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October 4, 2008

Pussycat Dolls - Doll Domination

[img id="80765" align="alignleft"] Ever since the Spice Girls said goodbye to the music world, the girl-group genre has been at an all-time low, rife with groups devoid of lyrical and musical substance. The latest stillborns are two-hit wonders, like Danity Kane, who, to this day, is still chanting, “How you gonna fix it, fix it, fix it”, and Barbie dolls like the Pussycat Dolls, known for demanding that you loosen up their button, baby.

In this war of plasticized girl groups, it looked as if the Pussycat Dolls had lost the battle after suffering two casualties—the loss of an original member, Carmit, and lead singer Nicole. Once Nicole realized she couldn’t thrive as a solo singer—it took Beyoncé three albums with Destiny’s Child before she tried, so what made Nicole think she had a chance?—she regrouped with her infantry in the trenches, preparing a new battle plan to take over the world: Doll Domination.

Dying Jessica’s hair red (i.e. making it appear as if redhead Carmit never left), turning Kimberly into the softer/sexier side of P!nk, and the addition of Timbaland, Polow da Don, Danja, and Darkchild to their artillery (as well as a load of airbrushing) were just some of the ways that this battle plan was executed. Then, there’s the album.

If there is one thing that Doll Domination does well, it is producing hits that will take over the clubs. At first listen, the single “When I Grow Up” stagnates, never gaining any real momentum or substance, whether musically, vocally, or lyrically. Yet, for some reason, this seemingly void performance works, as the girls, or Nicole’s voice times five, sing, “I wanna be famous, I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies,” taking you back to the days when you were a little rug rat waiting to conquer the world. Snoop Dogg allies with the Dolls again on “Bottle Pop,” a bass-heavy, synthesized follow-up to “Buttons.” With a tempo that races like a NASCAR driver, then coasts like Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push,” “Magic” is the Dolls’ rocket launcher of the album.

The pursuit of Doll Domination can be summarized in one song, “Takin’ Over the World.” A mid-tempo, almost mysterious beat ensues, and Nicole confidently leads her infantry through the battlefield, stating, “I got what you want, so give it up” as they skip from taking over the clubs to taking over the world.

The ballads “I Hate This Part,” “Halo,” and “Love the Way You Love Me” are successes not due to Nicole’s vocals, but rather to sassy lyrics coupled with heavy production as polished as their album cover.

Where General Nicole’s battle plan fails is in thinking that the Dolls should attempt to add substance to their music by tacking on songs slower than club speed. “Elevator,” “I’m Done,” and “Hush Hush,” among others, could have remained in the reserves, if not discarded completely. Their lyrics are comically somber, and Nicole’s dismal attempts to sing have about as much emotion as Britney Spears singing the national anthem. Two leftovers from Nicole’s attempted solo debut were given to the Doll Domination: “Who Gonna Love You” and “Happily Never After.” If they didn’t work to launch Nicole’s solo career, what made her think that they would help the Dolls?

Beyond those failures and achievements, the only true winner in this battle is the general, as Doll Domination does nothing more than to give Nicole another chance to give herself more exposure. Try Nicole Domination?