For the girls in Dream, their quick rise to fame is, well, a dream come true.
"We totally didn't expect this to happen," singer Holly Arnstein said of reception that has greeted the group's first single, the sassy "He Loves U Not," #7 on last week's Billboard Hot 100. "I mean, it's what we dreamed about, and it's still a surprise every time we hear the song on the radio."
"Just a few minutes ago, Melissa was like 'Oh my God, girls, come here, we're on TRL!'," said Ashley Poole even though the group hosted the show last week.
Their album It Was All a Dream (Bad Boy Records), will debut at #6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week after selling 105,000 copies. Not bad for four Southern California 15- and 16-year-olds who've only been working together for a year.
Melissa Schuman, the oldest girl in the group, had the same vocal coach as Holly, and their coach was the one who suggested they go to auditions for the group, Melissa said. Ashley just happened to be at the talent agency when the auditions were being held.
"They said there were auditions next door and asked if I could sing," Ashley said. "I said sure, even though I'd never had an audition before."
Diana Oritz, a friend of Holly's from junior high, was the last to join the group.
The talent agency, Fontaine & Daughters Productions, is suing Bad Boy, Puff Daddy and 2620 Management for claiming they discovered Dream. Bad Boy lawyer Kenny Meiselas said in a statement that Fontaine & Daughters was compensated when 2620 signed the group, and he called the suit meritless. None of the girls would comment on the lawsuit, but Ashley said they're glad to be on Bad Boy.
Puff Daddy, who executive-produced It Was All a Dream, signed the group the same day he first heard them. "We couldn't believe it because he wasn't excited in the room with us," Ashley said. "But then he left the room and started drawing up the contract right away."
"We didn't want to go with a label that would turn us corny, because we're not corny pop," she said. "We're real, we are who we are, we're teenage girls, and other teenage girls know exactly what we're talking about."
"He Loves U Not," "This is Me" and "Pain" are catchy tunes about young romance, while the ballad "When I Get There" and the uptempo "In My Dreams" are full of youthful optimism.
"The stuff on our album, even if we didn't write it, we're talking about things that we've either experienced or know about," Holly said. "We're not talking about being in love and snuggling by the fireplace."
Ashley said she hopes fans realize their sincerity, since that's what she's always appreciated in the music she listens to, which runs the gamut from gospel singer Yolanda Adams to Pink and Eminem. "They've got so much attitude, and they make me believe what they're saying."
The girls in Dream know that in a market filled with teen-pop they're going to be compared to other young female singers. "I can understand why people think that [it's a competition]," Ashley said, "but we're just trying to make music, which is what we always wanted to do."
The group will be in Hawaii this weekend to sing the national anthem at the NFL Pro Bowl, and then they'll head to Washington, D.C., to perform at a Washington Wizards game.
And although their album has only been out a week, they've already got their eyes on the future.
"When we look back in two years, we want to be able to say, 'Wow, look at how our writing skills have grown, how our performing skills have grown,' " Holly said.
For now, they're just trying to enjoy their success. "It's like, 'What did we do?' " Holly laughed. "We're just loving every minute of it."