The Sugababes Discography Rate

and try not to rate any unearthed Heidi demos from her Atomic Kitten days.
Ooh, that reminds me.


When blues...

Strange fear...

Oh, Jimmy...

Oof, this was rough to write.

Originally, this rate was not going to include “Flatline”. I was relying on the semantic difference between ‘Mutya Keisha Siobhan’ and the ‘Sugababes’ to omit the song from the tracklist, purely so I wouldn’t have to do this writeup. (I hadn't even properly listened to the song since 2013 until starting this rate.) Thankfully, or not, a persistent Mr.Arroz convinced me down from that particular ledge. So, here goes.

You don’t get a lot of comebacks in pop. The very nature of the genre, to reflect the demands of what is current under the exigencies of commercialism and saleability, mean that once a moment of popularity has passed, the path to making it back is narrow. You window of regard, appreciation, even existence, is so very narrow, and so defined by the whims of your audience.

You especially don’t get a lot of comebacks with girlbands, subject as they are to the additional pressures of the misogyny (and historically for the construct, of racism) which art demands under capitalism. These demands get cashed out in what is deemed attractive or acceptable for a woman in music, and those that fall outside these parameters face difficulties in exponential magnitude.

And you should never get any comebacks with the Sugababes. The odds against any incarnation of the band making a comeback were stacked manifold. Because of all these factors, but also, of course, because of the band’s corrosively messy history which pilfered away any goodwill even the most sympathetic public would have had. The odds against the original Sugababes making a comeback? Well then, it’s all of these factors intensified. Three women, two of them of colour, whose last public appearances together were as teenagers, and whose changing fortunes in the music industry seemed to be tied to their identities and the narratives that those identities generated. Three women, with conflicting and often very bitter interpersonal relations, played out in public in actuality and in perception. And yet, all the same, three women whose remarkable talents at such a young age had left a quietly distinct mark on the UK music industry, enough to generate a mythos that only seemed to grow stronger as the band they had breathed life into grew bigger, more popular and then hurtled towards suffocation. Given these extremes – of the bitterness, the gap in time and the strength and brevity of the first impression – the mere likelihood of anything happening between Mutya, Keisha and Siobhán, more than a decade after the fact, was remote.

But it did. Thinking back on it now, the entire period of late 2011 to mid 2013, when the reunion was rumoured, teased and became official, seems like a fever dream. The frenzy of promo shoots, seeing them all together, hearing them… In the barren wasteland of anything Sugababes related today (and yes that’s the exact descriptor for the only extant Sugababes thread on the forum), it all feels surreal. “Flatline” is almost the only concrete evidence that it wasn’t just a figment of particularly stantastic imaginations. To it then.

“Flatline” contains so much. Outside of “Freak Like Me”, “Run For Cover” and maybe “Round Round”, it is the band’s most dense song, packed as it is with a dizzying array of elements. A large part of that is down to the production. In 2013, Dev Hynes was hot property, having produced Solange’s exceptional True EP and the fever dream of Sky Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarassing”, and having a lowkey following with his Lightspeed Champion and Blood Orange projects. The very possibility of the Sugababes working with him was an indie wet dream. That this was preceded by the phenomenal “Lay Down (in Swimming Pools)”, a supposed ‘just for funsises’ number, whet the appetite to unimaginable degrees. The surprise of “Flatline” then, is that it is poppier than anything Dev, or indeed 1.0, had produced before. Yet it is so without betraying any of their originators principles.

All the Hynes trademarks are here, from the vaguely 80s, funk-pop leanings infecting everything, including the koto-like opening synths, plucking the song into life and into a somewhat off-kilter mood. That mood is entertained throughout as the song never dips into straight-up maudlin or into clear resolve. There’s the rather discordant male callouts post-chorus (courtesy of London rock outfit Spector’s Fred Macpherson) and the increasingly prominent drums, especially as the song ruptures three quarters of the way in. All of this accompanied by a series of of tiny details, which don’t quite jut out immediately but stick out on repeats: the dramatic piano chords, the plunging guitar riff before the bridge, the lilting buildup before the chorus, and that ominously dreamlike fireflies-in-the-distance denouement.

Lyrically, it’s not the best the band, or these ladies, have offered, but it’s still a fine effort which gets overshadowed a little by the song’s other standout elements. The narrative of a disintegrating relationship is standard fodder for the band, but it’s handled clinically here even if you get the sense that they could have dialled it up to One Touch levels if they so wanted. There are some lovely turns of phrase, including the opening “don’t say it no, please wait til we’re sober”. That’s counterbalanced by some less pensive takes, from the subsequent “put your guitar back down” line to the onslaught of Keisha-isms that is the bridge (the “so miscellaneous” line is Keisha down to a smugly-scribbling-on-a-notepad-in-the-back-of-cab-on-the-way-to-church T). The strongest lyrical turns for me are the almost throwaway whispers – “stay gone”, “evidently” and the randomly brilliant “oh, Jimmy” – which work perhaps less because of their inherent value and more due to placement and the cadence in vocal delivery. In that sense, even “miscellaneous” comes off as brazenly genius, purely from that rich vocal take.

Speaking of, oh the vocals. If there was one aspect driving the yearning for a 1.0 reunion, it was the vocals. The three girls who made One Touch performed so well with each other, avoiding falling into rote duties and with harmonies for days on end. Their musical journeys apart over the coming decade – Keisha on five more Sugababes albums, Mutya on three more and a solo album and Siobhán on two solo albums – were exercises in growing individual vocal prowess. The thought of them being back together was such an open, fascinating and thrilling question mark, with the underlying, burning question: would they sound as good again?

“Flatline” answers that they would. Nay, better. Having Siobhán lead not just the first verse but the chorus as well was certainly a brave choice; almost a wink-and-nod to thirsty, thirsty 1.0 stans, but to hear her crystalline tone on record for the first time in six years was just the purest delight. And then Keisha to follow on the bridge, rich, smooth and assured as ever; and Mutya trailing on the second verse, on third-role status for perhaps the first time ever but no less unmemorable for it, her glowing baritone a piquant and welcome aftertaste to the force of the chorus. Oh, and yes, the best girlband harmonies ever committed to record. Lush, rich, enveloping, warm, alive. And so blindingly strong that they become one with the production. Strip them away, and the production would appear almost nakedly minimal, but together it’s this beautiful union that just powers the whole thing through. They are especially noticeable in the middle-eight for holding the song together as it self-implodes.

And that, of course, is the essence of “Flatline”. Its entire coup, above everything, is how it becomes a different song altogether from the middle eight onwards. It could’ve been a straightforward final chorus, with everything dialled up a notch; some strings, some adlibs, a harder vocal take. Instead, the song transmutates from midtempo-ballad to Florence-esque anthem within the space of a 45 second middle eight. It consists a breathless Siobhán, the pounding drumline and the earlier guitar riff kicking into overdrive, before giving way to the male callbacks and the mushroom-cloud-in-the-distance harmonies. It is then crowned with the most blistering final chorus imaginable where everything just explodes. And in that breathless gust, it’s a subtle reinvention of the classic Suga-midtempo. Whereas the final chorus of any such instance in the past would consist of fortified production, perhaps a key change, and a flurry of adlibs (usually from Keisha, sometimes Mutya) “Flatline” throws the entire kitchen sink at all the dials. The production upturns, the key changes slightly and all three of them go in on the adlibs, coming in from all angles to pulverise the eardrums (my favourite is probably Siobhán’s lower “hang onn”). To boot, there’s Siobhán repeating “stay gone” underneath the detonating chorus and all three of them harmonising it together at the end over the ethereal end to drive it into the distance.

The blinding tragedy of “Flatline” of course, is that it was not a comeback. Or rather, it was the brief flickering ember of an aborted, frustrating and heartbreaking comeback. In ominous foreshadowings of what was to come, the wait for the song was interminable, totalling a year and a half from when the band first went public on New Year’s Eve 2012 to when the song first premiered in early July 2013. That too was preceded by endless teasing of the song’s title, and a 71 second snippet of the song’s conclusion, which actually turned out to be genius red herring given that what comes before was an entirely different song, muddling expectations to the nth degree. What followed was the nascent entity’s slow implosion into nothing. The brief three months between the song’s premiere and its release (interceded by the fabled Scala gig) would turn out to be the happiest time to be an MKS stan. Then would come the shifting release date for “Flatline”, from 1 September to the 15th and back to the 6th (mind-numbingly a Friday, before the UK release schedule shifted. Pioneering queens etc.) ostensibly due to the song’s lack of traction on radio. This was followed up with the hilariously horrendous video which has the girls on Venice Beach decked out in the worst instagram filter possible, misreading the song’s mood as a cute summery bop when it’s definitely more of a wintry, looking moody in couture slow burner. Then the song’s disastrous #50 charting, outstripping even the worst Sugababes charting and sparking a torrent of clever puns. A brief six-gig tour which rekindled hopes for some sort of carrying on in the face of adversity push, and then, since early 2014, pretty much nothing (by which I mean, plenty of tweets, grams, snaps and EUIPO register updates).

There’s not a whole lot of point in rehashing the exact reasons for the MKS catastrophe (if you’re interested, here’s 170+ pages of it). By some accounts, the failure of “Flatline” caused Polydor to drop the band. By other accounts, the band had already been put to pasture by the time the single release came up, making its failure a mere formality in wrapping things up behind the scenes. If these women thought they had escaped major label fuckery, well this is a five year, painful (and more than we know) exercise in just how bad it could get. By my account, it … doesn’t really matter. Especially after three years in time, and especially with the reasonably firm knowledge that attempts at resurrection (whatever their prospects) are afoot, it seems a bit pointless. All that’s left, and returning to this rate, is the song itself.

Evaluating “Flatline” then, is an exercise in extremes. It’s taking stock of what is a remarkable song alongside a disastrous release. These two things are largely irreconcilable, but then again, you don’t come to the Sugababes for clean narratives. The best I can personally offer is that “Flatline” is comprehensively the entire Sugababes story in a microcosm. Blinding, definitive talent being almost completely pulverised by forces almost entirely besides the talent itself, so all that remains is a series of excruciating what-ifs and the glaring spectre of potential, of what could have been. Against such a heavy burden, it’s almost impossible to extract the individual song for appreciation in vacuum. But if one finds the strength or serenity or wisdom or whatever to do so, to isolate yourself simply to the music, there is only wondrous enjoyment. In the end, it was, and still is, just an exciting record. If you had an impossible reunion take place, this was the kind of impossible record to sell it with. After the fact, there's kind of a fuck-it nihlism in kick-starting and simultaneously ending your reunion with one of your best songs, come what may.

And, after all this time, I still can’t detract from what is for me, the last most visceral experience in music to date. Hearing with confused tumult that discombobulated finale preview on Soundcloud; downloading it on the morning of July 5, 2013 NZST; and just melting into it over days upon days of blustery winter and nights on nights of shivering cold in Wellington; and thinking over and over, in dazed, wondrous, edge-of-tears fashion, that they did it. Emphatically, with little fanfare and with arresting assurance. Something that was them, something that sounded different, something that was exciting, something that took over from "Overload" in the breath-of-fresh-air stakes and something that could follow up “Run For Cover” on a playlist and encompass both every second of and none of the thirteen years in between. And in containing all these multitudes, from the structural to the musical to the personal, if the story of the Sugababes is to end right this second, “Flatline” is the most appropriate, perhaps the only, endnote.

Let’s… get the disasters out the way, even if they thankfully number low. P’NutButter (4.5), who gave a 9 to “Get Sexy” and a 10 to “Freedom” splutters “I know y’all get creamed over MKS, but this is a bland song.” Well I guess fucking “Surprise (Goodbye)” which got the coveted P’Nut 10 was certainly not bland. P’NutButter has a semantic friend in Shockbox (7) it seems, “I’ve never been one on this forum to cream myself over 1.0 so I don’t get the buzz for this or MKS. It’s a good song but nowhere near the best.” Hmm. Shady troll Filler (6) as always finds humour in the wrong places, “Look, I was rooting for them too, but I can’t help but suspect a 1.0 reunion makes more sense as a sort of belated comedy punchline to the final chapter of the Sugababes than an actual thing in practice. This is thrice the score I’d give Bastille’s best song, if that’s any comfort.” It’s not!

Finally, Chanex wants y’all to know that they gave it a 3 after I was aggressively baffled by their original 2, but the miniscule score upgrade and explanation are still dumbfounding and just plain wrong, “OK maybe objectively it’s a 3 but it was truly one of the most disappointing single releases of my life and I actively hate it. No song title has ever been more appropriate. It’s a dreary, dismal dirge, and a pretentious one at that. It’s trying so hard to be indie, as if to prove it’s more legit than the latter-day sugasound. The backing vocals after "wave" really grate, they’re so sloppy and uninspired. And that terrible video. I was so perched for this when I first played it and it was truly one of the biggest disappointments of my musical life. Loved “Swimming Pools” though hehe!” Okthnx but, I just … this is such a bizarre song to hang your cross to? I mean, it’s inexplicable just going by your own scores, which expressed almost unanimous, non-discriminatory love for all the Sugaballads (in one stretch, losing three 10s in a row from “Change” to “Sound Of Goodbye” to “Promises”) which would all qualify for the criticisms you levelled at “Flatline”. As I’ve said, I can get the disappointment of the song’s release souring the song, but to this extent, and after all this time?

What follows is some of the most rewarding commentary for me personally in this rate, as y’all fall over each other with praise.

Runawaywithme (10) has a lot to say, to us and the Babes, “I love this song so much. Everything about for me makes it the perfect song. The harmonies are so lush and better than ever, the lyrics are gorgeous and paint a nice picture while still being relatable and catchy, the production is flawless and it really reminds me of hazy old summer days when it’s really hot and the sun is just about to set and you just feel on top of the world. The “oh jimmy” part made my jaw drop the first time I heard it and I still love it now, the “don’t wanna be in love” bit gives me chills all over. The outro literally sounds like heaven with those husky yet haunting harmonies and the vintage sounding synth. I think it’s a truly magical song and I love how their voices all blend together beautifully but all really stand out. I really hope that Mutya, Keisha and Siobhán can finally release that album because this rate has made me want it even more. Come on, pop needs you and so do we. Love from a proud member of your borderline psychotic fan base.” MKS Forum Moderator Blayke gives out one of his easiest 10s, “It’s been THREE years since we were blessed with the return of the Sugababes. This song was a surprise to us all but it really cemented the true essence of Sugababes’ ability to sing any genre flawlessly. The video is good and all performances have been vocally excellent. I also quite enjoy how Mutya stated that this is her favourite Sugababes single.”

kal (9) digs up old wounds, “The change was obvious, so miscellaneous. The soaring chorus of “Flatline” is its shining moment. An amazing song, yet unfortunate single choice.” londonrain (9) is on the same train without destination, “This was definitely a grower. I didn’t really understand it as a choice of lead single, but it’s gone on to be one of the most played tracks in my iTunes library and with good reason.” This was not What Dreams Are Made Of for ssa (8), “Gorgeous. But absolutely useless as a single. Way to mess up the campaign Hilary Duff’s “Chasing the Sun”-style.” Someone who may know more about that is DJHazey (8) who does me the honour of not shading this, which I imagined to be far from his wheelhouse, “I can just imagine how excited Sugababes fans were when this first dropped, because it really does make you excited about what would have come after.” You have no idea, boo.

Zar-Unity (10) shades the cheeto disaster, “Awesome comback single by the original group members! See, this is what the real Sugababes sound like! Not the fake Sweet 7 line up. Heidi only resembles that of a ghost on Sweet 7.” Mina (8) tiptoes over dead horses in similar vein, “I’d take this over Sweet 7 any day, but I hate to say the title also aptly describes MKS’ ‘career.’” berserkerboi (10) is prepared for that pun life, “What an exciting moment it was to hear that the OrigiBabes were reforming and what a great song to have back from them. I remember lots of people being prepared to use puns based on the title about it tanking before it came out, which they obviously did. This not being a hit was a true Pop Injustice! It certainly did not flatline in my heart though!” But Constantino (8) rakes my baby heart over the coals, “Awwww! Well at least they gave it a go, right?? I know a bunch of voters are gonna stan their little hearts out for this, but realistically it was an AWFUL song to launch them with, it was not chart-friendly for the time, plus if I recall correctly they released it on a Friday which was really fucking dumb. I’m sure the elimination post is gonna cover that mess in great depth so I won’t continue down that route. The harmonies are exceptional and prove how important Mutya and Keisha are to the Sugababes’ sound.”

Sprockrooster (10) gets a little too bitsy lots in the song’s lyrics to express ha (by now unnecessary) disappointment, “I highly adore and deeply hate this song at the same time. This is one fantastic song. The girls sing absolutely fantastic in harmony, although I wonder how Heidi would have sounded on that middle eight. The lush tropical beat makes this a classic the moment you first heard this. It is one of the biggest comebacks I have ever witnessed from a pop artist I followed from the start. And what an absolute devastating chart impact. It makes me hate this song, because the silence after this song was deafoning. Consequently feeling miserable afterwards. I only seem to feel a flatline now that ought to be a wave of musical overwhelming exquisiteness.” uno (10) demonstres how to be a mature 3.0 stan, “This song is so bittersweet for me. It’s a fantastic return to form, but it only makes me want more from them. While One Touch is my 2nd least favourite album in their discography (mostly because of the squeaky voices), they sound so good with their matured vocals coming together. Siobhán’s middle eight makes it no wonder why Heidi was chosen to replace Siobhán in the first place -- they sound so damn similar! Could easily see Heidi on this, though I prefer Siobhán’s overall look within the group.” Yaas, teach the lessers!

tylerc904 (10) also has wistful regrests, “Gorgeous. The sound of wasted potential though... If only an album came to fruition on the heels of this. I’m sure it would have been immaculate. At least we got ONE official release, and a fantastic one at that.” “Gorgeous! Should have been a massive hit,” exclaims CorgiCorgiCorgi (10). roux (10) concurs that “It upsets me that this was never a hit.” “Beautiful,” sighs MrJames (9.5). ohnostalgia (8) expresses hate towards me, “So I’d purposely been avoiding listening to MKS because I’ve been warned away from all the heartache that it will bring. But now I crave hearing their voices together on a new album and I hate our host for making me listen to this song.” Let me give you three more reasons to hate me then: one, two and three (the latter is perhaps the only song to better the harmonies of “Flatline”, with heartbreaking personal narrative to boot).

Lost In Japan. (9) gets a bitsy too pedantic, “Not 10/10ing it because it isn’t a Sugababes song and it would feel wrong if it beat out some of the 2.0 classics I am rooting for, but this was a really really strong comeback (and I wasn’t a massive fan of 1.0 before it, bar “Run for Cover”). Shame it never led to anything. #SOON” CasuallyCrazed (10) steals the words straight from my weave, “The perfect comeback that never was. All three girls deliver flawless vocal performances. Those harmonies are so exquisite I’ll happily spend my whole life waiting for that MKS album that’s never coming.” Same. Nail, meet PCDPG (10), “An awesome reintroduction to three ladies with amazing different voices and harmonies. It encompasses their old sound with a more current flavor. Which makes for timeless music that can be the soundtrack to your life at any given moment in time.” The beautiful VivaForever (10) succinctly but so elegiacally says, “A return to form beyond imagining.”

When your loves line up with people of taste, you just feel a little flutter. When those people take the effort to articulate so proficiently why they share the love, you feel that flutter become a quake. And so it is that the brilliant Ironheade (10) dwells on disappointment very briefly only to spin his usual bright and essential gold and leave me… well, shook, “Oh, for what could have been. I make no secret of my belief that Dev Hynes is one of the greatest pop producers currently working, and I couldn’t have picked a better choice to bring the Sugababes back into the modern day. His knack for liquid funk grooves infuses every corner of the instrumental, and it’s laden with almost casually-included elements that manage to delight and surprise - the coolly refreshing rainfall of guitars, the way he can evoke a surprising amount with just two piano chords, the waves of distortion towards the end, the floor tom stomps and epic chanted vocals in the middle eight. It sounds like it could have all been jammed, but when you look at it, it’s so tight and crisp that its cocktail of disparate elements takes on the feel of a Brunel blueprint. And it’s like, simultaneously, nothing changed at all when it comes to our three protagonists, but somehow everything did. Siobhán’s blossoming from the hesitant, nervy young girl of One Touch is a true joy to see, Keisha picks up exactly where she left off in 3.0 with a muscularly soulful performance, and the newly ragged quality of Mutya’s voice lends poignancy to the material. That chorus switch-up at the end is just the icing on the cake. The charts never deserved MKS or Dev Hynes anyway.”

mrdonut (10) pours out the muthafuckin’ tea, “It’s time to forget the mess surrounding this release and what followed (or rather what didn’t follow) so we can just bask in the radiance of a dazzling pop song. I find no faults whatsoever in “Flatline”: the vocals, arrangements, production and lyrics are first-rate. If this is the definitive end to all things Sugababes, I couldn’t think of a better song with which to say goodbye.” acl (10) reveals strategic tricksies, anecdotes and a rolodex of blame, “This was a contender for my 11 but due to the lack of love I feel it will get in the rate, along with the fact that my actual 11 has the depth and darkness that embodies the signature sound of the Sugababes, “Flatline” must fall into joint 2nd place with “Stronger”. It does have the best three-part harmonies ever recorded though.

When it came out I was in a relationship that had been dead for a few years but which I had resigned myself to. So the flatline hook was resonating with me in all kinds of ways and those harmonies were life inducing, giving me strength and optimism to make changes. Quite possibly the most underrated song in history, as it should have been #1 everywhere. The blame for it not being so falls onto multiple shoulders. Mostly on the necrophiliacs in charge of play listing music for shit music station such as capital. The rest of the blame falls on the novice who created a truly piss poor GCSE grade music video void of any meaning or aesthetic beauty.”

It was a complete delight to see this finishing so high, when I had expected a Top 20 for it at most knowing the repiditous disdain for it literally everywhere. For portions of the voting period, it hovered as high as #5/6, only to come crashing down right at the end and within a few points of falling out of the Top 10. As much as I like “Denial”, this definitely deserves it more. Paired with the finish and compounding my delight was an unexpected pair of 11s. The lovely Supernerd takes over the reins from acl on the anecdote front and dials it up an exquisite notch, “Is this the best song any iteration of the Suga's has recorded? Probably not, but it's the one I have the most personal connection to so it gets my 11. While the song is about a failing relationship specifically, “I can feel a flatline, there oughta be a wave” perfectly summed up my entire life when this song was released. Nobody prepares you for how hard those first couple of years out of University are and when this song released I felt totally stagnant in many areas of my life, with this song perfectly capturing the pain and frustration I felt. Beautiful musically, beautiful lyrics, beautifully sung by all three girls. Incredible.”

Finally, I’ve mentioned before how I basically signed up to this forum because of the Sugababes. It did indeed happen during the leadup to the release of “Flatline”, when things were oscillating from hope to the beginnings of despair in hyper speed. In that rarefied moment, I could only make overtures to as-of-yet-formless others by peddling snippets of briefly leaked MKS demos (ΝΝΝΝΝ), and that was how I found my first friend here. Their friendship over the many years since, in mutual-consolation over matters MKS and many others besides, has always been so warm and supportive and delightful. This is one of the few moments where forum and rate come together so serendipitously for me. So it seems only fitting in the most perfect of ways that this closes with the truly wonderful, wonderful Solenciennes, “I still remember where I was when I finally got to listen to the full version of “Flatline”. I had tears in my eyes and I had goosebumps all over. Part of me still wonders if I love this so much because it’s the last official release we have from them (in the same way that I probably inflated how much I liked “Freedom” for a long time) and whether that clouds my judgment somewhat, but I still listen to this all the time. It’s lost none of that freshness it had on first play and the thing I find most mesmerising about it is that if I really focus on the chorus, I catch onto different voices every single time. It’s a really well constructed track that harks back to all the best parts of “Overload” (iconic guitar, morose lyrics, Siobhán leading the pack) while managing to sound utterly unlike anything else they’ve ever done. I definitely hear Prince – “When Doves Cry” similarities in the guitar, but that’s a much better source of inspiration than Taio Cruz, Ne-Yo and whatever else dominated 2009 when Sugababes were scraping the barrel for success. It’s the perfect song for an autumn cruise in the car and while I feel a little like I’m cheating by giving this my 11, it’s become my all-time favourite song and continues to hold special significance for me. Siobhán and Mutya both sound their brilliant best, I do think that Keisha sounds like she’s lost some of the power she had in her voice back in 2009 but she’s effortlessly slipped into being the voice that unifies Siobhán and Mutya and should be commended for her ability to be so versatile. Siobhán’s delivery of the middle eight is so emotional, it still catches me unawares from time to time and makes me well up a little bit, it’s just so forlorn and pleading, totally irresistible bit of pop music. I like that they all ad lib the outro and just adore the twinkling as it fades out, there’s so much to digest in this song and it’s absolutely the most interesting song they’ve done in a very long time. Well done, I look forward to more songs in the future… and if we never get them, we’ll always have this. Thank you, Mutya, Keisha and Siobhán.”


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Boo at Flatline being the first casualty of the top 10. This song builds and builds like nobody's business! What a triumph!

EDIT: What a glorious commentary from @Solenciennes !

EDIT AGAIN: @beyoncésweave - Your write-up is giving me life and making a good case for Flatline to have won this rate for all it brought you, the rest of us and the history/odds stacked against the ladies. I can only imagine how fantastic your write-ups are shaping up to be for the next 9 songs...
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You know what, with the surprising amount of changes in the chart climate there's been since it came out, I think if it was released today and got a good campaign behind it, "Flatline" would have more of a chance of success, especially with Dev Hynes' star continuing to rise. I think they could fit in quite well with the general trends of 2017 a lot more than 4.0 could ever have with the trends of 2010. Should I hope? (No.)

(And since I'm not the kind of guy who seeks out unreleased tracks and demos and so on in general, no, I haven't touched any of the other MKS stuff and probably won't. It'd probably only confound the what-could-have-been disappointment, anyway.)
Shady troll Filler (6) as always finds humour in the wrong places, “Look, I was rooting for them too, but I can’t help but suspect a 1.0 reunion makes more sense as a sort of belated comedy punchline to the final chapter of the Sugababes than an actual thing in practice. This is thrice the score I’d give Bastille’s best song, if that’s any comfort.” It’s not!

In hindsight, this is the one score I'm least confident about – I could have given it a 7. But this...

Finally, Chanex wants y’all to know that they gave it a 3 after I was aggressively baffled by their original 2, but the miniscule score upgrade and explanation are still dumbfounding and just plain wrong, “OK maybe objectively it’s a 3 but it was truly one of the most disappointing single releases of my life and I actively hate it. No song title has ever been more appropriate. It’s a dreary, dismal dirge, and a pretentious one at that. It’s trying so hard to be indie, as if to prove it’s more legit than the latter-day sugasound. The backing vocals after "wave" really grate, they’re so sloppy and uninspired. And that terrible video. I was so perched for this when I first played it and it was truly one of the biggest disappointments of my musical life. Loved “Swimming Pools” though hehe!” exactly how I felt at the time. It seems like a weird song to find actively annoying beyond simply being disappointed with it, but somehow I found a way. Those brief bits of male vocals still rub me up the wrong way and they're always somehow the main thing I remember about the song.

Good thing you didn't hold the rate a few years ago I guess. If you'd caught me at the wrong time it'd have been in my bottom 10. Maybe in 2020 it'll be a 10. It'll probably be a good year for hindsight after all.

By the way, I've one 6 left, and in hindsight, that should have been... a 5.5. But I don't do decimals so never mind.