Are the Sugababes right for the Camden Crawl?

'Sugababes headlining Camden Crawl is the most leftfield festival pick of the year '

YES says Howard Jones…

Sugababes headlining Camden Crawl is the most leftfield festival pick of the year so far. Did anyone see that coming? The musical purists are sure to be coming out and jumping onto their soap boxes proclaiming the death of music. I say get over it! It is about time that pop took the big plunge and sent their manufactured puppet shows back into the musical trenches, in front of a sweaty and lively crowd, at an event that matters.

The Sugababes have tasted festival action at V Festival before but V Festival is a sheltered environment with little to fear. V festival has been a proven pop haven for years with Girls Aloud, Gaga and Katy Perry all strutting their stuff in recent years. Camden Crawl will be a whole new ball game for the pop trio. They are now headlining an event, which is associated with musical credibility.

The surprise of the Sugababes headlining Camden Crawl has raised many questions about how modern pop acts have retreated into their shells. Major pop acts are now carefully controlled puppet shows where nothing can go wrong and everything must go right. Sugababes are taking a risk by performing at the Camden Crawl. It is a rare thing to see pop acts take such risks in these 'play it safe' days. They are embracing the festival scene, not shying away from it.

Modern manufactured pop acts heralded the demise of popular acts working their way up through the clubs. It’s not like the good old days when quality pop acts would work their way up the musical ladder whether it be The Supremes, Madness or Elton John. Pop acts are now shoved down our throats. Sugababes are returning to belatedly claim back some credibility for modern pop. Music fans will complain that Camden Crawl is becoming too safe and corporate but actually a Sugababes headlining slot could not be more unexpected.

Sugababes are right for Camden Crawl as they are a class pop act. A pop act should be able to headline the Camden Crawl as class renders the headliner's genre meaningless. Sugababes have had the finest pop writers in Xenomania behind them and have recently joinedJay-Z’s Roc A Fella stable. They have bona fide pop pedigree.

They have released a production line of storming dance pop singles over the years such as 'Overload', 'Freak Like Me' and 'Push The Button' to name just a few. Their back catalogue appeals way more than another dull indie band headlining the event again. They have made quality pop albums to back up their singles too, with way more killer than filler.

They are one of the few pop acts who could cut it live in a venue like the Roundhouse. Pop has become a dirty word and seems to suggest that any event with an ounce of credibility should give pop acts a wide berth. So I say congratulations to Camden crawl for bringing the manufactured pop act away from the stadium and back into the clubs.

NO argues Robyn Burrows…

Sugababes aren’t a band that would immediately spring to mind when you think of the Camden Crawl and there is a very good reason for that. Whether they were chosen as a quirky gimmick or just for the ‘shock’ factor (a la Jay-Z at Glastonbury) it doesn’t really matter, either way they are not right to headline the event. I know organisers are keen to present a diverse line-up, but what will we see next? Girls Aloud headlining The Great Escape or Lady Gaga topping SXSW? It’s unlikely. So why have these UK pop princesses been chosen to headline one of this country’s most credible musical events?

Think about it; since its inception in 1995, the ethos around the festival has been that of the indie persuasion. Discovering something new and seeing the best up and coming bands the country has to offer. Even the brain behind the very first Crawl, Lisa Paulson said the initial idea was to have great new bands and one heritage act. And although previous headliners can’t always be described as heritage acts, they have generally been bands who have been making major waves in the indie music world at that time like last year’s headliners the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

You also only have to look at the rest of the line-up to see exactly how out of place the band looks. Fellow bill toppers are Lost Prophets and We Are Scientists and to name a few of the other acts, Teenage Fanclub, Pulled Apart By Horses, New Young Pony Club and Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster. The Sugababes don’t exactly fit snugly in the middle of that lot.

The Camden Crawl is about the music; two days, 40 venues and over 200 bands. There’s no glitz and glamour; it’s an honest, gritty inner city musical party. It conjures up images of sweaty gigs, beer and lots of guitars. The people who go year on year are music fans who are keen to discover up and coming talent and maybe see one or two indie giants. One thing that draws them back is the reliability of the line-up. The Sugababes may well have already scored three top ten singles from their most recent album, but do you really think the punters who fork out their cash for the Camden Crawl are the same people who put them at the top end of the charts? No, I didn’t think so.

One of the great things about the Camden Crawl is the mystery. They only announce who is playing where at the very last minute, getting people running around Camden Town like a bunch of headless chickens so they can see their chosen acts. They are also famous for the calibre of the surprise guests that pop up throughout the weekend. But this choice of headline act has got us worried.

It’s nothing personal against the Sugababes; they are extremely good at what they do. Their longevity (albeit with constant changes in their line-up) and their commercial success prove that. Their music certainly has its place, but the Camden Crawl isn’t it.