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When Is A Sugababe Not A Sugababe?

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:55 UK time, Friday, 5 March 2010


The launch of a new album should be such an exciting time in a young girlband's life. They've got all these musical goodies to share with their loving fans, they've got fresh costumes to wear, bendy-over dances to do, strutting, pouting, photoshoots, interviews, it is, in a very real sense, all go.

But what if the album you're about to generously bestow on a grateful nation has had to be hastily re-recorded after one of your band members left? What if that band member was the last of the original three girls who formed the band back in the late '90s? That's got to add an extra layer of shrill tension to all the excitement and fun, right?

And what if, WHAT IF, PEOPLE, one of the other original three members of the group decides to use this moment, the moment when the spotlight is on you and your girls, to launch legal proceedings in order to claim your band name off you? What if she said it was hers first? And worse, what if she's right?

Welcome to Sugababia, a place where the bickering never stops and every machine comes fully equipped with enough spare parts to last FOREVER.

Uh, or to put it in less melodramatic terms: lawks! Mutya Buena's only gone and asked the European Trademarks Authority to give her the rights to the name of the Sugababes, while the Sugababes themselves try to launch 'Sweet 7' - the unluckiest album in the history of the world.

This, despite being incredibly annoying for the current lineup of the band, is a brilliant move on her part, and here's why.

Loving a band isn't the same as enjoying a meal at a restaurant. It does matter who the chef is, who waits on your table, and who washes the dishes. To try and claim otherwise feels like an attempt to sweep something under the carpet. And that something is the love and support of The Fans.

So when Siobhan Donaghy left the Sugababes to embark on her CRIMINALLY UNAPPRECIATED solo career, and the band drafted Heidi Range in as a replacement, they knew they would have to come out swinging with a stone cold pop classic in order to convince disgruntled fans that, despite things being different, they wouldn't necessarily be worse. They put out 'Freak Like Me', won over a whole new audience, and everything was fine.

But they also lost a lot of fans who preferred the soulful first album on London Records.

When Mutya jumped ship, they were a much bigger band and the stakes were a lot higher. Her frosty cool, together with Keisha's even frostier cool, were, to a lot of fans, what the band was all about. OK, with Amelle in place the girls continued to have the hits, great songs too, but they stopped being the imperious force they had been.

Then Keisha left, and it's becoming clear there will be no great song to save the day this time, and no frosty cool. Jade Ewen is clearly very nice. Amelle is very nice. Heidi is very nice. Nice is not what the Sugababes are about.

So, even if, as Heidi has claimed to the press, Island Records owns the rights to the name Sugababes - rights they must presumably have bought off either Keisha, Mutya and Siobhan, or London Records, when they signed the band - they can't make Heidi, Amelle and Jade BE the Sugababes. Not really.

So who really does deserve to be the Sugababes? Assuming the current lineup aren't up to snuff, it's easy to side with the underdog. The trick is spotting which of the battling 'babes most deserves the title.

Keisha was ousted from her own band, so that's not nice, but Amelle and Heidi are currently claiming that this was because of her bullying, so maybe that's not nice either.

Siobhan deserves to be a global pop star on a par with Lady GaGa, so she's the underdog in a sense, but she's not contesting the name of a band she left nearly 10 years ago.

Amelle has claimed Keisha turned her dream of being a Sugababe into a nightmare, but she's too new to lay claim to the band's name, and her No.1 with Tinchy Stryder proves she's got her own life to live, and good luck to her.

Jade clearly has big shoes to fill, but you've seen the video for 'About A Girl', right? She's got big feet on the end of those big legs. She'll be fine whatever happens.

Mutya has the goodwill on her side, because pop fans don't like being told that people in their favourite bands are instantly replaceable. There again, she's clearly a troublemaker. There again AGAIN, this is what we always loved about her.

Which just leaves Heidi, the girl who was brought in to save an ailing girlband, did her job, put up with everything that happened since, and is now being told she has no right to call herself a Sugababe after years of faithful service.

I can't help but feel that even if the moral victory over the name is won, and Mutya and Keisha look into putting the band back together, that perhaps Heidi should be invited to join in too? They won't get on, but come on, did they ever? That's what seperate dressing rooms were invented for!

And then everyone can just go and make Siobhan internationally famous too, and we can all rest.

How 'bout it, world?


  • Comment number 1.

    Good piece of investigating journalism there Fraser!

    It´s all too hilarious for words almost, this on-going story. And that´s POP music for you! I´ve thought all along that the best thing would be for the original set-up to get back together and simply call themselves the Babes. And release a single at the same time as the others. Now THAT would be a chart battle!

    As for the whole controversy now, the Sugababes haven´t really been about who´s in and who´s not. Most people have either liked (some of/all of) their songs or not been bothered at all. There again, a squabble is always entertaining. There again AGAIN (to nick a very useful phrase in this case)some fans are obsessively into the whole favourite member thing and go mad as hell when this kind of thing happens.

    It´s gonna be interesting to see what´s next. My bet is that one of them (hi Amelle) is gonna call it quits later in the summer, causing a total collapse of the "band".

    Oh the wonderful world of pop!

  • Comment number 2.

    Heidi is amazing. That is all.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Heidis dull.

    This article is amazing. That is all.

  • Comment number 5.

    Heidi always feels a bit like the lost member of Girls Aloud, she just doesn't seem to fit in with the Sugababes slightly urban image (sure they're not Jay Z but for a girl band they are pretty urban).

    Great Article. That is all.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ok so I'm an australian who has loved the Sugababes for a long time... but seriously after M left was there really much to the Babes, really think about it now, she was the glue that held this fantastic group together. I feel as though K looked a little lost without her and that Heidi chick well she is just a stand in really. M has the rights to this name, have anyone else have a song named after them.....nope didn't think so sorry.

  • Comment number 7.

    right as i seem to be in an endless war with the mods i will repeat my lengthy comment omitting any words that anyone under the age of 6 may find offensive...

    The facts;

    Fraser is completely correct throughout this article

    Heidi is the face more people will think of when you say the name sugababes, not siobhan

    Siobhan is most probably working in Pret a Manger or something making sandwiches with posh bread

    Jade is just not a sugababe. for reasons the mods tell me i cant explain.

    Mutya lost any respect or integrity she had when she went on 'Celebrity' Big Brother. Go away you silly woman.

    Keisha seems to have disappeared, but if she was a bully she can stay there.

    so there you have it.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think Kiesha is a bully - no smoke without fire !.
    Heidi has every right to call herself a Sugababe she has been one longer than Mutya - do the maths people.
    Mutya 1998 - 2005
    Heidi 2001 - present

    So whats happens when a new person joins eastenders or hollyoaks - they not allowed to be a part of the name ???

    I think Heidi should be a judge on the X factor - she's good friends with Cheryl and can spot a bitch a mile off and has experince with workin with new people.
    Cheryl n Heidi would make a good collaboration thier voices would fit.
    Someone tell cowell or start an campaign on facebook

    Heidi rules, mutya u should rejoin - swallow ya pride

  • Comment number 9.

    Some real lol moments for me there Andy !

    Fun insight .

  • Comment number 10.

    right, experiment time. see if the mods really do hate me. i'm gonna type the word andy says in the sentence "spot a ----- a mile off and see if i get pulled up.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Oh come on Jonesy , surely the challenge is for you to put the word into a sentence that has us splitting our sides , like Andy. :)

    Or you could list your favourite PRODIGY , DAVID GUETTA , or MEREDITH BROOKS songs .


  • Comment number 13.

    Lol excellent idea spirit, but my point has been beautifully proven. They hate me for no reason. Oh well...

  • Comment number 14.

    Hahaha Jonesy. Welcome to my world. I seem to be getting along with them fine at the moment though.

  • Comment number 15.

    In other girls band discussion, do the same rules apply to the Dolly Rockers? They have replaced a founding member with a new person. I personally feel 'Gold Digger' is their best song (I can name one..) and the group won't be the same.

    Tell me that this resonates with everyone else?!?


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