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. After attracting media attention, 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. Overseen by Antin, Interscope, and various partners, the group was transformed into a global image and commercial brand. The Pussycat Dolls achieved worldwide success with hit singles "Don't Cha", "Buttons", "Stickwitu", and their first album PCD. 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, which contains singles "When I Grow Up", "I Hate This Part", and "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)".
In 2009, they announced a minor hiatus that was later revealed to be an official break-up. The Dolls brand diversified into merchandise, reality television programs, a Las Vegas act, product endorsements, spin-off recording groups (Girlicious, Paradiso Girls, G.R.L.) and other ventures. Billboard ranked the Pussycat Dolls as the 80th most successful musical act of the 2000s. The group has sold 54 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. In 2012, The Pussycat Dolls ranked 100th on VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music, and as the tenth all-girl group.
1995–2002: Beginnings as burlesque dance troupe
Antin began exploring the idea of a modern burlesque troupe during 1990 with Carla Kama and Christina Applegate as performers. The troupe began to perform in 1995, with a repertoire of 1950s and 1960s popular music standards while dressed in lingerie or old-fashioned pin-up costumes. They secured a Thursday night residency at a Los Angeles nightclub, the Viper Room, where they stayed from 1995 to 2001. They appeared briefly in the 1998 films Matters of Consequence (dancing to Mancini's "Hub Caps and Tail Lights", and Keely Smith's "When Your Lover has Gone"), and The Treat (directed by Jonathan Gems). From 1995 to 2003 there were numerous guest vocalists, and many changes to the dance personnel.
The troupe received wider press coverage during June 1999, when Playboy featured a Pussycat Dolls pictorial, featuring at least seven contemporary members posing semi-nude (Kasey Campbell, Kiva Dawson, Antonietta Macri, Erica Breckels, Katie Bergold, Erica Gudis and Lindsley Allen). Three years later, The Pussycat Dolls moved to the Roxy. They were featured in magazines, television specials for MTV and VH1, ad campaigns, and films. Some of The Pussycat Dolls appeared in the 2003 film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, dancing to Mancini's "The Pink Panther Theme". They were also featured in Pink's "Trouble" music video. Along with Applegate, Christina Aguilera and Carmen Electra (who was the group's lead performer for many of their shows) the troupe was featured in a Maxim magazine shoot in 2002, which increased public interest in them (Aguilera later appeared in the similarly themed 2010 film Burlesque directed by Robin Antin's brother Steve).
Following their growing popularity, music producers Jimmy Iovine and Ron Fair became involved with the group helping them to transform into a franchise. The former dance troupe evolved into a popular music recording group and became employees of Iovine's label Interscope Records. The only troupe members who remained after the re-casting process were Robin Antin (taking on the creative, executive and managerial roles), Carmit Bachar, Cyia Batten, Kasey Campbell, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt. Electra, when asked about her lack of involvement with the group's evolution into a popular music group, said, "I was part of [the Dolls] for over two years and did every show with them [...] but financially, I couldn't become part of their new music project [...] It was a sacrifice I couldn't make."
2003–2007: Recording group formation and PCD
During 2003, Antin struck a joint venture with Interscope Records to develop The Pussycat Dolls into a brand, with Jimmy Iovine assigning the project to Ron Fair. Auditions followed suit, for a separate group which would not include celebrity members. Singers Nicole Scherzinger, Melody Thornton and Kaya Jones were recruited, joining Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt to form a new recording group. In February 2004 they performed "Big Spender" live at the MTV Asia Awards. In 2004, they recorded "We Went as Far as We Felt Like Going" for the Shark Tale soundtrack and recorded the single, "Sway" which is featured on the soundtrack of Shall We Dance? Jones left the group in 2005, Batten and Campbell had left earlier.
The group's debut album, PCD, was released in September 2005 and sold 3 million copies in the United States. The album's lead single, "Don't Cha", was a commercial success, topping the charts worldwide, and reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The group's second single, "Stickwitu", peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group, but lost. It was also the group's second consecutive number one in the United Kingdom. The group became one of the top-selling artists in 2006, while the album appeared at number twelve on the Billboard 200-year-end chart that year. "Beep" reached number two in the United Kingdom and number thirteen on Billboard Hot 100.
The group was selected to perform for the introduction for ABC's coverage of the NBA. The Pussycat Dolls first opened for the Black Eyed Peas Honda Civic Tour in North America. To further promote the album, Snoop Dogg was added to a remix of "Buttons", which became a worldwide hit reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and top five elsewhere. The Pussycat Dolls embarked on their PCD World Tour with Rihanna as the opening act in the UK leg. Two final singles would be released from the album, "I Don't Need a Man" and "Wait a Minute", with the former becoming a moderate success and the latter becoming the group's fifth top 40 single on the Hot 100. At the beginning of 2007, the group toured North America as a support act for Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics Tour. To date, PCD has sold 10 million copies worldwide. The Pussycat Dolls performed at the Manchester Evening News Arena in a concert that was recorded and streamed via .
2008–2010: Doll Domination and disbandment
On March 8, Carmit Bachar announced she was departing the group to pursue other projects. The group performed for the first time after their hiatus as a quintet for US troops in Kuwait for Operation Myspace in February. The Pussycat Dolls released "When I Grow Up" as the lead single from their second studio album on May 27, 2008. The group first performed the song on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on May 20 and again on June 1 at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. The song peaked at number nine on Billboard Hot 100. The song became a worldwide hit, reaching the top five in countries such as Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Having the most nominations at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year, the music video won Best Dance Video, awarding the group their second VMA trophy.
Doll Domination was released on September 23, 2008 and debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, with 80,000 copies sold in its first week of release. The album's follow-up single, "Whatcha Think About That", failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100, however it did manage to peak at number nine on the UK Singles Chart. A third single from the album, "I Hate This Part", was released in United States in October, and peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also reached the top ten in multiple countries. On November 21, they performed a medley of "I Hate This Part" and "When I Grow Up" at the 2008 American Music Awards.
The album's fourth single, "Bottle Pop", received a limited release in Oceania regions and reached the top twenty in Australia and New Zealand. To further promote the album, the group embarked on their second world tour, entitled the Doll Domination Tour, on January 18, 2009, where Lady Gaga and Ne-Yo were featured as a support act on the European leg. The group toured North America, performing as the opening act for Britney Spears' The Circus Starring Britney Spears, as this constituted the North American leg of the Doll Domination Tour. In April, Scherzinger confirmed to Billboard that the album would be re-released. The repackaged versions spawned two more singles: the worldwide number one "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)" (featured on the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire), and Europop remix of "Hush Hush" (retitled "Hush Hush; Hush Hush"). The release of these singles led to a backslash from the members due to their label's decision to list the artist of the songs with Scherzinger's name as a featured solo artist with the group, leading to several emotional outbursts to the media, including one by Thornton during one of the group's appearances on tour.
On January 29, 2010, Jessica Sutta revealed to E! Online that she had been ousted from the group, following a broken rib she sustained whilst on tour with the group, and thus confirmed her exit. On February 26, Kimberly Wyatt confirmed she was also leaving the group. The next day, Ashley Roberts announced her departure from the group via her website. Wyatt would later go on to confirm that all of the members had left the group, including Melody Thornton. Despite these changes, on May 24, a rumored third line-up would join Scherzinger. However, in late 2010, Scherzinger officially left the group to pursue a solo career. As a result, the original recording group line-up had officially disbanded.
On October 11, an official website was launched ahead of the upcoming reunion of the group that will include Nicole, Carmit, Melody, Ashley, Kimberly and Jessica. With the reunion rumors, it was also rumored that the Dolls would be going on a tour or just doing multiple shows to promote their music as Doll Domination would be 10-years-old. In addition, there were rumors of new music also being made from most medias.
The Pussycat Dolls had re-recorded "Don't Cha" in Simlish (as "Do Ba") for inclusion in the computer game The Sims 2: Pets. They also appeared in character form in the video game Asphalt: Urban GT 2 released in November 2006. In a merchandising agreement with Interscope in 2006, toy manufacturer Hasbro planned a line of dolls modeled after the group, reportedly to be marketed to six to nine-year-olds. Two organizations (Dads and Daughters and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood) successfully lobbied Hasbro to scrap the plan, saying they felt the dolls would have been inappropriate for children due to the overtly sexual nature of the Pussycat Dolls' songs, videos and performances. Also in 2006, Interscope negotiated a deal with Estée Lauder for a Pussycat Dolls line of cosmetics under the Stila brand. In 2008, Robin Antin and the La Senza Corporation produced a line of Burlesque Pussycat Dolls-styled lingerie called "Shhh...by Robin Antin", and on December 15, Antin released Robin Antin's Pussycat Dolls Workout, which is composed of dancers from the Pussycat Doll Lounge Review including Chrystina Sayers from Girlicious, and features Nicole Scherzinger.
In parallel with the Pussycat Dolls franchise as a recording act, a resident live show commenced at the "Pussycat Dolls Lounge" adjacent to Pure Nightclub in Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. This show contains "cast members" who continue the burlesque-style show which began in Los Angeles during 1995. The saloon brings sex appeal into an interactive setting with non-stop performances, where dancers fill the room as eye candy, dancing inside a rhinestone-encrusted bathtub and on raised platforms throughout the 4,500-square-foot venue. The casino allows visitors to play blackjack, roulette or watch go-go dancers perform.
In 2006, the group ran into trouble in Kuala Lumpur with the authorities for sexually explicit dancing. The performance, part of their PCD World Tour, was not well received in the Muslim state which frowned upon the group's "eye-popping attire" and "sexually suggestive stage routines". Absolute Entertainment, the company behind the group's appearance in Malaysia, was fined $3000 for the incident.
Overemphasis of Scherzinger
Margeaux Watson of Entertainment Weekly took a major swipe at the group for their overemphasis of Scherzinger as the lead singer. Watson said, "there are two kinds of girl groups: those anchored by a superstar (The Supremes, Destiny's Child), and those made up of charismatic personalities endowed with limited individual gifts (Spice Girls, TLC). The Pussycat Dolls are neither—they're a brand, not a band. This follow-up to 2005's multi-platinum PCD finds lead Doll Nicole Scherzinger in the spotlight, and she's no Beyoncé. As for the others, well...can you name them? Do you even know how many there are?"
As part of a Behind the Music special on Scherzinger's career, she claimed that she was responsible for singing both lead and background vocals on both of the group's studio albums, with hardly anything sung by her fellow members. Scherzinger, who said that she did not want to get in trouble for her revelations, explained that the other members did not even hear the tracks until they were finished. Kaya Jones claimed that Scherzinger became the lead singer for the group because "there was a lot more going on behind the scenes." As she told TMZ, "Nicole was always someone who wanted to be in the spotlight and would do pretty much anything to get it. [...] To call the other girls in the Pussycat Dolls 'window dressings' is a bit farfetched... every girl in the group was talented."
Alleged reasons for split
During an interview in November 2012, Carmit Bachar insisted Scherzinger was the main reason the group broke up. She described the girls as "like sisters" at first, but that Scherzinger's ego and insecurity started to dominate the band, saying "I think Nicole got it into her head that she was the real star and would be better off on her own. She started travelling in her own tour bus and the divide between her and the rest us just got bigger. Nicole chose to isolate and alienate herself." Bachar also said, "The band fell apart after I left. I was the peacemaker—the glue that held them all together. There was some talk of adding someone else but they didn't replace me in the end. They had Jessica dye her hair red to look like me, but the fans didn't fall for it."
Whilst being a contestant on the 12th series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Ashley Roberts said, "Even in the group, I wasn't allowed to talk, we were told to be quiet. Only Nicole was allowed to talk. We would occasionally pitch in." She vented her frustration about it and revealed that nothing in the group was split evenly; "Why do you think the band broke up? U2 are still together and they split everything down the middle."
After the group's formal disbandment, all members continued on their solo projects. In 2010, Kimberly Wyatt joined a musical duo called Her Majesty & the Wolves and released their debut album on July 11, 2011. That same year, she was featured on the Aggro Santos song "Candy" which became a UK top five hit. On June 26, 2011, Melody Thornton announced plans to have her debut solo album released sometime in 2012. On March 15, 2012, she released her first mixtape, "P.O.Y.B.L", and contains 10 tracks of five remakes and four originals all written by Thornton. On June 3, 2011, Jessica Sutta announced that she had signed to Hollywood Records home to several Disney artists. Sutta's official first single, "Show Me", appeared as a bonus track on Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 39, which was released on August 9, 2011. The song peaked at number one on the Hot Dance Club Songs in the United States. On November 7, 2012, it was confirmed that Ashley Roberts would compete in the twelfth series of the British reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! airing on ITV. In January 2013, Roberts became a member of the ice panel for the final two series of British skating show, Dancing on Ice on ITV. In June 2014, Roberts announced her debut album, titled Butterfly Effect, would be released on September 1, 2014.
Lead member Nicole Scherzinger continued her solo career after a halt to release the group's second and final studio album. In March 2010, it was announced that Scherzinger would be a celebrity contestant on the tenth season of Dancing with the Stars, partnering with Derek Hough, which she won. In March 2011, Scherzinger released her debut studio album, Killer Love, and experienced moderate success in certain territories. The album included second single, "Don't Hold Your Breath" which debuted atop the UK Singles Chart. The album's third single, "Right There", was remixed featuring 50 Cent and released as the lead single for the US version of Killer Love. It peaked at number thirty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached the top ten in countries such as Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Romania, Scotland and the United Kingdom.
In May 2011, Scherzinger was hired as a judge on the first season of the American version of The X Factor, alongside Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and L.A. Reid. After her stint in the United States, Scherzinger joined The X Factor UK for its ninth series as the fourth permanent judge. In May 2013, Scherzinger was confirmed as a returning judge for the tenth series of The X Factor UK. In January 2014, it was reported that Scherzinger left Interscope Records and signed a multimillion-dollar recording deal with Sony Records. Scherzinger's album, titled Big Fat Lie, was released in October 2014. Jessica Sutta released her debut album I Say Yes on March 3, 2017.
With only two studio albums, the band became the best selling girl group of the past decade, digital era, and fourth of all time. Since the group's formation in 2003, the Pussycat Dolls have sold 54 million records worldwide. VH1 included the Pussycat Dolls one of the 100 Greatest Women in Music in 2012. Billboard also ranked the group as one of the best selling acts of the 2000−09 decade. The Pussycat Dolls are one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. James Montgomery of MTV commented that the success of the group's debut album PCD made the Dolls "the heirs to the Spice Girls' bedazzled throne". PCD has sold over 1,246,769 copies in the United Kingdom, making it the best selling American girl group release there, also becoming one of the best selling albums of the 2000–09 decade. The success of the group's debut album led them to become the most successful girl group in the world since the Spice Girls in the late 1990s.
The Pussycat Dolls have a string of hit singles − "Don't Cha" has sold more than 3 million copies in the United States – becoming the best-selling song of all time by a female group in the United States, and 6 million worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. It was included on VH1's list of Greatest Songs of '00s. The Official Charts Company listed "Don't Cha" and "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)" at number five and thirty-nine, as of the most downloaded song since its launch, respectively. The latter created a milestone for Billboard Hot 100 with a biggest single-week upward movement in the lifetime of the chart. "Jai Ho! (You are My Destiny)" and "Don't Cha" are two of the best-selling songs in Australia and in the United Kingdom as of July 2009. "Don't Cha" was also featured in VH1's I Love the 2000s. The music video for "Don't Cha" is noted for being "iconic" among girl groups. Andrew Unterberger of Billboard said, "It was inevitable that the song and video would become massive, and become massive they did, with the song heating up the Hot 100 chart and the video establishing the group as mainstays on MTV for many subsequent (though not quite as memorable) videos to come." "Buttons" is also regarded as one of the sexiest videos ever by media outlets AOL Music, MuchMusic, Fuse, and VH1. With "Buttons" surpassing 2 million digital downloads, the Pussycat Dolls became the first all-female group in digital history to have three singles—along with "Don't Cha" and "When I Grow Up"—pass the two million mark in digital sales.
The New York Times reported that Interscope executives were working on their own reality TV series called The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll which would search for a new member for the recording group. Asia Nitollano became the group's seventh member after winning the reality show; however, she left for a solo career. A second season of the show commenced as The Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious which tried to find women to become part of a new three member all-female group, Girlicious. Interscope Records formed a London-based spin-off group called Paradiso Girls through an open audition. In 2010, they were dropped and further promotion of their planned debut album Crazy Horse was cancelled, disestablishing the group. Throughout 2011 and 2012 Antin spoke of casting new members for the Pussycat Dolls, with various new members named. In February 2013, Antin announced that she had scrapped plans for the new line-up to replace the former members of the Pussycat Dolls and would instead form a new group who will be the "next generation". They eventually became known as G.R.L. and released their debut single, "Vacation", on June 16 as a B-side track to pop singer Britney Spears' single "Ooh La La".
Member timeline of recording group