Definitions

Be there with bells on

Say You'll Be There

"Say You'll Be There" is a dance-pop song performed by the English girl group Spice Girls. The song was written by the Spice Girls, Jonathan Buck and Eliot Kennedy for their debut album Spice (see 1996 in music).

It was released in October 1996 as the album's second single in Australia and Europe, and became the group's second number-one single in the United Kingdom where it was certified platinum. It was also very popular across Europe where it reached the top ten in most of the charts. As a result of its popularity, the song was released in March 1997 in Canada and the United States, and it entered the top three on both charts.

The song's music video, an example of the solidarity of the all-female bond of the group, received positive reactions from critics and was nominated for numerous awards including the MTV Video Music Awards, and the BRIT Awards.

Writing and inspiration

"Say You'll Be There" was co-written by Jon B., Eliot Kennedy and the Spice Girls and was produced by Absolute. The harmonica solo is played by Judd Lander, who also played the harmonica on Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon".

The mid-tempo, semi-R&B groove song, according to Mel B depicts about the group telling that it does not matter to say that you love them, the only thing that they care is that their lover give his promise that he will be there for them whenever they need him.

"Say You'll Be There" was one of the first songs that the group wrote after they left their former managers Chris and Bob Herbert, on 3 March 1995. The group stole the master recordings of their discography from the management offices in order to ensure they kept control of their own work.

The next day the group went to Sheffield to meet with the producer Eliot Kennedy, a meeting that was arranged by the Herberts before their departure. The group persuaded him to work with them, and it became a very productive session; they composed two tracks that would eventually appear in their first album Spice. Those tracks were "Love Thing" and "Say You'll Be There".

In December 1996 while topping the charts across Europe, "Say You'll be There" became the focus of a controversy when the Israeli soldier Idit Shechtman accused the Spice Girls of copying her song "Bo Aylai" ("Come to me"), a highly similar song released two years earlier in Israel.

Critical reception

The song received mixed reviews, some critics praised "Say You'll Be There" as a catchy song, others dubbed it as merely a bid for credibility. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic in a review of their debut album Spice, said about the song that "what is surprising is how the sultry soul of 'Say You'll Be There' is more than just a guilty pleasure".

Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly called the song "a bid for street cred". David Browne also from Entertainment Weekly wrote about the confusing lyrics saying "modern relationships are confusing, wait until you spend time with the Spice Girls 'Say You'll Be There'. Let's see: She wants to be friends, he wants more, and yet she croons, 'I'm giving you everything/All that joy can bring'? She's as confused as I am", adding "better to revel in the delectably frothy girl-group melody".

Ben Thompson from Amazon.com referred to the song as "both catchy and sexy" and that it "is easily the greatest song on the album equaling the work of any pop artist of the last 20 years, including more respected ones like Madonna". Sputnikmusic said that the song "continues the demanding bitch tendency of "Wannabe" adding "once again, there's a profoundly annoying synthesizer riff, and the whole song is as beyond redemption as it is catchy. It still tops 'Wannabe', though. But then again, what doesn't?

Music video

The music video for "Say You'll Be There" was directed by Vaughan Arnell, produced by Adam Saward and was filmed in the Mojave Desert, located primarily in California, United States. The selection for the video's milieu resulted in a very different setting from "Wannabe", which was filmed at the Midland Grand Hotel in St. Pancras, an old district of London.

The video features the group as a band of female techno-warriors, who use martial arts and high-tech ninja influenced weapons to capture a hapless male who happens to appear in his Chevrolet Corvair Rampside pick-up truck. The clip is presented as a narrative, with movie credits at the start introducing the Spice Girls as fantastic characters.

The shots of male bondage are unexplained, and function as symbols of male disempowerment, just as the rest of the clip serves to assert the power and fighting abilities of the women, at the end the confused apparent pursuer is carried off on the roof of a car as a trophy.

The recording was largely inspired by the films Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Pulp Fiction, the latter in which led the girls to adopt fictional identities, an idea that Halliwell came up with, Melanie Chisholm played "Katrina Highkick", Geri Halliwell's alter-ego was "Trixie Firecracker", Emma Bunton took on the role of "Kung Fu Candy", Victoria Beckham played "Midnight Miss Suki", while "Blazin' Bad Zula" was Melanie Brown's alter-ego.

The making of this video is featured on the vhs: One Hour Of Girl Power. Two versions of this video exist, there is the original, and a version that omits the scenes which include the man, played by Tony Ward, captured and tied down. The video won Best Pop Video at the 1996 Smash Hits! Awards, Best Video at the 1997 BRIT Awards, and was nominated for Viewer's Choice at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

Chart performance

The song was initially released in the United Kingdom on 14 October 1996 once the popularity of "Wannabe" began to fade. It entered the charts at number one, the group's first single to debut at the top position, staying at the top for two weeks, twelve weeks in the Top 40, seventeen weeks inside the Top 75; and received a platinum certification by the British Phonographic Industry. It was a successful follow up single, selling 349,000 copies in its first week, 930,000 copies in total, and became the fourth biggest seller of 1996.

The song also proved successful across Continental Europe, where it reached number one in the Euro Hot 100 and Denmark, and the top ten throughout. In Finland it was their second number-one single, debuting at the sixth position reaching the top spot the next week, and staying in the chart for six weeks in total. In France the single debuted on 11 November 1996 at number forty-five, the next week it jumped to the fourth position (the highest jump that week), reaching a peak position of two for three consecutive weeks, remaining on the chart for eighteen weeks. In Norway the single debuted at number four, when "Wannabe" still was in the top three, it reached a peak position two weeks later at number two, remaining seven weeks in the top five and fourteen weeks in total.

In New Zealand it debuted on 10 November 1996 at number two, being blocked off the number-one spot by "Wannabe", staying ten weeks in the top ten and twenty-three weeks in total. In Australia, the single debuted on 26 January 1997 at number twenty-three, and peaked at number twelve thirteen weeks later, remaining on the chart for over five months and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association.

"Say You'll Be There" was released on 6 May 1997 in North America. In the United States, the song set a still-standing record on the Billboard Hot 100, the main U.S. chart, when it debuted at number five, the highest-entry by a non-North American act. "Say You'll Be There" reached number six on the Hot 100 Airplay and four on the Hot Singles Sales, but was unable to top the Hot 100, where it reached a peak position of number three for three consecutive weeks. It peaked at number five on the United World Chart, staying sixteen weeks on the top ten.

Live performances

The song was included in the set list for the Spiceworld Tour in 1998, the Christmas in Spiceworld tour in 1999, and The Return of the Spice Girls tour in 2007 – 2008, and remained the in band's live set after Halliwell's departure. The second verse had originally been sung by Ginger Spice (Halliwell) with Sporty Spice (Chisholm) adding the harmonies. After Halliwell's departure, Sporty Spice sang lead and Baby Spice (Bunton) added the high harmony.

The song was performed several times on television, including Top Of The Pops, Much Music, the 1997 Prince's Trust Gala, Saturday Night Live, and many television programs across Europe. "Say You'll Be There" was also performed in the 1996 Smash Hits! Awards and the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

Formats and track listings

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Say You'll Be There".

  • UK CD1/Australian CD1/Brazilian CD/Japanese CD
  • "Say You'll Be There" (Single Mix) – 3:56
  • "Take Me Home" – 4:07
  • "Say You'll Be There" (Junior Vasquez Main Pass) – 8:33
  • "Say You'll Be There" (Instrumental) – 3:56
  • UK CD2/Australian CD2
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Single Mix] – 3:56
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Spice Of Life Mix] – 7:01
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Linslee's Extended Mix] – 4:09
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior Vasquez Dub Girls] – 8:29
  • European CD
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Single Mix] – 3:56
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior Vasquez Main Pass] – 8:33
  • US CD
  • "Say You'll Be There" – 3:56
  • "Take Me Home" – 4:07
  • Italian 12" Vinyl single
  • A1:"Say You'll Be There" [Single Mix] – 3:56
  • A2:"Say You'll Be There" [Junior Vasquez Dub Girls] – 8:29
  • B1:"Say You'll Be There" [Linslee's Extended Mix] – 4:09
  • B2:"Say You'll Be There" [Junior's X-Beats] – 8:30

  • US 12" Vinyl single
  • A1:"Say You'll Be There" [Album Version] – 3:56
  • A2:"Say You'll Be There" [Junior's Main Pass] – 8:33
  • A3:"Say You'll Be There" [Linslee's Extended Mix] – 4:09
  • B1:"Say You'll Be There" [Junior's Dub Girls] – 8:29
  • B2:"Say You'll Be There" [Junior's X-Beats] – 8:30
  • Canadian Promo CD
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Single Mix] – 3:56
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior Vasquez Main Pass] – 8:33
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior's Dub Girls] – 8:29
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior's X-Beats] – 8:30
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Kurt's Dub] – 4:25
  • "Wannabe" [Junior Vasquez Remix] – 6:30
  • "Wannabe" [Junior Vasquez Gomis Dub] – 6:36
  • Japanese Promo CD
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Single Mix] – 3:56
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Instrumental] – 3:56
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Spice Of Life Mix] – 7:01
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Linslee's Extended Mix] – 4:09
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior's Dub Girls] – 8:29
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior Vasquez Main Pass] – 8:33
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Junior's X-Beats] – 8:30
  • "Say You'll Be There" [Kurt's Dub] – 4:25

Credits and personnel

Published by Windswept Pacific Music Ltd/Sony ATV Music Publishing

Charts, peaks and certifications

Chart positions

Chart (1996) Peak
position
Austrian Singles Chart 7
Belgian Singles Chart 8
Danish Singles Chart 1
Dutch Mega Single Top 100 5
Dutch Top 40 6
Euro Hot 100 1
Finnish Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 2
German Singles Chart 16
Irish Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 25
Japanese Tokyo Hot 100 5
Latvian Airplay Top 4
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 2
Norwegian Singles Chart 2
Spanish Maxi-Singles Chart 2
Swedish Singles Chart 4
Swiss Singles Chart 4
UK Singles Chart 1
United World Chart 5

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 12
Brazil Hot 100 2
Canadian Singles Chart 1
U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40 1
U.S. Billboard Adult Top 40 24
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Recurrent Airplay 14
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Maxi-Singles Sales 9
U.S. Billboard Hot Singles Recurrents 2
U.S. Billboard Latin Pop Airplay 12
U.S. Billboard Rhythmic Top 40 3
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream 2

Certifications

Country Provider Certification Sales/shipments
Australia ARIA Gold 35,000+
France SNEP Gold 200,000+
Norway VG Gold 5,000+
United Kingdom BPI Platinum 930,000+
United States RIAA Gold 500,000+

Notes and references

External links


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