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FEATURE: Geri Halliwell’s ‘joy medicine’
We chatted with Spice Girl and pop queen Geri Halliwell on her musical comeback and coming Down Under.
Geri! You’re premiering your new song Half of Me on the NRL Footy Show on October 3 – what can you tell us about your first single in eight years?
It’s one of those songs that’s filled with joy and optimism, which is actually very hard to write. The song is delivering an anti-depressant to the world: it’s joy medicine.
There’s a funny lyric in the second verse – I just told someone else and they didn’t laugh so I want to know what you think. I think musically, I’m in my own lane. As I’ve grown up I’ve realized it’s so important to be who you are, whether it’s with your other half, what you decide to wear, or musically. Rather than jumping on any bandwagon, I knew I should do my own thing.
Er, you were mentioning a lyric…
Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah! I’m being slightly ironic. It goes:
“Better than chocolate, you’re right in the pocket, you were tailor-made for me.
Wanna have your baby, gotta have you like crazy, and iron your shirt.”
OK, I know it doesn’t sound funny, but when I say it, I almost want to burst out laughing. I’m being ironic. I feel like lyrically, I’m very ironic and silly, but I hope I’ll touch your heart.
You experienced incredible success with your early solo work – four number one UK singles – but by your third album Passion, the hits had waned. How do you look back on that time?
Life is all about being authentic. I made that first album [1999’s Schizophonic] in one studio and I didn’t let anybody hear it until it was finished. Then album two [2001’s Scream if You Wanna Go Faster] got kind of swerved because of It’s Raining Men, which was fantastic, but sort of overshadowed the rest of the album. By the third album, I was getting a bit fatigued and fragmented. I’d lost a bit of my youthful bravado and cocky confidence in myself.
It might be a gay philosophy – you need that reassurance that it’s okay to be who you are. Being different takes so much courage. Whether it’s your sexuality or your musicality, be authentic. That’s what I’m learning.
You’ll be back in Australia for the Australia’s Got Talent semi-finals (screening from September 22). Are you enjoying your time down under?
I couldn’t have asked to be with nicer people. You guys get my sense of humour as well – I swear a lot and you don’t seem to mind. You lot like taking the mickey out of yourselves too, which I love. There’s no BS. You’re totally my cup of tea.
We have to ask, will the Spice Girls ever perform live in this country? (The group famously cancelled the Australian leg of their 2007 reunion tour).
We wanted to come, and I’m sorry that we haven’t. I said ‘never, never, never’ a few times, but actually, life keeps proving me wrong. I have enough experience now to say ‘who knows?’. Optimistically, I’d say maybe. We’re all really grateful that Australians have been so loyal to us.
It seems like the main obstacle nowadays is Victoria Beckham.
I can’t speak for her, that’s her journey. We all change and our priorities change. For me, I’m obsessed with music – I love writing pop music, and that has never changed. But that can’t be the same for everybody else [in the group] – other people have moved into other areas.
Finally – what’s your favourite song you’ve ever written?
With the Spice Girls, it’s probably Wannabe, because it’s such a freak of nature. Nobody can digest it and put it in a pigeonhole. In my solo career, I thought Look At Me was very honest, and it still stands up 14 years later. I’m also excited about my new stuff – there’s a song that I’m hoping you’ll hear as the second single after Half Of Me which is a real game changer for me. Lyrically and melodically, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Info: Half of Me (Sony) out October 25. Australia’s Got Talent, Sundays 6:30pm on Channel 9.