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Sugababes ‘became about being sexy’ amid endless line-up changes, says Keisha Buchanan

·2-min read
Sugababes ‘became about being sexy’ amid endless line-up changes, says Keisha Buchanan
Amelle Berrabah, Heidi Range and Keisha Buchanan during the third incarnation of the Sugababes in 2008 (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Amelle Berrabah, Heidi Range and Keisha Buchanan during the third incarnation of the Sugababes in 2008 (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Sugababes star Keisha Buchanan has said that the group “became about being sexy and not being allowed in the creative process” amid its endless line-up changes.

Buchanan is the longest-lasting member of the beloved girl band, whose original line-up – consisting of Buchanan, Mutya Buena and Siobhan Donaghy – have recently reformed. Three other performers – Heidi Range, Amelle Berrabah and Jade Ewen – were also members of the group during various incarnations over more than 20 years.

Buchanan has now claimed that the group became increasingly less creative as it went on, particularly once Buena departed the band in 2005 and was replaced by Berrabah.

“For me, the Sugababes was about our harmonies and three voices put together,” Buchanan told NME. “After Siobhan left, Mutya and I tried to continue our signature sound. When Mutya left, it became harder to maintain that. Every time someone leaves, it changes the dynamic … For me, it changed and lost its essence. After Mutya left, it became about being sexy and not being allowed in the creative process. It became this machine – and it looked and sounded like that.”

Buchanan added that Range – who replaced the departing Donaghy in 2001 – was a “big part” of the Sugababes, but that being in the group became “mind-boggling” as her own creative input was gradually reduced.

“It was mind-boggling and alien to be told: ‘Your album’s going to take two weeks. It’s already written for you’ … I’d turn up and do my routine, but I was embarrassed almost every single day … During one session, a big name producer – who I won’t name – actually had someone come in and teach me, Heidi and Amelle about harmonies. I had to sit through that! Afterwards when I said that we really needed to be involved in the creative process, I was told: ‘OK, you’re being an issue now’, so I just shut up. And that album was disappointing.”

Amelle Berrabah, Heidi Range and Keisha Buchanan during the third incarnation of the Sugababes in 2008 (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Amelle Berrabah, Heidi Range and Keisha Buchanan during the third incarnation of the Sugababes in 2008 (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Buchanan was dropped from the Sugababes in 2009 following 11 years in the band, with Ewen stepping in to replace her. Range, Berrabah and Ewen performed as the Sugababes for two more years before the group embarked on an indefinite hiatus.

After briefly reforming as Mutya Keisha Siobhan in 2011, the band’s three original members regained the rights to the Sugababes band name in 2019, and are currently plotting a return to music. In October, they will release a reissued edition of their debut album, One Touch, featuring demos, rarities and remixed versions of classic tracks.

Earlier this month, Buchanan said that she had experienced “systemic racism” within the music industry and that she had been used as a “scapegoat” by record labels when Sugababes albums began to underperform.

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