After the commercial and critical disaster that was 2010's album release Sweet 7, the Sugababes are back with new single, Freedom. Will this be the release that finally helps shift public focus from the joke that is their revolving door membership back to it being about their music again?
Initially, hearing the snippet of Freedom used in the Nokia advert some months back, I'd have tentatively ventured yes it would be. With its choppy vocals, orchestrated noise, and dub-step breakdown, it sounded like a hit record was finally on the horizon for the girls [Listen below]. However, listening to the full length, radio mix of the song just released, I'm suddenly less sure of the future success of the song, and even the Sugababes themselves.
The radio version starts well, with a sombre, and building verse that breaks into a triumphant, epic bridge- that should have perhaps been the chorus- calling on us to "Raise your hand, one fist in the air for freedom". But now enters the biggest problem with Freedom : the chorus.
Whereas the song sounded sonically as if it was just about to reach its zenith with the impending chorus, the song actually takes a nosedive with it being listless, flat and watery. It's a chorus that totally demolishes the momentum, and sense of anticipation that had been established so well by what came before it and it leaves you feeling slightly bewildered and cheated by what you'd just heard.
Freedom isn't a bad song, and could even have been a single at some point, but its missing the impact that a lead single, especially for a band who are trying to reassert their position at the top of the pop world, needs to have. As it is, this feels like a top ten hit that will capitalise and sell on it being the girl's return, but will quickly slide down the charts as the weeks pass. The only thing I can see saving this is going to be a killer video.
Maybe I'm being unduly unfair on Freedom but it's because I feel there is a lot of potential being untapped. Despite loving the original line-up, I feel this iteration of the Sugababes has the best set of commercial and harmonically compatible voices -listen to their cover of Florence and the Machine's Rabbit hearted Girl below: with Amelle taking the low, Heidi the midrange and Jade the top notes- and it's definitely not being capitalised on with these generic releases. Just listening to Jades D#5 at 2.22 in Freedom makes you wonder why that voice is being wasted on tracks that the Britney's and Rihanna's- no shade intended- of the world could be singing.