Tag Archives: Pussycat Dolls

Top 11 Singles Of 2008

The Top 11 Singles Of 2008 is probably my least favourite list of them all. Despite the fact that the songs are all amazing (obviously – I chose ‘em!), something about it just doesn’t flow. And I overplayed my number one song to such an extent (something like on repeat 15 times a day for six months) that it’s only just returning from a two-year banishment, a move required for me to appreciate its majesty once more.

However, this is the list that has had the most extensive tinkering. Originally Madcon’s Beggin’ was on the list – before I went to see Jersey Boys and realised everything great about that song was the Four Seasons sample! An Alcazar single was on there (before I tightened my UK-release only rules), as was Rihanna’s Disturbia (good but generic). In their place went Alphabeat (a song I loved but which seemed so instantly familiar, I thought it was one of those tracks from aeons ago that had bypassed my radar), Miley Cyrus (excluded back in the days when I held Hannah Montana against her) and V V Brown (a limited release single I only found out about after the list was done and dusted). The three nearly but not quites are also all songs I didn’t appreciate at the time but which I couldn’t do without now, yet something about them jars with the overall list, hence them not making the cut.

But enough talking, time for listing! Here’s eleven slices of 2008’s finest…

1.         Hot N Cold – Katy Perry (4)
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m ever so slightly obsessed with Hot N Cold. The video holds a permanent place on my desktop and the song itself ain’t too shabby either. A Dr Luke/Max Martin chorus to end all others, and just when you might be getting bored of it, along comes the Jason Nevins Radio Edit, which made the impossible possible by making it even more epic on the scale of amazing than before.

2.            Spiralling – Keane (23)
Those thrilling beginning wooooos marked the return of Keane in an entirely different guise from slightly wet piano-playing cousins of Coldplay. Some mental lyrics about fashioning you from jewels and stones we can take or leave, but the hook that swirls, spirals and sucks you in is simply irresistible. Intoxicating, hypnotising, entrancing and just plain bloody brilliant.

3.         When I Grow Up – The Pussycat Dolls (3)
Dance breakdown? Check. Ridiculous lyrics? Check. Skanky outfits? Check. Nicole singing practically everything? Check. (Apparently, she even provides backing vocals… to herself). What a shame that the Pussycat Dolls follow-up album was absolute wank but at least we have this Darkchild slice of musical magnificence to remember them by.

4.         Just Dance – Lady Gaga (1)
Lady Gaga delivered a well-deserved shot up the arm to the music scene and the brilliance of Just Dance is so great that it somehow makes Akon’s presence in a song bearable. The title isn’t a suggestion, but a command and with music this marvellous, a very easy one to execute at that. And I have no idea who or what Colby O Dennis may be, but his section takes the song to a whole other level.

5.         The Promise – Girls Aloud (1)
I don’t know whether to be pleased or annoyed that it took Cheryl Cole being a judge on the X-Factor for the rest of Britain to realise that Girls Aloud are genius. The Promise, a delightful retro romp with finger-crossing dance routine and trademark nonsensical lyrics about walking primroses, may be their least exciting lead single to date – but that still makes it thousands of times better than just about anything else released in the year.

6.            Fascination – Alphabeat (6)
More cheerful than Mr Happy after popping some Es, Fascination sounds like someone let off fireworks in a factory stockpiling old 80s records. Somewhere between The B-52s, Wham and Footloose, it was a frenetic jive around everything wonderful you could possibly think of about pop music, by a group who aren’t afraid to do everything in Technicolour, even if they know their way round the skinny jean/long cardigan section of Topman too. And after being deprived of mixed-gender groups for so long, the charming boy-girl interplay of Alphabeat’s vocals sounds so utterly delicious. The word is on your lips – say the word!

7.         Run – Leona Lewis (1)
If artists insist on recording covers, could they please all be like Leona Lewis’ version of Run?! Saved from the clutches of Snow Patrol mediocrity, Run has it all. Lighters aloft, dry ice swirling, perfect vocals, choir appearing for the key change – this song is a thing of pure beauty. A future classic.

8.         See You Again – Miley Cyrus (11)
‘My best friend Lesley said, “Oh she’s just being Miley”,’ may go down in the record books as the most ridiculous/amazing cult pop lyric of all time. Oddly, its utter inanity somehow contributes to See You Again’s overall excellence. A mesmerising shimmy across the dancefloor, with sparkly accents, seductive vocals and an absolutely stellar chorus, it slams a knockout blow to Disney detractors once and for all.

9.         Crying Blood – V V Brown (-)
The insane lovechild of a Nintendo theme tune and the Monster Mash, Crying Blood is an unhinged reworking of doo-wop for the noughties. Exploding out your speakers with all the addictiveness of a batch of EU-banned E-numbers, Crying Blood has enough energy and exuberance for twenty songs, bottled down and boiled into two and a half minutes of pop lunacy at its best.

10.            Womanizer – Britney Spears (3)
Fast, frenetic, fantastic and fierce, this indicated that Britney was back and with bells on. Deserves a place for the intro alone – and yes, those are sirens.

11.       Up – The Saturdays (5)
Who cares if they’re blander than Rachel Stevens buying magnolia wallpaper and vanilla ice cream when The Saturdays deliver infectious electropop as great as this?

Three nearly but not quites…
That’s Not My Name/Shut Up & Let Me Go – The Ting Tings, Dance Wiv Me – Calvin Harris & Dizzee Rascal, So What – Pink

Be careful what you wish for ‘cos you just might get it…

A while ago, I hastily-penned a short article expressing my disdain for the whole Sugababes v.27 thing. Just a few months later, in their eternal bid to prove that anything the Brits can do the Yanks can do better, the Pussycat Dolls are making the Sugababes incident seem like an event of ‘kid pushes over other kid’s sandcastle’ magnitude.

It currently looks as if Nicole Scherzinger is the last Doll standing – a mean feat considering she wasn’t even a Doll in the first place (she was added to give ‘vocal strength’ when the burlesque troupe became a band). Given that Scherzinger apparently manages to sing both lead and backing vocals on When I Grow Up (meaning should the post of PCD magician become vacant, Scherzinger is a dead cert), any other members are clearly dispensable and amidst tales of dressing rooms, drug tests, regulated screen-time in videos, non-sharing of vocals, broken ribs and even homelessness, Kimberly Wyatt, Jessica Sutta and Ashley Roberts have all confirmed their departures. The exit of Melody Thornton, the only other member even allowed within breathing space of a microphone and who had an outburst live on stage about not being ‘featured’ (a reference to the band’s new name of “Pussycat Dolls feat. Nicole Scherzinger” on their last singles), surely cannot be far off.

The fact that you’re probably scratching your heads trying to place these names – that’s if you’re even bothering attempting to place them at all (and no, none of them are the one who looked like a he-she – that was Carmit Bachar and she left 2 years ago) – illustrates the problem. These other members were little more than glorified back-up dancers for Scherzinger and in fact, salaried employees of the record company. This means they picked up pay cheques for a set amount just like you, me or any other average Joe flipping burgers at the local Machouse.

This already promoted the idea that members were interchangeable – in any corporation, no-one is irreplaceable – and this has led to a somewhat blasé attitude amongst some commentators regarding PCD’s (as we know them) demise. But this isn’t a corporation, it’s a pop band. You put these girls on every single record sleeve, you have an official website where each has a member profile, you send them out touring and you do this over the course of five whole years – of course, their job status is a little different to your average Joe flipping burgers and should be treated as such. It’s a little sad if we just shrug our shoulders and continue to lap up whatever material Scherzinger and her chorus line put out next.

The notion of modern pop fandom means having some connection with the individuals in the group, for better or for worse. Yes, yes, it should all be about the music blah blah blah but where would the fun be in that? People inevitably develop favourite members, bustling fansites and forums emerge and Thornton, Wyatt and Roberts have approximately 90,000 followers on Twitter between them; to the hardcore fans, the staple of pop groups who rely on such fans to religiously buy singles even when they’re at the tricky dodgy ballad stage, these women are not just interchangeable faces – whatever Robin Antin, the brains (and the botox) behind brand PCD, may believe.

Compare and contrast the videos for the lead single and last singles from the Doll Domination album campaign. By the end, the other members are lucky to get 20 seconds screen-time between them and aren’t even bothering to lip-sync to backing vocals. It shows disrespect to the fans, disrespect to real bands whose performances aren’t a total charade and disrespect to the girls themselves.

Line-up changes, bust-ups and messy splits are practically written into girl groups’ DNA and I daresay that if the Pussycat Dolls, in whatever Nicole-centric incarnation (lest we forget she had a prolonged crack at solo stardom and comprehensively flopped), continue to release highly-commercial material of a similar calibre to their work in the past, they will continue to sell decently. To lose one band member is bad luck, to lose two is carelessness… to lose four in one fell swoop hints at deeper problems. I hope the press give them a hard time because they genuinely deserve it. Come back Sugababes v.48, all is forgiven.