Jai ho! I’m Sam Lansky, honorary member of the Pussycat Dolls (on the weekends), and this is my column, “Pop Think,” where I report on the most important goings-on in the world of pop music — and there’s no news this week that’s newsier than reports that PCD mastermind Robin Antin debuted the second incarnation of the group over the weekend at her Las Vegas birthday bash. And as per usual, the new crop of Dolls are unstoppable glamazons with some serious vocal chops. And even though the last iteration of PCD tended to be perceived as more of a visually engaging, provocative performance act rather than as a proper band of vocalists, their music gave hope to those of us who have been starved for girl group music on Stateside shores over the last decade. And now that boy bands are back, it’s my sincere hope that PCD 2.0 will do the same. Who’s ready for doll domination — again?
The history of the Pussycat Dolls is an interesting one. They were founded as a Los Angeles burlesque and dance group in 1995 by creator and entrepreneur Robin Antin, who later envisioned the group as a global enterprise and negotiated a record deal with Interscope Records in 2003. PCD’s foray into the world of music always felt explicitly commercial. But that didn’t stop them from having extraordinary commercial success, selling 15 million albums and 37 million singles worldwide. Four of their singles went platinum in the U.S, and many more set records worldwide.
Pussycat Dolls are back! So everybody gets cake!
And ultimately, I don’t know that PCD ever got the praise that they rightly deserved for tracks that transcended their crasser origins. Sure, “Don’t Cha” was a big, sultry R&B smash, and “I Hate This Part” remains a maudlin yet irresistibly radio-ready ballad. But they could be surprisingly innovative. Their unexpected cover of “Jai Ho!” transformed the Bollywood authenticity of the original into a galloping storm of melting-pot dance-pop. And the Darkchild-produced “Painted Windows” (which SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SINGLE) is blatantly inventive. You could always trust PCD choruses to get stuck in your head, for better or for worse.
+ Read more about the Pussycat Dolls’ new lineup after the jump.
So with the original lineup having dispersed to pursue solo projects, it’s exciting (especially if you’re me!) to hear that the group is returning with a whole new Pussycat lineup. Antin’s recruited some fresh talent to revitalize the b(r)and. A few names may not be familiar even to the most die-hard girl group fans: Natasha Slayton (yes, that’s her real name — emphasis on the SLAY), a 21-year-old multi-hyphenate with a sick vocal range and Amanda Branche, a dancer and rapper, were new to me.
The three other new Pussycat Dolls, though, have been rumored to be part of the new PCD empire for awhile: First up, there’s Paula van Oppen, who cut her teeth on So You Think You Can Dance and bears a striking resemblance to Amber Rose, which is always a good thing. There’s also Natalia Mejia, who was part of Girlicious, another one of Antin’s shorter-lived girl group ventures (their single “Maniac” is a must-listen). The rumored leader, though, is Lauren Bennett, who’s one of the most promising talents in the game. A veteran of Antin’s other now-defunct girl group, Paradiso Girls, she’s the vocalist on the hook of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem,” and her solo single “I Wish I Wish,” released late last year, was an icy slice of pop perfection.
And with that level of talent and Antin’s sharp business acumen, there’s no reason why PCD 2.0 can’t be a more sonically sophisticated incarnation of the urban-pop machine they were in their heyday. Don’t be surprised if a year from now, they’re back on top of the world. I — and my radio — am ready.
Photo credit: Jeff Bottari/WireImage