As a late ’90s/early ’00s baby, the Spice Girls hold a very special place in my heart. They’re the godmothers of Y2K pop. The queens. The OGs. The mantra of girl power was a feminist chant unprecedented at the time. A war cry, really. The girls’ social strides (and fashion moments) live on today, as well as their unmatchable pool of glitzy pop cheese.
The band’s last LP (sans Geri Halliwell), Forever , came out Nov.6, 2000, which means it turned 15 yesterday. After it wrapped, the four girls went on to release solo albums at various levels of success. Commercial impact aside, the girls’ individual music is actually pretty awesome. All ladies have experimented with various types of pop, and the results—without fail—are delicious. (But make no mistake: We still need a fourth group studio album.)
Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice)
Albums: Victoria Beckham (2001)
Consensus: Victoria only released one solo LP—she now focuses on her wildly successful fashion career—but it’s fire. Mixing Kylie Minogue-brand Eurodance beats and sultry R&B flavor, Victoria Beckham is a breezy, addictive listen from start to finish. Victoria lets her thin, wispy vocals take backseat to the sleek early 2000s production, and we’re not complaining one bit. (If you enjoy the SG track “Holler,” you’ll especially love VB.)
Key tracks: “Not Such an Innocent Girl,” “A Mind of Its Own,” “No Trix, No Games”
Emma Bunton (Baby Spice)
Albums: A Girl Like Me (2001), Free Me (2004), Life in Mono (2006)
Consensus: Emma has perhaps the most surprising solo catalog. She trades in glossy bubblegum pop for—wait for it—’60s style bossa nova. Emma’s songs sound straight out of 1966, and this throwback-pop vibe is completely natural for her voice. Doo-wops for days, am I right?
Key tracks: “What Took You So Long?,” I’ll Be There,” “Maybe”
Mel C. (Sporty Spice)
Albums: Northern Star (1999), Reason (2003), Beautiful Intentions (2005), This Time (2007), The Sea (2011), Stages (2012)
Consensus: The only music that can support Mel C.’s powerhouse vocals is high-energy pop/rock, and that’s exactly the aesthetic that permeates throughout her entire discography. From the grungy “Goin’ Down” (served with dramatically short hair) to the bouncy dance-pop of “Think About It,” Mel C. is relentless—and fierce—as as standalone act.
Key tracks: “Think About It,” “Understand,” “Next Best Superstar,” “Goin’ Down”
Mel B. (Scary Spice)
Albums: Hot (2000), L.A. State of Mind (2005)
Consensus: Mel B.’s two albums are incredibly diverse, but both great in their own rights. The first, Hot, was released less than a month before SG’s final album. It’s a fine collection of dance/R&B with a serious hip-hop edge. (“I Want You Back” might be the most explosive solo SG track of all time.) L.A. State of Mind is where it gets interesting. It’s another R&B and pop offering, but with surprising flavors. The album’s title track sounds very Sheryl Crow-inspired. “Today” is another sun-drenched mid-tempo treat that swaps in attitude for genuine feels. The range here is pretty awe-inspiring, and her phenomenal voice is center stage throughout.
Key tracks: “Tell Me,” “I Want You Back” (feat. Missy Elliott), “L.A. State of Mind”
Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice)
Albums: Schizophonic (1999), Scream If You Wanna Go Faster (2001), Passion (2005)
Consensus: And the award for most fun Spice Girl soloist is Geri. All three albums are kitschy disco-pop decadence with heaping slices of camp, humor and flamboyance. Throbbing, glittery and ripe with gay club ecstasy, Geri’s music is certainly exciting, if anything at all. If you haven’t watch the “Ride It” music video, you’re missing out. (Please see above.)
Key tracks: “Bag It Up,” “Look at Me,” “Scream If You Wanna Go Faster,” “Ride It”