Wednesday, 23 September 2009

64: Pussycat Dolls feat. Snoop Dogg - Buttons

I've not really touched upon the subject of image yet in this countdown. But image has always been critical to the success of recording artists. A band can have fantastic songs bursting out of every bone in their bodies, but without an image that can be marketed, few record labels will be prepared to risk stumping up vast amounts of cash to sell those songs. It's as true today as it ever was.... The Beatles were all image, Kiss were turned down by Epic Records because head of A&R, Don Ellis didn't like their image, and Susan Boyle has become an overnight worldwide sensation on the basis of an image that is so unconventional that the world was automatically drawn to her story.

Some "manufactured" girl groups have had their image created for them, the Spice Girls being the prime example that springs to mind. What is so unusual about the Pussycat Dolls, therefore, is that the image pre-dates the pop career by a number of years. PCD were a burlesque troupe, with a regular Thursday night residency at LA's famous Viper Room from 1995-2001. The image was already there, but the vocal talents were clearly not, which explains why Nicole Scherzinger and Melody Thornton were cast in 2003 to lead PCD to global domination.

That image is perpetuated by their flirtatious lyrics (and by their music videos), never more so than on 'Buttons'. The lead character teases her male counterpart by encouraging him to take her clothes off. Snoop Dogg pops up as the confident male who is unable to back up his words with actions.

Scherzinger's vocals waver between sultry sexpot and power diva, whilst the other Dolls sit in the background, murmuring their approval. Which is probably for the best. If you decide to form a group comprising one or two singers and a gaggle of burlesque dancers, it makes sense to keep the dancers dancing, and leave the singing to the vocalists.

And that, my friends, is how image sells records.


  1. A good read on the day that Sugababes are in the news (I'm assuming Freak Like Me will appear somewhere in the upper reaches of this countdown).

  2. You assume wrong, although the Sugababes will make an appearance.