24. Spice Girls – ‘Viva Forever’ (1997)

“Yes, I still remember
Every whispered word
The touch of your skin giving life from within
Like a love song never heard
Slipping through my fingers
Like the sands of time
Promises made, every memory saved
As reflections in my mind”

Written by Matthew Rowe/Richard Stannard/Spice Girls

Produced by Matthew Rowe/Richard Stannard

Taken from the album Spiceworld

Also released on Greatest Hits

UK #1, AUS #2

In an amazing coincidence, exactly twelve years ago today, May 31 1998, Geri Halliwell announced she was leaving the biggest group in the world, the Spice Girls. United they stood, and divided they fell. There were great singles and a good album that followed ‘Viva Forever’, but they were never the “real” Spice Girls. It would, as Melanie C might say, never be the same again. When Geri Halliwell left, there were legions of young pop fans (and some old ones) who were left pretty heartbroken. ‘Stop’ had been their last single released as a group, and after ‘Never Give Up On The Good Times’ was cancelled, the ballad ‘Viva Forever’ was chosen as the final single released with all five on vocals, the final curtain for the Golden Age.

Even when they surprised everybody with ‘2 Become 1’, could we ever have imagined the Spice Girls pulling off something like this? ‘Viva Forever’ is a lush, gorgeous swansong, melodic and lyrically captivating, produced with an amazing atmosphere that surrounds you and lifts the vocals and words to another level. Each girl given lead vocals here shines, and ironically Geri doesn’t have any, only joining in on the hook. Over the final few choruses, Melanie C’s ad-libs are absolutely gorgeous, her greatest ever vocal moment. And that chorus… so simple, so grand, so beautiful.

“Viva forever
I’ll be waiting
Everlasting, like the sun
Live forever
For the moment
Ever searching for the one”

The jewel in ‘Viva Forever’s crown is the music video, directed by Steve Box and featuring all five Spice Girls as animated fairies. In the story, two young friends discover a vending machine egg thing in the forest, which leads them to a spring-y chicken, which leads them to a Rubik’s cube. Out fly the Spice Fairies (which sounds like a drag tribute act), scaring away the younger child, and each of them show the older kid the way to a new, smaller Rubik’s cube. They lower him inside, and his friend returns just in time to see the cube magically decrease in size, meaning of course that his friend is trapped inside. After trying in vain to get him out, the boy comes across a whole field full of the eggs, with a giant vending machine to the side. As the song reaches it’s climax, he realised what he must do: the small Rubik’s cube goes in the egg, and up into the vending machine, lost forever. As he walks away, dejected, five Spice Girls fly back out, but with one heading in the opposite direction to the others.

Spice Girls were too good to last. It could never have gone on for four, five albums. It was supposed to be for a short time, and we enjoyed it while we could. Most of the people who understood the Spice Girls were children at the time of their success, and with ‘Viva Forever’, it was understood that this was the last goodbye for the group we had become obsessed with. As the boy in the video lets go of his older friend, as his older friend grows into adulthood, we had to let go of the Spice Girls, we had to grow up and leave them behind. It was a beautiful dream of empowerment and self-confidence and never giving up on the good times, important lessons to learn young in life, but it didn’t last. ‘Viva Forever’ is at once a celebration and a final goodbye, not just to five girls in a pop group, but to the innocence of childhood, a time before people judged you for caring about pop songs, maybe even writing about them and analysing them at length.

“Back where I belong now, was it just a dream?
Feelings unfold, they will never be sold
And the secret’s safe with me”

Music video:

One Response to “24. Spice Girls – ‘Viva Forever’ (1997)”

  1. Sean Says:

    Oh dear Jesus, that last part nearly had me in tears…

    I WILL NOT LET GO OF MY CHILDHOOD!

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