Pussycat Dolls: The New Spice Girls?

Group has summertime anthem with 'Don't Cha.'

The long and, ahem, storied history of girl groups — from the Shirelles and the Shangri-Las to 702 and the Spice Girls — is littered with sequined outfits, three-part harmonies and synchronized dance routines, not to mention a whole lot of infighting. But nubile newcomers the Pussycat Dolls are different. There’s not a sequin in sight. And their harmonies come in six parts.

Straight out of L.A.’s Viper Room, where they performed celeb-approved burlesque shows before packed houses (see “Sing Like Christina And Dance Like Carmen? The Pussycat Dolls Want You” ), the Pussycats don’t see themselves as pretenders to the girl-group throne: They prefer to be known as the leaders of the new school.

“We’re the newest thing, man. We’re a song-and-dance group, and it’s not just another cookie-cutter group. It’s just like our song says, we’re ’Hot, Raw, Freaky and Fun,’ ” laughed Nicole Scherzinger, Pussycat lead singer and former member of girl-group also-rans Eden’s Crush. “I just think we’re on the forefront of groups to come out. The Spice Girls weren’t bad, but we’re the newer version. So I guess it’s not ’Girl Power,’ it’s ’Doll Power.’ ”

And the Pussycats — Scherzinger, Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta, Melody Thornton and Kimberly Wyatt — are leading their “Doll Power” charge with their first single, “Don’t Cha,” which has become the summertime anthem for clubgoing gals and shirtless guys alike. And despite its seemingly anti-relationship hook (“Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?/ Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?”), the Dolls insist it’s all about empowering their female fans.

“The song might say ’Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?’ But the way we play on it is it’s empowering for all women out there. We want them to feel like that,” Scherzinger said. “And when we perform it, all the girls in the audience are feeling it, and we always dedicate it to them.”

OK then. “Don’t Cha” was written and produced by none other than Dirty South super freak Cee-Lo Green (see “Neptunes, Ludacris Help Cee-Lo Operate His Soul Machine” ), just one of many collaborations on the Dolls’ self-titled debut album, due September 13. Black Eyed Peas mainman Will.I.Am produced and raps on the potential second single, “Beep,” and producer extraordinaire Timbaland worked on two cuts, “Wait a Minute” and “Physical.” All the guests are just one part of a well-rehearsed plan to take the Pussycats to the top. Add to that their style, songs and sex appeal, and you’ve got a time-tested formula for success.

“We’ve got the hottest tracks, we’ve got real singing on the album, and it’s fresh. We’ve got something for everyone,” Scherzinger said. “We are so proud of this album, because no matter what people think it’s is going to be like, it’s not. Unless you think it’s going to be boomin’. Because then you’d be right.”