The Spice Girls today – Part Three: ‘Ginger Spice’ – Geri Halliwell
by Mark Keen
Ginger Spice was the first Spice to leave the herb rack in May 1998, and the reaction was much like the reaction when Robbie Williams left Take That a few years before. Geri was very much the energy and spark in the Spice Girls and the removal of one essential incredibly really signalled the end. The Spices were never the same again. When they released “Goodbye” for Christmas 1998, the first single without Geri, it really felt like the end, although they would stumble on through the “Forever” campaign. It would be 2007 before Geri would return to the mix.
Her lead single “Look At Me” followed in May 1999 and peaked at number two. It certainly was hotly anticipated and the video saw Geri kill off her alter ego Ginger Spice. Geri was held off the top spot rather unexpectedly by Boyzone’s “You Needed Me” by a mere 700 copies.
Geri may have been disappointed at missing the number one slot, but she finally achieved a number one with “My Chico Latino” in August ’99. The summer Latino feel of the track and the video filmed in Sardinia with some hot male models really helped the track resonate.
Geri was now on a roll, and the follow up single “Lift Me Up”, a rather ordinary ballad, also claimed the number one slot in November ’99. A rather forgettable track with Geri getting a lift from some aliens in the desert if I recall correctly. Geri won a chart battle with Emma‘s “What I Am”. Emma was robbed!
The peak of Geri’s career came with the fourth single, the very camp “Bag It Up”. Another number one in March 2000 and a great over the top performance from Geri at the Brits. Girl power was replaced with Girl Powder.
The debut album “Schizophonic” sold three million copies and capitalised on the success of the singles peaking at number 4 in the UK.
Geri would return in 2001 with “It’s Raining Men” from the Bridget Jones Diary film soundtrack. Whilst the single peaked at number one it felt like a lazy and obvious choice and a backward step to the original songs of her debut album. The video stood out for its similarity to the audition scene in ‘Flashdance’, which previously inspired Paula Abdul‘s “Cold Hearted”. Whilst this was the biggest hit of her solo career it did perhaps damage it.
The follow up single in July 2001 “Scream If You Wanna Go Faster” disappointingly stalled at number 8 in the UK. The single was co-written by Rick Nowels who wrote many of Belinda Carlisle‘s greatest hits.
Geri would try again with “Calling”, but this stalled at number 7 in the UK. It was actually a great improvement on the previous singles, but the tide was turning. Geri was reportedly very disappointed with the performance of the single.
The failure of the second and third singles damaged the second album, “Scream If You Wanna Go Faster”, released in May 2001 and it sold half the numbers of the debut album.
Things would go quiet for a couple of years before Geri returned with “Ride It” in 2004. Although it reached number 4 the critical and public response was decidedly mixed, and it did not make a lasting impression.
A follow up would take some time to come, and it was May 2005 before “Desire” appeared, reaching a peak of 22 in the UK. The writing was on the wall for Geri’s solo career.
The third album “Passion” received little attention peaking at number 41 in the UK. Geri retreated from her solo career, but always kept in the public eye with various TV presenting roles. She was on board for the spice girls reunion in 2007 and popped up again for the Olympics performance in 2012, and is central to the latest incarnation.
Whilst working in Australia in 2013 on Australia’s Got Talent Geri released the “Half Of Me” single in Australia. A cheap video would accompany the single. A rumoured fourth album never appeared.
Currently Geri is finally enjoying some television success with the BBC talent show ‘Altogether Now’. Geri has toned down some of her more irritating habits and has become much more likeable and endearing for it.
Next time, we will focus on another Spice Girl’s solo career – Mel B, the ‘scary’ one!