I've been a big fan of the Sugababes since they arrived on the scene back in 2000. In an era of bubble gum pop, they were edgy, refreshing and could actually sing. When Siobhan's departure sparked the first of three line-up changes in 2001, I didn't quite know how to take the new arrival, Heidi. She seemed like Atomic Kitten fodder to me, and although her vocals were good enough in the studio, she often struggled to replicate them live. The second 'babe to jump ship was Mutya, and although her replacement, Amelle, had a similarly husky tone, I couldn't help but feel the Sugababes had lost their edge. When Keisha was kicked out of the group in 2009, it was one line-up change too many for me, and my fandom came to an abrupt end.
I recently stumbled across an old favourite of mine on YouTube that sums up everything I disliked about the fourth line-up (Heidi, Amelle and Jade). My favourite girl group who were initially famed for being moody and elusive had become a commercial machine, plugging a Windows operating system with acting skills that make Mariah's performance in 'Glitter' look Oscar-worthy. You can watch the advert in all its glory here.
It begins with Amelle and Heidi creating a birthday card for Jade on their laptop. In a separate window, we see they've been searching for gift ideas in 'Bing' - a search engine that nobody actually uses in real life. Bizarrely, they also appear to be browsing their own website. Perhaps Amelle was brushing up on some pre-Amelle era lyrics? Or maybe Heidi was refreshing the news page to check she was still in the band? I guess we'll never know...
"Do you think she'll like that?" whispers Heidi, as the camera cuts back to their creation...
What's not to like? Every birthday card should include generic, balloon-related ClipArt and the use of Times New Roman in block, red capitals. At this point, creative co-director Amelle chips in, "put a few balloons on the left in purple, because that's her favourite colour". It is clear she hasn't thought this through. You can't just ADD A FEW BALLOONS to predesigned ClipArt in Microsoft Word, and given the current state of the card, it seems unlikely that Heidi even knows what Photoshop is. Nice thought Amelle, but in practice it will never work.
As the camera cuts back to their creation, it seems there has either been a continuity error, or Heidi has been switching things up whilst pretending to listen to Amelle. The bold, red typography has been ditched and replaced with classic pre-set rainbow WordArt. Could it be that Heidi is a time travelling primary school teacher from 1997? Or does she just really hate Jade and will do anything to make sure this card is as ugly as possible?
In an unexpected plot twist, Jade enters the room, forcing Heidi to minimise the window. "What are you lot up to?" she asks, clearly confused as to just how many Sugababes are in the room. Heidi and Amelle respond awkwardly, saying "just looking at set lists... diary" - an unconvincing lie to say the least, as at this point in their career the diary would have been well and truly empty. Jade gives a knowing look and turns away. It is clear what is going through her head...
Looking for an excuse to leave the room, Jade nervously mutters, "I was thinking of making a cup of tea". It's a convincing lie, as tea duty is always designated to the newest Sugababe (Amelle was recently promoted to creative co-director of shit birthday cards). As Jade leaves the room, we hear Keisha's version of 'Get Sexy' playing in the background - great research there, Microsoft. Just as Keisha shrieks "Now! Now! Now!", Jade runs back into the room as though the Ghost of Sugababes' past was sending her a subliminal message. Thankfully, it was a false alarm, and Jade merely catches the girls in the act of making a birthday card for her.
The camera cuts to queen of middle 8s, Heidi, who gives a typically awkward and disappointing rendition of Happy Birthday. Whilst all may seem well again on the surface, it has become apparent that Amelle and Heidi are terrible friends. Not only are they making a godawful homemade card in Microsoft Word, but they appear to be making it on the DAY of Jade's birthday, whilst simultaneously searching for a gift that they have yet to even choose, let alone purchase.
Like all good analyses, there has to be a conclusion. There are many to be drawn from the sorrowful 54 seconds that I have just subjected you to, but to avoid wasting any more of your time, I will summarise in four short bullets:
• Heidi is not very good at making birthday cards
• Amelle is also not very good at making birthday cards
• Jade likes to think about making tea before actually making it
• Microsoft need to brush up on its Sugababes line-ups