The Pussycat Dolls (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The Pussycat Dolls are an American pop girl group and dance ensemble, founded in Los Angeles by choreographer Robin Antin in 1995 as a burlesque troupe. After attracting national attention, Antin negotiated a record deal with Interscope Records in 2003 turning the group into a music franchise, which developed a global image and commercial brand overseen by Antin, Interscope and various partners. The Pussycat Dolls were launched into mainstream recognition following the release of their best-selling album, PCD, which contained the number-one singles "Don't Cha" and "Stickwitu". Despite critical and commercial success, the group was plagued by internal conflict and legal turmoil, as Scherzinger was promoted as the brands' lead member. Their sophomore album, Doll Domination, which contains themes the public interpreted as a channel to the group's experience, contains the worldwide hits "When I Grow Up", "I Hate This Part" and "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)". In 2009, they announced a minor hiatus and was later revealed to be an official break up. The Dolls brand diversified into merchandise, reality television programs, a Las Vegas act, product endorsements, spin-off recording groups (Girlicious, Paradiso Girls) and other ventures.
In 2009, Billboard ranked the Pussycat Dolls as the 80th most successful musical act of the 2000s. As of today, the group has sold 15 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide making them one of the best-selling girl groups of all time with a total of 54 million records.
1995-2002: Beginnings as a burlesque dance troupe
Antin began exploring the idea of a modern burlesque troupe during 1990 with Carla Kama and Christina Applegate as performers. The troupes began to perform in 1995, and for a while (up to 2003) many dance members came and went; likewise numerous guest vocalists, with a repertoire of 1950s and 1960s popular music standards while dressed in lingerie or old-fashioned pin-up costumes. They secured a Thursday night residency at a Los Angeles nightclub, The Viper Room, where they stayed from 1995 to 2001. They appeared briefly in the 1998 films Matters of Consequence (dancing to Mancini's "Hub Caps and Tail Lights", and Keely Smith's "When Your Lover has Gone"), and The Treat (directed by Jonathan Gems).
The troupe received wider press coverage during June 1999, when Playboy featured a Pussycat Dolls pictorial, featuring at least seven contemporary members posing semi-nude (Kasey Campbell, Kiva Dawson, Antonietta Macri, Erica Breckels, Katie Bergold, Erica Gudis and Lindsley Allen). Three years later, the Pussycat Dolls moved to The Roxy. They were featured in magazines, television specials for MTV and VH1, ad campaigns, and films. Some of the Pussycat Dolls appeared in the 2003 film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, dancing to Mancini's "The Pink Panther Theme". They were also featured in Pink's "Trouble" music video.
Along with Christina Applegate, Christina Aguilera and Carmen Electra (who was the group's lead performer for many of their shows) the troupe was featured in a Maxim magazine shoot in 2002, which increased public interest in them (Aguilera later appeared in the similarly themed 2010 film Burlesque directed by Robin Antin's brother Steve).
Following their growing popularity, music producers Jimmy Iovine and Ron Fair became involved with the group helping them to transform into a franchise. The former dance troupe evolved into a popular music recording group and became employees of Iovine's label Interscope Records. The only troupe members who remained after the re-casting process were Robin Antin (taking on the creative, executive and managerial roles), Carmit Bachar, Cyia Batten, Kasey Campbell, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt. Electra, when asked about her lack of involvement with the group's evolution into a popular music group, she said, "I was part of [The Dolls] for over two years and did every show with them [...] but financially, I couldn't become part of their new music project [...] It was a sacrifice I couldn't make.
2003-06: Recording group formation, PCD and PCD World Tour
During 2003, Scherzinger, a former member of Popstars winners Eden's Crush, became the recording group's lead singer. In the same year, vocalists Melody Thornton and Kaya Jones were also recruited to the group. The musical group's initial line-up consisted of Scherzinger, Thornton, Jones, Bachar, Batten, Campbell, Wyatt, Roberts, and Sutta. The group appeared in two soundtracks during 2004, for the films Shark Tale and Shall We Dance?. The newly formed recording group's first single was "Sway" from Shall We Dance?, with a music video inspired by the film. In 2004, Jones left the group after recording a few demo songs for the debut album, to pursue modeling and a solo musical career. In early 2005, just before the group's debut, Batten and Campbell left the group to pursue their solo dancing careers. Antin remained with the group as founder, manager and business associate to Interscope. By the time the recording group was launched the musical lineup was a sextet composed of Scherzinger, Bachar, Thornton, Sutta, Roberts and Wyatt.
On September 13, 2005, they released their debut album, PCD. The album combined several dance-pop songs with their burlesque style, while the second half of the album contain tributes and covers. Lead and backup vocals are by singer Nicole Scherzinger. The album peaked at number one in New Zealand, the top-five in Canada, the Netherlands and the United States, and top-ten in United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland. Worldwide, PCD has sold nine million copies. Their first single, "Don't Cha" was a success, reaching number one in multiple countries including United Kingdom, Australia and Canada and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was originally sung by Tori Alamaze and featured rapper Busta Rhymes. The ballad "Stickwitu" was another top five in the United States, and was their second number one in the United Kingdom. It was later nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group.
"Beep", featuring will.i.am, was less successful but did reach number one in Belgium and New Zealand. "Buttons" (with rapper Snoop Dogg) scored number three on the UK Singles Chart and in the United States.
Their next single, "I Don't Need a Man" was not as successful, although it scored the top 10 in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and United Kingdom. The group's sixth single from the album was "Wait a Minute" featuring Timbaland, becoming the groups top 30 success in the United States. The group was selected to perform for the introduction for ABC's coverage of the NBA. The Pussycat Dolls first opened for The Black Eyed Peas Honda Civic Tour in North America. At the beginning of 2007 they toured in North America as a support act for Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics Tour, along with Danity Kane and NLT. In November 2006, the Pussycat Dolls embarked their PCD World Tour with Rihanna as the opening act in the UK leg. The Pussycat Dolls performed at the Manchester Evening News Arena in a concert that was recorded and later streamed via MSN Music. In parallel with the Pussycat Dolls franchise as a recording act, during April 2005 a resident live show commenced at the "Pussycat Dolls Lounge" adjacent to Pure Nightclub in Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. This show contains "cast members" who continue the burlesque-style show which began in Los Angeles during 1995. At least one early member of the L.A. dance troupe, Rachel Sterling, made the move to the Las Vegas show. The cast includes vocalist Jamie Preston, Hayley Zelniker, Amanda Nowak, Colby Amanda and Alicia. Former dolls include Meredith, Jessica Lea, Rachel Sterling, Laurel, Laura Diane, Cindy, Ashley Gates, Bridget Nicole, Jennifer Affronti, Sheila Joy and Jamie Ruiz from Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious.
2007-10: The Pussycat Dolls Present and Doll Domination
In April 2006, The New York Times reported that Interscope executives were working to produce their own reality TV series, overseen by the producers of America's Next Top Model and McG, the director of the Charlie's Angels films. The show, entitled Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll would search for a new member for the recording group. The new member would sing on the next album and tour with the group. The show premiered on The CW, on March 6, 2007, with music produced by Saverio Principini. It premiered in Australia and the UK on April 1. The season finale announced the winner of the show to be Asia Nitollano. It was announced in July that Asia Nitollano had "decided to pursue a solo career" instead. The second season of the show commenced broadcast on February 18, 2008, titled Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious. Unlike the previous series which tried to find a new member to join the Dolls, the second series auditioned women to become part of a new three member all-female group, Girlicious. Members of the Pussycat Dolls appeared on both seasons of the Pussycat Dolls Present: either as guest judge, performing songs, or in a video message shown to the contestants each week.
During February 2007, Caesars Palace opened the Pussycat Dolls Casino just across the Pussycat Dolls Lounge. It features "Dolls-style" decor and attire for the gaming staff, waitresses and dancers. The Dolls returned to Los Angeles and the Viper Room from November 2008 for regular Friday and Saturday nights performances billed as the "Pussycat Dolls Lounge". In 2007, Asia Nitollano nominally became the group's seventh member after winning in the reality show Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll, allegedly giving her the opportunity to sing on the next album and on tour. Nitollano performed for the first time with the Dolls during the show's finale, singing their Number 1 Hit "Don't Cha". She later performed again with the Dolls during The CW Upfronts Party. Her place in the group was questioned due to her only seen performing with the group twice, and was intensified by her non-appearance most notably during the group's Live Earth performances. On March 8, 2008, Bachar announced she was departing the group for other projects. The group performed for the first time after their break and as a quintet for US troops in Kuwait for Operation Myspace in February. The group, mostly just Melody Thornton and Nicole Scherzinger, soon regathered in the studio to record their follow up album and add additional vocals from other members before completing the project.
On May 27, 2008, the Pussycat Dolls released "When I Grow Up", which reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play. The song topped several European charts and became a worldwide top ten hit. The single was received favorably by contemporary music critics, many of whom highlighted it as a stand-out track from Doll Domination. It was their first single following the departure of the group's longest-standing member Carmit Bachar and was first recorded for Nicole Scherzinger's planned solo project, Her Name Is Nicole, but after its postponement and Scherzinger's return to the group, she felt that the song was better suited for the group. According to Nielsen Soundscan, the song has sold over two million digital copies in the United States, making the Pussycat Dolls the first female group in digital history to have three singles pass the two million mark in digital sales. Follow-up single "Whatcha Think About That", a collaboration with Missy Elliott, failed to enter the US charts but managed to reach the top 20 in several other countries including the UK. The group's second album, Doll Domination, was released on September 19, 2008. It debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, with 79,000 copies sold in its first week of release. A third single from the album, "I Hate This Part", was released in October 2008 and reached the top ten in the majority of the charts it appeared on. The album's fourth single "Bottle Pop" received a limited release in the US and Oceania during March 2009. The Pussycat Dolls on the Doll Domination Tour to support Doll Domination. Lady Gaga opened for them in Europe and Australia, while Ne-Yo supported the Pussycat Dolls in the UK leg. In mid-2009 they opened for Britney Spears' tour The Circus Starring Britney Spears on the first leg in North America. In April 2009 Scherzinger confirmed to Billboard that the album would be re-released to give more people a chance to get their music.
In Europe, the album was re-released with four new songs. In Australia a compilation called Doll Domination 2.0 was released with six songs from the original version plus four new songs. The UK received a six-song EP called Doll Domination: The Mini Collection on April 27, 2009, featuring four of the original songs plus a remix and a new song. In August 2009, the album was repackaged once more as Doll Domination 3.0 to include all of the previously released bonus songs on one CD with the original album. Its release was limited to Europe and the UK where the group's singles had all reached top 20. The repackaged versions spawned two more singles: the worldwide number one "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)" (featured on the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire) and euro-pop remix of "Hush Hush" (retitled "Hush Hush; Hush Hush") which reached top 20 internationally. Following Scherzinger's over-emphasis in the release of these two singles, there were several emotional outbursts to the media including one by Thornton during one of the group's appearances on tour.
2010-present: Third & fourth lineup of the recording group
On January 29, 2010, Jessica Sutta revealed to E!Online that she had been ousted from the group, following a broken rib she sustained whilst on tour with the group. On February 26, Wyatt confirmed she was also leaving the group in Loaded magazine. Upon her departure, she told the magazine: "I wish that it was different because I love what we do on stage. I love being a Doll, but as far as variables off-stage are concerned - I just couldn't do it anymore ... when I came out on stage, I knew what my job was and I did it to the best of my ability. I feel like I can relate to anybody in a corporate job - because it's just a job, nothing more!" One day later, Ashley Roberts announced her departure from the group via her website. She said: "Yes, I have left the Pussycat Dolls.. I love you all sooo much!!! I am so grateful to have the love and support of all of you. It was an amazing ride and I learned so much!" Wyatt would later go on to confirm that all of the members had left the group, including Thornton. On 24 May 2010, a third line-up, which would join Nicole Scherzinger, was revealed consisting of Kherington Payne, Vanessa Curry, Rino Nakasone Razalan and Jamie Lee Ruiz. However, in late 2010 Scherzinger officially left the group to pursue a solo career. In March 2011, Antin confirmed that she would be holding auditions to find new girls in order to replace the departed members of the group. On September 16, 2011, it was announced that the new line-up will be formed on a reality TV series, which will see Kim Kardashian and Nigel Lythgoe as executive producers.
In October 2011, an official image was released revealing a new line-up consisting of six new members: Lauren Bennett, Paula van Oppen, Vanessa Curry, Kristal Smith, Tiffany Zavala, and Kia Hampton. Talking to Billboard.com at the American Music Awards in November 2011, Lauren Bennett said "We're currently figuring out who's in the group and we're working on an album." The new Pussycat Dolls made their debut on February 5, 2012, during the Super Bowl, as part of GoDaddy"s annual TV commercial, appearing with Danica Patrick. "The look of the commercial is not necessarily the new look of the group this time around, said Robin Antin, adding, "It's breathtakingly beautiful. It's a fun, real-campy kind of sexy. It's all of that, but again, what we're doing for this next life of the Pussycat Dolls, the girls are all young. It's a fresh, young energy." An official picture taken from the ad, showed five members: Lauren Bennett from Paradiso Girls, Paula van Oppen (from So You Think You Can Dance and the PCD burlesque show), former Laker Girl Vanessa Curry, Chrystina Sayers from Girlicious, and Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Erica Jenkins.
Antin also told MTV that they are working on their next TV series. "We're developing a reality show with Kim Kardashian as an executive producer and Nigel Lythgoe." "The engine of all Pussycat Dolls [projects] is the recording ground, and now having the new recording group, it made sense to focus on the launch of this new group and how that engine opens up all the doors for all the different things that I'm doing that are a part of the brand. These girls are the next generation." she said. On 13 April 2012, it was announced that Chrystina Sayers was no longer a part of the new line-up. In July 2012, the line-up was announced consistent of Bennett and Van Oppen, with new members Natalia Mejia (from Girlicious), Amanda Branche, and Natasha Slayton. In August 2012 publicity photos showed the 'new' line-up including Simone Battle replacing Branche. In November 2012, it was revealed through the hiring of Emmalyn Estrada, that Mejia was no longer part of the group. On 1 December 2012, Mejia revealed that she was expecting her first child, and due to her situation she made a choice not to continue as part of the Pussycat Dolls.
In 2007, Interscope formed a London-based spin-off group called Paradiso Girls through an open audition. The group's original lineup was composed of lead singers Aria Cascaval and Lauren Bennett, rapper Shar Mae Amor and DJ Kelly Beckett. Antin and Ron Fair selected Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll finalist Chelsea Korka to join as a third vocalist. They released two singles from 2009-2010, then were dropped by Interscope Records. In 2011 Lauren Bennett became a member of the Pussycat Dolls.
The Pussycat Dolls had re-recorded "Don't Cha" in Simlish for inclusion in the computer game The Sims 2: Pets. They also appeared in character form in the computer game Asphalt: Urban GT 2 in November 2006.
In a merchandising agreement with Interscope in 2006, toy manufacturer Hasbro planned a line of dolls modeled after the Pussycat Dolls, reportedly to be marketed to six to nine-year-olds. Two organizations, Dads and Daughters and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, successfully lobbied Hasbro to scrap the plan, saying they felt the dolls would have been inappropriate for children due to the overtly sexual nature of the Pussycat Dolls' songs, videos and performances. Also in 2006, Interscope negotiated a deal with Estée Lauder for a Pussycat Dolls line of cosmetics under the Stila brand.
In 2008 Robin Antin and the La Senza Corporation of Canada produced a line of Burlesque/Pussycat Dolls-styled lingerie called "Shhh...by Robin Antin", and on December 15, Antin released Robin Antin's Pussycat Dolls Workout. The DVD release is composed of dancers from the Pussycat Doll Lounge Review, Chrystina Sayers from the group Girlicious, and features Nicole Scherzinger.
In November 2012 it was reported that the Pussycat Dolls had become brand ambassadors for Holler watches.
In 2006, the group ran into trouble in Kuala Lumpur with the authorities for sexually explicit dancing. The performance, part of their PCD World Tour, was not well received in the Muslim state which frowned upon the group's "eye-popping attire" and "sexually suggestive stage routines". 'Absolute Entertainment', the company behind the group's appearance in Malaysia was fined $3000 for the incident.
Overemphasis of Scherzinger
Margeaux Watson of Entertainment Weekly took a major swipe at the group for their overemphasis of Scherzinger as the lead singer. Watson said, "there are two kinds of girl groups: those anchored by a superstar (The Supremes, Destiny's Child), and those made up of charismatic personalities endowed with limited individual gifts (Spice Girls, TLC). The Pussycat Dolls are neither " they're a brand, not a band. This follow-up to 2005's multiplatinum PCD finds lead Doll Nicole Scherzinger in the spotlight, and she's no Beyoncé. As for the others, well...can you name them? Do you even know how many there are?" On 5 October 2012, Nicole Scherzinger claimed in a VH1's Behind the Music special that she was responsible for both lead and backing vocals on the group's songs, with hardly anything sung by her fellow members. Scherzinger, who said that she didn't want to get in trouble for her revelations, explained that the other Pussycat Dolls members often hadn't even heard their tracks until they were recorded. "I never really talked about it, but I'll never forget I finished the album PCD and Ron Fair and I brought the girls into the studio and we played it for them, and it was the first time they'd ever heard the music," she said. "Do you understand what I'm saying? We played the album for the Pussycat Dolls. It was the first time they'd ever heard the songs." On 7 October 2012, former member, Kaya Jones, claimed that Scherzinger became the lead singer for the group because "there was a lot more going on behind the scenes". Jones told TMZ: "Nicole was always someone who wanted to be in the spotlight and would do pretty much anything to get it." "To call the other girls in the Pussycat Dolls 'window dressings' is a bit farfetched... every girl in the group was talented," she added.
Reasons for original line-up split
In November 2012, former member Carmit Bachar claimed that Nicole"s envy of Ashley was one of the main issues that tore the group apart. "Nicole was jealous of Ashley. She felt threatened by her " like people would prefer her because of the way she looked." Carmit stated Nicole"s insecurity as crucial factor behind the groups split. She also claimed that as well as resenting Ashley"s all-American looks, she held a grudge against Melody because her boyfriend, Lewis Hamilton, took a shine to Melody before he set his sights on Nicole. "I left the group right before Nicole got with Lewis. We ran into Lewis lots of times " in clubs in Amsterdam and here and there " and the chemistry I saw was between him and Melody, not him and Nicole. Melody and Lewis were popping off!"
She went on to described the girls as "like sisters" at first. But she said Nicole"s ego and insecurity started to dominate the band. She said: "One of the best shows we ever played was Live Earth in London. We were performing alongside Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas. There were tens of thousands in the crowd at the O2 and billions watching worldwide. But it was also at Live Earth where the trouble began. Nicole messed up the walk on and the first song and we all followed her lead. It was really embarrassing. Also, her vocals were off. Afterwards, Nicole blew up " ranting and raving " and some of the girls, including Ashley, left the room because they were so upset. That was the beginning of the end. I think Nicole got it into her head that she was the real star and would be better off on her own. She started travelling in her own tour bus and the divide between her and the rest us just got bigger. Nicole chose to isolate and alienate herself. There was constant bickering. Ashley was always the sensitive one back then. Nicole basically wanted to be front and centre all the time. We were expected to work our a***s off to boost Nicole and her own career. The situation became unbearable." Carmit walked out on the Dolls in 2008 as they were waiting to board a flight out of LAX airport. She said: "The band fell apart after I left. I was the peacemaker " the glue that held them all together. There was some talk of adding someone else but they didn"t replace me in the end. They had Jessica dye her hair red to look like me, but the fans didn"t fall for it."
Carmit also insisted Nicole was the main reason they broke up: "Nicole tried to do a solo album, but it did not work and I think that hurt the label and everyone else in the end. I heard she did a ton of demos which weren"t cheap. In a scramble they tried to get the Dolls to do a second album. They weren"t really hot album songs, it didn"t sound like us. I think that"s when the other girls decided they had reached the end of the road. Ashley wants to act in romantic comedies now. Also, she would like to find a nice British man. I"m still good friends with Ashley " she"s my soul sister. All of the Dolls are still friends, apart from Nicole. Nicole knows I had a child, my daughter Kaela Rose last year, but she never got in touch.
A Pussycat Dolls reunion isn"t out of the question. Five of us " and not Nicole " could happen. But all six? Never. Too much water under the bridge."
Whilst being a contestant on the 12th series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Ashley Roberts revealed that; "Even in the group I wasn"t allowed to talk, we were told to be quiet. Only Nicole was allowed to talk. We would occasionally pitch in." She vented her frustration about it and revealed that nothing in the group was split evenly; "Why do you think the band broke up? U2 are still together and they split everything down the middle."