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Pussycat Dolls – the breakup – I hate this part
Is it true? Are the Pussycat Dolls finally about to disband or will they reform? It’s the question that has been asked by everyone who loves this successful 5 girl, sorry 6 girl – hang on – no, a 1 girl band? Though not really a band, PCD are a group that have sometimes seen their membership rise and fall faster than an index on Wall Street - as women arrive, then quit soon after. How come? Why is there such a high turnover of women in The Pussycat Dolls? What is really going on inside one of the world’s most successful girl groups? And how did they manage to succeed with a great line up of singles and 2 hit albums, yet – like a business firm - fall apart amid a slew or resignations? So what is going on? Guess it’s time for your scribe Cheeky Girl to check out the gorgeous Pussycat Dolls. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!
The Pussycat Dolls live in concert or produced in studio are successful – no matter what way you look at it, with just 2 albums to their credit - yet to many the rise to success is a mystery too. People wonder who is behind this awesome group of women? And how does the music get to sound so good? And why did they seem to fail after just 2 albums? How can you be successful and fail? It’s a fair question. Did they following in the footsteps of every successful girl group?
Take a handful of bands for comparison. The Spice Girls (disbanded, reformed for old times sake- and money – then disbanded again), Girls Aloud, (Cheryl Cole et al now all pursuing personal projects for the foreseeable future), Atomic Kitten (Kerry Katona married a Westlife guy during their prime, then was dumped, had a breakdown, then a tv show that flopped then a meltdown – band disbanded), The Bangles (a solid Successful music group of strongly talented women / musicians - successful but disbanded, then reformed, then slowly disbanded again!). So what about the Dolls?
The Pussycat Dolls started out life way back in 1995 as a burlesque girl dance group formed by Robin Antin, a successful dancer and choreographer with big business ambitions. Though a talented dance troupe and quite popular, the Dolls lacked a good singing dimension that Robin Antin felt might turn them into a very successful music group. Antin decided to develop them into a killer Girl Group that increasingly looked and sounded different and better than anyone else, thanks majorly to help from Gurus Jimmy Lovine, Ron Fair and a group of excellent song-writers and others.
The Pussycat Dolls consists of
Nicole Scherzinger -
Melody Thornton - singer
Ashley Roberts – dancer & singer
Jessica Sutta – dancer & singer
Kimberly Wyatt – dancer & singer
Carmit Bachar – dancer & singer.
All the group except Scherzinger and Thornton have extensive dancing experience. This distinction in “labour” was to have ultimately a damaging effect on their future.
Having the formidable Destiny’s Child to contend with, and stiff competition from abroad such as the Sugar Babes, the Pussycat Dolls as a women’s group had to arrive in the music world and somehow be different to be successful. The marketers and fashion gurus got to work, reworking the line up so that Scherzinger was lead vocalist on all tracks, having a powerful and impressive musical range, along with Melody Thornton. Scherzinger had been a singer with music group “Eden’s Crush”, a finalist band in a TV music talent show.
What also may help in understanding the Pussycat Dolls is that there is more than one group. Learn this now or you’ll get a headache. The founder Robyn Antin also formed the Vegas Pussycat Dolls, a group of dancers who dance to the songs of the Pussycat Dolls, as an act in Vegas. Then there is the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Review another spin off group consisting of female dancers founded by Antin.
The group had a set of killer songs penned for them, always themed around women, girls, men, dating, sex, romance and love and were laden with certain ideas about the empowerment of females. The Dolls released the debut album “Pussycat Dolls” in 2005, and it was an instant hit, with major singles following like London buses after each other up the charts. Three hit singles of note came off this – “Don’t Cha” (– a single originally by Tori Alamaze and Busta Rhymes), then “Buttons”, and then the Grammy Nominated “Stickwitu”. There was no doubt, that the Pussycat Dolls were something different, combining major song writing talent, great producers, great dance routines, great live performances and those memorable vocal talents that mainly seemed to be Nicole Scherzinger and Thornton. The line up seemed to be such that Scherzinger got most of the attention.
Robyn Antin turned the Pussycat Dolls into a global brand and franchise as well as a successful music phenomenon. Apart from the Pussycat Dolls, Antin also manages Matt Goss and founded Girlicious and Paradiso Girls. The Dirty Virgins (now teamed up with Goss) and a successful clothing line called “Shhh” are yet more business innovations. Antin is a master Franchisee and Business Success in her own right. It’s not hard to see her logic.
In the 1990’s Prince announced at the height of his success that he was forming a group, something many thought was just dumb for a musician of his great talents. He formed the “Prince and the New Power Generation” line up and released the “Diamonds and Pearls” album. That changed the world of American music overnight. Suddenly the unthinkable and undo-able became very do-able indeed. And so others began to think along similar line, and try repeating his massive successs.
In the UK, prior to this generation, another well seasoned old hand in the Music World Jeff Lynn of ELO fame pulled a masterstroke with “The Travelling Wilburys” consisting of George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison. It obviously takes a musical genius producer like Lynn to accomplish this. Producer Trevor Horn also had huge success with his idea of Virtual bands, and getting great musical talent to suit his well-used and well-trusted music producing formula. And he is still doing it. Damon Albarn of Blur fame is another proven music talent who formed a total virtual band called “Gorillaz”. What they all have in common is someone at the center who knows a lot about music and who co-ordinates everything in the music. It’s a thing that musicians all recognise.
The Pussycat Dolls are not musicians, just singers, and they lacked a Trevor Horn or Jeff Lynn or Prince to co-ordinate the musical side. The Dolls had some music gurus, and Robyn Antin – a dancer, who became a producer admittedly – without ever becoming that middle bit, a talented musician with a musical clue. This is also important to understand when looking at the Pussycat Dolls. Surprisingly, Nicole seems to do backing vocals too. Listen to the song “I don’t need a man” to see what I mean. In the recording studio, the recordings have consisted mostly of Scherzinger and Thornton, with backing done by both women. Most people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of music franchise, and get annoyed to hear that this girl group are a franchise, but it’s true. The problem of one person carrying the rest of the team is an old chestnut in the music world. Who can forget George Michael writing singing and producing the songs of Wham, while Andrew Ridgley danced about and made it look good? The solo run was waiting to happen for George. It’s natural for people who feel they have talent to make a push for bigger better things.
And then back to the Dolls. Their music label Interscope and Antin really turned this group into a mix of singers and dancers, all with a big Girl Image and great fashion sense. Antin styled them to appeal to a broad range of people, mostly in the younger age bracket. And it worked.
After losing Carmit Bachar, who left to pursue other career ambitions, they became a five-some and in 2008 they released “Doll Domination”, which featured more massive successes with “When I grow up”, and then “I hate this part” and “Jai Ho! (You are my Destiny)”, which was included in the film soundtrack Slumdog Millionaire. The songs are a blend of clever riffs and lyrics, fast pop beats and great girl appeal, built around the great vocal talent of singer Nicole Scherzinger, who increasingly sang all the songs of the albums, with assistance from Melody Thornton. Look at the video of “I don’t need a man” to see the chemistry here. Pussycat Dolls music has a “snappy” quick-firing style all of its own, as listening to “When I grow up” clearly shows. The Dolls clearly have the musical chemistry thing sorted out. But what about the more personal chemistry? Well, it looks like that chemistry is not all it’s made out to be...
Melody Thornton has collaborated with producer Timbaland on “Shock Value 2“. (Timbaland was a producer of previous Dolls material.) And Nicole has a solo project and the next Pussycat Dolls album to prepare for. So they are all very talented in their own rights. They all to be in a hell of a hurry to get as far away from each other as possible. Clearly not a united group, and having to be managed by Antin, who seems to see the Dolls as more than one set of people in several ways - these ladies have found the going tough. Most bands can get on each other’s nerves. (The British band “The Police” had Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland constantly trying to kill each other, though they all lived to laugh about it afterwards.)
Dogged by reports of in-house fighting and disagreements between the members and rumours of Nicole getting preferential treatment, it leaves one wondering how unified a group they really were? Wyatt complained about being unhappy that Nicole was getting preferential treatment with transport and Limos at her disposal - and of Nicole getting her own dressing room, while the rest of the group had to share theirs. The cracks and divisions were appearing. Some of the bickering spilled out into the public, getting them publicity for the wrong reasons. Jessica Sutta appeared on the 2007 album “White Lies” from Paul Van Dyk and on tracks from Dave Aude on “Make it last”. Both were smash hits, and were Billboard Number Ones, begging the question – why didn’t she get more prominence in the Pussycat Dolls? Ashley Roberts had a supporting role in the film ”Make it Happen”. She is also clearly talented and artistic. Wyatt is linked to the TV show “Got to dance” on Sky TV, valued for her knowledge and experience in dancing, and is collaborating with Missy Elliott.
It was announced by Robyn Antin recently that the Dolls are to undergo (in company language) a re-structure. And so far only Nicole Scherzinger is on board as part of the new line-up. And that is the sad part. And to all the die-hard fans out there, that change will be a dissappointment for a lot of devoted fans. The Dolls have to undergo the re-invention process all over again. There have been so many iterations and versions of Pussycat Dolls, that keeping up with them is difficult - if you consider all the dancers who have been Dolls. There was even a TV show to find a new group member, but after the Winner emerged and made a small contribution to the 2nd album “Doll Domination”, she – not being comfortable with the group - quit also. Are we seeing the pattern? This group will have to work hard and many tough decisions will have to be made.
The Pussycat Dolls are a class act and have an impressive body of work (and they worked their impressive bodies!) – and will live in infamy. Some of the catchiest hit tunes to arrive on our radios in several years are credited to this great Girl Group. Pussycat Dolls Songs are instantly recognizable. They are written and produced to be “hit radio tunes” every time. Every Pussycat Dolls video is always very well produced. The Pussycat Dolls look fantastic and are always setting new trends with their outfits. So they sell lots of music, concert tickets, merchandise and ladies fashions. And sell is the operative word. These are all good reasons to keep this great girl group together. And we despair at the thoughts of losing some of them. Or all of them. Here’s hoping for a Pussycat Dolls Mark 2 and a new line up that might be more successful and perhaps learn the lessons of other music successes and shortcomings. But at the same time - we adore them and so we can only wish all the amazing, beautiful and multi-talented Pussycat Dolls every success for the future.
Text copyright (c) 2010 - 2013 Cassy Mantis / Cheeky Girl. All Rights Reserved. All videos are copyright of their respective holders.
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