Forever is The Spice Girls' third studio album which was released on November 1, 2000 by Virgin Records.
During the "Spiceworld Tour" in early 1998, The Spice Girls took on an initial project to write and record songs for a possible third album and a live album.
The original concept for this album was to showcase solo songs, duets, and cover songs featuring all five members, in order to promote the idea that the Spice Girls were all individuals, yet could come together as one.
The group went to Dublin's Windmill Lane Studios with long-time collaborators Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe to work on a new album and create master recordings for a live album. With the sudden departure of Geri Halliwell, the project took a major turn, with many of the already produced songs scrapped and the live album cancelled.
The Spice Girls recorded their Christmas single, "Goodbye" in July 1998 during the North American leg of their Spiceworld Tour. Once again, the Spice Girls teamed up with Stannard and Rowe. They also recorded "My Strongest Suit" for the concept album for the musical, "Aida."
In the two years between the release of "Goodbye" in December 1998 and the release of Forever in November 2000, the group, along with the pop-music landscape in general, changed dramatically. Hoping to cultivate a more mature image, the group teamed up with a team of American producers to give Forever a more R&B sound, however, initial recording sessions maintained the pop sound of their previous works.
The album's title was revealed through a poll on the group's official website, in which fans voted for what they thought the title would be.
"Forever" was picked by 30% of users, whilst 45% went for "Third Time Around" and 25% voted for "Spice 2000." The album leaked on Napster a week prior to its release.
Recording for the album initially began in the summer of 1999 and the first tracks recorded for the album were recorded at Abbey Road Studios with Stannard and Rowe. The group continued working on tracks through August and September, working on tracks with Kennedy at Steelworks Studios and tracks with Jerkins and Jam & Lewis at Whitfield Street Studios respectively.
Following these sessions, work on the album was put on a pause. Chisholm began promoting her first solo album (which was released in October) and the group began preparations for the Christmas in Spiceworld tour, in which they premiered the tracks "Right Back At Ya", "W.O.M.A.N." and "Holler."
Following the tour, Chisholm continued to promote her album, "Northern Star" and the other members worked on preparing their own solo material. Recording for the album did not resume until April 2000, when further tracks were recorded with Jerkins, followed by the final recording session on 17 July 2000.
Sessions with Stannard and Rowe were eventually scrapped from the album, and Kennedy's only surviving contribution to the album was "Right Back at Ya", included on the album in a re-recorded, remixed, R&B form that Kennedy described as a "plodding, boring, bottom drawer R&B song".
In an interview with biographer David Sinclair, Stannard relayed his disappointment in the omission of "W.O.M.A.N.": "I thought that song was really interesting lyrically, because it was making the progression from girls to women, which was something Matt and I thought it was time for them to do. They needed something to suggest that they were still the same group of friends, but they were gaining more maturity."
Bunton explained that the song was not included because "the sound [had] moved on" in the time since it was recorded.
- Holler 4:15
- Tell Me Why 4:13
- Let Love Lead The Way 4:57
- Right Back At Ya 4:09
- Get Down With Me 3:45
- Wasting My Time 4:13
- Weekend Love 4:04
- Time Goes By 4:51
- If You Wanna Have Some Fun 5:25
- Oxygen 4:55
- Goodbye 4:35
In the United Kingdom, "Forever" was released the same week as Westlife's Coast to Coast album and the chart battle was widely reported by the media, where Westlife won the battle reaching number one on the UK Albums Chart, leaving the Spice Girls at number two.
The album spent a total of 10 weeks on the chart. It was certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 17 November 2000, denoting shipments in excess of 300,000 copies.
In the United States, "Forever" achieved moderate success; it peaked at number 39 on the Billboard 200, lower than their previous album Spiceworld" (which peaked at number three). By July 2006, it had sold 207,000 copies. The album has sold four million copies worldwide.
In Australia, the album peaked at number nine and was certified Gold there. It also reached number 10 in Austria (where it was certified Gold).
In Canada, "Forever" peaked at number six and was certified double Platinum there making it the highest certification for the album. It also peaked at number six in Germany, but was certified Gold there.
In Ireland, the album reached a peak at number 15. It also reached number 25 on the charts in New Zealand where it was certified Gold. In Switzerland, it peaked at number 11, and was certified Platinum.
"Forever" received mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 45, based on nine reviews.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that on Forever, the Spice Girls "make all the right moves, hiring superstar producer Rodney Jerkins to helm most of the tracks and attempting to seem mature, but this all results in a record that is curiously self-conscious and flat."
He concluded the review with: "Forever plays like the Girls realized that it's their final album, and they put in just enough effort to make it palatable, but not enough to make it appetizing."
Michael Paoletta of Billboard gave the album a positive review, stating it "oozes with timely funk beats and the kind of well-crafted songs that No. 1 hits are made of."
Andrew Lynch from entertainment.ie opined, "The production is as slick as ever, but a huge part of that old Girl Power enthusiasm seems to have drained and fallen away—and with it most of the fun that used to redeem their fundamental tackiness. A sorry, full-hearted footnote to a truly remarkable pop phenomenon."
In a mixed review, James Hunter of Rolling Stone expressed that "Forever will probably provoke a reaction somewhere in the middle—with one exception, it's just OK."
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly commented, "Every genre cliché, from homogenized harmonies to delicately plucked stringed instruments to male rapper interjections, is securely in place. The music is so tasteful, restrained, and assembly line proficient that it makes early singles like 'Say You'll Be There' sound like the rawest punk rock."
The Sonic Net review stated, "Yes, this is their 'mature' album, the one where the once effervescent combo that could be counted on for enough hooky innuendoes to excite pre-teen girls and dirty young men alike aspire toward some sort of longer-lasting pop relevance. Which translates here into ballads and a huge dose of R&B-lite. It all sounds very professional, though only a hardcore fan can deny that the bloom is definitely off the rose."