Beep – Why It’s Hard to Pump Your Brakes Concerning the Dolls’ Album

The fact that the Pussycat Dolls’ first album is named PCD, which appears to be an acronym for the name of the group is part of the schtick that makes this album a hit on the pop charts as having titled the album as such is sure to leave some purists to vigorously debate whether or not the album is self-titled. As is typical of pop albums that just happen to talk about sexual politics the record is full of contradictions, and you have to wonder exactly what is the appeal of the Dolls as a singing group. For these reasons I’m not quite sure what to think about the Pussycat Dolls, although this is a troupe that has worked the Vegas scene for years; that they were able to parlay the success of the act into a singing career is far more fascinating than anything the group has actually come up with on the record. So far we have three singles on pop radio, and, given the sound of the album, more to come. The album, while not quite as formulaic as other pop records that are out there, has a lot of potential to rule the Top-40 charts of 2006 as well.

The first single released to radio is a record in the style of “Goodies” by Ciara for the men. Basically the girl is everything your girl isn’t, but at the same time, not very good for you either; though you can’t hate someone for having a sweet tooth. The record serves as a euphemism for what you want but don’t need. If one were ever to look at trends in what pop music lyrics talk about, R & B in the nineties featured complaints about infidelity and sneaking around, and being cheated on; here that theme is contrasted with today’s blunt honesty about the repercussions about going through with it; on one hand she likes the attention, on the other she is looking out for your best interests because this isn’t worth ruining your relationship. It does speak to the contradictions of the modern relationship, and how people find a way to rationalize infidelity to make their relationships more palatable. But just when you think that you know what theme the lyrics of the song is speaking to, Busta Rhymes comes in rapping about the idea that she is talking about a threesome, and how that isn’t necessarily a problem with him. Yet are we to assume that just because he’s ok with it that his girl would be? The plot thickens …

As catchy and “popish” that first radio single is, you have to respect the genius of the songwriter. The songs on this album are backed up by a pop sound that, while the lyrics are repetitive and obnoxious, lend an air of legitimacy to their cause. The second single “Stickwitu” is a mushy song about wanting, and being together in the face of adversity, among other things, and the follow up to the first single “Don’t Cha” is “Beep”, a jingle about sexual politics. You have this feeling that the singer is owning the sexual objectification she’s experienced over the years, rather than complaining about it, and feels that she may as well utilize it for her own good. Yes men are stupid for not being able to put rationale ahead of desire, in spite of their intelligence. Or are they emotionally immature? Or are the women silly for not having demanded respect for their intellect and other qualities? Does any of it truly matter?

True to the burlesque nature of their dance act, the Dolls, ten years later, have brought that energy to the mainstream. This isn’t an overnight occurrence however, the Dolls’ success is simply a continuation of what began years ago with Moulin Rouge; the subversive commentary of which is also apparent in other modern musicals such as Chicago and Evita. But what does this, if anything, have to say about modern-day sexual attitudes and behavior? Can the Dolls tell us about our own issues, as they continue to do what they do best while we’re left to our own devices?

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