Geri Halliwell Unveils First Post-Spice Girls Song, Video

Single -- a musical departure -- contains reference to singer's departure from British pop group.

NEW YORK -- Geri Halliwell, the artist formerly known as Ginger

Spice, unveiled a brand-new single and video -- both of which boldly

reference her break from the Spice Girls -- during a press conference in

Manhattan Friday.

"I could have come back with a real melodic ballad, but I wanted to give

you all a lift," Halliwell said, explaining that the relatively aggressive

sound of the single "Look at Me," which she co-wrote, is no accident.

Halliwell's first single since leaving the Spice Girls last May, is slated

for release May 10, and will be followed in the summer by an as-yet-untitled

solo album.

The sound of "Look at Me," which made its North American debut during

the press conference, may come as a surprise. The song diverges entirely

from the sweet, poppy confections that made the Spice Girls teen -- and

pre-teen -- sensations. Instead, "Look at Me" features a jazzy, retro-sounding

melody and is driven by a heavy, Latin-tinged beat that lends the song

a slight resemblance to former Menudo member Ricky Martin's hit, "La

Vida Loca."

The song's lyrics are intentionally autobiographical, Halliwell said.

"Big make-up, little break-up ... Cold-blooded, hot gossip/ Superficial

expectations," she sings, in an apparent reference to her exit from the

Spice Girls.

The stylish black-and-white video for the song -- directed by Vaughn

Arnell, who has filmed videos for British pop stars George Michael and

Robbie Williams -- showcases Halliwell in four different roles: a nun, a

working woman, a bride and a vamp.

In one scene, a funeral is held for Halliwell's Ginger Spice persona.

The video's closing shot shows Halliwell emerging nude from a swimming

pool, an apparent reference to her rebirth as a solo artist.

"I had to come back with something that would kick you in the balls and

poke you in the eye," she said during the conference.

Halliwell, who wore black pants and a bright pink shirt topped with a

black cardigan, said during the press conference she initially intended

to leave the Spice Girls last September, because she felt it was "time

to move on." She claimed her departure in May, on the eve of a U.S. tour,

came after the group's gruelling schedule prevented her from doing an

interview about breast cancer, a cause she said was "near and dear" to

her.

Though Halliwell is Ginger Spice no more, and has exchanged the bright

red hair and heavy makeup of her Spicey days for tasteful blond tresses

and more subtle cosmetics, she seemed as brassy and uninhibited as ever,

as she fielded questions.

Halliwell, who sat in front of a backdrop decorated with her new logo -- a

stylized letter "G" with a halo on top and a devil's tail on bottom -- asked

a reporter from the Fox television network if he was "foxy," and

complimented another journalist on his sideburns.

For the most part, Halliwell appeared to avoid the subject of the Spice

Girls. She said she was rehearsing with a band for a possible tour in

support of her new album. She declined to say whether she would be

comfortable performing Spice Girls' songs onstage.

But the singer seemed to answer candidly when one of several young fans

allowed into the conference posed the question, "Which do you like better,

singing by yourself or with the Spice Girls?"

"With the Spice Girls, it was good to have a little backup. If you went

slightly out of tune, no one would notice. But it's nice to be able to

sing a whole song," she said, referring to the Spice Girls' habit of

splitting up lead vocal chores.

Halliwell was equally frank about her own vocal limitations. "I know I'm

not Celine Dion, but I want to entertain you," she said, referring to the

multimillion-selling diva.

Fans who made it into the conference after hearing about it on radio

stations said they liked Halliwell's new sound and image.

"I like it -- it's kind of loud and right in your face," Mark Weinheimer, 13,

said of "Look at Me." The young Manhattanite had waited outside in the

rain since 6:30 in the morning for the 2 p.m. event.

"She's going to make it bigger than the Spice Girls," Jaclyn Prybylkowski, a

14-year-old from New Jersey, said of Halliwell.

The Spice Girls, who formed in 1993, have released two albums to date,

both of which featured Halliwell. Their first release, 1996's Spice,

helped bring youth-oriented dance-pop back into the spotlight with such

hits as "Wannabe"

(RealAudio excerpt).

They released a movie, "Spice World," along with an accompanying soundtrack

of the same name, in 1997. The Spice Girls are currently working on their

third album, which will feature production work by the acclaimed team of

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who are most famous for their work with Janet

Jackson.