The Spice Girls singles, ranked

·7 min read
The Spice Girls singles, ranked

Once upon a time, in the days of beepers and butterfly clips, five female 20-somethings with a penchant for Union Jack-emblazoned fashion and sugary earworm pop songs zig-a-zig-ah'd their way into our lives. Yes, the Spice Girls were the definition of a global phenomenon — a fun and fearsome group of performers who would go on to sell more than 100 million records and introduce the term "girl power" to a new generation of listeners. This month, their debut album, Spice, turns 25 — and to celebrate we're revisiting the legacy of Posh, Sporty, Scary, Ginger, and Baby by ranking their best singles. People of the world, it's time to spice up your lives once again.

No. 12 "Let Love Lead the Way" (2000)

In their native U.K., "Let Love Lead the Way," a ballad, was released by the Spice Girls in late October 2000. It was a double A-side with their sexy single "Holler," the release dropping in advance of the group's third album, Forever. Both songs explored a new, timelier sound for the girl group, full of R&B influences (the album's producers included Rodney Jerkins, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis), shimmering synths, and hints of influence from the burgeoning garage sound in the UK. It made it to No. 1 in Britain, and spent 21 weeks on the U.K. charts. —Jolie Lash

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 11 "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)" (2007)

As the Spice Girls — all of them — reunited in 2007 for a reunion tour and Greatest Hits album, they dropped the pop slow-jam "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)," the Girls' first new song since they went their separate ways in 2000. The syrupy loved-up single, featured a video showcasing the fab five in dramatic gowns, and lingerie, the latter being fitting since the LP's first release stateside came out via Victoria's Secret in '07 (with download codes for three remixes), before getting a wide release the following year. —Jolie Lash

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 10 "Viva Forever" (1998)

Ostensibly, this is a melancholy ballad reflecting on a vacation romance, all flamenco guitars and "young love in the sun" lyrics. (You'd never know it from the music video, though, where all the Girls are…. stop-motion animated fairies, for some reason?) It's not one of their strongest singles, but it's particularly bittersweet when you remember the single was released just after Geri Halliwell's departure from the group. —Jessica Derschowitz

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 9 "Goodbye" (1998)

Geri Halliwell's announcement at the end of May 1998 that she was leaving the Spice Girls was crushing for the fans, but the band paid tribute about six months later December with "Goodbye" — a heart wrenching pop ballad about the difficulties of parting ways with a beloved friend. Posh Spice (who would become Victoria Beckham when she wed soccer star David the following year) even had a rare, solo refrain where she reflected on their good times in this UK chart No. 1 — the group's first official single without Halliwell's vox. —Jolie Lash

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 8 "Holler" (2000)

At the turn of the century, it was impossible to escape Darkchild's name being whispered on the radio. The producer born Rodney Jerkins helped bring us "The Boy is Mine," "Say My Name," and, in 2000, the Spice Girls' more mature R&B sound with "Holler." This lead single off their third album, Forever, was such a departure from their previous bubblegum pop hits that it left some listeners scratching their heads — but there were plenty feeling the groove, with "Holler" ultimately topping the UK Singles Chart and reaching the top 10 in more than 15 countries. —Patrick Gomez

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 7 "Mama''/"Who Do You Think You Are" (1997)

Released as a double A-side in 1997, "Mama"/"Who Do You Think You Are" debuted at No.1 in the UK, giving the Spice Girls their fourth consecutive hit single. Released at the height of their popularity, you can think of "Who Do You Think You Are" as the Spice Girls giving ego-driven music execs a piece of their mind — not to mention the fact that the video perfectly encapsulates them '90s in all their greatness. I have no doubt that "Mama" is what landed the tracks at number seven on our list, but that's not accounting for taste or the fact that the double A-side was never officially released in the US. ("2 Become 1" was the current single at the time, "Spice Up Your Life" would become the next.) While I'll admit that the ballad is no "2 Become 1," it could be argued that the song played a heavy hand in strengthening the bond with your mother, which I think should count for something. —Alexis Wilson

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 6 "Too Much" (1997)

"Too Much" puts it all out there in the very first line: Love is blind, as far as the eye can see. Both clichéd and contradictory, it truly makes no sense. But who cares about logic when the Spice Girls commit as they do, encasing the lyrics in an irresistible mix of modern doo wop and (mostly) white-girl R&B? Add a music video that somehow features each member paying homage to an iconic film scene — Scary in Mad Max, Baby in Poltergeist, Ginger in Gilda, Sporty in Year of the Dragon, Posh in…Batman Returns (?) — and you've got yourself one thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly '90s, slow jam. —Clarissa Cruz

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 5 "Stop" (1998)

More than two decades after this single was released off Spiceworld, this writer is among the many who still has the corresponding dance moves committed to memory. "Stop" is sonic counterprogramming to the more dance-floor-friendly "Spice Up Your Life," like "Say You'll Be There" was for "Wannabe" — showcasing a different sound and spotlighting the band's versatility. The Motown-infused track was reportedly inspired by the band's frustrations with their management at the time, but the result is still upbeat and incredibly catchy. Thank you very much, indeed. —Jessica Derschowitz

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 4 "2 Become 1" (1996)

The group's quintessential ballad, which recently scored a memorable scene in the Oscar-winning film Promising Young Woman, has proven to have quite a bit of staying power. It's easy to see why, given how its mesmerizing harmonies carry an agreeable, progressive message that's indicative of what the Spice Girls ethos is all about. "Be a little bit wiser, baby / Put it on, put it on" is both a cheeky come-on (one of the through lines of their best singles), and a reminder to play safe when working out the song's math with one's partner in the bedroom. —Marcus Jones

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 3 "Say You'll be There" (1996)

The Spice Girls' second-ever single showed off a different side of their sound — less dancing around your room yelling "zig-a-zig-ah!", more grooving in your seat to a jazzy harmonica solo and Sporty, Scary, Ginger, Posh, and Baby imploring that certain someone to, well, be there for them. Most importantly, the success of "Say You'll Be There" proved the Girls weren't one-hit wonders. (And also, the Bond girls/Charlie's Angels-esque music video for this one is always worth a rewatch.) —Jessica Derschowitz

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 2 "Spice Up Your Life" (1997)

The lead single off the band's Spiceworld album brought fans to dance floors around the world and then told them exactly what to do there ("Slam it to the left… shake it to the right… go 'rouuuuuund"). A catchy dance-pop tune that perfectly captured that girl-power Spice Girls energy, it has some questionable lyrics — why did no one tell them to cut "Yellow men in Timbuktu"???? — but is still arguably the band's biggest and most recognizable hit besides "Wannabe." Admit it: You're probably hearing those "la-la-la"s in your head right now. —Jessica Derschowitz

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

No. 1 "Wannabe" (1996)

"I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want"… and that is obviously for "Wannabe," the Spice Girls female empowerment anthem, to be number one on our list! The debut single by the Brit power quintet was released in June of 1996 and made the Spice Girls international sensations. Legend has it that the song was written in under 30 minutes with each of the ladies contributing bits and pieces — Victoria even sent her notes via cellphone. To 25 years of zig-a-zig-ahs! —Brittany Kaplan

Ranking the Spice Girls singles
Ranking the Spice Girls singles

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