Single Review: Sugababes – ‘Freedom’

“They sound distant and bored, mindlessly singing the lyrics with all the sensual passion of a plastic bottle; hollow and contrived”

2 STARS

Digital Release: September 4, 2011

Physical Release: September 5, 2011

The intrinsic value of most of today’s pop music is something of a less desirable concept than pop’s earlier years. Something about the way things are done and the means that many an artist will go to just to score a big hit, regardless of ultimate sales, have depreciated what it means to be a successful pop artist. You could have low Top 10 hit with longevity and have it certified platinum, but for some reason the eyes of both the artist and the public are more interested in a song that hit #1 for a week and then dive-bombed out of the Top 40. Chart placings, and the frequency that an artist has taken up residence in the UK Top 10, now counts for more than the quality of the music.

As is a recurring trend these days, Sugababes have gone for your typical club-thumper in order to prove to sceptics and non-believers that they are not only worthy of the group’s name, but can still knock out a few decent hits after the abysmal ‘Sweet 7’ era and still get those all-important high charting placings (‘Sweet 7’ peaked at #11 on the UK Albums Chart). ‘Freedom’ combines two of the most popular trends in today’s music – female empowerment and clubbing. However, it’s efforts are ruined by the fact the whole ‘liberating’ extravaganza is haphazardly constructed upon a gaping whole in it’s own internal logic: they’re celebrating their newly acquired freedom and yet, they’re singing from across a void of auto-tune, synths and anonymity, like they’re caged in and hidden from view. They sound distant and bored, mindlessly singing the lyrics with all the sensual passion of a plastic bottle; hollow and contrived, and their laziness is only emphasised by the lyric – “Tonight is the night that we break the speed of light” which sticks out like a sore thumb because the song’s production lumbers along with the relative pace of a snail.

And on the production: it quite successfully creates a nigh-on sinister atmosphere but it’s not remotely invigorating or liberating when the Eurovision-esque synth shimmers arrive. Some bland melodies and a heavy bass drum instil a fairly credible sense of urgency but the end product isn’t half as feral as it thinks it is. A song like this should want to bite your arm off and snarl viciously. Instead, the girls are nibbling at your fingertips like three kittens wanting a feed. And this kind of uninteresting pop music is why, as stated earlier, the intrinsic value of pop music is decreasing. It seems anyone can knock out a hit these days, regardless of quality control (or lack thereof) and, particularly in the Sugababes case, musical integrity.

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