Music Last night's documentary about girl groups, I'm in a Girl Group! was a bit of a mess, throwing random archive footage, animations, anecdotes and an eccentric musical selection against a wall and hoping some of it stuck but did at least offer some fascinating insights, not least that Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles was stark naked when she recorded the vocal to Eternal Flame and Atomic Kitten had cat fights over Kerry Katona appearing in The Chums section of SM:TV Live.
Despite not warranting a mention in the producers blog, all three of the "Sugababes" turned up on screen together as well as a solo turn from Keisha and the results were pretty revealing. At one point, Heidi, Amelle and Jade offered some close harmony which if it had been utilised might have meant Sweet 7 sold a few more copies. All four cropped up throughout but the tortured history of the group was covered in some length towards the end (some length in this documentary meaning about three minutes).
Pointedly beginning with an on-screen tiff between members of The Three Degrees over the order in which they joined and left, the "Sugababes" were clearly asked why they were still here. "I think that's what helped the band last so long" Heidi answered not looking entirely convinced herself, shuffling in her sequins, "It's just a new voice, a new personality comin' in." Cut to Keisha in surprisingly agreeable mood: "Whoever wants to continue singing under the same Sugababes, if it makes you happy, why not."
But wait. Heidi's building up steam: "Like, I've been in the group for ten years, Amelle's been in it for six, Jade's been in it for two. So we've been that history of building that name." It's not hard to have some sympathy for Heidi, who having been in a group for a decade is now in a position of having to justify her place in what's now the butt of a few jokes. Perhaps the quality of their music had kept pace with changes in the group we'd all be looking at this new iteration more fondly.
Or perhaps its just that the original members make their case so well. The show's editing allowed Keisha to finally put the knife in: "I would prefer to remember it, from when we first started, going in and bustin' our butts to make a record and that to me, like whenever I see Mutya, whenever we sing together, whenever I hear our voices together, and with Siobhan's as well, I feel like a Sugababe." Looks off-screen to the researchers. "You don't think I'm sounding bitchy do you?"
Well, yes, a bit, but it's ok. Keisha was actually live tweeting during the programme and during that quote, she said "Love you S&M xxx" Today, she retweeted this comment, "Just caught up on last night's Pop Life. You came across really well… looking forward to the reunion :) x" If that's not a non-confirmation confirmation of said reunion, I don't know what is.
Two other things of note.
Firstly how the voice over described the Sugababes as "regenerating again and again like pop Time Lords" which probably explains my slightly ironic obsession and secondly the juxtaposition of the Spice Girls just before the section on the Sugababes which led to me realising something for the first time in over ten years. I've often wondered what the inspiration might be behind an eccentric name like the Sugababes. Well ...
Didn't look very far, did they? Original manager Ron Tom first called them Sugababies. London Records tweeked it to Sugababes [source]. Either way this has been staring me in the face for over a decade. Hmm.
Afterwards, an accompanying Top of the Pops 2 covered most of the groups featured in the documentary, plus a few more. Here's a Spotify playlist so you can catch up.
5/3/2012 Someone's uploaded video of the Sugababes bit up to YouTube.