Kate's Notes

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Pussycat Dolls

The Pussycat Dolls

The Pussycat Dolls (born 1993) are a sultry Burlesque troupe cum award-winning and Grammy Award-nominated American all-female music group. The Dolls began their adventure into the limelight as a burlesque dance troupe based in Los Angeles, and expanded to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The group, which was founded by choreographer Robin Antin in 1993, released its first single in 2004. The group is one of the most commercially successful new acts to appear in 2005, and has gone on to sell over 5 million records worldwide. They are also known for their multiracial backgrounds including Filipino, Hawaiian, Black, Mexican, French, Israeli, Indonesian, Dutch, Russian, Polish and Irish heritages.

With their hit single “Don’t Cha” and a slew of other media opportunities, including video games, primetime and movie appearances and more records to produce, these ladies have successfully made the transition from stage dancers to international pop stars.

The Burlesque Begins: 1993 – 2003

The "life story" of the Pussycat Dolls is really the story of a number of talented women. The group was founded by Robin Antin, a respected Hollywood choreographer who turned a lifelong passion for dance into a lucrative career. In 1993, the 32-year-old dancer got some girlfriends together, and within two years the collective began putting on burlesque shows in Los Angeles venues.

Christina Applegate, an early "guest" Doll and former star of TV's Married... with Children, encouraged Antin to have the troupe perform at Johnny Depp's Viper Room in 1995. Depp was so impressed when he saw them rehearse that he asked the Dolls to perform there on a weekly basis. During the early years, Carmen Electra was the group's lead performer, and her presence gave the troupe a double dose of sex appeal and celebrity notoriety. But the host of other singers and dancers that formed part of the Pussycat Dolls over the years (more than 25 of them, including Ashley Roberts, Carmit Bachar, Jessica Sutta, Kimberly Wyatt, Melody Thornton, Nicole Scherzinger, Carmen Electra, Cyia Batten, Erica Gudis, Kasey Campbell, Kaya Jones, Kiva Dawson, Lindsay Allen, Nadine Ellis, Rachel Sterling, Staci Flood) were no less impressive.

The troupe's first performance was in 1995. During this period they performed with numerous guest vocalists, with a repertoire of '50s and '60s pop standards and dressed in lingerie and/or old-fashioned pin-up costumes.

They secured a Thursday night residency at The Viper Room, where they stayed from 1995 to 2001. In June 1999 Playboy ran a Pussycat Dolls pictorial, featuring at least contemporary members Kasey Campbell, Kiva Dawson, Erica Gudis and Lindsley Allen. In 2002 they moved to the club, The Roxy, in Los Angeles. The group became internationally popular and was featured in magazines, television specials for MTV and VH1, ad campaigns, and movies. Some of the Dolls appeared in the 2003 film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle dancing to "The Pink Panther Theme."

Throughout the mid- to late '90s, The Pussycat Dolls sold out a series of shows at the Roxy, served as the opening act at a Jane's Addiction concert and played the annual Elton John/InStyle Oscar party. It wasn't long before a whole bevy of celebrities wanted to suit up with The Pussycat Dolls and strut their stuff. " I get the most famous people coming up to me begging to know how they can appear with us," Carmen Electra revealed at the time.
Among the troupe's guest performers during this period were Christina Aguilera, Charlize Theron, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, and Brittany Murphy. In addition, Big names like Dave Navarro, Marilyn Manson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Heather Graham, David Spade, Gene Simmons, and Hugh Hefner were all seen attending Pussycat Dolls shows.

Carmen Electra was the group's lead performer for many of their shows. She said "I was part of the Dolls for two years and did every show with them...but financially, I couldn't become part of their new music project...It was a financial sacrifice I couldn't make." She did, however, make a cameo appearance in the music video for "Don't Cha."

With the involvement of music producers Jimmy Iovine and Ron Fair, The Pussycat Dolls were re-cast, transformed into an Pop/R&B recording group, and signed up as employees of Iovine's label Interscope Records.

Mainstream Appeal: 2003 – present

In 2003, Robin Antin decided to totally reinvent the Pussycat Dolls. She held open auditions to form a new troupe that would take the group into a different musical direction.

The new Dolls were Nicole Scherzinger, a native of Honolulu who had become the lead singer of the band Eden's Crush after winning "TV's Popstars: USA Competition"; Carmit Bachar, who had performed on tour with Beyonce, with Ricky Martin as his "La Vida Loca" girl and with Janet Jackson during her infamous Super Bowl halftime show; Melody Thornton; Kimberly Wyatt; Jessica Sutta; and finally, Ashley Roberts, who got her start dancing for Aaron Carter.

In September and October 2004, the soundtrack CDs for the films Shark Tale and Shall We Dance? were released, each containing one track by the Dolls. "Sway" from Shall We Dance? also became their first single and first music video.

In 2005, The Pussycat Dolls released their debut album PCD. It debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, selling about 100,000 copies, and has spawned seven singles. The second single "Don't Cha" (with Busta Rhymes), a cover of the moderate hit Tori Alamaze single, became their first major hit. The follow-up, "Stickwitu", became the group's first U.S. # 1 Billboard Pop Radio hit. It went on to sell well over 3 million digital downloads and CDs worldwide and became their second #1 single in a row in the UK. The third single, "Beep", featured Black Eyed Peas lead rapper will.i.am. They recently released their latest single, "Buttons", featuring Snoop Dogg which followed the success of the previous singles and went straight into the top 3 on the UK singles chart, #3.

The group's final single from the album is the high-tempo club track "Wait A Minute" and was released in the United States on August 2006; "I Don't Need a Man" will be released in Canada (the video was premiered on MuchOnDemand September 14th, 2006), the UK and Ireland, and "Sway" will be released as the 5th single in Continental Europe. The 5th single in Australia and New Zealand is also "I Don't Need A Man".

In parallel to the Dolls as a recording R&B act, in April 2005 a resident live show commenced at the "Pussycat Dolls Lounge" adjacent to Pure Nightclub in Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. This show contains eight "cast members" who continue the burlesque-style show which began in L.A. in 1995. In 2006 the cast included vocalist Jamie Preston. The venue is operated by Pure Management Group, Robin Antin has some involvement, but it is unclear whether Interscope also have a financial interest. The Dolls recording group have made occasional appearances. "Special guests" have included: Eva Longoria (April 2005); Nicolette Sheridan (Feb 2006); Pamela Anderson (April 2006); and Denise Richards (June 2006).

The Pussycat Dolls have been accused of being a group where only one member sings (Scherzinger) while the rest are just eye candy. However, Thornton and Bachar both have solo spots, with Thornton interjecting melismatic vocal runs on numerous tracks.

The Pussycat Dolls are proving to be a recognized female group as MTV Hits (UK) marks them as #1 in Top 10 Female Groups (July 2006) beating #2 Destiny's Child and #7 Spice Girls. Furthermore, securing #1 in VH1's (UK) 'Top 20 Sexiest' #2 in TMF's Ultimate 20 Women in Pop (August 2006) and #6 in TMF's Girls of R&B countdown.

The group won a Billboard Music Award for "Don't Cha" the (Ralphi Rosario Mix) as Hot Dance Music/Club Play Single of the Year. The song was also nominated for Top-Selling Single of the Year and Top-Selling Dance Single of the Year.

At the SXSW music conference in 2006, Interscope lawyer Darryl Franklin said, during a panel discussion, that the contract with the group is unique in that its members are actually salaried employees of the record label and, by design, completely interchangeable. This means that in addition to CD sales, the label also controls merchandise, web sites and all other commercial aspects of the group and their income, excluding song publishing.

In 2006, San Francisco-based company Doppelganger (along with Interscope Records) launched the PCD Music Lounge, an interactive website.

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 RM5000 (US$1358 ).

In late 2006, The Pussycat Dolls were also featured in a commercial for Cingular Wireless along with Ludacris and KoRn.

On June 30th's VSpot Top 20 Countdown, the host announced that Scherzinger has written twelve new songs for the follow-up album to 2005's PCD. The Pussycat Dolls reportedly aim to start recording Double the Trouble, to be released in late 2007.

Scherzinger is working on a solo album, reportedly also due for release in 2007. She has publicly stated that although she is releasing a solo album, she is not leaving The Pussycat Dolls. Her first single is set for release in February and her album soon after.

On December 7, 2006 the group received a Grammy nomination in the Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group category for their hit ballad "Stickwitu". Later that month, the group was selected to perform for the introduction for ABC's coverage of the NBA. In 2007, a version of "Right Now" is being used as a theme song for the NBA, the lyrics have been altered.

In November 2006 to January 2007 the Dolls toured the UK and Ireland with Rihanna as their support act.

On December 11, 2006 The Daily Mirror reported that Jimmy Iovine, with help from will.i.am, will be creating a "UK version" of the Pussycat Dolls. Contrary to early reports, Alesha Dixon will not be one of the performers in the new group.

In February 2007 www.VegasPopular.com posted news that Caesars Palace had opened a Pussycat Dolls Casino, located across from the Pussycat Dolls Lounge. It features "Dolls-style" decor and attire for the gaming staff, waitresses and dancers.

In 2007 the Dolls will be touring North America as a support act for Christina Aguilera's Back To Basics Tour, along with Danity Kane.

A Little Help From Their Friends: Music Repertoire

The Dolls' repertoire includes contemporary R&B, Pop and cover versions. The original songs are mostly written by professional songwriters and/or producers; Scherzinger is the only group member to have co-written any tracks. The covers often fit within the traditions of burlesque, cabaret and drag shows; featuring musical vamps and flirtatious choreography.

Their recorded cover versions include: "We Went As Far As We Felt Like Going" (Labelle); "Sway" (Dean Martin); "Santa Baby" (Eartha Kitt); "Feelin' Good" (Nina Simone); "Tainted Love" (Gloria Jones/Soft Cell); "Where Did Our Love Go" (The Supremes/Soft Cell); a mash-up of Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" with Siobhan Fahey's "Bitter Pill"; "Right Now" (Mel Torme); and "Don't Cha" (Tori Alamaze).

Their live cover versions have included: "It's Oh So Quiet" (Betty Hutton/Björk); "Big Spender" (Chita Rivera/Shirley Bassey); "Fever" (Peggy Lee); "The Pink Panther Theme" (Henry Mancini); "These Boots Are Made For Walking" (Nancy Sinatra); and "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin).

Other Media Adventures

In April 2006 The New York Times reported that Interscope executives are working to produce their own reality television series overseen by the producers of America's Next Top Model and McG, the director of Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. The show, entitled "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll" will search for a new member for the troupe. The new member will sing on the next PCD album and will tour with the group. The show premiered on The CW, on March 6, 2007.

Also, in 2006 Interscope engaged the Californian 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 aimed at six to nine-year-olds. The groups "Dads and Daughters" and the "Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood" successfully lobbied the company to scrap the plan because they felt that the dolls would have been inappropriate for children, due to the overtly sexual nature of The Pussycat Dolls' songs, videos and live shows.

In addition, Interscope also negotiated a deal with Estée Lauder for a Pussycat Dolls line of cosmetics under the Stila brand.

In September 2006, it was reported that The Pussycat Dolls had re-recorded "Don't Cha" in Simlish for inclusion in the computer game The Sims 2 Pets, and in November 2006, it was reported that the Dolls appear in character form in the computer game Asphalt 2: Urban GT.


Blogger Clark said...

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8:34 AM  

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