The Meaning of Life in Spice Girls’ Wannabee

WARNING ; the following blog is a deep philosophical essay (I kinda miss highschool), but I’ll try to make it pleasant to read nonetheless and cut the chatter that you usually put in an essay to reach the line count (yeah we all do it). Keep it essential. Now buckle up your seatbelts because I’m about to bring you to a whole new level of overthinking you didnt know could ever exist.

I’ve been talking about this for a while now. It may become a youtube video at some point but I thought “what’s the harm of doing a blog post first anyway”. There is something about Wannabe from the Spice Girls that has always bothered me, and I think we should talk about it. For starters, here is the song.

You’ll listen to it and think hey this sound like a brainless regular pop song, right ?


There’s one part that has always been puzzling me. The apparent meaning of the song is pretty clear, this girl says her bffs are the most important part of her life and she’s telling her boyfriend that he should get along with them. So what the fuck is this about :

 I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want, 

Isn’t it a little bit emphatic for this simple message ? Like… repeating the whole sentence twice, and then the really twice… but it goes further.

So tell me what you want, what you really really want, 

Now there are two of them, building up the tension around what this person really wants. This seems important. That’s the one thing she really really reaaaally wants. Well I guess it will settle it. Is this bff/boyfriend story this important (note that this is the beginning of the song, this problematic hasn’t even been introduced yet, so we’re talking about the unadulterated raw desire of this girl’s heart) ? Or is there a secret desire in the bottom of your heart ? Come on lady, show us what you think. What matters the MOST in the whole universe ? What do you REALLY want ? What is this song really about ? I mean the number of occurrences of really is simply too high to be ignored.

And what if this question wasn’t directed to the singer, but also to the listener, breaking the fourth wall. Do you know what you really really want ? In this sentence, the listener is both the asker wondering about their place in the universe, and the askee, pushed by a seemingly brainless popstart to a forced introspection, to enter a collaborative meditation to push the boundaries of self-understanding.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want, 

More tension building. Come on, this part is even more memorable than the refrain. This must be the true heart of the song. Be it in the philosophical treaties of Pascal and suchlike or in the lyrics of Avenue Q, it’s often agreed that “everyone is a little bit dissatisfied“. Man has been considered by a lot of philosophical theories as incomplete, missing something, which would be the underlying cause of any unhappiness. According to them, this relentless longing is nothing more than the meaning of human life itself. If this song proposes to unveil it, I don’t know about you, but I want in! What better place to deal with such an important and crucial topic than in the middle of these petty teenager considerations ? Wouldn’t the contrast highlight all the more the true meaning behind anyone’s life ?

So tell me what you want, what you really really want, 

Are you for real ? I’m begging you on my knees, much like this second voice which probably represents the audience.  I mean it seems the whole song builds up to this exact point with such insistence… The tension is unbearable. The meaning of life, the crux of mankind’s relentless longing is about to be answered. What does mankind really want ? We are clearly approaching the climax, and we could discuss how this tension building mirrors sexual intercourse or we could move on to the big answer everybody is of course by now waiting for.

I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna,

come on…

I wanna really really really wanna 

yes, that’s it, almost there, yes. Meaning of life…

zigazig ha.

Almost like an inflatable balloon deflating (insert sexual orgasm reference). A letdown. Is that it ? What does it even mean ? Let’s have a look at this meaning of life.

  • A first guess would be to think that this is plain gibberish. And that’s ok. It means that the true meaning of life is complex and cannot be captured by words. This gibberish is simply the symbol of the impossibility to comprehend with language this missing piece in the heart of men. After all, what did we expect. This is a vast and complex question, and the Spice Girls tell us that there is no simple and clear answer.

But we can certainly push it one step further, after all, “meaning zigazig” has 150k google answers.

  • Apparently, a Spice Girls newsletter explained that it doesn’t mean ‘nothing,’ but rather it means anything. It can mean having a laugh with a friend, watching a good movie, just something that makes you happy. Would the meaning of life reside in all those little moments that constitute a human life ? A little succession of moments that build up to a semantically relevant life.
  • A fair number of theories postulate that it means orgasm, which would fit well with the construction of this whole part of the song (buildup, plateau, relief, etc…), which you know I’m totally ok with, I can see the meaning of life being communing with another person, another self, bypassing its condition as individual separated from the world by joining to a physical and spiritual level another soul.
  • The wiktionnary definition for zig is “a sharp turn” and “to zig” is “to make a sharp turn”. Zig a zig would then be taking a turn. Would that be a representation of the everchanging human existence ? After all, semper eadem sed aliter, everything ever changes, the only constant in the world is change itself.
  • There is also a distinct possibility that this is gibberish only made up to hum along the music. But couldn’t life also be that simple ? Following along a song, empty minded, forgetting about this relentless void inside of you by communing with the absolute that is the music. Would this nonsensical answer suggest that the meaning of life is this nonsense itself, that is to say that the language and all the reflexions it allows are nothing but unnecessary complications that only bring us down ?

But one thing is for sure: the meaning of this piece of lyrics, much like the meaning of life, is ambiguous and unclear. The multiplicity of interpretations is very telling. Is it unattainable or do you have to chose it yourself ? Or maybe it’s all of these at the same time, merging in a complex multifaceted indescribable absolute.

What about the fact that this is all coming from one of the most brainless pop songs ever written ? Isn’t that also telling ? That the essence of our existence can be glimpsed anywhere for those with the eyes to see it. Or maybe that it resides in the simplest things. A song, an unbelievably cliched brainless life… Isn’t it a nice thought to consider that, much like any atom contains a whole universe inside of it, this dull pop song contains the whole meaning of life ?

5 responses to “The Meaning of Life in Spice Girls’ Wannabee”

  1. […] the fuck, it’s not at all what the author meant! » (or, in your case, « there’s no way the Spice Girl wanted to sing about the meaning of life &raqu…). Because as much as I have no trouble believing that Hideaki Anno was out to deconstruct the […]

  2. […] take on problems, which can obviously seem far fetched (most telling example would be looking for the meaning of life in Spice Girls’ Wanabee I suppose). But I think it goes beyond the humorous effect of juxtaposition of serious philosophy and […]

  3. […] means, by the way, that the pop culture music that everyone enjoys is so universal because it speaks to something shared between the brain of most humans. I’ve always been kinda […]

  4. […] is right – Spice Girl –Japanese – Meta Travel to Japan People I […]

  5. […] be what we wish we would/could want (extrapolated volition). What we want is rarely what we really really want, and certainly not what we need. This gap is the core of the alignment problem of the market […]

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