A new series of our pop podcast - dedicated to the Sugababes music career. We cover everything girlbands - the hits, the battles, the break ups and make ups. So join us each week for a new podcast episode dedicated to everything Sugababes
There had been rumours of a drift between the girls. So, they apparently started speaking their own language by adding ‘ski’ to the end of every syllable.
Legend has it that during a promotional tour of Japan….. Siobhan excused herself for the toilet climbed out a window and was never seen again.
Some substance to the rumour - Mutya was quoted in the Guardian as saying “She excused herself to go toilet” “I hate her for running away and leaving us, why couldnt she have had the guts to tell me to my face what her problem was? No Guts that Girl.”
For her part, in the same article, she says “I’ve never said anything bad about them, I only talk about how things made me feel and Im more entitled to do that.” Talk about taking the High Road.
She did sell Popworld - it was Keisha she didnt get on with. I mean, its hard to hide anything from them. God they played some terrible features on that show….. Heres some anagrams, name the artists. Youd NEVER catch me doing that….. Now for my anagram game.
'Being one of three sisters, I'm used to two ganging up on one. But at home I always knew the dynamic would change, it was never the same two. In Sugababes it was always those two and then... me. I was bewildered. Why couldn't we all just get on? Travelling the world... why couldn't it have been fun?'
But that must be weird….. Keisha and Mutya were already friends and Siobhan had to come into that. (ITS SO
Now this siobhan incident happens in Japan - so, you know, they must be having a fun exciting time. They’re on a promotional tour of Japan. How fun!
With hindsight - in interviews they have said they wish someone had sat them down to talk about things. That they were so young and their were outside influences (management - Siobhan didnt want to do that soundtrack) that was whispering in their ears.
That a lot of it were little problems that didnt seem so important now…… but we all look back with rose tinted. Maybe Keisha was just thinking - Jesus, after Amelle Siobhan was a treat!
Either way…. She got sued for breach of contract by her former manager,. Detective Aaron got on his monocle and magnifying glass….. I couldn’t find anything but passing references to this in interviews. I was expecting to go full Ally McBeal and read law reviews and journals. I had my Elle Woods pink suit read “Popjection, your honour”.... But alas, nothing. I think its for going to the toilet for 12 years. I don’t think that was specifically in the contract but I imagine it got in the way.
She initially stated she wanted to pursue a fashion career but was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression. At [that] point I was happy never to work again. I had got to the point where I'd look in the mirror and not know who I was. I felt like I didn't have a personality. I'd lost my identity. I felt like a zombie. A dead person.' - (DailyMail)
Exacerbated by Roaccutane, an effective acne drug but with dramatic side effects thought to include severe depression
She says afterwards that noone called after she left. Didn’t check in a couple months later….. Not just the girls but not their driver, or the label,
All those photos of us refusing to smile? I was just really pissed off. - She was 17.
Imagine having a pop career that had begun and was declared over by 17!
THey have said “the adults” didn’t try and look after us.
So, London Records actually dropped the Sugababes…. But kept Siobhan. I dont always get it - industry RAVE about Siobhan. They love her voice. I always preferred the other two…. Not bad, still great, but Mutya. Wow.
On the recording of first single Overload….. Producer Cameron McVey insisted that Siobhan sing the lead vocal.
Sharing the same management as Blur and Morcheeba. As such she does some backing vocals for Morcheeba and a couple of other bands.
Well, it is with producer Cameron McVery she begins producing her first album. (Cameron McVey is Neneh Cherrys husband - Heritage). Well, actually - father an son producers….. Camoeron McVey and Marlon Roudette (someone didnt take their birth name) She co-wrote on everything. Can we have a moment…… to appreciate the writing credentials of Sugababes!
POP QUIZ: She undergoes all her early work under an alias. Which is an anagram of Siobhan Donaghy….. Guesses?
She toured pub venues in a transit van under an assumed name - Shanghai Nobody - An anagram for anyone who loves a word puzzle.
this is real grass roots stuff. And that is actually crazy fun. You know, Im a stand up comic and Im lucky now I get to play in some nice venues. But my friends and I still talk about the dingy grubby places we used to gig and the roadtrips. Darren Harriott fat legs story.
Well, she releases her first promo single under this - Nothing But Song - as she didnt want to be seen as “The girl who left sugababes”. It seems music is more her……. With the album. There are some tracks that feel like that label said: Make us a hit. And she tried. For the most part it feels like she is making the album she wants to make!
Its a small team co-write: Each of the twelve tracks on the album were co-written by Donaghy with McVey, Silvio Pacini, Preetesh Hirji, Matt Kent and others.
Revolution in Me produced by Cameron McVey - who worked on Overload. Initially she said it was just to help overcome her depression.
She releases her first single - the under rated “OverRated” on June 2003. Which peaked a no. 19. (Dare, I say, not to be sniffed at). It reached the top 20 in the UK - No. 19. Its a hit! Techincally. She is the queen of “first single gets all the hot press”. It was her first and only song to hit the top 20. I mean, it wa A-listed on BBCs Radio 1 radio station.
Daily record,... described it as: her second stab at success is certain to be more fulfilling for everyone”.
So, it is two years after the controversial exit.
Twitst of fate - which she described as the more commercial song. Peaked an no, 52. Watch the videos. Im sure I remeber her saying this was a song the record label made her write “be commercial”. Another soul sound.
We were due a third single - a christmas song - Iodine. Honestly, a great loss. Its Bananas. You ever heard it?
We're like turkeys in a box
Our feathers all plucked off
And we're all ready for Christmas Day
Here's the paradox:
We're like presents all wrapped up
And we can't wait for you to give us away
Its not a happy clappy - Mariah Carey dancefloor number. But it was dropped.
Shall we talk about the rest of the album - on a whole?
The Guardian didn’t seem to love it. In a 3-star review that read like a 1, they said she sounded like a glass of milk and compared her to Siobhan Fahey from bananarama….. But not kindly.
Donaghy is ambivalently Catholic, which provides, in a look-Ma-I'm-contentious way, subject matter for the bravely titled first single, Overrated. "Will I ever lose these old Catholic blues?" she tremulously wonders as a wispy acoustic guitar threatens to engulf her.
It is more on a indie/singer songerwriter album. More melancholic. But there are sharper, more upbeat moments. There some rock. Its by no means varied - but maybe it is a slightly more aligned follow up to One Touch, than Angels is. But we’ll cover that next time……
She limps in at 119 on the Official album charts. I thought to myself - why is that, is she at odds with the rest of the music at the time. So Detective Aaron got out his monocle and magnifying glass, did some digging. Shall I read you the top 10?
3 new albums in the top 10: (1) Dido - Life for Rent, (2) Robbie Williams - Live at Knebworth, (9) Rachel Stevens - Funky Dory.
Also in top 10 - Darkness debut, R Kelly Greatest Hits, Muse, COldplay, Sting, Nicklerback, Hayley westerna.
So - you know - the Dido sound is maybe more Siobhan.
I did love this album - I brought it. I think I had to order it into store! Will I buy siobhan or will I buy Jamelia?! It was big deal back then - You were choosing an album that would sound track your life for the next 3 months. Years even.
Her forename had to be stylised to remove the omelout - aaargh!
It was released with 8 additional covers, so anyone can choose the cover….. Thats fore thinking in terms of marketing,
It did have some beautiful lyrics for college student, Aaron. I thought was the big bollocks and Siobhan had used SCIENCE: We're all XY, XX chromosome
And the love between us is fully grown.
Melt my soul like you're a solvent, I could use your deep involvement
Loving this quote: “I dont see why it surprises anyone that I made a great album”. (Independent) "I find the charts really, really boring," she confesses. "You used to have to be a genius to get in the charts. Now it is just about selling-out. "People think this album is my indie reinvention, but really it's not. I can't be bothered to take it all so seriously. I just want people to like the record. I'm not obsessed with numbers."
I like that Siobhan has always been quietly confident in her talents.
Released September 2003. Debuted at #117.
She played the New Stage at Glastonbury….. At the same time the girls were on the Pyramid Stage! Thats got to smart.
I think they were the first girlband to play the mainstage at Glastonbury. I dunno where I found this “fact” but, we live in a fake news culture, so lets get that out there. Its probably Daily Mail - which at this point is just fan fiction.
JUICY STORY: So when she is promoting RIM…. she is with a boyfriend. Ted May who works at record company warners. She tells the independent he got into a lot of trouble for shagging the artist. I was 16 then; he was 25!”
Siobhan is proper earth woman, lads - One way she differs from many other teenagers is in her determination not to rush things, including a follow-up album. "I am considering doing some charity work. I'm not exactly helping the world right now. It's easy to get self-important. I've made a great record, and the rest of the time, it seems, I spend talking about myself," she says.
After that she makes a few features on London Record artists such as Mattafix albums “Signs of a struggle” and Morcheebas album “Antidote”.
(there is something in the SIobhan story about living up to expectation - eluded potential…… also, why the pressure? She has (in recent years) never sounded anything short of happy. Is it a modern problem of - oh, you got to achieve fame or you are nothing.)
So, after diasppointing album sales. Industry still believe in her. Parlophone had believe in her….. They gave her free reign to record her second album.
GHOST - this is really the record regarded as the pinnacle of her career. And almost
considered, for her, like…., why would I do anymore? I made the album i wanted. It sounded like i wanted it ot sound; I said what I wanted to say. I kinda love that…. Not an album I got onboard with but I love the release of that. The refreshing “oh, I did what I wanted to do, and what….” nature of it.
She recorded the album holed up in a studio in France - we know the spice girls loved a foreign language crossover - she did the whole album in Branewille-carteret, France.
So, we get the first single in April 2007 - Dont Give Up - which debuted on her MySpace page. Of course it did (Myspace - lets just picture the scene. Its 2045. We’re doing series 26 of the podcast. We still havent done the Steps one we promised. But we’re covering, I dunno, Little Mix - but theres no myspace - its gone. Instead, we’re like ‘Jesy Debuted her single on TikTok’. These forgotten medias.”
It gets added to Radio 1 C-list. Not to be sniffed at. But the best praise comes from none other than Mutya Buena - "it is very different from other music genres".
I dont remember hearing about it particularly at this time. 2007 - I know where I am musically BLACKOUT. The musical landscape is electrical R&B, dance music. She is doing eccentric outsider.
Theres no hook - its all so high pitched you can’t sing along to it at work can you. Noone is tackling it at karaoke. You wont hear Alexandra Burke doing it at her X factor audition.
Aside from the music, can we do aesthetics. She looks banging in this video. So, Revolution, I remember thinking she was cool and trendy but looking back she still seems kind of awkward and uncomfortable. This video - hello - her hair looks great. Its a deeper red, like a mahogany, and it suits her great. She is very fashion. Super trendy. Im getting Roisin Murphy vibes. The years have been kind…… can I also say - this is 2007. The last pictures I’ve seen of her are here. SHE STILL LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME. Her and Mel C, what are these women doing. Low key stunning with no aging,
Well, the public didn’t love it - Or like me they didn’t hear it - got to #45.
So you say - June 2007
Now, I know I said she had gone trendy - the cover of this single. May I show you?
Just Siobhan in a red hooker bra. I dont get it.
We are getting budget on these videos - no? Parlophone with the big bucks. Owls in slo mo. Glass in slow mo. Sales in slow mo.
I have a controversial theory about Siobhans success. I think its her voice….. Beautiful. Haunting. But its not very pop or radio…. Like, I take a while to figure out the words, or find something to latch onto. WHich is fine in the album - why i was able to enjoy the alnum but thats hard to get traction on a single. But in the band - with two other distinct voices, And maybe Keishas being a bit more mainstream. Do I say Diana Vickers in this statement? Same sort of vibe. In my reduced vision - similar aesthetics.
I think she sounds very distinct from the Sugababes. Lyrically and sonically. I think the way her voice is used is different. Its higher, its longer notes, its more ‘ghostly’. I think the lyrics are more complex. I don’t think she is trying to make hits or hooks.
And it feels different to the MKS - I think her lyrics are denser, more complex. Heres the science part.
What did we think of the album?
Its haunting - i found it a tough listen all through. Its not easy listening, there are challenging moments. Shes not making radio. But as individual tracks, I liked most of them. ‘So you say’ did get stuck in my head. Goldfish stunned me a few times. Coming up for air’ is my favourite - it sort of builds and wanes and, for me, her voice and lyrics are most impactful. Ironically, wouldnt have sounded out of place on the leaked MKS album.
I was getting some alanis morissette/Sheryl Crow vibes in 12 bar acid blues - shes in a taxi.
Shes telling a story. Reviews give her a lot of Kate Bush comparisons.
Do you want to hear the reviews?
BBC said it was superior to her debut with a craftsmanship and an elegance to turn heads, win admirers and give Donaghy the spotlight she’s long deserved.
NME said - re-casts herself as the insouçiant, cut-glass-voiced heiress of eccentric English pop.
Nick Levine at Digital Spy said: Donaghy has crafted a record that manages to be accessible without being crass, ethereal without sounding like the soundtrack to a meeting of white witches on Hampstead Heath, and adult without resembling something that Celine Dion might screech
Also he notes: Donaghy has admitted that she and Sanger didn’t see eye to eye for much of the recording process is hardly a surprise considering that Sanger was battling heroin addiction at the time and the tension between producer and popstrel looms large over this record.
James Sanger - Producer. Let me give you his cool credentials
U2, Madonna, Dido, Phil Collins, Manic Street Preachers, Keane, Sinead O'Connor, The Cardigans, Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, Alex James (Blur), The Pet Shop Boys, Joe Satriani, Bryan Adams, KD Lang, Annie Lennox, The Cure, Faithless, Jimmy Somerville, Mumiy Troll, Suede, Lorien, Mytown, Liam Howlett (Prodigy), Liam Gallagher (Oasis), Boy George (Culture Club),
Now let me give you his POD OF THE POPS credentials:
Kylie Minogue, S Club 7, Mel C, The Appletons, A1, Lene Marlin, Kym Marsh
"At this point in time I have no further plans to undertake another record of my own. Ultimately, the true nature of the business side of the music industry is enough to keep me away. Nonetheless, if I find myself in the future bursting with ideas and experiences I feel the need to share through music, I will be back," (WE7)
Do you wnt to hear the best - “why it didnt sell line” - The album was the subject of a manufacturing error just prior to its release, with Donaghy later confirming, "When Ghosts came out, it didn't go on a new release shelf in any shop because it got delivered and there'd been a mistake on the production line. I've never heard the music that was on the CDs, but it wasn't my album. When the stores were told about it, the album was lifted off the shelves and taken back. By the time it was ready, a lot of the stores didn't take it back because they were pissed off."
We do get a statement from her on, a her website - that somewhat contradicts her earlier quote:
"Message to you and the fans (Ominous - thats like Geris lawyer…. This is a message to the fans)
I'm sorry that this is the first thing anyone has heard from me in a while. I've been on the forum and the general consensus seems to be that I'm feeling down, but I'm feeling good. I'm feeling in control.
I think it would be an impossibilty for me never to make a record again. I just couldn't do that, but to say to the fans that I am actively working on a new album when I am not would be unfair.
One thing everyone has to realize is that being an underground leftfield artist used to pay the bills but in this age of the music industry, it is impossible.
I'm not a kid anymore. I'm looking over the next few years to getting a house and having a family of my own. I need to pay the bills. It feels totally liberating not to be beating down a record company door with another amazing album that they just yawn at. I get the feeling that we wouldn't have had the great music from the past if record company folk were such lazy idiots as they are so clearly now!
It's also an age for big brother, x factor, dancing on ice. You get my drift! I'm fighting a losing battle. People want scandal and addiction. They want a record thrown together in 2 weeks by 12 writers! I feel I need this to blow over. To see what the industry does next as ultimately the artists hold the power and good music will win through. The last thing I want to do now is write my best work for it to go underground!
I'm not and never could be a celebrity. I'm just a regular girl finding my way and making mistakes.
Comparisons to Taylor Swifts Folklore: This idea of an indie artist, what they are and who they should be. How taylor does this style of music and it gets critical acclaim, commercial success and - most importantly - coverage.
We get a bit of a career as a DJ. Why not?
Then she pops up in …..
RENT - in 2008. Lead role of Mimi (do you know what other famous Girlband member played MIM? Mel B!).
To be correct, it was Rent - remixed. Its a minimalist approach - 4 musicians in the pit and supporting cast of 7. (of which Siobhan is 1 of 11%. Nearly 10% of the musical). She stars alongside Denise Van Outen. The musical director is Steve Anderson - who is maybe best known for his work as a producer for Kylie Minogue. Pop roots.
In London west end…. Proper west end, Duke Yorks Theatre. Oct 2007. For 5 months….. It only ran for 5 months. But still a hard slog. Not to be sniffed at. This was her west end debut….. In a lead role (is it a lead role?)
It reviews were more Viva Forever than Mamma Mia.
Guardian gave it 1 star and called it “a grisly, synthetic, pseudo pop concert with no particular roots or identity”.
“The characters in Baker's updated version now inhabit a white-walled, perspex-screened, skeletal-doored world that shrieks Manhattan chic: if this is raffish Bohemian poverty, I wouldn't mind some of it”
On Siobhan herself - “Siobhan Donaghy as Mimi also sings pleasantly and reveals a nifty pair of pins.”
After that she even managed to sign another deal with EMI in 2009. You’d never think it of Siobhan…. You’d probably put her in the box of Michelle Stephenson as a “Missed Out” but she is pure Hustle!
Which….. We wouldn’t get a solo but MKS come together in 2011.
So, theres some big gaps here in the timeline -
She got married in 2013- To Chris McCoy in a Private ceremony. We can’t do a wedding dress breakdown properly - because they didn’t sell their wedding to a magazine. ClassyBabe... Both OrigiBabes were in Attendance. In 2017 she was pregnant with first child - Aug 13, 2017, Ford Charles McCoy.
So…… we ended every episode of Series 1 by seeing wether their Spice Girls name was appropriate - so - if we were to give the Sugas babenames. What would they be
I’m thinking Critical Babe. Because she was always critically successful. Or Serious Babe. Because she is so serious. Like Kokoom.