Review: The Pussycat Dolls, PCD

If you’re having flashbacks to the Spice Girls, there’s good reason.

The Pussycat Dolls, PCDIf you’re having flashbacks to the Spice Girls, there’s good reason. After being assembled in a garage (Christina Applegate’s, no less), turning celebrity heads at L.A.‘s Viper Room for six years, and eventually signing with Ron Fair at A&M Records, The Pussycat Girls have spawned an entire multimedia/multi-product franchise (a Pussycat Dolls lounge recently opened inside Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and branded lingerie, perfume, and video games are reportedly on the way). But while all six Pussycats have slightly different hair colors, the general public will be hard-pressed to name the group’s resident firey redhead (for the record, it’s Carmit, and she’s no Ginger Spice). Name recognition aside, The Pussycat Dolls have certainly carved a niche for themselves in 21st century pop history. Their brassy, sassy debut single, “Don’t Cha,” featuring Busta Rhymes, stormed the charts with its various incarnations, held from the pole position on Billboard’s Hot 100 only by Mariah Carey’s monster comeback “We Belong Together.” Even more surprising, their album, PCD, isn’t completely filled with filler! Otherwise degrading material (the tongue-in-cheek “Beep” and the subtly Middle Eastern “Buttons”) are a bit easier to swallow thanks, in part, to the group’s cartoonish image—the album’s ballads (“Stickwitu” and “How Many Times, How Many Lies”), though sufficiently un-icky, are still difficult to take seriously when followed by a song that begs a man to “loosen up my buttons.” According to the leader of the Pussycats, Hawaiian-Russian-Filipino “triple threat” Nicole Scherzinger, the group’s music is about self-empowerment, and that’s hard to dispute with songs like “Don’t Cha” and “I Don’t Need A Man.” Unfortunately, Nicole, Carmit, and the rest take the piss out of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” and their rendition of “Feelin’ Good,” produced by Ron Fair (who’s hand is behind most of PCD), is misguided at best. If The Pussycat Dolls really want to make their mark in the giant litter box that is popular music today, they need more of the big band burlesque of “Right Now” (though it’s not quite “It’s Oh So Quiet”) and less of Diane Warren.

 Label: A&M  Release Date: September 13, 2005  Buy: Amazon

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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