Nicole Scherzinger, the alpha female among the Pussycat Dolls, grew up a college basketball fan in Louisville, Ky. “I used to watch it a lot with my dad growing up,” she remembers.
Of course, the team of choice back then was the University of Louisville Cardinals — who the Michigan State Spartans clobbered last Sunday to make their way to this weekend’s NCAA Final Four championship at Detroit’s Ford Field. But Scherzinger promises she won’t hold it against the home state fans when the Pussycat Dolls headline Big Dance Saturday on the Detroit Riverfront.
“Nah,” the 30-year-old singer and songwriter says with a laugh. “Good for them. We’re just there to have a good time with everybody.”
And good times come part and parcel with the Pussycat Dolls experience.
The group began life in 1995 as a burlesque troupe in Los Angeles, guided by choreographer Robin Antin and featuring a regular retinue of celebrity guest dancers. Five years ago, Antin partnered with Interscope Records to turn the Dolls into a scantily clad, tightly choreographed vocal group — and the move paid off with a debut album (2005’s “PCD”) that’s sold more than seven million copies worldwide and launched seven singles.
But last year’s follow-up, “Doll Domination,” has not exactly lived up to its title. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart in September, but it’s not yet certified gold in the U.S. and has sold just over a million copies worldwide.
The Dolls aren’t crying over their fate, however. Instead, they’re working on a come-from-behind victory, touring Europe as headliners and North America opening for Britney Spears. And on April 14, they’re bringing out “Doll Domination 2.0,” a revised and expanded version of the sophomore album that features “Top of the World,” their theme song for the MTV series “The City,” a dance remix of the ballad “Hush Hush” that samples in Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and a new version of the Academy Award-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” song “Jai Ho!” — now subtitled “You Are My Destiny” — which Scherzinger collaborated on with Indian composer A.R. Rahman.
The latter, recorded at the suggestion of the Dolls’ record label, has particularly kindled interest, peaking at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“I’m really excited about ‘Jai Ho!’ ” says Scherzinger, who wrote the new English lyrics for the song and recorded it while the group was on tour in Europe.
“It’s not a literal translation at all,” she acknowledges, “I just went off of the feeling that I got from watching the movie, the story line, and just trying to relate to the characters and staying true to that whole destiny thread and making it more of a pop song that people could maybe relate to even better.
“It was crazy, because the whole time I was writing and recording it I felt like ... I was in the movie. It’s kind of twisted, but I wanted to try to get inside of it and get inside the head of the characters and that story — and then make it something that people could relate to the relationships in their lives.”
The excitement over “Jai Ho!” did help another Dolls song, “I Hate This Part,” scale the charts to No. 11. And Scherzinger says she and her mates are hoping that the additional firepower of the other new songs on “Doll Domination 2.0” will juice some life back into the album.
“I guess it is a new life, a new push for it,” she notes. “Why not? In this industry these days, that’s what we’re trying to do, always put new music out there and get people to pay attention. So this is a way for people to get new songs of ours and for people who haven’t picked up ‘Doll Domination’ to get another spin of our music.”
And, she adds, as long as there’s a hint of an audience willing to listen, the Dolls intend to spin that music to it.
“When the train’s moving, you just jump on and ride it, ‘cause you don’t know when it’s going to stop,” says Scherzinger, who does expect the Dolls to stop touring in the summer, when she plans to continue work on her first solo album.
“You just have to be grateful for what you have, and you’ve got to be hardworking and be non-stop. I think when you put that energy out there and put the work ethic behind it, it speaks for itself and things come to you and it’s fruitful.
“We’re just grateful we’re in such a time right now. It is a fruitful time for the group and even for myself within the group.”
The Pussycat Dolls perform at 4 p.m. Saturday (April 4) as part of the Big Dance Saturday concerts for the NCAA Final Four Weekend on the Detroit Riverfront near the GM Renaissance Center. Admission is free. Visit www.NCAA.com/finalfour for information.
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