I can admit when I’m wrong and yes, I slept on “Flatline”. It’s been out for a minute and I clearly dismissed a bit too quickly as here we are a couple months after the track’s release and I’m just now warming up to the song. The funny thing is, it took a remix rendering the vocals partially indecipherable for me to appreciate the debut efforts of Mutya, Keisha and Siobahn.
For the uninitiated, Mutya, Keisha and Siobahn are the original members of U.K. girl group Sugababes. The group racked up an notable list of hits during the 2000s, and they are equally known for the volatile line-up drama that made the Destiny’s Child saga seem amateurish in comparison. While the current version of the Sugababes struggles to remain a hit-making machine, the O.G. ‘Babes have all reformed to record now as “Mutya Keisha Siobahn”—- though my vote would have been for the much sexier “MKS” moniker.
I was excited to hear about the girls being back in the studio and the buzz singles that they released, re-works of tracks by hip hop It dude Kendrick Lamar and indie rock’s Phoenix, suggested that they were abandoning glossy pop for something a bit more adventurous. So with the “Swimming Pools” remix dancing in my head, I clicked play on their official debut single “Flatline” hoping for more of the same.
The ladies, however, opted for a summery 80s pop single which immediately plunged me into “huh? wha?” mode given the buzz singles that they dropped. Sure, they sounded great, but where was my hip hop/soul? My indie rock mid-tempo jams? What eventually turned me around, oddly, was hearing the vocals chopped and re-arranged in the recently released MJ Cole mix of “Flatline”. MJ grinds the girls’ voices into a series of stuttering snippets over a thumping 90’s house groove with allowances for extended use of the vocals happening during a gorgeous breakdown showcasing MKS’ delicious harmonies. Having spun the remix a few times, I was curious about the original vocal production which lead me to revisiting the song and finally joining “Team Flatline”.
Check out the MJ’s version below and then go ahead and give the original some love by checking out MKS’ California dreamin’ home movie video for the song.
“Flatline” (MJ Cole Remix)
UPDATE: I just discovered a new remix of the track courtesy of UK producer MNEK. Equally as 90s house-y but not quite the banger that MJ Cole’s take is, MNEK does get bonus points for using more of the original vocals and those new backgrounds that remind me of the club mix magic Mariah used to make with David Morales. I am, however, still deciding on how I feel about MNEK’s take on Janet’s “That’s The Way Love Goes”.
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