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Music Review

Spice Girls: 'Greatest Hits'

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Spice Girls: 'Greatest Hits'
Released on Monday, Nov 12 2007

"Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz: this is for you," Victoria Beckham scribbles in the sleeve notes for the Spice Girls' Greatest Hits album. "Mummy was a popstar!!!" Whether you believe the official line - that the iconic girl group's second coming sprung from a desire to show the Spice sprogs how mummy paid for their Baby Gap clobber - is almost irrelevant. The reunion tour (and single, and album, and Tesco ad campaign…) might be motivated by financial necessity, a lust for attention or just plain boredom, but it was always going to happen.

None of the group's three albums was devoid of filler, and their singles tended to be their very best songs, so Greatest Hits is a very welcome addition to the band's canon. It tells the Spice story almost chronologically – 1999's 'Goodbye' brings up the rear of the collection for fairly obvious reasons – and without omission. Every single from 'Wannabe' to new tune 'Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)' is included, alongside 'Voodoo', a second new recording, and 'Move Over', a "single" that fans purchased by glugging Pepsi in a way that compelled dentists across the country to finally treat themselves to that fortnight in Bali. They'd earned it, you know.

What's striking about Greatest Hits is how familiar it all is. At least ten of these 15 songs are burned on the collective psyche like Titanic, Blur v. Oasis and Jackie Stallone's entry to the Big Brother house. Fortunately, the Spice's floor-fillers have held up better than Ma Stallone's face, with 'Wannabe' remaining an exuberant calling card and 'Stop' still sounding like the best song that Motown never produced. New tune 'Voodoo' is the weakest here, coming on like the demonic lovechild of 'Who Do You Think You Are' and 'Spice Up Your Life'. It pinches the former's hen night disco and the latter's global rallying cries, but falls flat on its arse thanks to some truly ridiculous lyrics. Well, nobody wants to hear a thirtysomething multi-millionairess holler "Get up and use your voodoo, get your body to the floor", do they?

Rarely for a girl-group, the Spice Girls' slow 'n' slushies are probably their strongest suit. '2 Become 1' manages to combine every element of the perfect Christmas ballad – a touch of elegance, a hint of romance, a soupcon of sexiness and a generous sprinkling of sparkle – and still finds time for a coy safe sex message ("Be a little bit wiser baby – put it on, put it on"), while the wistful 'Viva Forever' makes a fitting swansong for Ginger, the Spice who jumped ship shortly before its release. Best of all is 'Goodbye', the supremely elegant ballad that became a post-Halliwell Christmas number one. Like all of these songs, it's so sturdily-constructed that you don't notice the vocal shortcomings of - cough cough - certain members. Thank heavens the girls' producers had the sense to place Mel C's Scouse caterwaul front and centre at all times!

Greatest Hits does flag a tad towards the finish, primarily because Rodney Jerkins' slick, stuttering R&B numbers from the Forever album ('Holler', 'Let Love Lead The Way') fail to capitalise on the girls' very British sense of mischief, but it functions brilliantly on two levels. As a document of late-nineties pop music, it's unbeatable, and as a collection of stonking great tunes, it comes pretty close. In fact, like all the great pop compilations - Abba Gold, The Immaculate Collection, The Sound of Girls Aloud - if you can't find something to like here, it's fair to say that you don't really like pop music.

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