Freaky Trigger has been going since 1999, almost the exact amount of time the Sugababes have existed. Like the Sugababes it has had many incarnations, from breathless multi-column blog, to the more sedate affair you see right now. But through all of its hiatuses, breakdowns and breakups, both Freaky Trigger and the Sugababes have survived. Of course we would see them as a kindred spirit. Of course they are elemental to us.
Back in March 2001 FT printed a breathless live review of the Sugababes by soon to be celebrated author Dan Rhodes. We used to do stuff like that back then. He signs the piece off: “Glory be to Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan. Saviours of pop.” This was not quite a given view back in 2001. Indeed the only point of agreement back then was how awful the name Sugababes was for a band, something we have now gotten used to. Tom named Overload as the 30th best single of 2000 – I wonder if he still gazes upon – say – Air’s Suicide Underground with quite as much fondness.
So yes, there are plenty of articles on FT about the Sugababes. We were in the thick of it with bootlegging, we cared when Siobahn left, Mutya left, we wondered if “Hole In The Head” was groundbreaking due to its dullness. I’d be surprised if the ‘Babes have the most column inches though. For a Poptimist website they have always presented a bit of a contradiction. the girl band who wrote their own songs became the norm (or at least the girl band whose names were on all the credits). It could be argued that Girls Aloud took the Sugababes formula and really ran with it, the Sugababes were always a little too fond of the odd grinding ballad. But instead the Sugababes presented, and now are the ultimate presentation of an existential Poptimist question. When is a band not a band? When none of the original members are in it?
The current line-up of the Sugababes has none of the original members in it. Ever all the versions of Bucks Fizz that do the rounds tend to have at least one member. When the current line up do gigs, do they still do New Year and Overload? What about Freak Like Me, which only has Heidi on it? If someone says they are a Sugababes fan, are they completeists? Is it merely the official record company line-up that is sanctioned, or do they look at those spin-off solo albums too (they should, Siobhan put a couple of really good albums out). You can argue the toss in the pub for hours and IT STILL WILL NEVER MATTER! Are the songs any good, and can we argue about them.
When is FreakyTrigger not Freaky Trigger? When we stopped being freakytrigger.com and had to settle for freakytrigger.co.uk (just after getting listed as a Pop Culture Bible in Entertainment Weekly). When Tom isn’t editing it? When it eats other websites, folds out into seven (count’em*) sub-blogs. When NYLPM died and Popular takes the odd hiatus? FT has been around for thirteen years, and whilst it may have been more vital in the past, it is still the same thing in its teens despite being almost completely different. Look in the archives. Lots of different writers, short snarky pop pieces, and a lot of dead links to Ananova. And if it wasn’t still the same thing well maybe the original line-up would fortuitously just get back together for the hell of it.
OK – that is kind of Tom’s Tumblr Blue Lines Revisited.
There has always been a slight slant in FT to compare pop with superhero comics. Well the Sugababes are a perfect example of a loads of comics phenomenons, the changing members of superteams, the solo spin-off comic, the new writer (producer) reinventing the band. Well now we even have a direct parallel to Grant Morrison’s “Big 7” JLA reboot, or even the new Marvel relaunching X-Men, the original X-Men, in their slightly re-tailored universe.
It is a complete coincidence that this piece was written today, when the Mutya/Keisha/Siobhhn reunion was announced. And whilst they may be the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young of our time (particularly if Heidi does guest vocals) it can’t help but feel serendipitous that a post that has taken four years to write, was actually started yesterday, and finished the day the original ‘Babes get back together. Of course Mutya/Keisha/Siobhan are not the Sugababes. That’s Heidi/Amelle/Jade. But there will be a week in the near future when both groups will release a single in the same week and it will be all the excitement, nonsense and fizzy fanaticism of pop all over again. Our superheroes of pop.
*Ah, dear belov’d lost Blog 7. We never knew what it was for, but it had an awesome logo.