward, powerful, and revolutionary the Spice Girls’ lyrics really were.
Although younger audiences may not have understood all the songs’ meanings and how incredibly feminist they were, they still received such messages through the Spice Girls’ “Girl Power” shirts, peace signs, and use of the lady liberty crown. Listening to their tracks at an older age will help fans understand just how so many of the Spice Girls lyrics were ahead of their time.
“Wannabe” is what started the phenomenon, and the women came out of the gate with lyrics like, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends / Make it last forever, friendship never ends.” The group’s introduction to the world made it clear that no man could get in the way of female friendship or self-love — and this notion was woven through all their iconic hits thereafter.
1. “We’re sowing the seed, every color every creed / Teach never preach, listen up, and and take heed”Giphy
2. “‘Cause I’m choosy, not a floozy / I get my hit and then I run with it”Giphy
Unapologetically singing about dating and desire for men, their hits were all about confidence. They were proud to be picky without settling, and going after what they wanted.
3. “But she’s got something new / She’s a power girl in a ’90s world / She’s a downtown-swinging dude”Giphy
The fact that the Spice Girls referred to the game-changing “power girl” as a “swinging dude” is feminist AF. To them, “dude” wasn’t a term exclusive to men, which is why their female-driven anthems exuded equality.
4. “Every boy and every girl / Spice up your life”Giphy
Again, these women effortlessly modeled gender equality in their songs, bringing men and women together without having to distinguish the two groups. “Spicing up life” probably wasn’t though of as a common male ideal, but they encouraged men to feel however they wanted, even if it was feminine — and vise versa.
5. “What part of no don’t you understand / I want a man, not a boy who thinks he can”Giphy
6. “Boy you were a fool, to treat me that way / I’m not gonna let you, I’m gonna forget you / There’s nothin’ to say”Giphy
The last thing the Spice Girls would do is let any man walk all over them. No means no in Spice Girls language, and that’s how it should be.
7. “Keep your head up high / Don’t you know you are the superfly / And that ain’t no lie”Giphy
Between all of their songs about friendship, sex, romance, and living life, a central theme in almost all Spice Girls music was loving yourself first. Modern performers like Meghan Trainor, Lady Gaga, and Kesha have preached about accepting and sharing your authentic self, but the Spice Girls really changed the game when it came to that.
9. “This child has fallen from grace / Naked / Don’t be afraid to stare, she is only naked”Giphy
The song “Naked” and their performance of it (in which they’re all naked on stage, sitting on backward chairs) should be in a museum. The song encourages people to be wholeheartedly proud of their womanhood and bare bodies, and captures why the female body is so powerful.
10. “She knows exactly what to do with men like you / Inside out in her mind, there’s no doubt where you’re coming from”Giphy
11. “She’s a Bond babe, kick some ass / Doctor No, this girl’s got class / Charlie’s Angels, girls on top / Handbags, heels, their pistols rock”Giphy
With the success of Wonder Woman and talk of the first potential female James Bond, women in Hollywood are fighting their way to the forefront. But back in the ’90s, the Spice Girls knew ladies could totally kick butt and were capable of anything, even with their handbags and in heels.
“Move Over” encouraged listeners, particularly Generation X, to stop living in the past and be active participants in creating their own future. This is a theme millennials, and any future generation, could certainly learn from.
14. “You gotta want me / It’s just what I need / I’m not that easy as a matter of fact”Giphy
15. “Rules are for fools, and fool’s paradise is hard to find / Play my game or get left behind”Giphy
16. “I’d rather be hated than pitied / Maybe I should have left it to your imagination / I just want to be me”Giphy
Again, songs about unconditional self-love are extremely prevalent these days. But in the ’90s, when they were harder to come by, these women were so adamant about living their true, authentic lives, and would rather be “hated” than show who they really are.
Though this iconic group sadly no longer performs together (or at least not often), their messages and songs are still as liberating as ever.