Let’s talk about ex: Lauren Murphy peaks to a Sugababe,
The faces may have changed but the hit-making brand is still going strong. Sugababe Amelle Berrabah talks bitchiness, bonding and role models with Lauren Murphy
SUGABABES? More like Canderelbabes these days, if you ask us: sort of like the real thing, but not quite the same. If that sounds a smidgen “bitchy”, well, it’s appropriate for the girl group that has (unfairly, some would say) gained a reputation as one of the most callous in British pop music. We’re not saying that this band’s history is chequered, but their revolving-door policy would give the most limber doorman repetitive strain injury.
I’m hanging on the telephone, waiting to speak to Amelle Berrabah about the trio’s most eventful year yet, and to be perfectly frank, it’s not boding too well. Sugababes are proving rather difficult to pin down; a touted trip to London to speak to all three members soon became a phone call to just one, and even that’s proving somewhat problematic – although unsurprising, if rumours of their “difficult” disposition are anything to go by.
It comes as something of a surprise, then, to eventually hear a chirpy, apologetic and friendly voice on the other end of the line. The 25-year-old Berrabah has taken temporary refuge in her family homestead in Aldershot, a town unofficially known as “The Home o surroun served t to be a p proof ar
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Yet B the reco di Rang the grou nan. She answers to all poking and prodding about what actually happened between the trio, not even responding to media barbs that Sugababes are more of a business these days than a pop group. Many discontented commentators, including Buchanan herself, even suggested that the current line-up (including new recruit Jade Ewen) were brazen to continue operating under the Sugababes name, sullying the reputation of a group who have produced such modern pop classics as Freak Like Me and Push the Button.
“Me and Heidi have never lied to the press,” she says, swiftly sidestepping the question of the moniker. “We don’t want to go into detail about why the line-up changed. We were out in Los Angeles, and we were like ‘No, we can’t carry on the way things are going.’ It was hard, I’m not gonna lie to you, but we still both have the utmost respect for Keisha. She’s a lovely girl and I just always try remember the good years we had together.”
So far, so tactful. Is it inevitable, then, that a group like the Sugababes will have their every move sensationalised by the tabloids, who seem intent on perpetuating the myth of the “bitchy girl group”? Would a male band such as JLS receive the same treatment in a preconceived thoughts, that there’d be a lot of bitchiness. Then when I saw them, I was like ‘I am sooo sorry, I feel really guilty! You’re not really like that at all, are you?’ I’d fallen for the same thing as well. I think it’s just always going to follow us, I think it will always follow girls, anyway. I think people find it hard to believe that girls do actually get along – and we generally do. Obviously, with our last line-up there were some problems there, and that’s why we went our separate ways, and that’s why me and Heidi left the band – there were no lies there. We were fine for a long time, then we weren’t fine for about a year. But at the moment, we’re generally having the time of our lives.”
Berrabah, in particular, felt the strain of the split. Having previously been subjected to more media intrusion into her private life than any other Sugababe, she spent time being treated for “nervous exhaustion” in a German clinic for several weeks in late 2009.
“At times, me and Heidi were very stressed out, and we were like ‘OK, let’s just tell people the bloody truth about what happened – not even go into detail, but we’re being made out as the bad people here. We’ve done nothing wrong, we just left a band that was getting too difficult to be in’.”
Such experiences must make your position as a role model to thousands of young girls all the more satisfying, I wager. How does she feel about the idea of setting an example to a generation of Sugababes fans? Berrabah seems hesitantly pleased, if not a little uncomfortable at the suggestion.
“I definitely love being in Sugababes, but I don’t really think of myself as being a role model; I’m just me.Growing up, I definitely idolised pop stars like Whitney, Mariah Carey, Madonna – really strong, independent females. Idols, basically. At the same time, my mum was so important to me. There’s a really good support network around me and I’m lucky to have that.” oming year, that’s venth Sugababes ed for release last wen recorded her chanan’s – finally k. It’s their first tion label, and it it sees Sugababes ker, sexier sound US pop market, utions from the duction team of
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rselves. If people m and like it, then one, really. So a eah. That sounds ontinued success with rumours of l ’babes – Buchaobhan Donaghy – to form a rival r that the Sugpera is far from ing’s for sure, the curtain does
on their career, e for one hell of a graphy.