Serious Saturday: Growing up with the Sugababes

Just as a quick disclaimer before getting to the meat of this post: I'm not really feeling outfit posts right now, I want to put more opinions and realness and effort into this blog. I'm just going to feel my way through this until I find sure footing by semi-impulsively posting things (like the birth control post from last week!). Not saying I'll stop doing outfit posts, I'll just be dialing them down a bit.

And today, I feel like writing about one of my favourite bands: the Sugababes.

Let's start with the spark that lit the fire for this post. Just yesterday, through a random course of events I stumbled upon the news that the original line up of the Sugababes have reunited and will be putting out a new album later this year or early next year. Now, you may or may not have known this about me, but I was a huge Sugababes fan in my early teens. Today the girl band is mostly known for their straight forward pop music that plays more to the clubs than to your heart, but back in the day, before all of the line up changes that eventually swapped out every single original member (and every inch of character, if you ask me), there was heart. And soul. Lots of heart and soul, that's how I would describe the early Sugababes.

I was about 2 years younger than their youngest member Mutya Buena, who was just 13 when most of their early stuff was written and recorded, and their vulnerability combined with their alternative soul/pop sound and those hauntingly beautiful voices harmonizing with effortless perfection wrapped me around their little fingers. Of course, I was also head over heels with their awesome look (because image is everything when you're a young teen): Mutya, Siobhan and Keisha all had really awesome hair, make up and outfits, and permanently looked like unaffected, surly badasses to boot. The girls got a lot of crap for it, but they were basically bitchy resting faces before that became a feminist meme.

“We were never media trained! They just threw us out there,” says Mutya, before Keisha disagrees. “They tried to, but as soon as we got on camera we forgot everything we’d been told. We’d go into interviews with faces like thunder.”
“We weren’t even moody,” insists Siobhan, “we just didn’t realise that you have to smile or else you look aloof when you’re on TV. A lot of it was nerves, I was crippled with them. Perhaps people thought we were encouraged to be [moody], but we weren’t old enough to be contrived.”
- Ponystep interview, August 2nd 2013

Whether they were typical moody teenagers or not, their image and sound set them miles apart from other, more typical girl bands like the Spice Girls or Atomic Kitten. I was a self-identified surly/troubled teen so yeah, that spoke to me. Apart from that, they had the kind of nascent sex appeal that pubescent girls have whether they are trying or not, without looking like cookie-cutter barbie dolls. The Sugababes were all about diversity and realness. They always had real girl bodies, and through their culturally diverse roots they represented the sort of sticking-together that I've always loved about girl power. These girls were different on the outside but had the same issues and feelings and inner turmoil. Just like me. And they had street cred! Basically, they were everything I was or wanted to be.

Mutya was always my fave because she is awesome, and because her body shape and style were very similar to mine. She was probably my main inspiration for desperately wanting tattoos and piercings at 14.

And the music. Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan co-wrote every song on their debut album One Touch, which made for achingly real, straight forward songs about girl-troubles set to their angelic voices. Note: the wording of girl-troubles is not meant to belittle their worries, but to express how incredibly familiar it all felt. They really were just like me, struggling to find the words to express their frustrations, worries and individuality.

(those outfits kill me because the remind me of being 13 or 14 and thinking stiletto boots with boot cut denim were the key to womanhood)

But then Siobhan left in the middle of a Japanese promo tour because she was depressed, and both Siobhan and the Sugababes (with new member Heidi Range) went on to have the success their talent merited: Siobhan with two amazing, Kate Bush esque solo albums and the Sugababes with a streak of electro-pop hits.

I still loved the band up until Mutya left, but it never was quite the same. They lost bits of authenticity and agency through the years, but especially their first two albums A.S. (after Siobhan) still had girl power truth bombs to drop.

"I walk past looking good
Doesn't give you the right
To put that hand where you think that you should
(...) I don't want any man to tell me what to do
Anyone to say to me my feelings are not true
For your information
I maintain my station"
- Just Don't Need This - Angels With Dirty Faces

My love kind of fizzled out with their Taller in More Ways album because that one and everything that came after was just a bit too mainstream to inspire true love from me.

But! Rejoice! After Mutya left to focus on a solo career (replaced by Amelle Berrabah) and Keisha got kicked out for unspecified reasons (replaced by Jade Ewen), the original girls - who actually kept in touch throughout the years - have gotten back together again! Making a new start under the moniker MutyaKeishaSiobhan aka MKS. And I am psyched. Out. Their voices sound as perfect as ever, and each of them has grown as a songwriter and a person since their debut more than ten years ago.

I feel like the history of the Sugababes is a testament to the strength and inner beauty of these women. Brimming with talent at 13, starting out filled with passion and ambition and slowly being beaten and molded to be less of them and more of what the pop biz wanted them to be, until they had enough and broke free to go back to their roots. A slightly more mature, alternative pop sound. Realness. Soul. And heart.

I am in love with the videoclip to their comeback single Flatline: there is joy and there is freedom. The scenes in the desert almost make me tear up because of how fucking proud I am of those girls for having made it through. Just like I have.

You can bet your ass I'll be first in line to buy tickets when they do a Belgian show. Were/are you a Sugababes fan? What are the bands that made your early teens bearable? Who is your favourite Sugababe (don't say Jade because: ew)?


  1. Ik was ook altijd fan de Sugababes! En Mutya was ook mijn favoriet. Weet alleen niet meer zo goed waarom, was namelijk nog best jong. Ik kreeg ze daarom ook pas mee toen Heidi er al in zat. Vanaf het punt dat Mutya er uit ging vond ik het niks meer. Wist trouwens ook geen eens dat Keisha er uit gekicked was? Ik vind die Jade dus per definitie al niks, haha!


  2. ja ze is gewoon ontslagen en vervangen door een of andere chick die es voor de UK heeft meegedaan aan eurosong, PFFF

  3. Was net als jij gek van ze in de periode van "Overload". 12 jaar toen en die passages op TMF maakten vanalles in mij los, meer dan andere, "gladdere" pophits (en bijhorende clips).

    "Freak Like Me": een van de meest geniale popsongs ooit, schitterend gebruik van de Gary Numan-sample.

    Met de schijnbaar eindeloze line-upwissels kon ik uiteindelijk niet meer volgen en nam ook mijn interesse af. "Red Dress" was in mijn ogen nog wel een laat hoogtepunt, absolute topsong.

  4. ik had het om god weet welke reden ECHT niet voor Red Dress, ook al staan er definitely top popsongs op Taller in More Ways! Gotta Be You en Joy Division spreken me wel aan. Maar het werd allemaal zo steriel, en dat pakt me minder.

  5. Ik ben fan! Als 12-jarige vond ik Mutaya heel leuk. Beetje badass en ze heeft zoveel uitstraling <3 De Sugababes met Siobhan heb ik nooit gekend. Maar de periode vlak erna met oa Freak Like Me, Round Round (za-lig nummer) en Too Lost In You vond ik super. Daarna ben ik afgehaakt. Siobhan's solo albums heb ik een paar jaar geleden ontdekt
    Flatline is definitely my kind of pop! Hun cover van Kendrick Lamar's Swimming Pools is ook geweldig. (

    't Is de combinatie van de steengoede productie (liefde voor Blood Orange), hun onwaarschijnlijke goeie vocals en harmonieën en just heap loads of personality thrown in the mix die ze zo geweldig maakt. Ik kijk uit naar het album. :D

    Nostalgie alom trouwens, die bootcuts met de stilettos. Indertijd associeerde ik dat ook echt met vrouw-zijn. En dan nog meerbepaald met een sexy en aantrekkelijke vrouw zijn.

    Btw: ik vind dit echt een zalige blogpost, Annebeth. ^^ Ik lees je blog enorm graag juist omwille van de persoonlijke input die er altijd enorm in terug te vinden is. (Al zijn de outfitposts op zichzelf ook geweldig).

  6. dankjewel voor de heerlijke reactie (enthousiasme over fandom delen is ZO LEUK) en voor je lieve woorden! dit soort posts zijn ook gewoon super leuk om te schrijven :) Ik heb hun album angels with dirty faces echt grijs gedraaid, die drie die jij daar noemt zijn ook absolute favorieten. Caught in a moment vond ik ook altijd prachtig!

  7. Mutya is my fav', because I love myself a rebel!

    Heidi comes in second, even though I don't know why.

    I always loved the 'Shape Of My Heart'-song, I still want a real life butterfly dress!

    x Krizia

    Shark Attack - Fashion Blog

  8. Wist zelfs niet dat er nieuw materiaal was voor ik deze post las, maar het staat zeker op de lijst nu.

    "Red Dress" gisteren nog eens op repeat gezet, vrees dat het zelfs mijn lievelingsnummer van hen is ondertussen. Het kleedje van Keisha (altijd mijn lievelingslid) in de clip is ook, euhm, interessant.

  9. Yes, yes and yes! These voices <3 best comeback EVER! Mytya ook altijd mijne favoriet geweest, toen ze weg was, was het beste er ook af.

  10. OMG! De Sugababes! Deze post "brings back some memories" :) Als ik echt moet kiezen uit hun memorabele tracklist wint Too Lost In You het toch nipt als ultiem Sugababes nummer. Als tiener stond ik niet echt zo stil bij het feit dat ze "anders" waren dan de SG of Atomic Kitten, maar ergens in mijn onderbewustzijn voelde ik dit toch wel ergens aan als ik er nu zo over nadenk (ok, dit is een rare zin, maar krijg het niet beter verwoord :)).

    PS: Trouwens, weer een hele leuke post op je blog! Volg je nu al dik jaar en vind je 1 van de meest originele, gedurfde en unieke bloggers in het "wereldje". Goe bezig! :)

  11. (ik was ook een fan van de Spice Girls en in mindere mate Atomic Kitten hoor, wou gewoon aangeven dat ze iets "aparts" hadden voor mij)

    superlief, dat laatste stukje, dankjewel!! voor de woorden en voor het volgen :)

  12. Ja, goed hè ^^ Is natuurlijk (maar) een cover, maar de verses zijn echt bangelijk!

  13. ik wist voor je eerste comment niet eens dat het een cover was (duidelijk iets gemist aan die Kendrick!) maar ik vind het fijn dat ze er echt iets aan bijdragen, de harmonieën zijn echt badass.

  14. Superleuk artikel, weer eens wat anders maar minstens even leuk. Ik had ook wel enkele posters van de Sugababes tegen de muur geplakt hangen (met van die postersjiekskes die vettige plekken maakten op de Joepie-papierposters). Shape was mijn favoriet nummer. Voelde mij zo'n grown-up en zo real toen ik die tekst helemaal kon meezingen. That were feelings man!
    En Freak like me... like duh.
    Ben heel benieuwd naar de nieuwe nummers, deze vind ik alvast knallen.