Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Virgin
It's 2021, and the Spice Girls are averaging 8.8 million monthly Spotify listeners and their faces are currently emblazoned across a Times Square skyscraper.
Evidently, the global takeover depicted in 1997's 'Spice Up Your Life' video still rings true.
With 90 million records sold since debut single 'Wannabe' (turning 25 this week), the enduring cultural impact of Victoria Beckham, Geri Horner, Emma Bunton, Melanie C, and Mel B is something their biggest haters might never have predicted in the '90s.
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Frankly, even hardcore, long-term fans like this writer had their doubts. The girls' discography is undeniably slight, comprised of just 11 singles across three studio albums. (Some perspective: Rihanna's had 54 singles across eight albums, and Madonna's up to 88 across 12!)
This lack of music was of course a thorn in the side of their much-maligned 2012 musical Viva Forever! - how do you stretch 48 minutes of music into a 150-minute musical?
As such, news of 'Feed Your Love', a previously unreleased track on the girls' new 'Wannabe 25' EP, out today, is a genuine event for fans... and a gift no matter the quality.
But those expecting the charming chaos of a Spice Girls b-side - the song's a castoff from their 1996 debut album Spice, after all - will be pleasantly surprised. 'Feed Your Love' is excellent: a sensual, grown-up slow jam that, curiously, is the antithesis of 'Wannabe'.
It also stands apart for its vocals. Most of the band's iconic songs divvy up solo lines for each girl; here, a controlled Mel B takes the lead throughout, adopting softer tones and a higher register than usual. She sounds beautiful. As the band's biggest modern-day cheerleader, it's an earned moment in the sun.
Elsewhere, VB sounds huskily sexy on some whispered spoken-word verses, but it's otherwise gentle harmonies all the way, with no one voice shining through.
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In terms of vibe, 'Feed Your Love' has echoes of Janet Jackson's intimate, spiritual 'That's The Way Love Goes', and Mariah Carey's irresistibly cool and moody 'Honey'. Lofty comparisons for sure, and to be clear, 'Feed Your Love' is probably too unassuming to have been such a hit had it been released at the time. Rather, it wouldn't sound out of place as an album track on Madonna's Erotica.
Fittingly, Erotica's unabashedly adult content brings us to our sole criticism of 'Feed Your Love: its clunky name, that lyrically translates to a clunky chorus. (The lyrics otherwise detail adoration for a lover in moving, if conventional, terms).
Might the track - reportedly shelved from Spice for being too 'mature' - have made it had the word 'feed' been replaced with 'give'? That said, a message this cheeky and sex-positive speaks to the directness for which the Spice Girls are loved.
Overall, the song marks a proud, vindicating chapter for the band - indeed, they're still taking the sad and low exactly where they want to go 25 years later.
The Attitude Summer issue is out now.