Page last updated at 07:32 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 08:32 UK

Pussycats, where have you been?

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter


The video for the Pussycat Dolls' new single When I Grow Up

"Be careful what you wish for 'cause you just might get it."

This cautionary message comes courtesy of the Pussycat Dolls, whose comeback single - When I Grow Up - hints at the darker side of global fame.

"The song is meant to be playful," says lead singer Nicole Scherzinger. "But on the twist side of that, it's a little warning.

Pussycat Dolls
The band's second album is called Doll Domination
"I think people see us and think: 'Wow, I want to do that. I want to be famous, I want to see the world, I want nice cars, I want groupies.'

"But it's not going to be an easy road getting there and it's not as glamorous as it always seems."

Scherzinger should know. After a decade spent toiling at pop's coalface in a succession of failed bands and reality shows, she finally struck gold with the Pussycat Dolls in 2005.

Their first hit, the sultry Cee-Lo Green-penned Don'tcha, went straight to number one on both sides of the Atlantic. Its cheeky hook - "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" - instantly entered the pop lexicon.

Four more top 10 hits followed, along with a multi-platinum album, sponsorship deals, a TV show and tours with Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas and Christina Aguilera.


Pussycat Dolls
Sixth doll Carmit Bachar (far right) quit the band earlier this year
So you could be forgiven for thinking that any complaints about the pressures of fame were the usual "poor little me" celebrity whining. But Scherzinger insists "we all got our own traumas".

Certainly, she has had a rough couple of months. Her solo album was put on hold after it failed to capture radio's attention and, in March, fellow Doll Carmit Bachar quit the group.

"You don't see all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes," says Scherzinger. "It's a lot harder than people imagine."

The solo record was shelved, she says, because "I didn't want to miss out on the PCD moment".

And she understands why others might not want to endure the "gruelling schedule" of being a Pussycat Doll.

"We train our minds, our bodies, like we're training for the Olympics," she says.

"Not only do we rehearse the dancing every day, but I have a personal trainer and I make time to train every day.

"You sacrifice your own personal time. You don't get to be with loved ones, you don't have time for yourself.

"But it's worth it. When the train's coming, you gotta jump on it - because it's not always going to be around."

'Boot camp'

Pussycat Dolls
Doing the first PCD album, we didn't know what our sound was. Now we have to beat those songs
Nicole Scherzinger
In person, Scherzinger's soft Kentucky drawl masks the sheer ambition of this statement, but there is no doubt that she is working hard to capitalise on her moment in the spotlight.

A stint in the studio with producer du jour Timbaland resulted in six songs in as many days.

"I felt like I was in boot camp," she laughs.

The singer also took on the responsibility for producing her bandmates' vocals.

A video of recording sessions on the group's official website shows her instructing 26-year-old Ashley Roberts to "get on it better, accent it better".

Didn't this cause friction within the quintet?

"Well, vocals are kind of my thing," Scherzinger says. "And I would never boss anyone around.

"I produce my own vocals, so I know how to speak to other singers. I don't have very many skills in life - but that's one of them!"

Turner tribute

The album, Doll Domination, is due out in September. It ditches the cover versions and show tunes which betrayed the band's cabaret beginnings on their debut.

Scherzinger promises a few surprises as well.

Nicole Scherzinger
Scherzinger says she is "still working" on her solo album
"We've got one song that's called I Hate This Part where my inspiration was Sting and Journey," she reveals.

"And we did another song with Timbaland called In Person which kind of sounds like old Tina Turner."

The songs have been specifically designed to work on stage in anticipation of next year's world tour.

"I think that's what's so special about the Dolls and what separates us from other pop groups ," says the star.

"We have a history - a very theatrical background."

Scherzinger's ambitions don't end there. She insists she "will go back" to her first love, musical theatre - she has appeared in Chicago and Showboat, and studied theatre at university.

And what about a Pussycat Dolls musical?

"Most definitely. I think more so that than anything, because it reaches people all over the world.

"I grew up watching All That Jazz and films like that - and that's the time I come from.

"It's just finding the right one... or writing my own."

That album title is beginning to seem less like a clever piece of alliteration and more like a mission statement.

When I Grow Up is released in the UK on 8 September. Doll Domination follows a week later.

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