Scary Spice Mel B may just have the edge over the rest of The Masked Singer judging panel when it comes to guessing the celeb warblers this season: She’s also been a contestant on the show. Twice.
The pop icon has masked up to compete in both the British and Spanish versions of the enjoyably ludicrous singing competition – and with her low, purring vocals instantly recognizable to legions of Spice Girls fans, she knows a few inside tricks contestants use to hide their identities .
As she told news.com.au, in her case it was to swing big with songs out of her comfort zone: Performing as a seahorse in Masked Singer UKshe sounded nothing like herself while channeling Kylie Minogue’s high, ethereal vocals for a rendition of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.
And Mel B scoffed at the suggestion the rest of The Masked Singer judging panel (OG panellist Dave Hughes plus fellow newbies Chrissie Swan and Abbie Chatfield) would have a home advantage when it came to picking some of the Aussie celebs under those masks.
If you’ve seen the most surreal moment in the Masked Singer ad currently airing – an excited Mel B screaming her guess of “Schapelle Corby!” – You’ll understand Scary knows her from her Aussie celebs from her.
“I did live here, remember – my kids even went to school here,” she said, referring to the extended period a decade ago where she and her family were based in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs as she juggled local TV projects.
could The Masked Singer lead to another longer stay in Australia for a woman who’s virtually an Aussie reality TV veteran at this point?
“I have three girls, so anything I do needs to fit in with them… But I’d love to come back here more,” she said.
Of course, Mel B’s yearning to return to Australia made world headlines back in 2019 when she jumped the gun slightly with one headline-making proclamation at the final show of the Spice Girls’ UK reunion tour.
“Thank you – and see you in February in Australia!” she announced – the closest thing we’d had to a confirmation for a band who’ve famously been edging Aussie fans desperate for a tour for decades.
Mel B confirmed that yes, there were plans in place to bring the tour to Australia – but that Covid nixed those plans. As for now? She’s unsure but “hopeful” the band’s Australian fans may soon get to finally see them live.
Those who were lucky enough to see the group’s 2019 tour – just 13 shows, but playing to more than 700,000 fans in stadiums across the UK and Ireland – would have seen Mel B in her element.
From the moment she and the rest of the group (sans Posh) shot up from the stage to launch into Spice Up Your Life, it was clear how much Mel – back in her skin-tight leopard print catsuit and afro, prowling the stage looking every inch the pop star – was born to do this. So does she miss being a Spice Girl?
“I do miss it, and I’m always eager to go back on stage,” she said. “I love being up there; especially with my girls. Those shows were just massive.”
For now, the Spice Girls’ focus is more on tending to their legacy, as the group hits some important (and hard to believe) milestones. November marks 25 years since the release of second album spiceworld, and the group’s now-active socials have already started teasing celebrations similar to those they held for debut album Spice last year. Mel said this “homage” to the past felt important: “It’s a way to say thank you to the fans.”
It’s also a chance to look back at perhaps the most hectic period of the group’s two years of world domination: Between October 1997 and June 1998 they performed their first-ever live concerts in Istanbul, released the spiceworld album, three singles, a feature film, fired their manager, did a 56-date European tour and lost a member when Geri famously quit.
A whirlwind – but Mel says she remembers every minute of it: “I remember things so clearly. And I kept journals every day,” she explained.
Surely then, Mel B’s Spiceworld Diaries are begging to be released, following two earlier books from the star, including 2018’s must-read brutally honesta harrowing account of her toxic marriage to ex-husband Stephen Belafonte.
In the meantime, there’s another Spice Girls book on the horizon: ‘Sporty Spice’ Melanie C will release her first memoir in September, promising to dish on the highs and lows of life in the group. Mel confirmed she’d been helping her bandmate behind the scenes as she read for the release.
“Oh yeah – we’re friends, so we’d never say anything or write anything publicly without checking with each other first. She’s been sending me little bits and I’ve been helping her out,” she said.
And there’s another key anniversary in the group’s history this year. August marks 10 years since their spectacular performance at the London Olympics closing ceremony, the last time they performed as a five-piece.
Watching the performance – and with 25m views on YouTube, it’s clear many still do – you’re struck by just how many things could’ve gone terribly wrong during their four minutes of stage time, as they sped around the stadium standing on the tops of taxis and hanging on for dear life. Victoria in particular looked one strong taste of wind away from becoming Olympics roadkill.
“I think the drivers had more pressure – they were the ones who had to make sure nothing went wrong,” said Mel, who confessed the group went into the performance with the same ethos that informed much of their career:
“With the Spice Girls, we always just kind of… do it. Just do it, and try not to think about what could go wrong!”
The Masked Singer premieres 7.30pm Sunday, August 7 on Ten