Mar 032023

Go back to the beginning

20. The Overtones – Goodbye

“Goodbye” was the first Spice Girls song without Geri Halliwell’s vocals. Whether intended that way or not, the song became both a salute to her and a sign that the Spice Girls era was ending. When the Overtones covered it on their self-titled 2018 album, it carried an extra layer of sadness; it’s dedicated to Timmy Matley, their former bandmate, who died from injuries suffered in a fall from a balcony. “It’s impossible to sing the lyrics and not think about Timmy,” said bandmate Darren Everest, and indeed, you can feel the members addressing the fifth and final stage of grief, through their emotional performance. – Patrick Robbins

19. DeSever – Spice Up Your Life

London, Ontario melodic thrash metal band DeSever pummel their way through this vaguely Latin Spice World hit. The vocals are classic growly death metal, with some high-pitched black metal screaming for some of the responses further into the song. Though the blast drumming is in full thrust and the lead vocal is about as growly and metal as any you’ll hear, this is a melodic metal band, so the main hook remains prominent throughout. So it’s not that scary. And not as wildly different as you might think if you just heard it was a metal cover of “Spice Up Your Life.” And there are bass fills in the breakdown, which is fun. Oh, and if you want to watch this band (rather lamely) show off their Latin pop dance moves, you should check out the live version. – Riley Haas

18. The Struts – Stop

The Spice Girls hit “Stop” paid homage to the ‘60s girl groups, particularly the sound of the Supremes. During the 2020 COVID lockdowns, the rock band the Struts gave the song a Rolling Stones-style makeover, transforming the track into a rowdy rock song. In an image that now seems to be synonymous with 2020, each member of the band performs their part in a separate video frame. Within his own square, vocalist Luke Spiller emulates Mick Jagger for the camera. It was a fun, upbeat cover from a dark and uncertain time. – Curtis Zimmermann

17. STACEY – 2 Become 1

As Curtis mentioned in the intro, it feels like every few months there’s another breathless rumor about a Spice Girls reunion. In the meantime, STACEY’s cover should appeal to those clamoring for some ’90s nostalgia and to those who couldn’t care less. It’s poppy enough for pop fans, but washed-out and ethereal enough for the indie-rock hipsters. – Ray Padgett

16. Peter Stampfel – Wannabe

In 2002, Americana legend Peter Stampfel began work on one of the most ambitious cover albums ever attempted, aiming to cover one song from each year of the 20th Century. Two decades later, the four-hour, five-disc Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs was finally released.

20th Century is wonderfully eccentric, full of left-field selections, but the strangest by far is Peter’s version of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” The added wrinkle here is that, about halfway through recording the album, Peter was diagnosed with dysphonia, causing him to lose most of his vocal range. As a result, Stampfel’s voice on this track is barely more than a whisper (“about as creepy as it gets minus a felony,” writes his producer in the liner notes), with a lot of the vocal heavy lifting picked up by his band.

What makes this cover is the sheer weirdness of hearing this song performed by an 82-year-old man. Better yet, in his liner notes, Peter reveals that the track was recorded by playing along with the original – which means it should be possible to sync the two together to create one of the oddest duets of all time. – Tim Edgeworth

15. Sean Smith – Who Do You Think You Are

“Who Do You Think You Are” was the last single released from the Spice Girls debut album Spice (technically a double A-side with “Mama”). It’s an upbeat disco track with a catchy refrain “Swing it, shake it, move it, make it/Who do you think you are?” Sean Smith is best known as a member of the British pop duo Same Difference. In 2021, Smith released a solo album called Swing for the ‘90s, an album of jazz covers of ‘90s hits. Smith reworked “Who Do You Think You Are” as a piece of lounge jazz, perfect for snapping your fingers and drinking a martini. – Curtis Zimmermann

14. Ariana DeBose – The Lady Is a Vamp

Before she was Anita or Donna, Ariana DeBose was paying tribute to other legends, the Spice Girls. What better tune for a Broadway star to take on than the big band play on “Lady is a Tramp,” reclaimed as “Lady is a Vamp”? This song name drops girl-power icons of the past, from Charlie’s Angels to the Supremes, while asserting “she’s a vixen not a tramp.” DeBose’s powerhouse vocals are on full display. There is a wide range of vocals to choose from after all. DeBose fearlessly takes on covering five women’s contributions. – Sara Stoudt

13. Inspiratum – Viva Forever

Inspiratum is a cathedral choir in Kyiv which mostly performs hymns and carols. However, a year ago they took on this Spice World single. As you might imagine with an Orthodox choir, the “vacation in the Mediterranean” vibe is totally, uttlery gone. The pace seems slightly slower and, instead, there’s a strong hymnal feel. There’s a proper pipe church organ backing the choir and their ethereal voices make it feel like the lyrics are about a spiritual quest rather than falling in love on your (very sunny) vacation. It’s extremely pretty and makes it seem like the song was written to be a hymn. – Riley Haas

12. Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox – Wannabe

The Spice Girls’ nicknames Sporty, Scary, Baby, Ginger, and Posh were a definitive part of the ’90s cultural landscape. In the ‘40s, the same could be said for the names LaVerne, Maxene and Patty, otherwise known as the Andrews Sisters. The sisters’ fusion of jazz and pop helped define the sound of that age. (The Spice Girls even pay homage to the Andrews Sisters on their track the “The Lady is a Vamp” – see #14). Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, a covers outfit that specializes in retro-style covers of pop tunes, took this connection a step further by reworking the Spice Girls signature hit “Wannabe” into an Andrews Sisters-style jazz tune. In this clever reimagining of the song, the words “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want” could have moved the dance floor in a World War II-era USO hall. – Curtis Zimmermann

11. Ben L’oncle Soul – Say You’ll Be There

The Spice Girls “Wannabe” follow-up “Say You’ll Be There” not only pulled them out of one-hit-wonder status, but also showed they could handle a groove as well as a hook. But Ben L’Oncle Soul shows what happens when you take a masterful hook and give it to a grandmaster. He strips away the song’s pop sheen and turns it into sweet, sweet soul music, really and truly giving all that joy can bring. – Patrick Robbins


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