Another week, another revival. On Wednesday, TMZ reported the Spice Girls are gearing up for another reunion tour set to hit the US and UK this summer. This is not the first time they’ve gotten the band back together; fans who attend this reunion tour may hope this goes better than the last reunion tour, in 2007-08, which started out in a whirlwind of hype and ended in a slew of cancelled dates and mixed press.
When Geri Halliwell left the Spice Girls following a 1998 tour, citing “differences,” the group responded by announcing their intentions to go on. “The Spice Girls are here to stay... Friendship never ends,” they said in a statement. Tabloids and entertainment news outlets reported every rumor of their infighting and power struggles, and alas, they ended up calling it quits for good in 2000. Apart from the general nostalgic vibes of seeing a band from yesterday, their first reunion tour played to this abandoned idea that sisterhood would always prevail over anything else. “We are like sisters and we have our arguments, but by the end of the day we get back together,” Emma Bunton, aka Baby Spice, said at a press conference announcing the tour. Fans could step back into Spiceworld and feel happy for this reunited team of women, bound by music, who were largely marketed as friends.
That was the whole premise of Spice World after all; not for nothing did they insist all potential lovers had to get with their friends, and the reunion tour promised the return of that unconditional love. “We’ve had so much fun together,” Mel B, better known as Scary Spice said in response to a pre-tour question about if the reunion was difficult. “We’re like five old women gossiping and drinking cups of tea.” “Money is not an issue. We're doing this because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a Spice Girl again. Who would turn that down?“ said Halliwell at the press conference the Girls entered hand in hand. From their songs to their marketing, the Spice Girls were always presented as a group of close friends united against patriarchy. The reunion tour was a symbol to fans that their bond was indeed unbreakable. That tear-jerking premise led to major ticket sales, at least in their Europe and North America dates. Tickets to the group’s London show reportedly sold out in 38 seconds.
And then, the illusion came unravelled. Ten years ago this month, the group announced it was canceling its China, South Africa, Australia, and Argentina dates, ending on February 26 in Toronto. Media outlets reported that it was due to poor ticket sales and their return to infighting. A spokesperson attempted to squash that narrative, stating “The girls want to get back to their families, it's not about lack of demand.” Fans in the countries with abandoned tour dates were understandably upset. The tour was, by many measures, a success: Critics raved about the shows that did go through,and in total the tour grossed $70 million. But when it came to Girl Power, the narrative of the tour itself ultimately fell flat.
In Spice World, the tour is a test of the bond between a (fictional) group of friends.
The Spice Girls ended once again as they had before, divided and gone too soon. “Who knows if we’ll ever get back together again,” said Geri Halliwell toward the end of their last reunion tour date in Toronto. “It's the last opportunity there will be to see the Spice Girls together,” Victoria Beckham said. Like their unbreakable bond, that finality was also an illusion. With a scaled down schedule and ten years’ worth of nostalgia interest to cash in on, why wouldn’t the Spice Girls go on another reunion tour? Even if they play one show every ten years, their grandchildren’s grandchildren could still end up millionaires off of merchandise alone.
While it’s naive to think that this second reunion tour is anything but financially motivated, the power of the Spice Girls’s original narrative and mystique can’t be forgotten. In the world of celebrity gossip, this tour will test if five megastars can keep their egos in check long enough to make another fortune. But in Spice World, it’s a test of the bond between a (fictional) group of friends — friends who are not only women, but Girls. It’s a bond the Spice Girls told us was unfailing, but haven’t managed to prove to us… yet.