Sunday, 30 October 2011

4 New Wallpapers Heidi + Sugababes wearing Rubber

Doctrine of Pop - Sugababes. An In Depth Philosophy.

Sugababes. An In Depth Philosophy.

Introduction & Aims
Before we get to the philosophy of it all, I want to just say that I do try to remain purely analytical about the matter, however bias will always seep through somewhere in any work. I would like to state that my personal view is that 2.0 was the best version of the band, though 1.0 & 3.0 both had some excellent songs, Run For Cover and Never Gonna Dance Again respectively. With 4.0, although I see their potential, I am not so sure whether the band will ultimately blend well enough to compliment the groups heritage – however, they should be given a chance.
My reasons for writing this piece are simple, I find the great philosophical ideas endlessly fascinating, and I have a particular love for pop music. I could have written about many other bands/artists within music, however the Sugababes story lends itself extremely well to the philosophical ideas on personal identity through time – almost too well, so this has all come rather naturally.
My arguments put forward in the coming paragraphs are intended to demonstrate that the current lineup of the Sugababes should be named as such, due to the way the band has come to be in its present state. This is not to say that all of the current members deserve the prestige of the name, and a discussion on lineups will follow once I have gone through the length of my philosophical argument. I will first talk about the bands history, then the philosophy of it all, and then discuss the ins and outs of my views on who should be ultimately considered a Sugababe.
A Brief History of The Sugababes
The group started with Siobhan, Mutya and Keisha recording and releasing their debut album ‘One Touch’, the singles from the album did well, however not well enough and the group were dropped. During this era, Keisha and Siobhan had major fallouts, causing Siobhan to leave the group and proclaim Keisha a bully.
After this, Keisha and Mutya searched for a new member and found Heidi, here the group recorded ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’ and the smash hit ‘Freak Like Me’, arguably still one of the groups strongest singles. This version of the band released two more studio albums, ‘Three’ and ‘Taller In More Ways’ with continued growing success before Mutya walked out on the other two girls, practically overnight, in the middle of the latter’s campaign.
Determined to keep the album campaign for ‘Taller In More Ways’ going strong, Keisha and Heidi roped in Amelle. Here, she re recorded the album and released two more singles from it. After this, 3.0 released a greatest hits collection, followed by ‘Change’ and the commercial failure of ‘Catfights and Spotlights’.
The group went back into the studio in 2008 to start recording their 7th album, eventually titled ‘Sweet 7’, however ultimately Keisha was not to be part of the campaign. Reports circulated that Amelle had checked into rehab with depression and that Keisha was the cause – though this was never certain. Eventually, it was found out that Jade had been flown out to LA, where they were filming the video to ‘About A Girl’ and replaced Keisha in the group.
What happened during this time has never been made clear, however there have been many reports made. Ultimately, there seems to be two possible ways Keisha’s departure happened:
  1. Keisha was, and had been bullying Amelle (and maybe Heidi) for some time. After Amelle’s stint in rehab, she decided she couldn’t take anymore and decided to walk from the group. Heidi, unhappy at seeing her friend treated so badly, walked out as well to leave Keisha as the sole member of ‘The Sugababes’. At the time, the management were unwilling to lose two girls, so instead fired Keisha to save them so much of a headache.
  2. Keisha had lost it with Amelle and wanted her gone. She rang up management and told them that Amelle was to be fired, or she, herself would walk from the group – thinking that management would never fire the only original member. Management then rang up Heidi, who refused to back either of the two girls, not wanting to take sides. Management fired Keisha, coming as a huge shock to everyone.
Since then, the group finished the ‘Sweet 7’ campaign and moved on – though commercially they are still sadly failing terribly.
The Philosophy of it All
The ship of Theseus is a philosophical thought experiment for the topic of personal identity over time, as you will see, it is unquestionably relevant to ‘The Sugababes’ (Notice how for this piece I shall refer to ‘The Sugababes’ in commas, as a thing beyond any of its members. This is because in popular culture, the name has died with the last original member leaving, Keisha. Yet she was not there from the absolute beginning, where Siobhan and Mutya were creating the group, at a time where popular culture also names these two girls as ‘The Sugababes’. Tying the name to Keisha, therefore implies a contradiction.);
The argument for Theseus’ ship goes like this:
There is a ship owned by a great Roman warrior that has been sailing for decades. Over time, each piece of the ship has been replaced, every single wooden plank making its decks, and all the ropes used with its masts and sails – no item that comes to make the ship is original, all replacements. To anyones eye, it is the same ship, when anyone talks about Theseus’ ship they are pertaining the ship in question, but is it the same ship?
Similarly ‘The Sugababes’ no longer has any of its original members, each one, upon leaving, has been replaced by another person, yet the name is still carried forward.
  • Questions that must be asked here are:
  1. Does the ship have a continued existence over time? / Do ‘The Sugababes’ have a continued existence over time?
  2. If the ship/ ‘The Sugababes’ are deemed not to be as such in their current forms, when did they stop being what they claim to be? When the first original piece was removed, or the last?
If we deem the ship or ‘The Sugababes’ to not be a continued thing overtime, this leaves questions about how we subsequently view our own personal continued existence.
Similar to the ship and ‘The Sugababes’, our own memories come and go over time. You can imagine a scenario where as a child I have stolen an apple from an orchard, and as a middle aged man I remember doing this, yet by the time I am an old age pensioner I have forgotten all about it, yet still remember things that I have done when middle aged. The following explains in an easier form:
As a child I have just stolen an apple and remember doing so.
  • I am a middle aged man and remember stealing the apple when I was a child.
  • I am washing my car.
I am an old aged pensioner, whilst I remember washing the car when I was middle aged, I no longer hold the memory of stealing an apple when I was a child.
It is often cited that memory is what keeps a being the same person over time, that the mind is responsible for our continued personal identity. Though there are arguments against this, its unlikely that anyone would say the being at point C is a different person from A, though admittedly the body has gone through changes, possibly no cell in his body is the same from when he was a child. Indeed, within his own network of family and friends he is seen as the same person and is called by the same name – it is assumed he is a continued self from point A, through point C. Despite there being no direct link in memory between point A and point C, the link in the chain of point B is considered good enough to retain the personal identity.
In the same way as mentioned above, ‘The Sugababes’ has undergone several changes to its lineup, but not all at the same time, allowing for some kind of chain effect similar to the one above.
  • The band was formed with Siobhan, Mutya & Keisha. (1.0)
Siobhan left and Heidi joined.
  • It is now Mutya, Keisha and Heidi. (2.0)
Mutya left and Amelle joined.
  • It is now Keisha, Heidi and Amelle. (3.0)
Keisha left and Jade joined.
  • It is now Heidi, Amelle and Jade. (4.0)
Whilst there is no direct link in members between 1.0 and 4.0, it is clear there is the same linking continuity as seen in the above example with the apple. Heidi has been in the band with two original members and both new members, so she alone is enough to provide the continuity to the group, however this is strengthened with Amelle also having been present alongside Keisha. If we were to present a chart on who has helped to keep the band continuity the most, it would look something like this:
  1. Keisha & Heidi
  2. Mutya & Amelle
  3. Siobhan & Jade.
However, we are not, so lets move on…
If anyone argues that ‘The Sugababes’ are no longer the same, they must first admit that they are no longer the same continued person as when they were a child. The band clearly has a similar continued existence to that of personal memories, each having a chain of links that reach back to the past so similar that to claim one as invalidly continued would mean having to claim the other invalid as well. Here you can either agree that both continually exist over time, or disagree, subscribing to the idea that you aren’t the same person as when you were born – something I suspect you wont accept.
However, there is a problem, if we return to the thought experiment of Theseus’ ship, what happens if someone collected all of the old pieces of ship, and put them back together to create the original ship – we now have two examples of one and the same ship – are we to claim they are both the exact same ship?
Similarly, we can now claim that, so long as there is continuity to the members, ‘The Sugababes’ can still rightfully be called The Sugababes, however, what happens if all three original members were to get back together and reform, which band would then be ‘The Sugababes’?
In this case we actually have two ‘The Sugababes’ with equal rights to call themselves the name, however, not in a way you might expect. If we imagine that ‘The Sugababes’ is a person with a brain and a body. This person undergoes surgery to have the brain taken out of her body and each half of her brain is placed in the body of another person. In this instance, into person 1.0 and 4.0. Where does the original ‘The Sugababes’ end up?
There are three potential answers we could give, however not one of them is satisfactory:
  1. Both 1.0 and 4.0 is this person called ‘The Sugababes’.
This is clearly impossible, for it stands to reason that if person A is ‘The Sugababes’, then person B cannot also be ‘The Sugababes’. If you think about it from your own perspective, if you are you, then someone else cannot also be you.
  1. Neither 1.0 or 4.0 are ‘The Sugababes’.
This is clearly absurd, as both have memories of being ‘The Sugababes’ and have properties of being ‘The Sugababes’. If properties of being ‘The Sugababes’ still exist, then it follows that ‘The Sugababes’ must still exist.
  1. Only one of the two (1.0 or 4.0) is ‘The Sugababes’.
This is impossible! If 1.0 has the same properties of being ‘The Sugababes’ as 4.0, how can we rationally say that 1.0 is ‘The Sugababes’ and 4.0 isn’t? It simply doesn’t work.
Clearly none of the above answers are satisfactory to reason, so there must be another answer. Pretend that the transplant has yet to take place, and that this person called ‘The Sugababes’ is still waiting in hospital for her brain to be put into someone else, only this time just one person. This person will look like ‘The Sugababes’ and will have had the same life experiences as her. When this transplant takes place, will ‘The Sugababes’ still exist?
The answer to this question is a little confusing, but graspable. Though the original woman called ‘The Sugababes’ wouldn’t actually exist, the person now called ‘The Sugababes’ would be exactly the same as her – therefore meaning that they are, in essence, the same – something that is exactly like another thing is as good as being that thing.
As you can see this is the same as our band ‘The Sugababes’, whilst they aren’t the same people as the originals, they still have largely the same memories (thanks to the chain continuity) and have largely the same back stories within the band. They are not the original Sugababes, but they are exactly like them, and surely anything that is exactly like something is as good as being that thing?
To clarify this, I shall give an example:
Say 10 years ago in the UK a group of 5 people got together to form a popular music club, each week they would meet at a local town hall and discuss everything to do with the national chart. After 5 years of getting together, two of the members moved to the USA and the club stopped meeting. However, after being in their new country for a while, the two members decided to start up a new club, with exactly the same name, speaking about the same content, and meeting in a local town hall.
To anyone who was an outsider, it was the same club as before, and even to its members it was the same club as before, despite clearly going through some major changes.
The same thing has gone on with ‘The Sugababes’, whilst there is not complete continuity, there is enough to proclaim that the band is still “the same”.
The importance of each girl to ‘The Sugababes’ is a matter of degree. Where at the start Siobhan was arguably very important to the band, she seems all be irrelevant now, and vice versa for Heidi. The same can also be said about Mutya, and in even more time Keisha. You couldn’t see Siobhan singing ‘About You Now’, for instance, the bands biggest selling single.
This is very similar, once again to personal identity – only this time linked into morality. Where I stole the apple as a child and was never punished, it seems absurd to punish me now for doing it as an 80 year old man. Whilst I am still the same person, arguably a lot of change has happened in the 70 or so years since the incident took place. Not only are most, if not all of the cells in my body different to then, I can no longer remember the crime and would not commit the same robbery again. In this case, we should view me at the age of 80 as a kind of distant relative to me as a child – in the same way that I am surviving from all of my past generations. We must view ourselves not as exactly the same person to when we were children, but as a person with this sort of inherent continuity between then and now.
‘The Sugababes’ today are not just exactly like ‘The Sugababes’ of yesterday, they are ‘The Sugababes’, albeit just a distant relation to the original version of the band. If anyone says they are not a continuation of the band, this same person must also conform to the idea that they are not the same person as the one they were in their past – an idea few would adhere to. Whilst this all may seem very elaborate, its fair to call the current version of the band by their rightful name, ‘The Sugababes’.
Here I have tried to show how the story of ‘The Sugababes’ can fit into the ideas of philosophy. I have shown primary ideas, such as Thesus’ ship and also tried to foresee some criticisms of these ideas, with outlines of how these criticisms could be overcome. Though I admit this is probably a little deep for a discussion on a pop group, and no doubt people will believe what they want to, my aim here was to argue logically for a reason as to why the current version of ‘The Sugababes’ should be named as such.
Review, lineup by lineup – my own subjective opinion.
Whilst the above shows that the current lineup of ‘The Sugababes’ should be named as such, whether the four girls deserve it is a different matter.
It’s a weird coincidence with ‘The Sugababes’ that with each subsequent album, critical acclaim has got poorer. Back when 1.0 launched with ‘One Touch’, the music really was groundbreaking and the critical response reflected this, ‘Overload’ and ‘Run 4 Cover’ were met with particularly high praise and these two singles are arguably the best to be lifted from a debut album from any UK girl band. What is truly remarkable about this line up, above all else, is the age of its members. At the age of just 16, Siobhan, Mutya and Keisha had managed to produce an album totally unique for any girl band before or after, it was current, edgy and cool – it just didn’t sell very well.
With the introduction of Heidi, 2.0 are likely to be remembered as the ‘babes defining era. The music was good, great at times, with songs such as ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Round Round’ – this was also the time where they had the most continued string of success. Whilst some might think that Heidi is too forgettable to be considered a turning point in the ‘babes fortunes, lets observe probable public opinion at the time. With 1.0, there wasn’t a single member that was seemingly able to connect with the public, though they all had equally great voices, Siobhan, Keisha and Mutya were collectively dull. Whilst people don’t purchase music for the personality of its musicians, it at least helps if people can retain enough interest in you when being interviewed on TV, radio or in a magazine, furthermore to remain glued to the telly for the short amount of time your videos are running! Its rather ironic that today people keep wanting to go back to ‘real’ music, with success not decided upon by the artists looks and personality, but on musical merit, yet in the past where this was served to them, the public refused to bite. With Heidi joining, ‘The Sugababes’ didn’t just get a distinctive voice, they got the ‘pretty one who smiles too’. Young girls related to her, males wanted to be with her and the older generations saw her as a nice person – she draw visual and personal interest toward the band. Without Heidi, its fair to say, ‘The Sugababes’ may never have had albums that sold (well) and, consequently, may not have survived the 10 years she has currently brought with her to the present day.
When Mutya left, ‘The Sugababes’ lost their distinctive edge, though retained Heidi’s personality and Keisha’s power – so not all was lost. Actually, the reign of Keisha, Heidi and Amelle as 3,0 saw the bands biggest selling single, ‘About You Now’, however compare this to ‘Freak Like Me’ and its clear the distinctive sound had been lost. Amelle is a peculiar case in ‘The Sugababes’, whilst she has been with them for at least as long as Mutya now, she seems to have left far less of a stamp on their history. This is, perhaps because she was brought in as a ‘as close as possible’ match to replace Mutya (and, to be fair has done as good a job as anyone else could), or, simply because she has very little creative flair. Either way, the quality of the music has dipped since she joined, and she simply hasn’t brought enough to ‘The Sugababes’ to be considered a worthy recipient of the name on her own.
Jade Ewen is a bit of an oxymoron in terms of ‘The Sugababes’, she comes to both represent exactly what the group doesn’t stand for and exactly what it does. With the former of the two, she has come from a reality TV singing competition and represented the UK in Eurovision, here she had no creative control and was simply a puppet, conforming to the whims of a higher corporation. With the latter, she has come from a loving family, where she has had to care for her disable parents and has had a lengthy struggle to make it as a singer – she is the ultimate grounded girl and has a background people should, if not relate to, connect with. However, with Sugababes 4.0, like 1.0, once again, the public are not ‘getting’ it. The Sugababes name has never been considered at one with sex and female bodily perfection, yet the 4th lineup seem to be hung up on this matter. Where rivals such as ‘Girls Aloud’ are known to be great looking women, the ‘babes aren’t and here 4.0 are conflicting with the bands history. Quite frankly, how can three such stunning looking girls be singing songs like ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Stronger’? The very lyrical content of these songs, being outsiders looking in to the norm, contrasts with the performers singing them. To further strain this issue, the band cannot simply turn back to the old days, like where 1.0 and 2.0 used to dress in baggy trousers and army outfits, as that was the way the original, less conventionally attractive members made themselves alluring – being all the more sexy for it. Now all we’ve seen what 4.0 have to offer, covering them up will look like damage control – a shame as Heidi looked fabulous in the unconventional.
No Sugababes lineup was as good a 2.0, without the mix of Mutya’s distinctiveness, Keisha’s tone and Heidi’s persona, the band are disjointed. Although every other member has given something to the group, whether it be, again Siobhan’s distinctive vocals or Jade’s power, without the 3 truly integral members of 2.0, the band is a shadow lurking behind the figure of what it could be. However, the true irony of the situation is as follows: Although 2.0 are the defining moment in Sugababes history, I get the impression that if all six members formed a supergroup, it could be the best damn girl group the world has ever seen, and to this extent, even 2.0 are a shadow in terms of overall potential. I get the feeling that given every girl was up for a reunion of sorts, the band known as ‘The Sugababes’, could once again linger at the top end of the charts, being far greater than the sum of its parts.
Please give credit to ‘Matthew East’ and this website address if you plan to copy any part of this post.
The philosophical ideas in this post have been inspired by the great minds of: John Locke, David Hume and Derek Parfit.