The Pussycat Dolls (abbreviated to PCD) are an American pop girl group and dance ensemble founded by choreographer Robin Antin in 1995 as a burlesque troupe based in Los Angeles. After attracting national attention, Antin eventually negotiated a record deal with Interscope Records in 2003 turning the group into a music franchise. Nicole Scherzinger and Melody Thornton were introduced to strengthen the group's vocals. Since then the group has developed a global image and commercial brand overseen by Antin, Interscope and various partners. They have diversified into reality television programs, a Las Vegas and product endorsements amongst other things.
Success as a music group came in 2005 with their first album PCD which debuted at number five in the US producing three successful singles "Don't Cha", "Buttons", and "Stickwitu"; the latter earned the group a Grammy Award nomination. Following the departure of Carmit Bachar in March 2008, the group continued as a quintet and in September of that year they released their second album, Doll Domination spawning singles "When I Grow Up", "Whatcha Think About That", "I Hate This Part", "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)", "Bottle Pop" and "Hush Hush; Hush Hush".
Throughout their rise to fame, the group has been criticized for its overtly sexual image and explicit dance routines as well as for the over-emphasis on lead singer Scherzinger, who is made to sing all of the group's lead and background vocals. Despite numerous break-up rumours the group is currently taking a hiatus and will return in 2010 with their third studio album, a brand new line-up and a tour.
Career as dance troup
Burlesque dancing: 1995–2003
Antin began exploring the idea of a modern burlesque troupe during 1990 with Christina Applegate and Carla Kama. The dance troupe's first performance was in 1995. During this period which have seen many members in its evolving lineup since debuting in 1995, they performed with 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.
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 Dolls moved to The Roxy. The group became internationally popular and was featured in magazines, television specials for MTV and VH1, ad campaigns, and movies. Some of the Pussycat Dolls appeared in the 2003 film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, dancing to "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.
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 Antin (taking on the creative, executive and managerial roles), Carmit Bachar, Cyia Batten, Kasey Campbell, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt. Later in 2003, Scherzinger, Kaya Jones and Melody Thornton were cast as vocalists through an audition to complete the transition into a music group.
Electra, when asked about her lack of involvement with the group's evolution into a popular music group, 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.||”|
Lounge act: 2005–present
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,[dead link]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.
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".
During 2003, Scherzinger, a former member of Popstars winners Eden's Crush, became the recording group's lead singer. In the same year, vocalist Thornton and Jones were also recruited in order to add vocal strength to the group. The musical group's initial line-up consisted of Scherzinger, Thornton, Jones, Antin, 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 movie.
In 2004, just before the group's debut, Batten and Campbell left the group to pursue their solo dancing careers. Later in 2005, Jones left the group after recording their debut album, to pursue modeling and a solo musical career. 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, Thornton, Bachar, Sutta, Roberts and Wyatt.
2005–2008: First album PCD and commercial success
On September 13, 2005, they released their debut album, PCD, which debuted at number five on the Billboard 200. Their first single, "Don't Cha" was a success, reaching number one in multiple countries including UK, Australia and Canada and scored a maximum of 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 US, and was their second number one in the UK. 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 some international markets. "Buttons" (with rapper Snoop Dogg) scored number three on the UK Singles Chart; the next single, "I Don't Need a Man" was not as successful, although it scored the top 10 in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and UK. The group's sixth single from the album was "Wait a Minute" featuring Timbaland released in the US in August 2006, becoming a top 40 success worldwide. The group was selected to perform for the introduction for ABC's coverage of the NBA. During 2007, a version of "Right Now" was used as a theme song for the NBA, though the lyrics had been altered.
- Line-up change
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, giving her the opportunity to sing on the next album and on tour. It was rumored that the Dolls would record a version of "Lady Marmalade", which Nitollano sang during the show's finale. This was never confirmed by the management nor the group. 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 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.
2008–2009: Second album Doll Domination
Whilst briefly taking a break and right up until late 2008 Scherzinger had been working on her debut album which was to be titled Her Name Is Nicole. While the Pussycat Dolls were on break, Scherzinger released four singles, none of which matched the commercial success of her work with the Dolls. The album was scheduled for a late 2007 release, then rescheduled for October 2008, and later into 2009 before being shelved. Some of the songs which had been recorded for Scherzinger's album appeared on the Dolls' second album.
On March 8, 2008, another member, Carmit Bachar, left the group to pursue a solo career. She announced her decision on a weblog on the group's official website. The group performed for the first time after their break and as a quintet for US troops in Kuwait for Operation Myspace.
The group returned to the Music scene on May 27, 2008 with the new single "When I Grow Up" which reached number nine on the US Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play. The song topped charts in Europe (except for the UK) and back a top ten worldwide hit. The follow up urban single "Whatcha Think About That" with Missy Elliott failed to enter the US charts only managing number 8 on the Bubbling Under chart but managed to reach top 20 in several other countries including the UK.
After a slight delay and with two singles released the album, Doll Domination was finally unleashed as a standard edition on September 19, 2008. Overseen by mega-producer-of-the-day Timbaland, it also boasted input from fellow big-time US studio-bods like Rodney Jerkins, Cee-Lo Green and Polow Da Don. The album's deluxe edition was released simultaneously and featured a disc with a solo song by each of the girls. The album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, with 79,000 copies sold in its first week beating their debut album by one chart position but selling 20,000 less copies. It only spent seven weeks in the top 100, compared with their debut album which sat in the top 100 for nearly one year. In January 2009 it re-entered the top 100 following several more successful singles. The album in original form spawned two other singles, worldwide top 20 hit "I Hate This Part" and the number-one club song "Bottle Pop" which only received a limited release in the US and Oceania. A world tour titled The Doll Domination Tour accompanied the album and began in Aberdeen, Scotland on January 18, 2009.
In April 2009 Scherzinger confirmed to Billboard magazine that the Dolls would be re-releasing their current album to "give people the chance to get a new spin" of their music. In Europe the album was re-released with three or 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 whereas the UK received a six-song EP, [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, this time as Doll Domination 3.0 to include all of the previously released bonus songs on one CD with the original album. It released was limited to Europe and the UK where the group's singles had all reached top 20.
The repackaged album 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. The emphasis on Nicole Scherzinger as the featured artist caused controversy as both of these singles were tagged as 'featuring Nicole Scherzinger'. It fueled media speculation that Scherzinger was to leave the group for the pursuit of her own solo career. In the weeks that followed tension in the group built up and there were several emotional outbursts to the media including one by Thornton during one of the group's appearances on tour. Promotion for the album appeared to end following the tension and no more singles were released.
2009 – Present: Hiatus, line-up change and tension
On August 2, 2009, founder Antin took to her official Twitter page to make an announcement following the excessive rumours that the Dolls had split following jealousy and fighting over Scherzinger singing lead vocals. She said "The Pussycat Dolls r NOT breaking up.... & IF they ever were, u would hear it from ME 1st, NOT GOSSIP...Album #3 on the way!"
During an interview with MTV, Thornton stated "Right now the Pussycat Dolls are on a break. It's actually a much-needed break. It's like when you're with your sisters for 24 hours a day and you need to take your own shower." Thornton said that the Dolls will eventually find their way back to one another. She is working with a number of different artists on different avenues including a cameo appearance in the music video "Slow Dance" for American R&B singer-songwriter Keri Hilson. Meanwhile Scherzinger has resumed work on her delayed debut solo album, delayed since 2007, which is being reworked from the scratch and expected to be released before the third Pussycat Dolls album.
In October Wyatt began giving a series of interviews about what is really like to be part of the Pussycat Dolls. She told the Daily Star that her "role in group was a job at the end of the day and that they all had individual lives to live". She went on to explain that the group had been put together not bonded naturally therefore she saw Scherzinger as a business associate rather than a friend. The comments highlighted the group's position that the band would continue regardless of who returned to the band or who was part of it. It is also reaffirmed that the group all played a role in developing the franchise and music. Later on October 12, Wyatt described the [Pussycat Dolls] as a Broadway show and that [Robin Antin], who founded the group, brings in new members and the group will continue even if some people leave. She also agreed with reports that the group is currently on break, and that she could not confirm that she was still a member of the band, further creating uncertainty over the future of the group. This amongst many other interviews and appearances by the group separately led to rumors and media speculation that the group were about to split up over the group's strained relationship with lead singer Scherzinger. However Antin responded quickly with a statement to the press and media stating that
|“||The Pussycat Dolls are very much alive and there is no truth to the silent treatment statements. Nicole and the Dolls have ALWAYS been close. Nicole is and always has been a strong creative force within this group and I cherish the way we collaborate.||”|
In December Wyatt once again spoke about the group and what was currently happening to entertainment website Digital Spy. She confirmed earlier reports that she had been in the recording studios working on her own Electronica-influenced debut solo album. Crucially she revealed that she did not know what was currently happening with the group's third album as she was not the driving force behind it. It was also mentioned that "fans should expect new faces". She described her role in the group as irreplaceable saying that "she will always be involved with the [Pussycat Dolls] whether its helping with the choreography or the creative direction."
Antin later appeared on the The Wendy Williams show to promote her new fitness DVD. Williams took the opportunity to ask Antin about the rumours surrounding the group's alleged break up. Antin responded by saying that "The [Pussycat Dolls] have not broken up. In fact we're preparing to make new music. She confirmed that Scherzinger was here to stay. However Antin did state that she will be bringing in a few new faces and several of the exisitng members will be leaving to pursue solo projects. She said "the brand is about female empowerment. Inside every woman is a pussycat doll waiting to get out. There are millions of women out there who wants to know what it feels like. I want to bring in new faces." Sutta is also said to be working on material for a solo project. It should be noted that Scherzinger is the only member of the group who will definitely be returning and despite Wyatt, Thornton and Sutta all working on solo material none of the latter three have stated whether they will remain members of the group when The Pussycat Dolls return in 2010.
In January 2010 Wyatt was once again interviewed about the recent drama within the group by British newspaper News of the World where it was reported that both Wyatt and Thorton were to be "sacked from the group for clashing with Scherzinger" with the possibility of more dolls following. Wyatt stated that she was unhappy about Scherzinger's preferential treatment including arranging private transport instead of joining the girls on the tour bus and requesting her own dressing room whilst the rest of the girls shared one during their recent tours. The final straw came when it was announced that changes were being made to group, Wyatt revealed in response that she had spoken to Thornton, Roberts and Sutta about a rival project to the Pussycat Dolls. She was quoted as saying
|“||We are looking at ways to keep working together. We all want to. But when we do that we're not allowed to call ourselves the Pussycat Dolls. Right now there is a lot of controversy. I haven't spoken to Nicole about it. She's full speed ahead with her career.||”|
An official statement detailing the changes will not be made until Scherzinger has released her solo project.
Tours and concerts
During 2006, the Pussycat Dolls performed live shows in North America supporting the Black Eyed Peas. As headliners they toured the UK, Europe, Philippines and Malaysia.The group has also performed in Singapore for the annual Singfest.
On August 8, 2006, after a Dolls concert in Kuala Lumpur, their concert promoter, Absolute Entertainment, was charged with flouting Malaysian decency laws. The Malay Mail quoted Culture Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Mohamad Arif Abdul Rahman as saying: "I believe the way the Pussycat Dolls behaved onstage amounted to gross indecency". The charge was settled by paying a fine of RM5,000 (US$1,358).
From November 2006 – January 2007, the Pussycat Dolls embarked on their PCD World Tour with Rihanna as the opening act. On February 4, 2007, the Pussycat Dolls performed at the Manchester Evening News Arena in a concert that was recorded and later streamed via MSN Music.
The Pussycat Dolls also toured North America as a support act for Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics Tour, along with Danity Kane and NLT. They also performed at the Cokelive Festival, In Bucharest, Romania and at the UK leg of Live Earth in Wembley Stadium, London.
The Pussycat Dolls announced that in January 2009 they will embark on a world tour in support of their Doll Domination album. In an interview with Capital Radio, Ne-Yo revealed he will be touring with the group. Lady GaGa and Queensberry also supported them on stage. The tour started January 18 at Aberdeen Exhibition Centre in Scotland. The group recently toured as the opening act for the North American leg of Britney Spears' tour The Circus: Starring Britney Spears.
- Jessica Sutta has appeared on tracks from Paul van Dyk ("White Lies" 2007) and Dave Audé ("Make It Last" 2007). "White Lies" reached #1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart in August 2007, becoming Paul van Dyk's highest charting single. "Make It Last" reached number one on Billboard magazine 's Hot Dance Club Play charts for September 22, 2007. Sutta recently revealed that she is in the studio working on solo material.
- From 2005–2007, Nicole Scherzinger prepared her debut solo album Her Name Is Nicole, between July and December 2007 she released four solo singles. Each of these failed to score on the U.S. charts, but "Baby Love" scored well in Europe and Brazil. Scherzinger has also appeared as a guest vocalist on other artists' recordings, some of which scored well (see Nicole Scherzinger discography). However in April 2009 it was finally confirmed that the project was cancelled and Scherzinger was negotiating to give her solo album another attempt. She will be working with previous collaborators Timbaland and Will.i.am as well as with new associates A.R. Rahman and Lady Gaga. In December 2009 she served as a judge on the reality competition show, "The Sing-Off," featuring a capella groups in competition for a cash prize and a recording contract. She performed "You Don't Own Me" in the series finale with competition finalists "The Beelzebubs."
- During 2007, Melody Thornton appeared on rapper Jibbs third single "Go Too Far". She is currently working on a number of different projects and recently appeared as a cameo in the music video for Keri Hilson's 2009 US radio single "Slow Dance". Thornton sings backing vocals for two songs on producer Timbaland's second album Shock Value II.
- Ashley Roberts had a supporting role in the dance drama film Make It Happen which was released in 2008.
- Kimberly Wyatt appeared on the VH1 reality television show Celebracadabra and during the group's 2009 hiatus she is running dance workshops in London and judging Sky One's new UK dance competition Got to Dance. In December 2009 it was revealed that she is prepping a solo album which is influenced by Electronica. So far she has worked with rapper Paul Wall and R&B producer/songwriter Baby Bash. She is currently negotiating a chance to work with hip-hop music producer, rapper and previous collaborator of the group, Missy Elliott.
- Asia Nitollano won the reality TV show Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll. However in July 2007 that she left to pursue a solo musical career having only appeared twice on stage with the group and having to contributed to the recording of their second album.
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. 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. However, on the show's finale, it was revealed that Girlicious would be a quartet. The lineup was composed of Nichole Cordova, Tiffanie Anderson, Chrystina Sayers, and Natalie Mejia. The group debuted just after the show's finale, releasing their debut album and gaining attention from mostly Canadian and Brazilian audiences with their hip-hop, urban sound. However on June 2009, after a change of direction from urban to pop, it was announced by Antin that Anderson left the group and that Girlicious will continue as a trio. Members of the Pussycat Dolls recording group 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.
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, making it into the group's final lineup. The group has yet to make an international debut whilst releasing their debut single and a yet to be released debut album.
As of February 2008, as part of the promotion for the TV series, The CW have sponsored Stardoll.com, a virtual paperdoll website, to include images of the members of the PCD recording group for interactive "Dress-Up" in PCD logo clothes. This site is aimed at girls aged seven to seventeen. The CW confirmed that the series would not return for a third season and has been canceled due to low ratings.
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.
During 2006, Interscope engaged the California company BandMerch to distribute a range of merchandise, including clothing and other items, linked through the group's official website. In a merchandising agreement with Interscope in 2006, toy manufacturer Hasbro had plans for a line of dolls modelled after the Pussycat Dolls, and reportedly marketed at six to nine-year-olds. The groups Dads and Daughters and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood successfully lobbied the company to scrap the plan because they felt that the Pussycat Dolls would have been inappropriate for children, due to the overtly sexual nature of the Pussycat Dolls' songs, videos and live shows.
They also negotiated a deal with Estée Lauder for a Pussycat Dolls line of cosmetics under the Stila brand. During 2008, It was reported that Antin and the La Senza Corporation of Canada were producing a line of Burlesque/Pussycat Dolls-styled lingerie called "Shhh...by Robin Antin".
In 2006 the group ran into trouble in Kuala Lumpur with the authorities for sexually explicit dancing. The performance, part of their Doll Domination 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.
Meanwhile 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 types of girl groups: those anchored by a superstar (e.g. Destiny's Child, The Supremes) or those made of charismatic personalities (The Spice Girls). The [Pussycat Dolls] are neither." Other criticism pointed out that "Scherzinger is no Beyoncé Knowles" and that many people could not even name the other four dolls.