As the old Virginia Slims cigarette commercial said, “You’ve come a long way baby”. This week, Song Lyric Sunday host Jim Adams, has prompted us to write about Girl Groups. The early 60s was a bonanza period for girl groups like the Marvelettes, The Shangri Las, The Supremes, The Dixie Cups etc. The vocal talent was definitely there along with great music and lyrics, but looking back at some of the music videos from that time, one thing was definitely lacking. Visual performance.
As with most girl groups the lead singer becomes the superstar and the remaining members struggle to maintain their identity and often fail as solo artists. My choice for girl group today is the Pussycat Dolls. Originally a burlesque dance troupe they burst onto the pop music scene with the song “Don’t Cha”. I am featuring them today for comparison on how far girl groups have come with regard to performance. Today it is more athletic, definitely sexier and visually more appealing as women have claimed their rightful place in the music and visual arts industry.
Check out below the Shangri Las video from the 1960s. See what I mean? Just for fun I included a Virginia Slims commercial too.
This song is about a girl who taunts a guy about his girlfriend, making her jealous by asking if he wishes his girlfriend was hot like her. The Pussycat Dolls are more a dance troupe than singers, and they convey a very unapologetically sexual image that fits the lyrics quite well. >>
The writing credits on this song read: Thomas DeCarlo Callaway and Anthony L. Ray. You know them better as Cee-Lo Green from The Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley and Sir Mix-a-Lot of “Baby Got Back” fame. The song was originally recorded by Tori Alamaze in 2004. Alamaze was a makeup artist and backup singer who was signed to Cee-Lo’s production company. Shortly after her version was released as a single, her record company dropped her and stopped promoting the song, so very few people heard it. The next year, The Pussycat Dolls recorded it in a version also produced by Cee Lo and with Busta Rhymes on guest vocals.
Heineken beer used this in TV commercials.
Cee-Lo Green recalled to The Guardian newspaper March 22, 2008: “I originally wrote it for another artist – Tori Alamaze – but it found its way to the Pussycat Dolls and the rest is history. I was more than content with it going to the original artist, but of course the Pussycat Dolls took it to another level.”
This was the Pussycat Dolls’ first single. Many critics predicted a quick demise for the group, but they went on to record several more hits.
Q magazine January 2012 asked Cee-Lo Green if he pretended to be an attractive girl to help him get into character when he penned this song? He replied: “No, I was trying to think of an ideal woman – who would be so bold as to say something as outspoken as that song.”
Speaking on a 2012 Behind The Music special for VH1, Nicole Scherzinger said she did most of the singing “on my own” for the PCD album: “People don’t even know the whole story. They have no idea. I was in the center because I was singing,” she said. “I hope I don’t get in trouble for the stuff that I say but I’ll never forget I finished the album, PCD, and Ron (executive producer Ron Fair) and I brought the girls into the studio and we played it for them. It was the first time they’d ever heard the music.”
“Do you understand what I’m saying?” she continued. “We played the album for the Pussycat Dolls. It was the first time they’d ever heard the songs.”
“Don’t Cha” featured in the Sims 2 Pets video game. The Pussycat Dolls recorded the song in Simlish, the fictional language of the Sims.
The Pussycat Dolls were an American girl group and dance ensemble, founded in Los Angeles, California, by choreographer Robin Antin in 1995 as a burlesque troupe. At the suggestion of Jimmy Lovine, Antin decided to take the burlesque troupe mainstream as a pop group. Antin negotiated a record deal with Interscope Geffen A&M Records in 2003 turning the group into a music franchise comprising Nicole Scherzinger, Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta, Melody Thornton, and Kimberly Wyatt. Their debut single, “Sway”, was featured on the soundtrack of the 2004 film Shall We Dance?.
The Pussycat Dolls achieved worldwide success with the singles “Don’t Cha”, “Stickwitu”, “Buttons”, and their multi-platinum debut album PCD (2005). However, despite their commercial success, the group was plagued by internal conflict due to the emphasis on Scherzinger, the group’s lead vocalist, and the subordinate treatment of the other members. Bachar’s departure from the group preceded the release of their second and final studio album Doll Domination (2008), which contains hit singles “When I Grow Up”, “I Hate This Part”, and “Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)”. Following the completion of their 2009 world tour, the group went on hiatus and fully disbanded in 2010. The original recording line-up, minus Thornton, announced their reunion in 2019 with an upcoming tour and a new album. However, with the worsening situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with breaches of contracts and logistical issues, the reunion tour was cancelled in 2022, leaving the group’s fate uncertain.