Spice Girls

Playlist: Going Solo

After years of fighting for fame and glory in the cutthroat world of music, there comes a time where you ditch your bandmates and attempt a solo career. Some artists are so good at it, many have forgotten their origin band. Others…well, let’s just say they were back with the band in no time. This is only a handful of musicians who have gone solo. I know I’ve left a ton out, so let me know which ones in the comments along with whose your favorite solo act.

“Hollaback Girl” – Gwen Stefani

When Gwen Stefani took a break from No Doubt to do her own thing in 2004, many fans were both excited and disappointed. She spent most of the 90s establishing herself as the quirky, alternative chick who really dug ska music, but her solo material didn’t have any of those elements. With help from the Neptunes, Stefani crafted a debut album full of catchy jams you love to hate and hate to love. Since then, her solo career has been just as successful as her time with No Doubt. Hopefully, she’ll keep delivering the hits on her upcoming LP.

“This City” – Patrick Stump

Though Stump was much loved for his unintelligible vocals in Fall Out Boy, people didn’t know how to feel when he broke out from the band in 2011. Instead of the pop-punk Fall Out Boy were known for, Stump went for more of a pop and R&B infused sound that didn’t sit well with fans. Though the single “This City” did fairly well on the charts, the album didn’t meet up to expectations. Stump became so frustrated in his solo career he posted a lengthy rant on his website where he admited he wasn’t prepared for the hatred he received for his music. He went on to say “The reality is that for a certain number of people, all I’ve ever done, all I ever will do, and all I ever had the capacity to do worth a damn was a record I began recording when I was 18 years old.” Guess we shouldn’t expect a second effort from him.

“Look at Me” – Geri Halliwell

If you thought Directioners overreacted to Zayn leaving One Direction, then you don’t remember the uproar when Geri Halliwell AKA Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls in 1998. Fans were beyond upset and held a grudge against the former Spice Girl for years to come. In 1999 she launched her solo career and while she’s had some decent success it couldn’t compare to the work she did with her former group. Halliwell made headlines in 2013 when her single “Half of Me” only sold 281 copies. Ouch. I picked this song because it’s the only one I remember by her. And yes, I was mad at her for a bit too.

“Lonely No More” – Rob Thomas

Before his solo career, Thomas was known as the one guy from Matchbox Twenty. While the band did find moderate success with singles like “Bent” and “3 AM,” Thomas’ power proved to be even greater without the band. His debut …Something to Be came out in 2005 and produced the mega-hit single “Lonely No More.” It allowed Thomas to gain a whole new audience since it was more pop oriented than his alt rock roots. After another album in 2009, he threw Matchbox Twenty a bone and got them back together for the LP North in 2012. Problem is at that point people stopped caring. Thomas has another solo effort out this year.

“Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy already made a name for himself as part of the legendary Black Sabbath. But when the band kicked him out in 1979, the Prince of Darkness was left in the dust. Thanks to the help of his manager/wife Sharon Osbourne, it wasn’t long after that he launched his solo career, which is still going strong today. Now, he has songs that are just as well known and loved as those he created with Black Sabbath. He’s had plenty of classics like “Bark at the Moon” and “No More Tears,” but this remains one of his best.

“I’m Shakin'” – Jack White

Though it’s hard to forget the work he’s done with The White Stripes, Jack White has been making a name for himself as a solo artist since 2012. Without the expectations of the White Stripes or The Dead Weather or The Raconteurs, White was able to go beyond the Blues sound he loves and cherish and delve into country and folk territories. Of course he hasn’t given up on his wild and other worldly guitar solos he became known for. This was one of my favorites from Blunderbuss.

“Sexyback” – Justin Timberlake

Many boy band members have tried and failed to go solo. It’s no doubt that Justin is the most successful one of the bunch. Timberlake has a knack for making the silliest songs catchy as hell. Tracks like “TKO” and “Cabert” are nowhere near his finest material, yet you can’t help but groove to it when you hear it. His songs are catchy, fun, and definitely want to make you dance. Though he now wears many hats, including comedian, designer, and actor, the world will still go wild whenever he releases his latest jam.

“No more I Love Yous” – Annie Lennox

This sultry Brit already captivated audiences in the 80s with The Eurythmics. When the band went on hiatus in the early 90s, Lennox kept making music by herself and proved to kick ass at it. Since her 1992 solo debut, she has released four more albums all with ballads so beautiful they make you weep. Earlier this year, she stole the spotlight from Hozier at the Grammy’s with her intense rendition of “I Put a Spell On You.” This cover of the Lover Speaks hit is a classic and so chilling it trumps the original.

“I Want Your Sex” – George Michael

No one would’ve guessed the singer from Wham! in those all too revealing shorts, would end up being a sex symbol of the late 80s. Michael already had hit singles, like “Careless Whisper” during his time in the band, but when they split in 1986, he took his music in a bold, sexual direction that was seen as controversial at the time. This song caused an uproar with its sexual content and steamy music video, which seems pretty tame by today’s standards. Just shows how things have changed since the MTV days.

“Every Little Step” – Bobby Brown

The bad boy of New Edition broke out on his own with this 1989 single. Even though the video is laughable, especially when Brown sports those biker shorts, it’s hard not love this song. It has since gone down as Brown’s most notable single, even though he had other hits like “My Prerogative” and “Don’t be Cruel.” Though he’s released several LPs since then, none have been as successful as his sophomore effort.

“Never be the Same Again” – Melanie C

After the Spice Girls said goodbye, each of the members tried their hand at going solo, but Melanie C AKA Sporty Spice has been the most successful of the bunch. Her debut Northern Star came out in 1999 and featured this hit single, which has the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. She seems to be doing well on her own and released her sixth LP Stages in 2012. Spice Girl fans will be happy to know that album found her working with Baby Spice once again. Once a Spice Girl, always a Spice Girl.

“Forgot About Dre” – Dr. Dre feat. Eminem

When you think of Dr. Dre now, you think of his insanely overrated headphones that had a hand in making him the richest rapper in the genre. But back in the 90s, he helped to usher in a new era of hip-hop with the help of Eazy-E and Ice Cube in the group N.W.A. Bold, aggressive, brash, and fearless, N.W.A. became notorious and scared the shit out of parents in America. After a dispute with some of the members, Dre released his iconic solo LP The Chronic in 1992. Considered one of the best albums of all time, it featured hit singles like “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” “Let Me Ride,” and “Fuck Wit Dre.” Though he released a follow up in 2001, fans have been waiting for The Chronic 2, which we should probably give up on at this point.

“11th Dimension” – Julian Casablancas

Julian Casablanca’s sleepy vocals were first heard with The Strokes, which took the world by force in the early 00’s. During the band’s hiatus, Casablancas ventured out on his own and released his critical hit solo album Phrazes for the Young in 2009. It seemed the singer would continue doing his own thing, until the band reformed in 2012 for the release of The Comedown Machine. Casablancas released his second solo effort Tyranny last year proving those sleepy vocals are too good to resist.

“Compulsion” – Martin Gore

Known as the primary songwriter of Depeche Mode, the sweet voiced Gore released his first solo effort in 1989 with a follow up in 2003. Though both releases are filled with cover version of songs that influenced Gore throughout the years, his soft voice along with slight touches of synth and electronic breathes new life into the songs. This track originally performed by Crow, finds Gore using a lot of the same tricks he used for DM’s music, making it irresistibly catchy. Frontman Dave Gahan also released some solo LPs, but they’re not as strong as Gore’s output.

“Into a Swan” – Siouxsie Sioux

Siouxsie Sioux won dark hearts over in the 80s with The Banshees, with their blend of goth, dark wave, new wave, and rock. After the band called in quits in 1995, Sioux took a break from music and didn’t release her solo LP, Mantaray, until 2007. A lot of the music is a departure from what the singer did earlier in her career. The songs delve into hard and even glam rock. The album was a success and she’s had fans clamoring for more ever since. In an Mojo interview from last year, Sioux mention plans for her second solo LP in 2015. Fingers crossed!

“In the Closet” – Michael Jackson

Jackson first made hearts swell as a part of the Jackson 5, who he tried to stay faithful to well into his solo career. He eventually left them behind for good and went on to gain legendary status thanks to his songs and out of this world dancing. This song from his 1991 LP Dangerous, made people wonder about the King of Pop’s sexuality even more. Though not as amazing as songs like “Billie Jean” or “Beat It,” it’s still an underrated gem from the late performer.

 

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Mini Music Movie Review: Spice World (1996)

Spice_world

I’m not ashamed of the fact that I was a huge Spice Girls fan. I mean had all the dolls, lunchboxes, and lollipops huge. And I still love their music. So it’s no surprise I begged my mom to take me to this movie when it first came out. While she didn’t take me to the theater, we did rent it and I thought it was the best movie ever. With 90’s nostalgia still riding high, I watched the movie again wondering if it was as good as I remembered. It wasn’t. At all.

While the movie has it’s few entertaining moments, it’s mostly painfully cheesy. In terms of plot there is none. It’s like they crammed seven different movies into one: action, comedy, romance, musical etc. I guess they were going for A Hard Day’s Night vibe, but they missed the target by a long shot. One minute they’re trying to avoid the paparazzi, who is trying to ruin their good reputation, the next they’re helping their friend deliver a baby in a tour bus. Just when you think it can’t get weirder they’re stopped by aliens who want to get a picture with the girls. Yes, you read that right. They are stopped by aliens. But do they bring this up again later in the movie? Not even once. Somewhere along the line a bomb gets on their bus that doesn’t even go off until the end credits.

Also, they really stretch out the whole “spice” thing. Every girl is defined by her nick name, so Baby is always eating candy and is naïve, Posh is always complaining about clothes, Scary is always wearing leopard print and being loud, Ginger is being sexy and somewhat slutty, and Sporty is always flipping and sticking up for the other girls so much that they play her off as a lesbian. There are some cute moments where they keep reinforcing their friendship is forever message, like when they all switch costumes become one of the other girls. Sometimes the moments are funny, but most of them just make you groan with anguish. And there’s no question that the acting is bad. The most enjoyable thing about the film are the performances of which there are a lot.

Watching the film again I wasn’t expecting much, but I didn’t think it was so predictable and corny. I don’t see how I managed to see this film three times and make it all the way through. This is the type of film that’s the most fun when you’re watching it with friends. Otherwise, you begin to question your life and how you got to the point of watching this bad movie. It’s not a good film, it’s not even particularly funny. If you want to hear Spice Girl songs, just get the album and avoid this thing. It’s only suitable for drunken nights with friends.

Spiceworld- Spice Girls

SpiceworldRelease Year: 1997

Rating: 7.5/10

After their super successful reunion tour and their performance at the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony, it’s safe to say everybody loves the Spice Girls. Maybe they don’t have the most thought provoking songs or songs that changed music history, but you gotta admit they make you feel good. And that’s what their second album seems to be about. These girls want you to get loose and have fun dancing, singing, and hanging out with your best friends. Sure their debut was catchy, but they seem to triple the amount of hooks and melodies that get stuck in your head here.

The album opens with the song meant for partying, “Spice Up Your Life.” With its Latin infused groove and melody, the track is all about dancing til you can’t dance anymore. The girls even mention several dances during song including the moonwalk, hip hop, and polka. And though some of the lyrics might be weird, “Yellow man in Timbuktu/color for both me and you,” it’s just one of those feel good songs that makes you happy and it still sounds great to this day. Apparently, the lyrics were inspired by Bollywood films, but seeing as most listeners probably have never seen an Bollywood movies these references are pretty much lost. Still, it’s one of group’s best songs to date.

The girls take us back to Motown days of the 50’s for “Stop.” Everything from the beat to the melody to the vocal harmonies reminds me of The Supremes. It’s one of those songs that’s kind of cheesy, but it’s so damn catchy that you can’t help but sing along. Again, it’s another track that puts you in a good mood. The girls get sentimental on the ballad “Too Much.” They sound so sweet as they sing “Too much of something is bad enough, but something’s coming over me that makes me wonder.” This is another song that has a vintage vibe; it sounds like something from the Jazz age, especially when the horns come in towards the end. I would say it’s one of their better slow songs because it doesn’t come off as corny.

One song that’s good, but comes off as strange is “Move Over.” It’s edgier than the other songs on the album and it’s bursting with the girl’s not-gonna-take your-shit attitude. But what makes the song weird is that it’s obviously an advertisement for Pepsi. The group did have a sponsorship with the company in the late 90’s and I remember seeing their commercial for it, which had this song. The big hint that this was made for Pepsi is when they sing “Generation Next” because anyone who grew up in the 90’s will tell you that was the company’s slogan at the time. Otherwise, it’s not a bad song, it just feels like it was written with the sponsorship in mind, rather than having the company using a song they’d already written.

The thing that makes this album different from their debut and what makes it more interesting is how every song takes sounds and influences from different eras and styles of music. “Never Give Up on the Good Times” sounds like a cheesy disco song from the 70’s meant to get you moving, while “Saturday Night Divas” has a slinky, sexy R&B groove going on. “Viva Forever” sounds like a tragic Spanish love song with the Flamenco guitars and maracas playing throughout. Thanks to the sound and somber tone, this remains one of the band’s best songs to date. The closing track takes listeners way back to the swinging 20’s as brassy horns flare and throb on “The Lady is a Vamp.” It sounds completely different from anything on their first record, but that’s what makes it so unique and fun.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. Again, it’s not the best album ever, but it still holds up and the songs are fun. The tracks still sound great and are sure to put you in a great mood. Listening to the album again reminds me of why I feel in love with the group so many years ago. Also, they deserve a little more credit then they get because they actually had a hand in the songwriting process, which most pop groups didn’t do at the time. Either way, everybody loves the Spice Girls and this album shows why.

Spice- Spice Girls

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 7.5/10

I guess since my birthday is next week I’m feeling a little nostalgic, so I felt like listening to some Spice Girls. Now I didn’t go into this album expecting something ground breaking or unique, but I just thought it would be a fun album to revisit. Also, it’s now cool to like the Spice Girls, so this review is for any Spice fans out there! The album is basically full of catchy pop tunes about being with friends and having fun, but there are quite a number of songs about sex and manipulating men.

The wildly popular single “Wannabe” opens up the album and if anything it’s still catchy to this day. Anyone who use to listen to the song back in the day will start singing as soon as it starts. You can’t help but sing along! Not only will you want to sing, you’ll want to dance too. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best dancer on the block or the worst, you will still get up and move when this song comes on. The only thing about the song that’s weird are the lyrics. “If you wanna be my lover you gotta get with my friends.” What? So, you want this guy to sleep with your friends too? I’m sure they meant you gotta be cool with her friends (at least I hope), but it just comes out wrong.

“Say You’ll Be There” is another song you’ll burst out singing no matter where you are. It’s a feel good song that’s easy to dance to, but again the lyrics are a bit confusing. I don’t really know what the song is about. I read that it’s supposed to be about being your own person, but I don’t hear any of that here. Regardless, it’s still a damn catchy song. The next track “2 Become 1” is a little deceiving. It starts out sounding sweet with the soft, twinkling music. Even the girls sound sweet as they’re singing softly. Everything is going well until you get to the chorus, which mentions “making love.” And we were singing this when we were young? It’s not the most explicit song to sing when you’re a kid, but it’s still not wholly appropriate. You gotta give it to the band, they make sex sound so innocent.

Most of the songs are catchy and are dance driven, which makes the record fun for the most part. That isn’t to say that some of the songs are cheesy. “Mama” is suppose to be a sweet song for all the mothers out there about how much we love them even though we can be brats. Really, it’s just corny, but the more you listen to it the sweeter it becomes. It’s like it’s so corny it becomes sweet. “Love Thing” is another song that feels corny. Maybe it’s the weird hip-hop music that sounds like it’s from the early 90’s or the weird rap in the middle of the song, but it’s not as good as the other tracks.

Another thing that gets cheesy about the album is how often they mention friendship. A line like “friendship never ends” makes it seem like they knew their target audience was 12 year old girls who thought they would have the same friends forever. I guess because I’ve grown up and grown more jaded the message just seems corny. It’s still a positive message to have in a song, but it gets kind of annoying with how often they mention it. Along with the theme of friendship, the girls constantly mention girl power. If they don’t outright say it they at least reference it through songs about strong women not letting men control their lives. They may not say it in the strongest way, but it’s still a positive theme for the record.

What really surprised me about the album is how much the girls mention sex. When I was little the only song I knew was about sex was “Last Time Lover,” I mean it’s pretty much in the title. This song is just down right dirty. It’s full of sexual innuendos that we were too young too understand, some sly giggling and even some moaning in the background. I guess this is the Spice Girls trying to be sexy, but they don’t succeed, but it’s catchy at least.

I already mentioned the sex found in “2 Become 1,” but I feel “Naked” is another seemingly sexual song. I always thought this song was strange and even made me feel a bit uncomfortable. This feeling grew more when the band performed this song on their pay-per-view concert naked in chairs. Anyway, the “sultry” spoken word parts makes me think the girls were going for a “Justify my Love” feel, which they are nowhere near. It’s not a horrible song, just strange. Plus, Mel C (Sporty Spice) tries way too hard to sound soulful here.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. If you’re looking for a really good pop record with well written songs and meaningful lyrics, then this isn’t the album for you. But if you want something that’s fun and danceable then pick this up. The songs are catchy, the music makes you want to dance, and most of the songs are just fun. It may not be the greatest album to come out of the 90’s, but you have to admit the Spice Girls aren’t the most terrible pop band that came out of this era. Plus, they co-wrote all of these songs, which is an interesting fact. This is a great pick me up if you’re feeling down or if you just want to go back to 1996 and relive some memories.

Top Ten Albums You Will Find at the Thrift Store

I frequently shop at thrift stores. I go to as many as I can find. In fact it’s where I buy most of my CDs. So while I’m looking through these bins hoping to find that rare gem to take home, I often find either albums I already own or the same album I saw the last time I went to the thrift store. Sometimes I find multiple copies of the same album at one location! So here is my top ten albums that you are guaranteed to find at a thrift shop.

  1. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness- The Smashing Pumpkins

During my thrift store travels I have come across this massive album quite a few times and it really took me by surprise. There is no doubt that is one of the greatest albums of the 90’s and when you think about it, that is why it’s in the thrift store in the first place. This is one of those albums that everyone had to own, so everyone bought it. As a result, it gets donated with the ugly Christmas sweaters and the the light up sneakers that don’t work anymore. If you don’t have this album and you come across it in Goodwill get it if both CDs are in there. Actually, you’re lucky if you find a copy with both CDs and all the booklets.

  1. The Crow Soundtracks

Both of these are pretty easy to come by. This is a case similar to the Smashing Pumpkins one: cult movie from the 90’s with an excellent soundtrack, followed by a horrible sequel with a mediocre soundtrack (which is why the second album appears so frequently). And to prove this I found the soundtrack to the first movie when I went to thrift store last week! This soundtrack was so popular everyone had to have it. So ten years later you find the album realize you don’t care for it and out it goes with the snuggie. I would recommend the first soundtrack. Just avoid anything related to the sequel.

  1. Dookie- Green Day

I have just started seeing this album frequent the thrift stores. There was one day where I found three copies of it in one store. And when I went to the next thrift store in the same day it showed up there as well! This is yet again another album that was extremely popular in the 90’s. I guess those people who were 15 when they bought the album feel as if they are past songs about masturbation and general punk bratiness.

  1. Achtung Baby- U2

I don’t know anything about this album because I don’t care for U2, but I always see this collage cover when I go to the Salvation Army. I always pick up it in the hopes that it’s something that I actually want. But I guess people get sick of U2 (and Bono) so it gets tossed out. Hell, half of the time the CD is still in the case. People don’t even care enough to steal it anymore. I’ve seen other U2 albums around, but this is the one I run into the most. Is it their worst record perhaps?

  1. Nevermind- Nirvana

This is the epitome of an album you had to have in the 90’s. Everyone had this album, which is most likely why so many copies end up at thrift stores. And even though there are always new generations of Nirvana fans, they are more interested in digital releases rather than having the physical CD. I’ve seen this CD so many times that I’ve actually purchased it twice (the first time I got it it was too scratched up to listen to). If you get lucky you’ll find Nevermind and In Utero at the same store. Sometimes right next to each other! And if you’re extremely lucky they’ll still be in the case!

  1. Monster- REM

This is another album I am not familiar with, but I once saw this album four times in one Salvation Army visit! Four times! I don’t know if they were owned by the same person or if four different people grew out of REM at the same time. In fact, this is the only REM album I ever see at the thrift store. Is it their worst one? Is this the album where REM tried a different sound and everyone hated it? Maybe someone can shed some light on this mystery for me.

  1. Spice Girls

Both of these always show up because it was part of a fad that most people have grown out of. Some of the CDs may have been there due to the Spice Girls reunion tour. People got nostalgic, bought the CDs again, remembered why they got rid of it in the first place and donated it. I’m not putting down the Spice Girls (in fact I still have both of these CDs), but it just seems to happen a lot with pop bands as we’ll see later in the list.

  1. Anything by Live

I am not kidding when I say that I have seen this album at every thrift I have ever been in. Again, I don’t know much about the album or the band, but I have seen this at least ten times. People probably bought the album because of their only hit “I Alone.” Then they got rid of all their Live CDs once the miracle of Mp3’s came along to save everyone from buying mediocre albums at full price.

  1. Anything by Boy Bands

I think it’s safe to say most girls go through a boy band phase. You listen to them everyday. Then after a while you start to listen to other albums and these bubble gum bands are just forgotten. Tossed in a box somewhere. Before you know it you’re off to college and your mom is begging you to look through the stuff in the basement. You find a box with all of your boy band paraphernalia inside. You are filled with both nostalgia and embarrassment. And that’s when you decide to get rid of them. (Unless they reunite in a year or so. I’m looking at you Backstreet Boys).

  1. Tragic Kingdom- No Doubt

I guess this is when No Doubt were at their peak. Or a bunch of people really loved “Don’t Speak.” Either way, this album pops up a lot. I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve actually thought about buying it even though I’m not that crazy about the band. I guess I just wanted to give it a good home. This seems be another one of those 90’s albums everyone owned. And just with some other great albums from that decade, they get donated once the owner is over the 90’s or decides digital is where it’s at. Or they got rid of it when they heard Gwen Stefani’s solo material.

Have you seen any of these albums in your local thrift store? Is there an album you’ve seen so many times that I left off of this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.