The Sugababes were a English pop girl group, formed in 1998 with founding members Siobhán Donaghy, Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan. Their debut album, One Touch, was released in the UK through London Records on 27 November 2000. The album achieved moderate success, peaking at number 26 in April 2001 and eventually being certified Gold. In 2001, Donaghy departed the group amid rumours of a rift with Buchanan and the group were dropped by their record label. With the introduction of Heidi Range, the group began to experience a higher level of commercial success whilst keeping the critical acclaim they had achieved with their debut album. They released three studio albums before Buena announced her departure in December 2005, leading to Amelle Berrabah being brought in to replace her. Following the release of their first greatest hits album, the new line-up released two studio albums. In September 2009, after 11 years in the Sugababes, Buchanan, the final original member, was replaced by former UK Eurovision entry Jade Ewen. Range, Berrabah and Ewen released the group's seventh studio album, Sweet 7, in 2010, after which they signed to RCA Records, before announcing an indefinite hiatus in 2011. In 2013, Ewen confessed that the Sugababes had split two years earlier. The original line-up of the band reformed in 2011, under the new name Mutya Keisha Siobhan.
In 2006, British Hit Singles & Albums named the Sugababes as the most successful female act of the 21st century with six UK number one singles and eighteen UK top ten hits. They racked up six number-one singles, "Freak like Me", "Round Round", "Hole in the Head", "Push the Button", "Walk This Way" and "About You Now"; the Spice Girls are the only British girl group to have had more. They also released five UK top ten albums, four of which reached at least platinum certification in the UK, and have been nominated for six Brit Awards, winning one for Best British Dance Act in 2003. They have been a long-term fixture in the British tabloids due to their several line-up changes and alleged group infighting.
1998–2001: Formation and One Touch
The Sugababes were formed in 1998 by All Saints manager Ron Tom. Siobhán Donaghy and Mutya Buena, both aged just 13, had been signed as solo artists, but decided to work together after performing at the same showcase. While working in the studio, Buena invited her best friend Keisha Buchanan to watch them. Manager Tom decided the three girls were to be a trio, likening their different appearances to the United Colors of Benetton campaign. Originally dubbed the Sugababies, the group's name was tweaked to Sugababes when they were signed by London Records to give the group a more mature image.
The group's debut single, "Overload", peaked at number 6 on the UK Singles Chart in 2000 and was nominated for a BRIT Award for Best Single. The group co-wrote most of the tracks on debut album One Touch with the help of All Saints producer Cameron McVey. One Touch peaked at number 26 on the UK Albums Chart. The album produced three more top 40 hits—"New Year", "Run for Cover" and "Soul Sound". The sales of One Touch did not meet London Records' expectations, and they dropped the group in 2001. It was later certified gold by the BPI and had sold 220,000 copies in the UK by 2008 according to Music Week.
During a Japanese promotional tour in August 2001, Donaghy left the group. She stated initially that she wanted to pursue a fashion career, but was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression amid reports of in-fighting amongst the group's members. Donaghy later stated that she was forced out of the group by Buchanan and called Buchanan the "first bully" in her life. Former Atomic Kitten member Heidi Range was announced as Donaghy's replacement.
2002–04: Angels with Dirty Faces, commercial breakthrough and Three
Having already started work on a second album with new member Range, the trio looked for a new record label, eventually signing to Island Records. Their first single on the new label, "Freak like Me" scored the group their first UK number 1 single. Follow-up single "Round Round" also debuted on top of the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 2 in Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Both singles were certified silver by the BPI. On the back of the success of the singles, the group's second album, Angels with Dirty Faces, debuted at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart and was later certified triple platinum, selling almost a million copies in the UK alone. It is to date their highest-selling album. In the UK, the third single from the album, a ballad titled "Stronger", gained the girls their third consecutive top ten hit in their native country. The track was released as a double-A side with "Angels with Dirty Faces" in the UK, the latter song chosen as the theme tune to The Powerpuff Girls Movie. A fourth single, the Sting-sampling "Shape", made the top ten in the Netherlands and Ireland in early 2003.
The group's third album, Three, was released in late 2003 and reached number 3 on the UK Albums Chart, earning the group a BRIT Award nomination for Best Album. Certified double platinum, it has sold 855,000 copies to date. The album was preceded by lead single "Hole in the Head", which became the group's third UK number 1 single. It also reached number 2 in Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway, and became the Sugababes' first (and to date only) single to chart in the United States, reaching number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100. Follow-up single "Too Lost in You" appeared on the soundtrack to the film Love Actually and went top ten in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK. The album's third single, "In the Middle", was released in 2004 and garnered the group another BRIT Award nomination for Best Single; like its successor, the ballad "Caught in a Moment", it went to number 8 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2004, the trio sang on the Band Aid 20 remake of "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which went to number 1 in the UK in December.
Around this time, the group's perceived "moodiness", alleged backstage catfights, and press junket tantrums were tabloid fodder in Britain. They were surrounded by continuous rumours of in-fighting within the group and constant split reports. Rumours suggested that Buchanan and Buena had bullied Range, although Range herself repeatedly denied such allegations; Buena later admitted that she "just didn't talk to her" when she first joined. Buchanan claimed there was only one serious fallout between herself and Range during a 2004 gig in Dublin, regarding Britney Spears' "Toxic".
2005–06: Taller in More Ways, international success and Overloaded: The Singles Collection
After a hiatus, the Sugababes released their thirteenth single, "Push the Button" in October 2005. The song debuted at number 1 in the UK and remained in the position for three consecutive weeks. It also peaked at number one in Ireland, Austria and New Zealand, and reached the top three across Europe and in Australia. Certified silver in the UK, it was later nominated at the BRIT Awards for Best Single. Parent album Taller in More Ways became the group's first UK number 1 album. The group was number 1 on the singles, album, airplay and download charts simultaneously, making them the first girl group to achieve such a feat. Taller in More Ways was certified double platinum in the UK.
Following an apparent illness that prevented Buena from promoting follow-up single "Ugly", it was announced on 21 December 2005 that Buena had left the Sugababes. According to an announcement on their official website, Buena's decision was based purely on personal reasons following the birth of her daughter. Amelle Berrabah joined the Sugababes in late December 2005, having been chosen by the group's management to replace Buena.
The third single from Taller in More Ways was a re-recorded version of "Red Dress", which was released in early 2006, and gave the Sugababes their third consecutive top five hit from the album, entering the UK Singles Chart at number 4. Berrabah re-recorded three of the album's twelve tracks and co-wrote a new song with Buchanan and Range named "Now You're Gone". The tracks appeared on a re-release of Taller in More Ways that reached number 18 on the UK Albums Chart. The fourth and final single from Taller in More Ways was "Follow Me Home", released only in the UK in June, where it charted at number 32.
In mid-2006, the group returned to the studio to record two new tracks for their first greatest hits collection, titled Overloaded: The Singles Collection. The lead single from the compilation, "Easy" peaked at number 8 on the UK Singles Chart, whilst the compilation album, released in November 2006, peaked at number 3. The album, certified platinum by the BPI, has sold 598,000 copies.
2007–08: Change and Catfights and Spotlights
In March 2007, the Sugababes collaborated with fellow British girl group Girls Aloud for their eighteenth single, a cover of the song "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith. The track was released as the official single for Comic Relief. "Walk This Way" became the group's fifth UK number one single.
Following their Greatest Hits Tour, the Sugababes returned to the recording studio in mid-2007 to work on Change, their fifth studio album, and the first to feature Berrabah on all tracks. "About You Now" was released as the album's lead single in September 2007. Upon release, the song became the group's sixth UK number one hit and first Hungarian chart-topper. It remained atop the UK Singles Chart for four weeks. "About You Now" was nominated for a 2008 BRIT Award for Best British Single and is to date their highest-selling single, with sales standing at almost 500,000 copies. In the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, "About You Now" was listed as the "first track by a British pop act to top the singles chart solely on downloads". The song was also named as the "biggest chart mover to the number one position in the UK".
In October 2007, Change became the group's second UK number 1 album. For the second time, the group topped the singles, album and download charts simultaneously. The album's title track "Change", was released as the second single in December 2007 and peaked at number 13 in the UK. The album sold 494,000 copies in the UK, and was certified platinum. The third and final single from Change was "Denial", which reached number 15. From March to May 2008, the Sugababes travelled the UK on the thirty-date Change Tour, their biggest tour to date.
Following the Change Tour, Sugababes returned to the studio to write and record tracks for their sixth studio album, Catfights and Spotlights. It was reported that producer Timbaland had approached the Sugababes to work on their sixth album, but due to time restrictions, a collaboration did not occur. "Girls", the lead single from Catfights and Spotlights was released in October 2008. The single peaked at number 3 in the UK, making it their first lead single since One Touch not to reach number 1. The album peaked at number 8 in the UK Albums Chart. Its second and final single, "No Can Do", was released in December and peaked at number 23 in the UK. In January 2009, the Performing Right Society named Sugababes the fourth hardest-working band of 2008 due to the number of concerts they had performed during that year.
2009–10: Controversial line-up change and Sweet 7
After the release of "No Can Do", the group announced that there would be no 2009 tour in support of Catfights and Spotlights so that they could focus on writing and recording material for their seventh studio album. The Sugababes travelled to the United States to work on their seventh studio album, Sweet 7. In April 2009, the Sugababes signed a contract with Jay-Z's label Roc Nation, resulting in working with high profile producers. Berrabah also collaborated with Tinchy Stryder for the track "Never Leave You", the third single from his second album, Catch 22 in August 2009. The single debuted on top of the UK charts, making Berrabah the only member of the Sugababes, past and present, to achieve a number one single outside of the group. The lead single from Sweet 7, "Get Sexy", debuted at number 2 on the UK Singles Chart in September 2009.
In September 2009, Berrabah was reported to have left the Sugababes. She had missed two engagements promoting Sweet 7. On 21 September, it was revealed that Buchanan, the sole original member of the group, had left the Sugababes. Buchanan's place was filled by Jade Ewen, the UK's 2009 Eurovision Song Contest entrant. Buchanan revealed on Twitter that it was not her decision to leave, resulting in some journalists describing her as having been "sacked".
I'm sad to say that I am no longer a part of the Sugababes ... Although it was not my choice to leave, it's time to enter a new chapter in my life ... I would like to state that there were no arguments, bullying or anything of the sort that lead [sic] to this. Sometimes a breakdown in communication and lack of trust can result in many different things.— Keisha Buchanan, September 2009
Critics and fans reacted very negatively to the news, and British broadsheet The Guardian ran an article named "Why the Sugababes' show can't go on without Keisha". Digital Spy ran an article called "Keisha Buchanan, We Salute You" in which they thanked her for her contribution to "incredible pop songs". However, it has been claimed by Berrabah and Range that they played no role in the ousting of Buchanan. Both women have claimed to quit the Sugababes themselves only to find that their group's management decided that they would follow them, rather than find two new members for Buchanan.
On 1 July 2011, Buchanan approached the current line-up of Sugababes at the Barclaycard Wireless festival in London, where the girls were reported to have a "tear-eyed" reunion and put the past behind them. It was the first time in two years that Buchanan had seen former comrades Heidi Range and Amelle Berrabah. It was also the first time Buchanan had officially met her 'replacement' Jade Ewen. The new member, Ewen, was flown to the United States to film the music video for single "About a Girl" mere days after it was announced that Buchanan had left the group. "About a Girl" reached number 8 in the UK, during a truncated promotion schedule due to Berrabah flying to Austria for treatment for nervous exhaustion resulting from the line-up change. In late 2009, "Wear My Kiss" was confirmed for release in February 2010 as the third single, with the album, originally set for a late November 2009 release, delayed until March 2010. "Wear My Kiss" debuted and peaked at number 7 in the UK, making Sweet 7 the Sugababes' first album since Taller in More Ways to contain at least three top ten hits. The album debuted and peaked at number 14 in the UK.
In March 2010, former group member Mutya Buena applied to the European Trademarks Authority for ownership of the group's name. The application was submitted amid the controversy of Buchanan's departure, in which Buena insisted that "the Sugababes have ended" without a founding member still in the group. It was confirmed that Buena had obtained rights to use the name on paper, cardboard and goods; namely stationery, paper gift wrap and paper gift wrapping ribbons. It was also revealed in the same month that they were dropped by Roc Nation, due to poor sales of Sweet 7.
2011: Original reformation and split
The Sugababes initially began recording an eighth studio album in April 2010. In 2011, the group and their management Crown Talent & Media Group left their record label of ten years, Island Records, for a new three-album distribution deal with Sony Music's RCA Records, with Crown Talent & Media Group as the acting record label. In July 2011, the Sugababes commented on their new album, stating: "It's a bit darker, tougher and quite edgy." In September 2011, the band stated the new album showcases their personalities: "It feels like our personalities are actually part of this album." Their promotional single under the new label, "Freedom", was released for free on 25 September 2011. The group began a hiatus in 2012 to work on solo projects: Range participated in the seventh series of Dancing on Ice, Berrabah worked on solo material and Ewen competed as a contestant on the first series of Splash!
In April, it was reported that the original line-up of the Sugababes—Donaghy, Buena and Buchanan—had signed a record deal worth £1 million with Polydor Records under the name Mutya Keisha Siobhan. The reunited trio are also known to have recorded with MNEK, Asterix and Craze & Hoax. On 25 June 2012, it was announced that they would release new music in late August 2012, but this did not happen. However, Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé confirmed to MTV News that she was writing songs for them, and the group performed as MKS at a New Year's Eve party. Both Range and Berrabah have wished them luck with their new venture. On 20 July 2012, Buchanan who was kicked out of the group in 2009, revealed that she was "disappointed" by the treatment she received, but went on to wish the current line-up "the best of luck".
On 15 March 2013, Ewen confirmed the Sugababes would record new music "before the end of the year", stating: "I think we will probably come back together again at the end of the year. There will definitely be more recording but, there is no release date anytime soon." On 16 May 2013 Amelle Berrabah revealed that the group had been writing new material for their new album and hoped to release new music in 2014. However, fellow member Jade Ewen later expressed her feelings towards the group's future being uncertain, stating the group are "pretty much done", which led to reports suggesting the group have split. Controversy over the group's future arose when Berrabah stated she believed the group will get back together in late 2014, therefore it is unsure what the band's future intentions are.
On 6 September 2013, an interview was published quoting Ewen confirming that the group had split. Ewen was quoted saying "This is a tricky one because I don't feel comfortable lying, saying we're in the studio recording and we're going to bring music out next year, which seems to be the favoured line," she said. "I think it's unfair to fans and we should be honest. The band being over is definitely not my choice. I kind of was unlucky in that I came in [to Sugababes] towards the end of the cycle when things naturally came to the end. There was so much drama surrounding the group, I think the music just got lost. I don't like all the drama and the negativity. We kind of fizzled out about two years ago. I do think the lineup changes have obviously got to be a factor, you can't get away from it," she said. "I'd be lying if I didn't think the same when I was approached. I was like, 'Is this going to work? Are people going to accept it?'"
Speaking to Digital Spy at Disney's 'Share the Magic' Christmas party on Oxford Street on 6 November 2013, Mutya Buena said that she is keeping "an open mind" about reclaiming the Sugababes name again. "You never say never," she said. "I think you should always have an open mind. And it is our name!" Buena currently owns rights to use the Sugababes name on paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, stationery and gift wrapping products. In late January 2014 Range contradicted Ewen's statement, saying that the group was merely on hiatus as they follow solo projects. Speaking on if they'd broken up or not, Range stated, "Not officially but we don't have any plans for anything in the near future."
On 13 January 2015, original member of the group, Keisha Buchanan filed to have the Sugababes name trademarked in the United States.
- One Touch (2000)
- Angels with Dirty Faces (2002)
- Three (2003)
- Taller in More Ways (2005)
- Change (2007)
- Catfights and Spotlights (2008)
- Sweet 7 (2010)
As supporting act
In April 2007, Mattel teamed up with the Sugababes to create a new themed Barbie collection, which was released in May 2007. The Sugababes also launched their own shoe collection in association with the German shoe retailer "Deichmann", available from February 2008 in sixteen countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK. The members chose the range of items in the Star collection themselves. The Sugababes had also told reporters that they hope to branch out into other areas such as a makeup line. In September 2010, the Sugababes released their own fragrances, named Tempt, Tease and Touch.
Their cover of Aerosmith and Run–D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way", a collaboration with Girls Aloud, was the official charity single for Comic Relief in 2007, recorded at Comic Relief co-founder and trustee Richard Curtis' request. On 27 January 2010, the Sugababes performed at the "Fight Cervical Cancer Event", an event which aims to educate women about cervical cancer. In March 2010, Berrabah jumped 13,000 feet from an aircraft to raise money for a cancer charity. In September 2011, the Sugababes performed "Dancing Queen" by ABBA at the Prince of Wales Theatre for charitable purposes.