Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Other Bit Of Big Reunion News Today: Sugababes!

It's not all Mani, Reni, John Squire, and Ian Brown today. No. The other news is the rumour that the original line-up of Sugababes is rehearsing new material and looking for a label.

Now, my friends know but I guess it bears repeating: I have a very high tolerance for UK pop. You name it -- Stones Roses to Spice Girls, Roxy Music to Rachel Stevens, Smiths to Steps -- a good pop single from England is the sort of thing I live for.

And Sugababes made a lot of great ones. The trio has changed members quite a few times -- and they scored their biggest hits when Siobahn Donaghy left -- but the first line-up seemed the most serious one. The 2000 debut, One Touch, was like a more street version of early All Saints; it smacked of real soul and urban pop without being Pop, you know what I mean? The harmonies were just awesome on stuff like "Soul Sound" but the record tanked in America.

I sort of lost interest in the group when original member Mutya Buena dropped out -- (Yes, I did order her 2007 solo CD from England!) -- but I pay attention when the girls release a new single.

Still, glad as I am that the original line-up is getting back together, I'm thinking now of the sublime magic of one of their biggest post-Siobahn hits:

This 2002 mash-up of "Freak Like Me" by Adina Howard and "Are 'Friends' Electric?" from Gary Numan's Tubeway Army is a work of genius. Like the best Kylie Minogue singles, it's an ass-shaker that works intellectually as well. Somehow, the Brits and Aussies seem to excel at this sort of thing. With the exception of Madonna and Lady Gaga, most American dance-pop is just dumb.

Just like America could never produce a Morrissey, we could never make something this witty and clever that was so pleasing to the ears. I read about this single before I heard it and it looked good on paper. And it sounded even better when I finally got the CD single in the mail.

Sugababes -- "Freak Like Me" on "Top Of The Pops" in 2002

[Footnote: If you noticed, that clip has the logo of BBC America. To my fellow Yanks: Yes, it was once not all "Top Gear" and "Dr. Who" reruns on BBC America!]