April 4, 2008

Shortcuts: Danity Kane–Welcome to the Dollhouse

“Producing failures since 1999” is just one of the possible slogans for the depressing talent search known as Making the Band. Since the show’s conception, bands such as O-Town and Da Band have failed to produce anything except moderately entertaining hours of television and lackluster albums. Lou Pearlman—Backstreet Boys’s and ’N Sync’s personal pickpocket—nurtured O-Town, who embarrassingly revealed their “Liquid Dreams” to the world. Following their demise, Diddy and MTV rebuilt the show and helmed the monstrosity Da Band, a talentless group of no-names who couldn’t stay together long enough to make it past their first single. Supposedly, Diddy claimed certain members were capable of producing solo albums. More than half a decade later, not only has none of them become a solo artist, but you can guarantee that members are either claiming unemployment, bankruptcy, child support, or all of the above. Diddy’s next great idea: create the ultimate girl group. What followed instead were five girls who became popular not because of their overwhelming musical abilities but because of their breathy, sensual voices in their singular hit “Show Stopper.” Then they were never heard of again.

On the next season of Making the Band, Diddy attempted to establish the next New Edition and ended up with Day26 and a Prince­­–Justin Timberlake hybrid also known as Donnie. Yet, after all of these failures, Diddy may have struck gold during this past season, combining veterans Danity Kane with novices Day26 and Donnie as each group produces its own album. This time around, Danity Kane took control over their album Welcome to the Dollhouse, calling the shots and shoving Diddy in the backseat—and that may be the reason why they may make it past one hit.

“When the red light comes on I transform,” begins Danity Kane on the Danja-filled “Bad Girl,” as the girls coo above a B-side beat from Britney Spears’s Blackout. Unlike their previous efforts, this song is just the first of many that shows that when that red light in the production studio flickers, D. Woods, Aubrey, Dawn, Shannon, and Aundrea are ready to attack any track. Producer Danja continues this stream of club-bangers with the futuristic “Pretty Boy” and the clear choice for a single, “Strip Tease,” a track which elaborates on the Dollhouse side of the album with faux–Pussycat Dolls lines like “undress me with your eyes” and “what’s underneath my exterior.”

“Damaged” sticks in your head like cotton candy in the crevices of your teeth, locking the lyrics “how you gonna fix it, fix it, fix it” into your subconscious. “Sucka for Love” is the sexualized version of Diddy’s “Last Night,” featuring the girls claiming “tonight I don’t want to be alone” over a relentless bassline. After the first minute of Rick Ross’s unnecessary filler, “Ecstasy” sours when showing off each of Danity Kane’s voices, especially once the bridge hits and their voices reach a climax. “Key to Your Heart” plays like The Price Is Right, with voices and backdrops that are as unpredictable as a casino game.

Though Welcome to the Dollhouse may not be the greatest album of the year, it is a step forward for Danity Kane, and it shows that the girls have a couple more chances left to continue to evolve, reinvent themselves, and make club-bangers for years to come.