When Is A Sugababe Not A Sugababe?
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?