Spice up your life: Why the Spice Girls reunion could bring back pop with personality

Spice Girls

Last week was quite a week for what used to be known as Girl Power, as the Spice Girls reunion and Music Week’s Women In Music Awards coincided.

Indeed, it was almost like the ’90s really did happen as the Spice Girls careered through radio and TV studios, creating such a buzz for their UK tour that some people barely noticed that Victoria Beckham, the artist formerly known as Posh Spice, wasn’t actually involved. And it certainly didn't hit the box office: the stadium tour broke Ticketmaster records when it went on sale.

But, in fact, the business – particularly the pop business – has completely changed since Spiceworld’s heyday. A one-off UK tour is one thing, but if the project is to have legs beyond that – and it's clear from Music Week's exclusive interviews with Simon Fuller and Modest Management's Harry Magee that plenty of people want it to – it will be interesting to see how they adapt to a landscape dominated by streaming and social media.

By partnering with Modest – who picked up the Peter Grant Award at this week's Artist & Manager Awards  – Fuller's XIX have ensured they have plenty of contemporary pop nous to supplement the group’s legacy. But there are few precedents for a pop group returning and being as culturally relevant as they once were. Even Take That’s all-conquering comeback came at a time before streaming had taken over, and they have had to work hard to successfully stay at pop’s modern heart ever since.

In fact, the Spice Girls’ central message of female empowerment chimes perfectly with 2018, and the spike in streams since the tour announcement  shows that the name still resonates with modern pop consumers. There has been genuine excitement about their comeback, even from those too young to have seen them the first time around. But if their return turns into more than a one-off, UK only jaunt, it will be a fascinating litmus test for what can be done with a legendary act in the modern era.

Fail, and the stranglehold of anonymous streaming bangers might last forever. Succeed, and pop with personality could make a comeback. It’ll be zig-a-zig-ahs all round.

* For the full story behind the Spice Girls' comeback, including exclusive interviews with Simon Fuller and Harry Magee, see this week's print edition of Music Week, or click here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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