Sunday, February 17, 2008

what i really, really want...

...is to be the sixth Spice Girl (see earlier post on the amazingness of the dance to "Stop" for further proof).

Last weekend, I traveled with three other fabulous Daily Iowan editors to Chicago to witness one of the greatest moments in music today: The Spice Girls reunion tour, one of 15 concerts on their North American rendezvous.



The concert itself doesn't really need much explanation: It was exactly how one would picture it — lots of costume changes, occasional dancing, and plenty of girl power (with the male dancers crawling on leashes, no less).

What made it so great was that the sold-out show at The United Center represented everything the music industry used to be — and never will be again. Even though the concert was infused with life and passion, it also was evidence of a dying formula.
Spice Girls made it big with the manufactured radio single "Wannabe." Millions of 10-year-old girls bought the album, making the quartet a hit in both Britain and the U.S. Probably every girl there could recount when they bought Spice World (and for many, it was probably the first CD they ever bought).

Selling albums isn't enough to make money in music anymore. With the prevalence of downloading, artists must go out and tour to cultivate a fan base. That's not a bad thing; in fact, for fans, it's good. I'm happy with downloading music and then paying to see the band live, even if that means higher ticket prices (our tickets were $100, the most expensive hit $350, and tickets sold on eBay for upwards of $900). For most, however, the live scene will move to smaller venues (with more reasonable ticket prices), more intimate crowds, and bands that appeal to only a section of the population. The "popular artist," in a sense, is dead. Our generation killed it. This concert was simply the eulogy.



What artist recording today could sell-out the United Center? Kanye West is the only one coming to mind. The other acts there are either reunions or past greats that continue to tour (think Elton John or Mariah Carey). When these radio artists die out, big arena shows will fall, too.

Simply put: I don't think there will ever be another group to reach the success Spice Girls had in the late 1990s. What music will the next generation (ha.ha.get it?) love? In ten years, will the Pussycat Dolls reunion be as momentous as Spice Girls was? Maybe Miley Cyrus has a chance. Maybe. The death of the major label means the death of superstar concerts and shared experiences.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing (I certainly will cringe if "Buttons" becomes the next "Say You'll Be There"). But watching thousands of twenty-something girls decked out in glitter and pumps was bittersweet; perhaps this will be truly the last time we all come together to celebrate a defining cultural movement. Thank God for us that adolescent zeitgeist was girl power — something that continues to spark emotion even now. After all, Spice Girls have sold-out arenas to prove it.

XOXO
Susan Spice

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