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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mama, My Friend

First things first, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish every mother out there in the world a Happy Mother's Day!

I'm aware that depending on your country of birth, your Mother's Day festivities might occur a little bit earlier in the year, or a little bit later, but in Canada and the United States at least, the day falls on the second Monday in May.

(Or, anytime between May 8-14, if you want further clarification.)

Anyway, for today's blog, I decided to make the entire entry pink in commemoration of the big event. And, since Mother's Day always falls on a Sunday, I'm under extra pressure to come up with a suitable topic for the Sunday Jukebox.

Problem is, there's not a whole lot of songs out there that celebrate moms.

I thought about using the song “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men...until I remembered that I used the same song LAST Mother's Day. And, Tracy Bonham's “Mother Mother” just seems a tad bit...what's the word...inappropriate for the day.

That said, I did come up with a song to talk about today. And, well, it happens to be by the British girl group who irritatingly inserted the words “Girl Power” in every single conversation and interview they had.

The surprising thing for me is that this isn't the first time that I did an entry on the Spice Girls. I did a feature on them in December 2011 back in the days when I still did the “Across the Pond and Beyond” feature.

To say that I wasn't the biggest Spice Girls fan would be sort of an understatement. I didn't exactly despise them with the heat of a million suns though. I was just disinterested in them. That said, I will admit that there are a couple of songs of theirs that I don't mind that much, and for what it's worth, I think that once the band went their separate ways in the early 2000s, they were much stronger as their own individual units (I'm particularly looking at Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton and Melanie “Sporty Spice” Chisholm as my two examples here).

Still, the Spice Girls were hugely popular between 1996 and 2000, having several hit singles in both their native UK as well as the USA and Canada. After a seven-year-long hiatus, the band reunited in 2007 for about a year for one more tour, and most recently performed together at the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony in London.

And, for today's Sunday Jukebox feature, we're going to take a look at one of their many singles. Maybe this single wasn't as well known as “Wannabe”, “Spice Up Your Life”, or “2 Become 1”, but it's one of the best examples of a song honouring the spirit of Mother's Day that I can think of spur of the moment.

ARTIST: Spice Girls
SONG: Mama
ALBUM: Spice
DATE RELEASED: March 3, 1997

NOTE: “Mama” was, at least to my knowledge, never released in the United States. Though, I'm almost positive it was issued in Canada, as I remember seeing the music video on MuchMusic some fifteen years ago. Not sure how well it did here in Canada, though.

Whatever the case, this was a single that was released as the band's fourth single in March 1997 (funnily enough right around the time that the Spice Girls were beginning to invade American territory). Appropriately enough, the single's original release was timed with the United Kingdom's “Comic Relief” telethon, as well as the country's own version of Mother's Day, which is known as “Mothering Sunday” (which in case you're wondering falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent).

This song was also particularly special for the Spice Girls because it was their fourth consecutive single to reach the #1 position. This was a big deal because at the time, no other band had achieved that feat. And, this was despite the fact that the single at the time of its release received mixed, or mediocre reviews.

And, I can probably see why some people thought that about the single. It's one of those singles that is so cheesy that it could put a lactose-intolerant person in the hospital for a few hours! But, if you listen closely to the lyrics, you'll hear that they are quite deep and profound.

The song itself was written in a collaboration between the five members of the Spice Girls and their longtime songwriting partners Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe. According to an interview that Rowe gave around the time of the single's release, the song's concept was courtesy of Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown. The songwriting process consisted of Brown, Bunton, Chisholm, Victoria “Posh Spice” Addams-Beckham, and Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell going to different areas of the studio to jot down a little verse of the song, and then putting it all together with backing from a gospel choir for the song's chorus.

Interestingly enough, the songwriting for “Mama” came at a time in which Brown was going through a rough patch with her own mother. That being said, she also said that no matter how many battles you might get into with your mother throughout the years, she'll always be at your side and be there thick and thin.

And, well...I'd like to think that's true in a lot of ways. My own mother and I are for the most part quite close, but there are still some instances in which she can have me wanting to hop the next train out of town to get away from her nagging and complaining!

I mean, let's face it. We all have those moments.

That said, all of our mothers are getting older. And, sadly for some of us, the memories of our mothers are all that we have to hold on to. I know that there are times in which I get quite frustrated with my mother...and to be fair, there are probably times in which she has gotten equally frustrated with me! But, at the end of the day, we have always made up, and we have always kept that bond of love alive.

What makes the video for the single very cool are the five special guests who dropped by the Ealing, London studio where the clip was taped. Did you get a glimpse of the black and white snippits where there are women holding a picture of one of the Spice Girls? They happen to be the Spice Mamas!

No, seriously, all five mothers of the Spice Girls make an appearance in the music video. The photos that they hold correspond to the Spice Girl they gave birth to.

All five mothers also appear in the audience of the studio where the video was taped. You can easily point them out because they just happen to be the oldest people in the studio (the rest of the concert audience are made up of preteens and teenagers.)

That being said, the childhood montage which show all of the Spice Girls as real little girls playing together and performing? Sadly, those clips were not of the real Spice Girls. The Spice Girls did not know each other as children, as the group was formed in the mid-1990s. But, it was a nice added touch, even if the real story behind it wasn't exactly accurate.

Oh, and another interesting fact about “Mama” was that when it was released, it was released as a “Double A-Side”. The accompanying track, “Who Do You Think You Are” can be seen below.

And, despite the fact that the song didn't do so hot in Canada or the United States, the song was huge in the United Kingdom. I would actually think that part of the reason why “Mama” also sold well in the UK, but that's just a theory I had.

Anyway, in conclusion to this entry on “Mama”, I just wanted to once again wish all mothers in the world a very Happy Mother's Day. And, to my own mother...who in all likelihood will never read this entry as she is incredibly computer illiterate...I love you, and I hope that you enjoy your special day.

Thanks for reading everyone.  

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