Y’know, what? “Sexy, fierce and relevant” sounds good on paper but it’s not until you put this lot in front of a camera that you realise not every pop group can pull it off.
There’s too much at stake at this point for Sugababes 4.0 to not get it right. Just when most long-time fans have already packed their bags and are waiting for the next bus out of Sugatown, I actually thought I’d stay in the cheer squad a little longer just to see if ‘Freedom’ is something I can stan for.
When I first heard a snippet of the track and clocked them premiere it live on T4 On The Beach, I caught a feeling of fierce nouveau En Vogue realness, but it wasn’t until I heard the proper studio recording and saw this video that I realised I had been sorely mistaken.
Everything at this point feels like it is functioning at 45% capacity. Vocally, you know these three can hit harder with the harmonies and there really is no need for Glee-type intense pitch correction on Amelle’s vocals. Visually, you know the choreography – if there were really any at all in this video – could have been fiercer and the overall clip could’ve benefited from more pace and energy.
Here are three points to be made about the ‘Freedom’ video:
1) Is there any life at all in ‘Freedom’? Serious question.
For an emancipatory, fist-in-the-air styled pop song – ‘Freedom’ sure served up some cold, damp energy in the video. The general pace of this production feels like that of a make-up commercial, not a proper pop music video. I know the lines are blurred in this day and age but never should it come as a disservice to the song’s spirit and energy. Where’s the ferocious hair flicks? Where’s the strutting? Where’s the fire? Where the fuck is Keisha? We need her to beat these bitches back in line.
Director Sean De Sparengo had said in the behind the scenes footage that the mission here was to make the Babes look good and to establish an image of a relevant, “top of the game” girl band. There lies the problem, really. The immediate focus was on style over substance and for a band with such a history and edge, this whole ‘Freedom’ package really bastardised any unique identity left in the Sugababes brand. I know a lot of you would begrudgingly pull me out of the rubble now and chastise me for not getting out when Sweet 7 caved in, but I had to stay and see how this panned out.
2) Lesbi-action in a dark seedy club.
So original. It’s totally what all the cool kids are doing these days, so why the hell not? I honestly think that if they had spent more time coming up with interesting sets, camera shots and maybe even a real plot, this video wouldn’t look like such a flop attempt at sexing up brand Sugababes.
When will Team Sugababes realise that the band was never meant to sound and look like a Robin Antin-manufactured pop group? Therefore, any attempt at sexing up their image and Americanising their sound will always come off forced and unnatural?
3) Please look after Matron Heidi.
She’s getting on with age, just let her have her moment. I’m glad to see the lady turning out such elegance in this video. She’s owning every shot in front of the wind machine and sometimes, that’s all you can ask for with Ma Heidi.
Perhaps this post is just another mindless bitter ranting of a disgruntled old school Sugababes fan who has lost touch with reality and really should be confined to slagging matches on Popjustice forums.
Maybe it is not the band’s minders that need to come to a realisation. Maybe it is I who need to let go and allow Jade, Amelle and Heidi to steer the ship and accept that the Sugababes is just a house now, no longer the home I once adored that was brought to life by the unique characters and flavours of its previous members.
Sugababes will release ‘Freedom’ on 4 September in the UK. An album is expected to be out later in the year.