Tuesday, September 22, 2009

RIP Sugababes: 1998-2009

I wouldn't be me without commenting on the Sugababes debacle. In case you haven't heard, the group's sole founding member left after two lineup changes, Keisha Buchanan, has officially left the group just weeks before the group's seventh album is set for release -- the first to see a potential release in my home country of the United States.

The 'Babes, not unlike their oft comparison group Girls Aloud, were often ripe for gossip, what with rumors of in-band fighting and bullying. It was often portrayed that Keisha was the leader of the group (and much of the bullying was credited to her). Whether or not this is true is yet to be seen. Keisha herself took to her Twitter account yesterday to announce she was leaving the band, but now rumors are running rampant that she was "forced" out of the band by the group's management, and that fellow bandmates Heidi Range (who joined in 2001, replacing Siobhan Donaghy) and Amelle Berrabah (who replaced Mutya Buena in 2005) were "in" on the replacement. It is now confirmed that Keisha is being replaced by former Eurovision contestant Jade Ewen.

I first became a 'Babe fan back in the beginning of its second incarnation in 2002, upon hearing a mp3 copy of "Freak Like Me". I was instantly hooked, and longed for a time when the girls would finally come Stateside and show girl groups 'round here how it's really done. Although I have nothing against Donaghy, I don't care too much for their debut album, One Touch (save for their debut single "Overload"), but I do enjoy some of Siobhan's solo material. I think I can be fair to say that my favorite member from go was Mutya, as her vocal pipes were just undeniable.

The group's third album, Three, spawned my all-time favorite 'Babes track -- "Too Lost In You". However, the followup album, Taller In More Ways, was brilliant in everyway, and in my opinion is the group's most solid effort. That fact was marred by Mutya's departure in 2005, and the album was released featuring vocals by Amelle. While my loyalties stayed with Mutya, I couldn't resist the appeal of "Red Dress", and decidedly became a fan of this third incarnation of the Sugas. Change helped lessen the blow of Mutya's departure, but Catfights & Spotlights made me re-think my thoughts...

When rumors recently started to swirl of Amelle's departure from the band, I was obviously concerned. A part of me wanted to believe it was a publicity stunt to pull focus for the new album release. And -- it sounds awful to say this -- but so long as Keisha remained, the group would still have a grounding feel. In fact, a part of me hoped that Mutya would return...but that dream was completely crushed.

Now that Keisha has officially departed, the group now consists of all replacement members. Their talents are undeniable, and I am not one to diss that. I don't know much about Jade Ewen, as I haven't followed the Eurovision contests, but from what I gather from my online exploits, her inclusion into a group now noted by the Guiness Book of World Records as the most successful UK group of the 21st century feels a bit underwhelming.

Initially, I was ridiculously angry at the booting of Keisha from the group. Love her or hate her, girlfriend spoke her mind, and completely embodied what the Sugababes were all about: being badass, strong women. I still do not agree with this decision. I suppose it will take some time for the fans to glean the real story -- if ever -- and until that day comes, I will refrain from making unfounded conclusions.

However, the mere fact that Heidi, Amelle and Jade are now continuing on, preparing to release an album dubbed Sweet 7, is a joke to me. The Sugababes as we know it are no longer together, as this amalgamation now sans Keisha has lost all trace of the original Sugababes mentality. It's not that I'm against this new lineup. I firmly enjoy "Get Sexy" and do look forward to Sweet 7. That being said, the three of them continuing on as "the Sugababes" feels wrong, and the boasting of all of Sugababes achievements over the years and release of their seventh album with a lineup of all un-original members just seems unfair to what Keisha, Mutya and Siobhan created together. As a gift to the fans, Heidi, Amelle and Jade should change their name, scrap Sweet 7 and start afresh. Because going on boasting your true blue 'Babes just feels wrong.


J.Mensah said...

Mel, it's crazy how similar our taste in music is, "Too Lost in You" is my all time Sugababe favorite too.

I'm sad this is happening, I grew up listening to them and to see NO orginal members left in arguably among the best female bands in british history is sadenning :(

Jo said...

I 100% agree with your blog about Sugababes.
Keisha was so fiercely loyal to the band and she wanted to prove people something with the band.

I admired her for surviving without her two other childhood members and for lasting for so long.
She sacrificed her teenage years for the group and the fact she got kicked out made me ridiculously angry. As well as the fact they made new arrangements behind Keisha's back.

I consider Sugababes dead. I'm also puzzled about why Heidi has done NOTHING to try and keep Keisha and confused as to what Amelle did & I have feeling she did have something to do with Keisha's departure.

I'm not supporting them for now on. I don't want to know about a band full of replacements. Heidi if you think success is coming your way, think again honey.

Poster Girl said...

It's nice to see someone else highlighting the Keisha/Mutya/Heidi period as their favorite--I, too, like some of Siobhan's solo material, but, with the exception of "Overload," rarely listen to that first Sugababes album.

I do hope we have a chance to hear the Keisha versions of the new Sweet 7 songs, though I know it's unlikely (unless someone leaks them); heck, I'd still love to hear the Mutya version of "Never Gonna Dance Again"!

Mel said...

J - :) As they say, great minds think alike. I adoorrrrre that song. And ditto to that -- I've been a fan since 2002, when I was 15 or so...

Jo - It wasn't that Keisha was my favorite. I don't know if I even had a favorite. The reality is she WAS the Sugababes. I don't see how people CAN'T be angry about this. I guess you can argue that Heidi is almost like an original since she's been in since the beginning of the decade but still...It's gone from being original to cashing in. I'm interested to hear what Sweet 7 has to offer, but I'd like to hear Keisha's versions. I'm quite fine with the discography I already have, thank you. :)

PPG -- I suppose Siobhan wasn't in long enough to generate enough material with them -- and I will always think the Mutya/Heidi/Keisha lineup was the best. I didn't even know Mutya's vocals were on a verson of "Dance" -- for real? I'd kill to hear that. I hope Keisha's version does leak, even if it is just a few of the tracks. ::sigh:: I honestly hope they wise up and change their name, even if it is a play on 'Sugababes'. They really need to grow 'taller in more ways' and bite the bullet.

Nexus Black said...

the original member could reform maybe?

Designby12 said...

Mutya did say she would be up for reuniting with Keisha and Siobhan.

Anonymous said...

This was the best article on Sugababes 4.0 I've seen. I aagree with you on every line. Much love ♥

Anonymous said...

I say we should start a pentition for them to bring out the album with keshia in for us to buy as well as the jade one and see what sells more.

Anonymous said...

I wish the old Sugababes would come back.

I have been a fan of the band since 2000 up until Mutya left, but I realized they still released good material after her departure.

I just hope the old 'Babes' reunite and ignite the flavor of the old girl group we all used to love.

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