1993–2003: Dance troupe beginnings
Some sources claim that Antin first began exploring the idea of a modern burlesque troupe in 1993 with her friend Christina Applegate; the troupe's first performance was in 1995. During this period they performed with numerous guest vocalists (see list below), with a repertoire of '50s and '60s pop standards, performed in lingerie and/or old-fashioned pin-up costumes. Antin reportedly drew inspiration from the choreography of Bob Fosse (Sweet Charity, Cabaret, Chicago).
They secured a Thursday night residency at Los Angeles nightclub The Viper Room, where they stayed from 1995–2001. In June 1999 Playboy ran a Pussycat Dolls pictorial, featuring at least contemporary members Kasey Campbell, Kiva Dawson, Erica Gudis and Lindsley Allen. In 2002 they moved to The Roxy. The group became internationally popular and was featured in magazines, television specials for MTV and VH1, ad campaigns, and movies. Carmen Electra was the group's lead performer for many of their shows. She said "I was part of the Dolls for two years and did every show with them...but financially, I couldn't become part of their new music project...It was a financial sacrifice I couldn't make."
With the involvement of music producers Jimmy Iovine and Ron Fair, the troupe was re-cast, transformed into an pop/R&B recording group, and signed up as employees of Iovine's label Interscope Records.
Meghan Grim is the most recent member of the Pussycat Dolls.
2003-present: Music career
In 2003, Nicole Scherzinger, a former member of Popstars winners Eden's Crush, became the group's lead singer. The present members of the group are Scherzinger; Carmit Bachar (who joined in 1995); Kimberly Wyatt, Ashley Roberts (who joined in 2001); Jessica Sutta (who joined in 2002); and Melody Thornton, (who joined in 2003). They opened the MTV Asia Awards 2004.
The Pussycat Dolls on the cover of their 2005 debut album, PCD. Listen to "Buttons' audio sample
In 2005, The Pussycat Dolls released their debut album PCD. The album debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, selling about 100,000 copies. It has produced six singles. "Sway" was their first single, released from the Shall We Dance soundtrack, then later included on thir debut album, but it was "Don't Cha" (featuring Busta Rhymes, originally recorded by Tori Alamaze) that became their first major hit. The follow-up, "Stickwitu", became the group's first U.S. # 1 Billboard Pop Radio hit,it went on to sell over a million digital downloads in the world and became their second #1 single in the UK. The third single, "Beep," featured Black Eyed Peas lead rapper will.i.am. They recently released their latest single, "Buttons," featuring Snoop Dogg which followed in the success of the previous singles and went straight into the top 3 on the UK singles chart, #3. The group's final single has been confirmed as the high tempo, club track "Wait A Minute" and is set for release on August 2006, in the United States,"I Don't Need a Man" will be released in Canada (The video was premiered on MuchOnDemand September 14th, 2006) , the UK and Ireland and "Sway" will be released as the 5th single in Continental Europe. The 5th single in Australia and New Zealand hasn't been confirmed yet.
The Pussycat Dolls are proving to be a recognised female group as MTV Hits (UK) marks them as #1 in Top 10 Female Groups (July 2006) beating #2 Destiny's Child and #7 Spice Girls. Furthermore, securing #1 in VH1's (UK) 'Top 20 Sexiest' and #2 in TMF's Ultimate 20 Women in Pop (August 2006).
The group won a Billboard Music Award for "Don't Cha" as Top Hot/Dance Club Play Single of the Year. The song was also nominated for Top-Selling Single of the Year and Top-Selling Dance Single of the Year.
At the SXSW music conference in 2006, Interscope lawyer Darryl Franklin said, during a panel discussion, that the contract with the group is unique in that its members are actually salaried employees of the record label and, by design, completely interchangeable. This means that in addition to CD sales, the label also controls merchandise, web sites and all other commercial aspects of the group and their income, excluding song publishing.
In 2006, San Francisco-based company Doppelganger (along with Interscope Records) launched the PCD Music Lounge, an interactive website.
On June 30th's VSpot Top 20 Countdown, host Matt Pinfield announced that lead singer Nicole Scherzinger has written 12 new songs for the follow-up album to 2005's PCD.
In 2006 The Pussycat Dolls have been performing live shows as support for Black Eyed Peas, and as headliners in the UK, Europe and Malaysia. (Even though the Black Eyed Peas performed in Israel, The Pussycat Dolls didn't open the show.)
On August 8, 2006, after a Dolls concert in Kuala Lumpur, their concert promoter, Absolute Entertainment, was charged with flouting Malaysian decency laws. The Malay Mail quoted Culture Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Rahman as saying: "I believe the way the Pussycat Dolls behaved onstage amounted to gross indecency". The charge was settled by paying a fine of RM5000 (US$1358 ).
In November 2006 the Dolls will be touring with special guest Rihanna.
The Dolls' repertoire includes both contemporary pop/R&B and cover versions of pop standards. The contemporary works are mostly written by professional songwriters and/or producers; Scherzinger is the only group member to have co-written any tracks. The covers often fit within the traditions of burlesque, cabaret and drag shows; featuring musical vamps and flirtatious choreography.
Their recorded cover versions include: "Sway" (Dean Martin); "Santa Baby" (Eartha Kitt); "Feelin' Good" (Nina Simone); "Tainted Love" (Gloria Jones/Soft Cell); "Where Did Our Love Go" (The Supremes/Soft Cell); a mash-up of Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" with Siobhan Fahey's "Bitter Pill"; "Right Now" (Mel Torme); and "Don't Cha" (Tori Alamaze).
Their live cover versions have included: "Big Spender" (Chita Rivera/Shirley Bassey); "Fever" (Peggy Lee); "The Pink Panther Theme" (Henry Mancini); and "These Boots Are Made For Walking" (Nancy Sinatra).
The Dolls have been accused of being a group where only one member sings (Scherzinger), and the rest are just eye candy. However, Thornton and Bachar both have solo spots on many tracks: Thornton: "Beep", "Bite The Dust", "Buttons", "I Don't Need A Man", "Hot Stuff (I Want You Back)", "Sway", "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go"," "Stickwitu", "Flirt", "Obesity", and "Santa Baby". Bachar: "Beep", "We Went As Far As We Felt Like Going", "Hot Stuff (I Want You Back)", "Right Now","Tainted Love", "Bite The Dust" and "Santa Baby". Roberts and Sutta also sing on the "Stickwitu" B-side "Santa Baby".
In April 2006 The New York Times reported that Interscope executives are working to produce their own reality TV series overseen by the producers of America's Next Top Model and McG, the director of Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Entitled The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll, the show will search for the new member of the troupe.
In August 2006, it was announced that the show would be picked up by the CW, the new network being formed from the merger of UPN and the WB.
In a merchandising agreement with Interscope, in 2006 toy manufacturer Hasbro had plans for a line of dolls modeled after The Pussycat Dolls, and reportedly aimed at six- to nine-year-olds. The groups "Dads and Daughters" and the "Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood" successfully lobbied the company to scrap the plan because they felt that the dolls would have been inappropriate for children, due to the overtly sexual nature of The Pussycat Dolls' songs, videos and live shows.
Interscope also negotiated a deal with Estée Lauder for a Pussycat Dolls line of cosmetics under the Stila brand.
In September 2006 it was reported that the Pussycat Dolls had re-recorded "Don't Cha" in Simlish for inclusion in the computer game The Sims 2 Pets.