SUGABABES – “Round Round”

Higgins. Cooper. Cowling. Powell. Coler. Buchanan. Buena. Range. Pflueger. Stecher. Hofmann. Spadavecchiaand. These are the twelve people who wrote “Round Round”. This is twice as many people as wrote “Freak Like Me”, and since “Round Round” is only half as good pop maths suggests that the committee method has perhaps gone too far. On the other hand there’s one part of “Round Round” where an entirely different song drops in, as if by accident, and it works pretty well – so maybe if it had been twelve different songs we’d have seen some action.

At least having two different songs fits in with the Sugababes’ ‘thing’ right now. The Sugababes’ ‘thing’ used to be that they were the girl pop group who wrote their own stuff and never smiled – whereas now the Sugababes ‘thing’ is that they’re the girl pop group who never smile because they hate each other (They also still write their own stuff but when everybody else they’ve ever met gets a credit too it’s a tough angle to push). The transplanted third head of the Sugabeast is Heidi Range who joined the band when grumpy redhead Siobhan left. On the cover of “Round Round” Heidi is sitting facing Keisha and Mutya who are looking at one another not her. They are all sitting on the edge of a swimming pool: Mutya and Keisha are probably thinking about pushing Heidi in.

But they can’t because – oddly – the Sugababes have only started having big hits and getting big cred since Heidi joined. “Freak Like Me”‘s enormity could have been a novelty thing (though the trendy London booty audience is surely not big enough to swing a number one), but “Round Round” is apparently matching it. It’s also the most straightforwardly pop thing the Sugababes have ever released – none of the introversion of “Overload” or “Soul Sound”, none of the mutedness, none of the dirty fizz of “Freak Like Me”. A really strong, glossy chorus; some reasonable verses; that’s all. It could almost be Atomic Kitten, or Hear’Say. I’m very fond of the Sugababes and I’m delighted they’re getting all this attention – but I do have to ask, why now?