Last year, it was reported that Mutya Buena wanted to sue for the rights to the Sugababes’ name. Although nothing came of it, what she said at the time made a lot of sense.
“It kind of doesn’t make sense that there is a Sugababes band any more” she said. “I don’t know if it’s just me, but Keisha being the original that was left out of the band, her leaving doesn’t make it Sugababes really,” she said referring to Keisha Buchanan’s departure from the band, under shady circumstances. “I don’t know how they can replace her or carry on without her,” she added. “I just think it’s really sad. To me it just means the Sugababes have ended really, not in a bad way, but because there are no original people remaining.”
She made some good points. Essentially that the idea and reality of the Sugababes (Version 1) – an indie flecked alternative to homogenized pop pap – was a world away from what they had become: the musical equivalent of rather characterless corporate brand.
And although their many incarnations had produced some of the best British pop singles of the noughties, each time a band member departed the band became less believable and relevant, like someone slowly picking off the legs of a daddy longlegs, until all that was left was the unrecognizable cask of what it once was. In Sugababes Darwinism the last ones standing were also the blandest.
‘Freedom’ (surely a title deserving of many an ironic wink?) is the new song from Version 4, so what is it like?
Inevitably there’s really no link to the band’s past work and if it sounds like the work of another band completely it’s because it is. Despite all the talk of ‘edgy’ new directions, we’re still in the Valley of The Europop Trance Ninnies where we left them with ‘Sweet 7’ (you remember the musical nadir of the Right Said Fred-referencing ‘Get Sexy’, right?). Broad synth lines plod out with the vague air of a robo-Bonnie Tyler whilst Heidi, Amelle and the other one sing with the conviction of people who know the jig is most definitely up but are hoping for post-music career as a guest on Celebrity Juice.
There’s some emoting about ‘free-EE-dom’ but sadly it’s in reference to some anonymous bumping of uglies in a dingy old club rather than anything more profound, which makes the whole thing rather vacuous. That the whole thing sounds exactly like you’d imagine it to isn’t too surprising, but that this lame old pooch hasn’t been put out of its misery already most definitely is.