Welcome to this week’s instalment of The Story of Pop: 2000. Every Thursday at midday we transport you back like a one man pop tardis to the sights and sounds of the UK singles chart from the turn of the millennium. This week: the Ginger one makes it a hat trick…
When we last left Geri Halliwell on The Story of Pop: 1999, she’d just seen off her then ex-Spice colleague Emma Bunton (with Tin Tin Out) in the Solo Spice chart battle that November, with her second solo number one ‘Lift Me Up’. But come the start of 2000, it wasn’t long before she was confronted with her Spicy past once again – on two counts.
Firstly, at a High Court case where the remaining Spice Girls had been sued by the Italian motor scooter manufacturer Aprilla, who sued them successfully over breach of their sponsorship contract due to Geri’s Helsinki flunk from the Spiceworld tour eighteen months previously – which Geri got away from Scot free.
It was also a court case that just so happened to tie in with the start of another single campaign for her, which was to be the fourth and final release from her ‘Schizophonic’ album. And in true Geri style, it was promoted the way that only she knew best. A chunky, four to the floor disco belter, ‘Bag It Up’ was Geri’s tongue-in-cheek riposte on gender wars – ‘I like chocolate and controversy / He likes Fridays and bad company’ – as she implored women with no-good men in their lives to ‘treat him like a lady’.
Lyrically, Geri had always been one of the main creative visionaries during her time in the Spice Girls, but it was also apparent with the – not exactly subtle – visuals in the ‘Bag It Up’ video, which saw her as the face of ‘Girl Powder’, a mood enhancing substance in a garish, washing machine powder type box that, when served, turned men into subservient, pink haired slaves – or, in the case of the factory she was boss of, high heeled, shirtless Playboy bunny eared pole dancers. Cheeky it may have been, but frankly all it was missing was Liberace riding a spangly unicorn around the factory to seal its camp factor.
That said, the video was small change compared to her performance of the single at the 2000 BRIT Awards that March, a ceremony that the remaining Spices were also at to receive their Lifetime Achievement award. And again, just as she had done with her iconic Union Jack dress in 1997, she stole the show that night with a show-stopper that did indeed generate the controversy and headlines she spoke of her preference for in the song. Well, if you can’t emerge out a giant pair of legs pole dancing as a popstar, when can you?
Just as with much of her solo career to that point, it divided opinion between those who loved her trashy, flashy exuberance and ruthless ambition, and those who saw it all in bad taste. But crucially, nobody was indifferent to Geri. A couple of weeks later, ‘Bag It Up’ unsurprisingly gave her her third solo number one, which – including her seven chart toppers with the Spice Girls – gave her a total of ten number ones as a female performer. But – as we’ll see next week – her triumph was to be short lived at the hands of an ex-colleague…
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