Ex-Ginger Spice Promises 'Eclectic' Solo Debut

Freed of Spice Girls, Geri Halliwell also asks media to 'drop the cynicism.'

MILAN, Italy -- She may be a former Spice Girl, but Geri Halliwell,

the artist once known as Ginger, says she is taking her solo music in a

different direction from the dance pop of her formative years.

Halliwell's first solo album will be "very eclectic -- something in between Public

Enemy and Marilyn Monroe," Halliwell said.

Halliwell came to Italy to wrap up an eight-day, 'round-the-world media

blitz for her first single, "Look at Me," which debuted on radio stations

worldwide Friday. The single comes out May 10 in the United States; a

still-untitled album is to follow in the summer.

Responding to a suggestion that the jazzy, Latin-styled "Look at Me"

sounded like "History Repeating," last year's collaboration between the

British techno band the Propellerheads and brassy pop singer Shirley

Bassey, Halliwell said she'd been listening to a lot of Bassey's music.

"Music is panoramic, cinematic," she said. "I listen to all kinds of

music, from Frank Sinatra to Radiohead. I recognize different elements

in it."

Halliwell, who left the Spice Girls in the middle of the group's first

world tour last year, also asked the assembled media to "drop the cynicism"

and welcome her new, simpler image.

Halliwell, whose press junket stopped in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; New York;

Tokyo; and Sydney, Australia, before reaching Milan, Italy, wore black

pants and a bright pink T-shirt to the Milan session. The T-shirt matched

the backdrop behind the two giant screens that showed the "Look at Me"

video before she arrived.

On the same screens, reporters were greeted with strict rules for the

event: no audio recorders, no video recorders.

"Look at Me" was co-written by Paul Wilson and Andy Watkins, who wrote

the Spice Girls single "Stop," from their album Spiceworld. The

video, directed by Vaughan Arnell, was shot in Prague, the Czech Republic,

and features Halliwell in the roles of vamp, nun, bride and workaholic

woman.

"I'm way in between the virgin and the vamp, depending on which day you

catch me," Halliwell said when she arrived, about a half-hour after the

video began showing.

"I'm no puppet on a string -- that's me," she added.

Then she got in a couple of digs at her old bandmates, with whom she sang

such pop hits as "Wannabe"

(RealAudio excerpt) and "Say You'll Be There."

She said the difference between working with the group and working solo

was "like passing from eau de toilette to perfume. It's more intense.

I'm in love with my music."

She's so in love with her music, she said, that she avoided having any

romantic relationships while making the album "because I wanted to put

only my emotions in it."

Asked if she would attend the forthcoming wedding of Victoria "Posh

Spice" Adams and English soccer star Dave Beckham, she laughed and said,

"I'd have to be invited first."

Vanessa Passarotti, 20, who lives 30 miles outside of Milan, heard about

the press conference on television and came to the hotel where it was

held. She waited with about 30 other fans outside.

"I expect she will have a great success, but also something different

from what the Spice Girls did, both in terms of music and image,"

Passarotti said.

Although she had not heard the new song or seen any pictures of the new

Halliwell, Passarotti said she was confident because, "[Halliwell] worked

with great authors for the single and the video, so that should be a

guarantee."