The Spice Girls today – Part Four: ‘Scary Spice’ – Mel B
by Mark Keen
We’ve already revisited the solo careers of Emma, Geri and Posh, but it’s now time to look at ‘Scary’ Spice’s solo career just as the Spice Girls start their tour and Mel B appears on Piers Morgan’s revealing Life Stories.
Mel B was the first of the Spice’s to get off the starting blocks releasing her first solo single, with a little help from Missy Elliott (including production duties) at the peak of the Spice Girls’ career in September 1998. “I Want You Back” was a huge number 1 hit in the UK and a hit across Europe introducing a more R&B vibe than the Spice Girls singles of the time. The video directed by Hype Williams certainly showed Mel’s intentions and heavily featured her then husband Jimmy Gulzar. Mel even became Mel G for a brief period.
Mel was slow to follow up her breakthrough solo hit, primarily due to her pregnancy at the time I suspect. However, by the time she followed up with the ill-chosen Cameo cover of “Word Up” it felt like she had already lost a bit of momentum. The Spice Girls were now beyond their commercial peak, already saying ‘goodbye’ to Geri and were about to enter the R&B wilderness with “Holler”. “Word up” struggled to number 13 in the UK and didn’t perform any better in other territories. The single had an expensive video and also was on the soundtrack to ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me’.
However, things did pick up greatly with “Tell Me” the first proper single from her debut album in September 2000 hitting number 4 in the UK. The single was a well documented account of her marriage to Jimmy G.
Further hits would follow with “Feels So Good” hitting number 5 in the UK and “Lullaby” hitting number 13. “Feels So Good” was written with Jam and Lewis and was released in February 2001.
“Lullaby” was released in July 2001 and was the final single from her debut album “Hot”. Mel did receive some bad publicity at the time for the inclusion of her young daughter in the video filmed in Morocco.
The aforementioned debut album “Hot” released in October 2000 received a cold reception peaking at number 28 in the UK despite the considerable talents used in its production, including Jam and Lewis, Missy Elliott, Teddy Riley, Rodney Jerkins and Max Beesley (well known at the time for his friendship with Robbie Williams and his acting work in ‘Glitter’, an underrated film, with Mariah).
Things would go quiet for Mel B for a few years in terms of music before a rather understated return in 2005 with the more acoustic self-released “L.A. State Of Mind” album which completely missed the UK charts, although to be fair it was not really intended as a commercial venture. Only one single was released, “Today” would struggle to number 41 in the UK. The album has been described as one of the worst albums of the decade.
It would be a long eight years before another solo single. “For Once In My Life” was released in 2013. Although not a success on the UK charts it nevertheless did well on the US face charts and the video is well worth checking out as it was filmed on the same back lot as Desperate Housewives.
With a colourful personal life and many television appearances Mel is now back in the public eye with the Spice Girls. No new solo music appears to be on the cards for now. Perhaps that ship has now passed?