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  • Zhi Hong

Spice Up Your Eurovision! Spice Girls and their connections with the Contest


Photo courtesy of Sky News UK

Today, January 12, is Kiss a Ginger day. We at Aussievision hope all the gingers around the world get lots of love and appreciation, including the iconic redhead and previously rumoured Eurovision contestant Geri Halliwell a.k.a Ginger Spice!


January 12 also happens to be a special day for another Spice Girl - it is Melanie Chisholm's (Sporty Spice) birthday! She recently performed with Eurovision runners-up Sam Ryder at his 'Sam Ryder Rocks New Year's Eve' BBC1 show. They performed a duet of Melanie's 1998 song with Bryan Adam 'When You're Gone'.



The proud Liverpudlian will also see Eurovision be hosted in her home city later this year. With today being such an important date for the Spice Girls and Melanie's recent interactions with Eurovision, we at Aussievision decided to look further into the connections between Britain's biggest girl band and Europe's largest singing competition.



Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice)


It is no surprise Melanie agreed to duet with Sam Ryder because she is actually a big fan of Eurovision.


In an interview in Belgium in 2007 Melanie remarked:


"I would like to go to [Eurovision]. It looks like good fun ... I like to watch it."

Before you get too excited about the prospect of Melanie representing the UK at Eurovision, it seems as though Sporty Spice would be unlikely to go to the Contest as a competitor. She mentioned Eurovision is viewed negatively in her home country, as well as any artist who represents them:


"I think unfortunately there is a real stigma attached to anyone who does the Eurovision... it is seen as a bit of a joke in the UK, so it might be a little bit dangerous for [my] career."

Melanie's recent duet partner Sam Ryder has consistently tried to change UK perceptions about Eurovision, being aided by his runners-up finish in Turin last year, so maybe he can help change her mind.


In the interview Sporty Spice also remarked that "being a child of the 80s" her favourite Eurovision entry was Bucks Fizz's winning entry for the UK in 1981 'Making Your Mind Up', and that she had "good memories" of their performance.



We hope at the very least Melanie will be able to enjoy Eurovision 2023 live in her home city of Liverpool.



Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice)


Over the years there have been many efforts by Eurovision fans to draft the Spice Girls or individual members of the group to represent the UK. However in 2014 it appeared the BBC was seriously considering one member to fly (or dress up in) the Union Jack in Copenhagen: Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell.


The story was run in many credible, major UK media outlets at the time. This included the Daily Mail who stated that Geri was "topping the BBC's list of performers they would like to appear in the annual competition" and that the broadcaster was hoping she would accept the offer.


The newspapers quoted an unnamned BBC insider who claimed "Geri seems a perfect fit for Eurovision ... she's up for a laugh and not afraid to camp things up."


It came after the UK was represented at Eurovision by Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler in 2012 and 2013 respectively, who like Geri were undoubtedly British icons but also a fair way past their most successful years.


News of Geri's potential Eurovision participation elicited a strong response not just from the Eurovision fandom but across the UK. The Guardian even ran an opinion piece arguing that Geri was a "faded pop star" whose questionable live vocals would not cut it in a singing competition. The article described Geri's performance of her single 'Half of Me' on The Nine Network Australia's 'The NRL Footy Show' in 2013 as "mortifying". Ouch! Sending Geri even more love and kisses on this Kiss a Ginger day.



Ultimately Geri's participation did not eventuate, and the UK was represented at Eurovision in 2014 by Molly with 'Children of the Universe', who finished in 17th place.



Mel B (Scary Spice)


Mel's connections to Eurovision surprisingly come mainly from her appearances as a judge on American and Australian reality competitions.


From 2013 to 2018 she was a judge on America's Got Talent (AGT). In 2017, one year before he represented Bulgaria at Eurovision as part of the supergroup 'Equinox', Johnny Manuel auditioned for AGT where he performed for Mel and the other judges. In his first performance Johnny sang Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing', which elicited a standing ovation from the entire auditorium. Mel remarked afterwards,


"Oh my gosh. You are so powerful ... I know you have had a journey to get here. But thank you, thank you, thank you for showing up."


The judges voted unanimously to send Johnny through, where he eventually reached the Semi-Finals. Johnny would later audition for The Voice Australia in 2020, and currently resides in Australia.



The following year, Dutch Eurovision 2005 representative Glennis Grace auditioned for Mel and the AGT judges. She also sang a Whitney Houston classic in her opening performance, this time 'Run to You'. After Glennis received a standing ovation as well, Mel told her:


"You are hands down an absolutely amazing, beautiful, beautiful singer ... you sounded exactly like Whitney Houston." Glennis would go a little further than Johnny in the competition, reaching the Finals.


Mel was also a judge on The Voice Kids Australia 2014. The winner from that series Alexa Curtis would represent Australia at Junior Eurovision in 2016, whilst runners-up Bella Paige would sing for us in Sofia in 2015.


Mel turned around for both girls at their blind auditions, and although neither girl chose her as a mentor, Scary Spice continued to shower both girls with praise throughout the entire competition. After Alexa sang 'Girl on Fire' in her first performance Mel said she had "star quality" and "the whole package", whilst Bella's blind audition rendition of 'And I'm Telling You' caused Scary Spice to say "Now that is what I am talking about!"


A proud Leeds lass, Mel expressed her delight on Twitter last year when her home city was shortlisted to host Eurovision in 2023. Although Liverpool was ultimately chosen, given her experience as a presenter of large, live events such as Miss Universe, the MOBO Awards and Dancing with the Stars Australia, perhaps the BBC should consider Mel to be the host and face of a Eurovision being held in northern England.



Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice)


Think Victoria is too Posh for Eurovision? Think again! Like her fellow bandmate Sporty Spice, David Beckham's significant other is a huge fan of Bucks Fizz. Victoria is reported as saying:


My first record was Bucks Fizz. I thought they were absolutely wicked.

She later recounted her Bucks Fizz obsession was so big that Victoria got her mother to make a skirt that she could rip off just like the Eurovision winning band did in their performance.


It seems like other members of Posh's family are into Eurovision. Several news outlets reported that Victoria's son Cruz was so "blown away" by Sam Ryder's Eurovision performance, the 17 year old aspiring pop-star asked to work with Sam's producer Max Wolfgang. Cruz is also signed on with Tap Music, the label that organised the UK's Eurovision entrant last year and will continue to do so this year. Could we see the son of British celeb royalty represent the UK in Liverpool?


Cruz and Victoria Beckham / Photo courtesy of Hello Magazine

Emma Bunton (Baby Spice)


Emma arguably has the strongest connection to Eurovision. In 2003 she performed a cover of Sandie Shaw's 1967 Eurovision winner 'Puppet on a String', along with her new single at the time 'Maybe'. Emma paid homage to the fact Eurovision 1967 was the last edition with no recording in colour, with the screens turning black and white during her performance of the Eurovision classic.



Emma had a reoccurring guest role on the British comedy Absolutely Fabulous where she played herself. In the television series she was part of Edina Monsoon's PR company. In the 'Cleanin' episode Edina's personal assistant Bubble and Edina runs through new work that they have for for Emma. Bubble mentions: "She put you in for the Eurovision Song Contest. And she has written the song." Edina starts repeatedly yelling that she hasn't while covering Bubble's mouth.


Emma was also a panelist during the semi-final of the BBC's 'Eurovision: Your Country Needs You', which was created to select the UK's entrant at Eurovision 2009 in Moscow. Jade Ewen was ultimately chosen to perform Andrew Lloyd-Webber's composition 'It's My Time'. She finished fifth at Eurovision that year, which is still the UK's second best placing in the competition so far this century behind Sam Ryder.



The Power of Five


In 1996, at the height of their success, the Spice Girls hosted the Christmas edition of 'Top of the Pops'. They introduced many acts performing including Australia's very own Gina G, who had represented the UK at Eurovision earlier that year and finished in eighth spot at the Contest. Her Eurovision track 'Ooh Aah ... Just a Little Bit' also topped the UK charts. As Posh noted in her introduction, Gina is a "ready, reddy redhead", so we would like to wish her a happy Kiss a Ginger day as well!



Over the years there have been many rumours that the Spice Girls would represent the UK at Eurovision. This reached fever pitch in 2011 when Geri commented that she thought the Spice Girls could do what Blue could not and win Eurovision, after the latter's "disappointing" 11th place despite being highly fancied by the bookmakers. This led to speculation that the Spice Girls would reunite and represent the UK at Eurovision 2012, with even the official Eurovision website reporting this. Ultimately this did not eventuate, with Engelbert Humperdinck leading the UK to a 25th place finish that year.


Despite never having taken part at Eurovision, the Spice Girls have certainly left their mark on the Contest.


They have inspired many artists who have taken part in the competition: from our very own Dami Im who learnt her English from them to Conchita Wurst who considers Victoria her fashion inspiration. Some Eurovision entries have appeared to model their look and sound off the Spice Girls, including Croatia's 1997 entry ENI with 'Probudi Me' and North Macedonia's 2000 entry XXL with '100% te ljubam'.


Even though several of us are big Spice Girls fans here at Aussievision, we have to concede that the chances of the Spice Girls representing the UK at Eurovision is close to nul point. However, given Melanie's connections to Liverpool, is it too much to hope there will be a Spice Girls reunion as a Eurovision interval act in the same iconic style as their 2012 Olympics performance? We will have to wait and see.


Found any other ways that Eurovision has been Spiced up by Britain's biggest girlband? Let us know on our socials.


For continued updates on all the Eurovision Song Contest news follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. All links at: https://linktr.ee/aussievisionnet

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