entertainment

Spice Girls' best B-sides, promo singles and pop rarities - from 'Step To Me' to 'My Strongest Suit'

Attitude goes beyond the hits to unearth hidden musical treasures - first up, it's Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty...

2022-04-08

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Spotify

They’ve sold 100 million records since revolutionising pop with 'Wannabe' in 1996.

And yet the Spice Girls – Mel B, Emma Bunton, Geri Horner, Victoria Beckham, and Melanie C – have released only 11 singles as a group. (Little Mix, by contrast, have dropped 32).

But for the truth about their legacy, be a little bit wiser, baby… as Attitude goes beyond the hits to unearth hidden musical treasures.

Demo: ‘Feed Your Love’

From ‘Love Thing’ to ‘If U Can’t Dance’, the album tracks on the girls’ debut LP Spice are almost as famous as the singles. Its 25-year anniversary repackage included this sultry Scary Spice-led number, which may or may not be about oral sex. Its seriousness is in stark contrast to the irreverence found elsewhere in the era.

Miscellaneous: ‘My Strongest Suit’

Remember Elton John and LeAnn Rimes’ ‘Written in the Stars’? It was from 1999 musical Aida’s ‘concept album’, featuring music/lyrics by The Lion King dream team Elton John and Tim Rice. Shania and Janet also feature, but it’s this peppy, ‘Stop’-adjacent ode to clothes (!) that dazzles most.

B-side: ‘Walk of Life’

There are some terrifically inane, ‘Wannabe’- esque Spice B-sides out there — ‘Bumper to Bumper’, ‘Christmas Wrapping’ — but this meditative, reggae-tinged companion to Spiceworld single ‘Spice Up Your Life’ is far from a novelty. In it, we hear the girls winding down after a night out in “London Town”, once the Spiceworld capital.

Remix: ‘Wannabe’ (Junior Vasquez Gomis dub)

“Wannabe, wannabe, wannabe”: in this splendidly life-affirming club track, the girls repeat that iconic portmanteau over pumping beats and orgasmic moans. Epic in length at six minutes and 38 seconds, and included on the 2007 Greatest Hits album, this is pure lightning... remixed. If they ever do Glastonbury, they must play this first to get the crowd going.

Miscellaneous: '(How Does it Feel to Be) on Top of the World' 

A lot of fuss was made when the girls' 2007 comeback single 'Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)' stalled at number 11 in the charts; their only one to miss the top 10. Conversely, everyone forgets this extra top 10 - their last single with Geri's vocals before she quit in 1998. Also featuring Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene and Space, this is the official theme for England national football team for the 1998 World Cup. Obscured at the time by Fat Les' far punchier football anthem 'Vindaloo' - which, hilariously, was originally meant to be a parody - 'How Does It Feel...' might be little more than a wafer-thin jingle (which reminds us: shout out to the Channel 5-launching 'Power of Five'!), but the girls' sugary sweet harmonies are the best thing about it. 

Promo single: ‘Step to Me’

A sure-fire No. 1 had it been released traditionally, some 600,000 Pepsi-guzzling, ring pull-collecting Spice fans claimed a copy of this punchy, funky anthem — a spiritual cousin of ‘Say You’ll Be There’ — as part of a pioneering partnership with the cola brand. The song is not available on streamers, but video footage of the girls performing the song live in Istanbul in 1997 and on Channel 4's TGI Friday in 1998 can be found online. 

Attitude's new-look March/April issue is out now.

Meet Smithers’ boyfriend on 6th March at 7pm on Sky Showcase and catch up on previous seasons of The Simpsons now streaming on Disney+.