Sweet 7 is the seventh studio album by British girl group the Sugababes, released on 15 March 2010 in the United Kingdom by Island Records. Production for the album began in April 2009 and was completed in January 2010. Sweet 7 is the first release since the controversial departure of Keisha Buchanan, who was replaced by 2009 Eurovision Song Contest entry Jade Ewen in September 2009. As a result of the group line-up change, Sweet 7 was re-recorded to feature the vocals of new member Ewen and for the removal of former member Buchanan's vocals, In addition this is the first album that features no original members.
The album was produced by and tipped for a United States release with Jay-Z's entertainment company Roc Nation, but this was later disputed by the group which claimed that Roc Nation was only signed to serve as A&R, as well as to produce Sweet 7. The involvement of Roc Nation's in-house producers gave the album a strong electro and dance pop sound due to work from US producers and writers, mainly Fernando Garibay, Stargate and The Smeezingtons. Despite the high-profile input, Sweet 7 was negatively received by critics, which was awarded a 39 out of 100 according to aggregated reviews at Metacritic. The negative reviews stemmed to the originality of the image due to the loss of Buchanan, as well as a lack of an identifiable sound and soul from the project.
Sweet 7 peaked at number 14 in the UK and number 35 in Ireland, becoming the group's second lowest charting album to date in those countries. Three top ten singles were generated from the album, including the lead single "Get Sexy", which peaked at number two in the UK, while "About a Girl" and "Wear My Kiss" peaked at number eight and seven, respectively. Promotion for the album ended after the release of the final single so that the group could begin work on a new album.
Apparently, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But try telling that to the Sugababes, who faced a cruel backlash following the departure last year of founding member Keisha Buchanan and the appointment of Eurovision star Jade Ewen. With postponed seventh album, Sweet 7, finally available, it’s interesting to see if the group’s charm can transcend their personnel issues.
Sixth album Catfights and Spotlights dangerously, but admirably, shied away from the electro explosion with outstanding results. Unfortunately, its results in a commercial context didn’t correlate, which may explain this release’s total 180-degree turn and hopping aboard the RedOne bandwagon, one that’s served Lady Gaga so well. Unfortunately, the upshot is style over substance in a display of nonspecific electro-pop as clichéd as the aforementioned adage itself.
It’s hard to imagine, even if Buchanan were still present, that Sweet 7 would sound any less generic. It’s not her departure that’s to blame for the lack of identity here; it’s the serious vocoder abuse, uninspired production and the stream of Americanisms. And any opportunities for Ewen to make her mark are few and far between, her gale-force chops heavily obscured by such torrential overproduction. It’s only because it hangs doggedly onto the Sugababes brand that it’s not entirely devoid of anonymity.
There are certainly a few glimmers of brilliance – Wear My Kiss boasts a hook evocative of the instantaneous splendour of Hole in the Head, while Amelle Berrabah’s unashamed attitude saves She’s a Mess. Elsewhere, there are reminders that any venture the ‘Babes take into ballad territory is largely triumphant, via the unpretentious Little Miss Perfect and the Ryan Tedder-esque Crash and Burn.
But chiefly, Sweet 7 doesn’t sell the Sugababes as individuals or as a brand. Perhaps it’s unfair to expect great things at this stage – a chance to gel and re-establish their ideals might bear a far more appealing fruit in the form of album eight. It’s just a shame that in such an overt attempt to make an album that’s so intrinsically of the moment, the Sugababes’ own moment seems to have sadly passed. User Comments