It is a spice world, and the rest of us are just along for the ride.
At least that is what the Spice Girls and their management team want you to believe.
The British pop group, comprised of Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), Victoria Adams (Posh Spice) and Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), has seemingly taken the world by storm, with its debut album, Spice, which reached No. 1 in more than 20 countries.
Since then, the group's media exposure has been nonstop, culminating with today's release of the feature film Spiceworld: The Movie.
The movie pairs the Spice Girls with the writing team responsible for the hit comedy show "Absolutely Fabulous."
Familiar faces such as Elvis Costello and Roger Moore make cameo appearances in the music-filled comedy. Yet, even with all the media exposure they have received, life in the limelight has not been without its rigors.
The latest problems include the firing of their manager, Simon Fuller, and a not-so-fashionable appearance on Mr. Blackwell's annual "Worst-Dressed List."
In fact, since the first note of their hit single "Wannabe" hit the airwaves, there has been a public backlash concerning all things Spice. Some feel the group is a brightly-wrapped gift with nothing inside.
Tracy Fell (sophomore-education) said the group's success owes more to its management than to its talent.
"They've been marketed very well," she said. "They hit upon the pre-pubescent, little girl fan base."
Fell sees their nicknames and distinctive personalities as a ploy to make them seem like living Barbie dolls.
"It makes me want to burn Teen Beat (magazine)," she said.
However, despite reactions such as Fell's and countless World Wide Web sites, such as the Spice Girls Hate Organisation (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/chimera/), devoted to bashing the group, the group's record sales are proof that millions of people are listening to the music.
And, though some critics have panned the two albums, the opinion is not a consensus.
Reviewing the second album for the All-Music Guide, Stephen Thomas Erlewine had strong praise for Spiceworld.
"It's a pure, unadulterated guilty pleasure and some of the best manufactured dance-pop of the late '90s," he wrote.
If the Spice Girls do make great dance-pop music, as suggested by Erlewine's comments, the problem may lie in another comment Erlewine makes about their music, a word that has haunted the group since its earliest days: "manufactured."
A quick survey of the group's critics shows that nearly all of them take considerable effort to explain, and attack, the group's origins.
The five members met in 1993 in response to an ad placed in a London trade paper by a management team looking for five "lively girls." The women we now know as the Spice Girls were chosen from 400 hopefuls based on looks, personality and talent.
After meeting one another, the five promptly dumped their first manager and set out on their own. They eventually hooked up with Fuller, who manages Annie Lennox, and signed a deal with Virgin Records.
Since then, they have seemingly subscribed to the philosophy: the more media exposure the better. Recently, they have been seen nearly everywhere -- from an Oprah appearance to hugging Prince Charles. For those who dislike the group, the constant media exposure has been like salt on a wound.
As one World Wide Web site states, "the idea of a manufactured group has been done before, but never with such blood-boiling success."
Despite the controversy, others take all the Spice hype in a much more lighthearted manner.
"The whole purpose is for entertainment and that's what they provide," said Sanjay Bhatnagar (junior-English and philosophy).
Bhatnagar said he isn't bothered by their success because he doesn't see them pretending to be something they're not.
"They're just a fun pop group," he said. "They are getting their 15 minutes of fame."
Phil D'Ambrosio (senior-physics) sees the Spice Girls as fulfilling people's need to forget about the bad and just enjoy themselves.
"The day the stock market crashed, 'Happy Days Are Here Again' was the No. 1 song," he said. "It's the same with the Spice Girls. They are like candy."