Sunday, November 01, 2009

Noughties By Nature #1: Sugababes - Overload

Is it placing too much on this one song to suggest that this is where the pop as more than flyaway get-rich-quick studio concoction revolution began? Well, strictly there's quite a bit of studio work on it, not least from Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack (Blue Lines) production guru Cameron McVey, but the record emerged at a time when pop as a concept had been compartmentalised and ground down by the likes of A1 and Steps - primary coloured thrills for the kids, because anyone over that age will be listening to Travis. Added to that, they were a girl group, and such was the influx of post-Spice Girls girl groups that it was well established that PRs and journalists weren't so much as listening to demos from 'bubbly' groups of girls wanting to be the next Made In London or Thunderbugs. As such the London label reputedly sent promos out with no biographical information or pictures at all.

If you're doing that, you have to think the song is going to stand on its own two feet. And, oh, it does. It's not difficult to plot a line from the shuffling, shifting beat that coupled with the four note repeated bassline is too slippery and underground clubby for R&B as it was known then, breakdowns and surf guitar solo to Girls Aloud's Sound Of The Underground. For all the vocal attempts at modern girly sweetness it's an oddly dark track, as if trying to mirror its "one way ticket to a madman situation" with some sort of 3am rave existentialism.

They re-recorded this for their Best Of. Fools.
Simon STN

[Album: One Touch]


Alex said...

I genuinely Did Not Know they rerecorded this for the best-of, and the thought (along with all the toffee I ate from tonight's bunch of festive toffee apples) makes me sick to my stomach.


thomas said...

i'm pleased that you mentioned how they actually did seem to change pop music, something that not a lot of people give them credit for. i remember seeing them being interviewed on nickolodeon to promote this song and considering the expectations of a pop group at the time - pre-Popworld, let's call it, when bands had to be relentlessly chirpy and vacuous - and they were draped stubbornly over the set looking bored, staring daggers at whoever the presenter was.
i think that's why it's a shame that, especially with their new line-up, they have morphed slowly into being just another girl band, playing second fiddle to Girls Aloud, slinking around in revealing leather catsuits in a desert in one of their pop videos. It was good when they were grumpy teenagers.