Melody Thornton of The Pussycat Dolls: Taking Over The World

By: Todd Davis

Meet the worldwide phenom known as The Pussycat Dolls! Comprised of Nicole Scherzinger, Melody Thornton, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta, and Kimberly Wyatt, their 2005 debut, PCD, sold well over 6 million units and produced seven popular singles, including their infectious signature hit, ‘Don’t Cha.’

Now back with their brand new, stellar sophomore collection, Doll Domination, which landed at number four on the Billboard Hot 200 Chart the week of its release, The Pussycat Dolls are letting it be known that they’re still very much a musical force to be reckoned with!

Rap Industry Dot Com reached out to one fifth of the crew, and my personal favorite lady, Melody Thornton, to actually see if I could get down to what all of this Dolls hoopla is really all about!

“I joined the PCD when they were looking for a new member. They were looking for a vocalist because they wanted to put out an album. I saw the advertisement on MTV. It was a really quick advertisement, so I got online and did what I had to do. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I was just happy that people would at least hear me sing. But, they have always had intentions to put out an album. ….”


Your sophomore album Doll Domination is out now and doing quite well for you all, and although pretty self-explanatory, tell me why you all decided on that title for the project?

When we were in the U.K., our make-up artist was like, “Y’all do everything. Y’all are everywhere — Kind of like doll domination!” {In a British accent} So, we kept saying it in all of our interviews, and our fans loved it. So, we stuck with it. It’s kind of like the fans named our album.

What’s the biggest difference between this CD and your multi-platinum ‘05 debut, PCD?

I can say our material has graduated. I hate to be cliché and say it’s more mature, but this album has more ballads than the previous. I’m happy to say it has a more R&B influence. We were lucky to work with Timbaland, so we definitely got some of his vibe on the album.

I know that you all worked with a who’s who of incredible talent, i.e., Timbo, The Clutch, Cee-Lo, Sean Garrett, Darkchild, Kara DioGuardi, Fernando Garibay, Lady GaGa, Ryan Tedder, to name a few — But, how much input do the five of you have when it comes to the actual Pussycat Dolls’ track?

Well, The PCD are kind of like a machine. You have a lot of people within the machine that make a whole lot of decisions. Our input is considered, but it is not always the final outcome.

What is your favorite song on the new effort? And, what is your reason for picking that particular one?

My favorite song is ‘Taking over the World.’ I like it because it stands side by side with Doll Dominations. We introduce two very talented producers; Hit Boy and Cha, who are both 21. This song is a real club banger. This album has the more “urban” influenced tracks, and I love it.

Also, since Nicole is the group’s lead singer, when she stepped away to pursue a, now seemingly shelved, solo career, were you expected to step into her shoes, so to speak?

Umm…I don’t know. There were never any intentions for her to leave and never come back. Her solo project was put on hold because the timing wasn’t right. It made sense for The PCD to put out Doll Domination. There were rumors that maybe I was, but I wasn’t even thinking about that. I didn’t see her leaving as a chance to boost my career. I just kept singing.

When she returned, were you at all disappointed or let down?

The truth is I wasn’t monitoring her moves as a part of my career. We all supported her in her effort. The one thing I wanted to do was sing. It wasn’t a make or break situation when she left. I wasn’t in anyway disappointed. It was just like…We gotta keep moving forward.

There have also been rumors for awhile now that Danity Kane member, Aubrey O’Day, was leaving to join the PCD line-up, and now that she has been kicked out of DK, is there any truth to that?

No, absolutely not! That’s really funny. I wonder where this stuff comes from. She’s a sweetheart, and we were on tour together with Christina Aguilera and she’s a really talented young lady. And, the whole situation with DK is sad. I keep her in my prayers — D. Woods and her are really consistent singers and dancers. And, another thing is it wouldn’t make sense because there are already five girls.

Well, everyone probably already knows the whole inception of The Pussycat Dolls, but how did it all really begin for Melody Thornton?

Hmm…Umm…I was born interested in music. But, my dad is the one who controlled the remote control to the TV and radio, so I liked what my father listened to. I was introduced to B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and The Jackson 5 at an early age involuntarily. That’s the kind of music that I love. There was a time when my first grade teacher tricked me into entering a talent show. She told me she just wanted me to sing in front of some people. She didn’t tell me the whole school was going to be there. I was around 6 or 7, and I sang ‘This Little Light of Mine.’ That was my first time performing! I also performed at local talent competitions in Arizona. Then when I was 19, me and my mom drove down to Burbank, California, and I auditioned for the PCD and here I am now.

You mention the exposure you received from your father’s musical choices, but did you, too, have your own set of other influences?

Female vocalists were Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Christina (Aguilera). The experience was surreal when I met Christina. When we performed at her second to last show, she broke her song down into parts and wanted us to sing it. Actually after we performed, we had an end of tour party and she said some really inspiring things. She’s a really good person, contrary to what her public image may portray.

Didn’t you at one point actually work at your, now, recording home Interscope?

I never worked at Interscope. I’ve always thought about going in to see how things worked. 50 Cent actually goes to the office and talks to the people who work for him. He’s good to them, so that they’re good to him. He is a very smart man.

Throughout your life have you always wanted to be involved in music in some capacity?

I’ve always wanted to be in music. When I was in college for one semester before the PCD, I was going to major in music engineering to learn the trade and really have an understanding for what I wanted to do.

How did you even come to audition for the Dolls line-up in the first place? And, did they always have full intentions of releasing music even though it initially started out as a burlesque troupe?

I joined the PCD when they were looking for a new member. They were looking for a vocalist because they wanted to put out an album. I saw the advertisement on MTV. It was a really quick advertisement, so I got online and did what I had to do. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I was just happy that people would at least hear me sing. But, they have always had intentions to put out an album.

Who came up with the name The Pussycat Dolls?

Robin Antin, the creator and founder of PCD. She did it in the clubs from the beginning. It was definitely cabaret inspired. She came up with the name with her brother. She has always liked the movie The Valley of the Dolls. That’s where Doll came from. It was really catchy. She’s had it for about 15, 16 years.

What type of music are you all contributing to the music game?

Definitely pop music! Which in some ways is good, ‘cause it makes it possible for us to blend with other genres of music. This new album is more…More “urban.” That’s why I love this album. But yeah, it’s pop! Pop music, that’s what we do.

What does each individual girl bring to the table talent and creative-wise?

Kim — Everyone should know by now is very flexible. She can easily make her leg touch her head. Just incredible! And Ashley, they’re the two blondes. Both, very incredible performers and dancers! I learn a lot from them ‘cause I’m not a technical dancer. I just have rhythm. They both grew up doing ballet.

Ashley — The blonde Barbie doll! She hates that! Blonde bombshell (that) definitely has a little grimey-ness to her dance — She is really dope.

Jessica — Classic beauty! She (was) Jessica Rabbit for Halloween.

Me — I am the youngest of the group. I represent (the) African-American and Latin community. I don’t like to say I’m the “urban” one, like cornrows and such, (because) the truth is that’s not my character. I do have naturally curly hair, and I wish I would wear that more, but you know how that is. I definitely sing more than I dance. My purpose in life is to sing, and spread a positive message.

Nicole — Lead singer, she’s definitely got it! She’s the front-woman. She’s got all of the stage presence to be the lead singer. She’s great!

That’s The PCD for you!

From a songwriter’s perspective, do you all usually write individually or collectively?

A lot of times, I just like to let stuff come to me. Like when I’m in the shower I might come up with a song, so I have to jump out and hum the melody into my little recorder so that I don’t forget. I definitely like to do ballads. And, if I’m crying while I write, it’s probably going to be the bomb. But, I’ve written songs about Kim, and a lot of other people. Kim also writes, and has been writing a book since she was 17. I love to write songs about the people that are in my life. But, as far as us all writing together, we haven’t had the opportunity to do that.

What is it that continues to keep The Pussycat Dolls’ a “hot” commodity?

I think that especially in the music industry, there are so many sad people. It’s a difficult industry to keep your head above the water in. But, I’ve always been nice, always smiling, and I think that makes the difference. Britney Spears, when she first came out, was young and smiling. Even when you saw her with her head shaved she was smiling, even though she may have been going through something real serious. There’s a warmth to smiling, a sense of comfort. Women in this industry have to find a way not to be scorned. And, if you are, you have to find a way to conceal it. Also, it’s important to maintain your integrity, because they will definitely try to push you to your breaking point.

Do you have any other aspirations, maybe even outside of music altogether? I know that the subject of solo careers must come up a lot!

I was misquoted in a way during promo overseas. At one point as a child, I wanted to be a nun. My mom is Catholic, and we grew up in the church. Aside from the perception of nuns nowadays, I think the whole idea behind being a nun is helping people and devoting your life to a higher cause. One day I would love to build, like Jay-Z or Angelina Jolie or Oprah, and be a humanitarian. Honestly, I don’t think you should be making music if you’re not saying anything or helping anybody — Oprah is my girl!

What are your true feelings on how things really are in today’s musical climate?

I think it’s really difficult for everybody in the music industry right now. There are so many titles now. They say “Oh, she just does singles. She can’t put out an album!” and stuff like that. Nowadays, you have to find a way to do more than sell albums. Like The PCD, we are a brand name. You have to make it bigger than just the artists. The artist kinda has to be the front-runner of the corporations. I don’t think people really know how hard it is to survive in this industry.

What is the biggest misconception about The Pussycat Dolls?

People usually don’t know that were “performers.” We really do the stage, the live is unspeakable. We do better on tour than our album does because we’re “performers.” On stage, you really see our talent because we’re doing all the work. I personally don’t care for the studio that much. I would rather perform. Recording songs and making an album is producing the product, just the music. You have to deliver the product, and I think The PCD do that well, and love to do it. Just like back in the day, B.B. King and Aretha (Franklin) had to deliver, they had to perform. It’s all a part of being artists. That’s why I never understood how people get on stage and press play.

Outside of music, what are some of the other things that you enjoy doing?

We are finally on a break. And when I’m off, I like to shop. Catch up on life. I think people don’t know or forget that we have lives, too. And, when we’re overseas, we have to leave all that behind. So in my spare time, I’m catching up with what left me behind while I was gone. Paying bills, visiting family, getting my nails done, is all a part of catching up, and sometimes it’s hard.

What is your current 5 to 10 year plan?

I pray to God I’m still making music. And, maybe at 34 I would finally find a man, (and) have a kid. I really want a family — A husband and a good father for my kids. I just hope to be making a difference.

Please gimme the 3 key ingredients to your live performance(s)…

Three phrases to describe it: high energy-singing-dancing. 

Finally, what’s up with the rest of the girls? Is Nicole still planning to go solo eventually? And, what about you — Is there a solo record in your future as well?

Yeah, all The Pussycat Dolls plan to have their own careers one day. Some girls want to act, but I’m definitely staying true to my music. And, of course, everyone wants to go solo one day. I just want to sing! I mean, my name’s Melody it’s what I’m born to do