Once upon a time there lived a very rich man. His name was Diddy, and he was so powerful that no one dared tell him his name was ridiculous. But despite the Armani suits and private jets, there was still something missing from Diddy’s life. Then one day, it hit him – he needed an all-girl group! But not just any all-girl group, he needed a group of women he could completely control. This group would be his musical doll collection; he’d dress them up, make them sing his songs and tour where he told …
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So Diddy started a tv show, and on that show he found five beautiful and talented women who felt so grateful for the chance they’d been given they would follow his every instruction. Diddy’s doll collection was eventually named Danity Kane (he was so powerful no one dared tell him their name was ridiculous) and he promptly put them to work making him money.
Years went by and Danity Kane had became the most popular girl group in the country, although there was very little competition. The group was sure their second album, which they appropriately titled Welcome to the Dollhouse, would catapult them to even higher fame and fortune. So they recruited some of the best producers in the game and in a mere five weeks had recorded a full album. Sure the music was often formulaic and shallow, but who cares, it was hot!
There was only one problem, Diddy wasn’t sure which track should be the lead single. So Danity Kane let their fans choose the single, and lo and behold they chose Damaged, a song with a simple beat, some impressive vocal harmonizing and of course a pointless monologue from Diddy. Even though every guy who heard the song was terrified (“damaged” women are often psychotic women), their female fans could certainly relate. Many people thought Pretty Boy would have been a better choice for a lead single, after all it was more club-ready and the skittering beat, courtesy of Danja, was much better than Damaged’s. What’s more, Pretty Boy allowed Danity Kane to flex some vocal style, even if they got carried away and said things like “wipe me down,” but the fans' selection was final.
Like all good dolls, Danity Kane knew they needed to look and sound pretty to attract attention from men, so they loaded Welcome to the Dollhouse with tracks that would be sure to get the fellas salivating. They started the album off with Bad Girl, another Danja beat, this one even more club-oriented than Pretty Boy, and threw in every vocal trick in the book, from the strangely operatic “when the red light comes on I transform” to the almost robotic“I can be your addiction if you wanna get hooked on me.” For good measure they even secured a verse from Missy, shockingly only one of two guest features on the album. But that was just the tip of the sexual iceberg: there was Strip Tease, a sultry dance hit that was oddly reminiscent of Britney Spears (pre-crazy pills), the song Ecstasy burned with some Rick Ross-fueled trill flavor, and Sucka For Love used an un-inspired Bryan Michael Cox beat to remind us once again that they were “addicted to touching and rubbin.”
Diddy was so pleased with Danity Kane’s ability to make the kind of music he wanted he let one of the dolls, Dawn Richard, co-write a song with Mario Winans called Secret Place. Apparently the song was located in such a secret place they could only find the first minute of it and called it an interlude, even though it exhibited a level of soul and passion that would have made it the best song on the album. But dolls can’t feel, they can only pretend to feel what their label tells them to. So while Welcome To The Dollhouse contained several slow songs and ballads, most notably Poetry and Is Anybody Listening, they all lacked that element of raw emotion that makes a song truly great. Perhaps they should have made a visit to the great and powerful Mary J. Blige for some pointers. But even with all of these shortcomings, Welcome to the Dollhouse gave the public exactly the kind of immediately accessible album it wanted. And those surefire album sales meant everyone got to live happily ever after…except the reviewer who had to listen to As I Am on repeat to remind him what heartfelt music truly sounds like.
Listen to More: Danity Kane Written by Nathan S.
Bad Boy/Atlantic Records
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