Did Perez Hilton jump the gun with his recent blog post and photo proclaiming, “The REAL New Pussycat Dolls!”? According to Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin, the actual members of the revamped group haven’t officially been chosen.
“It’s official that I’m doing a new group of Pussycat Dolls,” she says. “But the only reason I can’t talk about the girls individually is because of contracts.”
Then who are the six females pictured in the Hilton post? There’s Lauren Bennett, the featured singer on LMFAO‘s No. 1 hit “Party Rock Anthem.” Antin notes that both Bennett and Vanessa Curry, a Los Angeles Laker Girl, have been “a part of my crew [the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Revue] for a long time” and have helped her promote the latest Pussycat Dolls workout DVD. The remaining ladies include Kristal “Lyndriette” Smith, Kia Hampton, Tiffany “Taz” Zavala and Paula Van Oppen. Van Oppen is also a member of the Burlesque Revue, but hasn’t been promoting the DVD with Bennett and Curry.
Ultimately, Antin adds, the latest Dolls incarnation may not include six ladies. “The number of girls could change,” she says. “I’ve been going back and forth. It could go back to five. It really depends on how it goes once we start to do our thing. This is what happened back in the day” when the original Dolls’ first album, “PCD,” featured six members in 2005. By the time second album “Doll Domination” bowed in 2008, the lineup had shrunk to five.
Video: “Buttons,” Pussycat Dolls
Launched as a burlesque dance troupe in 1995, the Pussycat Dolls later morphed into a pop/dance group signed to Interscope. Like the Spice Girls before them, the Pussycat Dolls became a worldwide phenomenon thanks to four top 10 hits: “Don’t Cha,” “Stickwitu,” “Buttons” and “When I Grow Up.” At the time, the group members consisted of Nicole Scherzinger, Carmit Bachar, Melody Thornton, Jessica Sutta, Ashley Roberts and Kimberly Wyatt. A whirlwind of stateside and international tours and reality TV followed before the group disbanded in 2010 in pursuit of solo careers. The most notable alumna is Scherzinger, now a judge on the American version of “The X Factor” and still awaiting the U.S. release of her Interscope debut album, “Killer Love,” which was released earlier this year in the United Kingdom.
Audio: “Sweet Vendetta,” Melody Thornton
“There’s a reason Nicole is on ‘X Factor,'” Antin says. “It’s because of the Pussycat Dolls. I’m ready to make that happen for the next litter of girls.”
But the track record for girl groups — or any pop or R&B group, for that matter — has been disappointing of late. So can a revamped Pussycat Dolls break that streak? “The Pussycat Dolls reboot is an interesting concept,” says Joe “MoJoe” Roberts, PD of top 40 KHOP Modesto, Calif. “We’ve seen other pop groups attempt to relaunch, like Menudo. But they are typically unsuccessful the second time around. I’m not saying it won’t work. But based on past examples, the chips seem stacked against them.”
Antin, however, is confident the new Dolls will thrive. “Producers are calling. Everyone wants to be a part of the Pussycat Dolls. A group is a hard thing to do but I feel like we hold that part of the market. I’ve been able to really brand it.”
Video: “Show Me,” Jessica Sutta
Beyond the workout DVDs, the brand extends to clubs in Las Vegas, a clothing line and to the girls themselves, whether they’re in the recording group or not. A reality show is also being developed, focusing on Antin. She says that Kim Kardashian and producer Nigel Lythgoe (“American Idol”) are onboard. The troupe’s recording revival will be a part of the show, but not the focus.
“Everyone wants to see the Pussycat Dolls,” Antin says of the brand’s ongoing success and the music group’s revival. “They know whoever I put in that all the girls are going to be amazing. They’re obviously going to be really hot, but also really talented. I don’t let anyone into my world — the Pussycat Dolls — unless they are fierce.”