Mixing Old Fashioneds
Pussycat Doll Search 3/20 Recap: Persona Non Grata
Last week, the PCD-wannabes were tasked with learning to convey confidence; ironically enough, Brittany displayed a bit too much confidence and got axed for being high on the hootchie factor. We’re down to eight girls who all really want to be that extra cog that is the indistinct wheel of background singers to Nicole Scherzinger.
Developing an image: not just for photographers.
We rejoin the girls after Brittany’s dismissal. They are all tired and a bit upset after the previous judging. Melissa R. is tired and shaken; Melissa S., who was in the bottom two with Brittany, doesn’t know why she was the one picked to stay on. Probably because she’s a hot girl who doesn’t immediately look like a cheap stripper, but no one is going to tell her that. Jaime says she still needs to work on her confidence. Sisely did not take Ron Fair’s criticism of her well and is feeling the pressure.
The next morning, the girls are all atwitter to find they have “screen mail” from the PCDs. “Screen mail” is the term applied to these cheesy messages from the PCDs which say virtually nothing. This one says that it is important to have a persona on stage, and to show off that persona confidently…now go see Robin! *giggle giggle* These insipid messages make the contestants look like Ivy League scholars.
The girls all meet up with Robin in the dance studio room, and Jazz-Hands™ Mikey and No-Lines™ John show up as well. Robin, looking more and more like a harsh version Sandra Bernhard, introduces Kimberly from the PCDs who extols the virtues of having a persona, and sagely advises that people are going to want to put a label on performers, and the performer has to be confident in that persona.
Singing the oldies.
Robin announces the next competition: the girls will be broken into two groups of four, one group will sing Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and the other will sing En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind.” I’m impressed that any of these girls know “Heartbreaker”; it was released in 1979—before any of them were born. “Free Your Mind” is a bit more modern, but, even so, it’s fifteen years old. Robin assigns Sisely, Chelsea, Jaime, and Melissa R. to the “Heartbreaker” team, and Sisely’s excited, but also feels the pressure of expectation because she already has some of the Benetar sound going on. The remaining girls, Anastacia, Melissa S., Mariela, and Asia, will be doing “Free Your Mind.”
The “Free” group starts out strongly on the dancing, but Mariela struggles with the singing. Rolly-Eyes Eric, the real leader behind the music rehearsal, looks so taxed with her singing that he wants to slap her, but luckily he does not. Anastacia worries that Mariela will bring the whole group down. She certainly doesn’t on the dancing, because Jazz-Hands tells everyone to dance like Mariela.
The “Heartbreaker” group has problems all around. The dance that they are doing is lame—standing on boxes and shaking their assess—and Chelsea can’t get a damn thing right on the dance. Even during singing practice there is trouble. Sisely, who is being told over and over, that she is going to be great with the Benetar, keeps messing it up. Actually, she sounds fine to me, but Eric doesn’t like what he hears and makes her “sing it out” more and more. She sounds like she’s going to ruin her voice, and she just wants some rest. As a person who values sleep more than money or life itself, I empathize.
Hasn’t this guy had enough television time?!?!
After grueling rehearsals, Robin tells the girls they are going to get makeovers by her brother, Jonathan Antin, reality tv whore extraordinaire. He had two or three seasons on Bravo on “Blow Out.” He crossed over on “Work Out.” I’m amazed he didn’t wonder down to Orange County and work on some housewives then drive across town to the Pacific Design Center and cut the freaky hair on the head of Jonathan Adler. The girls squeal once when they are told of the makeover then again when they get to the salon. They are there for Jonathan to bring out their personas and, of course, help them be confident.
The changes are fairly unremarkable. Anastacia’s hair is still big, but not quite as big, and they straighten out Mariela’s tight curls. They cut in bangs to Chelsea’s super straight long hair. Jaime’s blonde hair got a bit blonder. The one that looks really ridiculous is Sisely, and she knows it. It looks like they added in extensions on one half of her head and gave her a dye job where the fake hair is a different color than the rest, and none of it blended in.
After the alleged makeovers, the girls go to a “hot LA club” that is brightly lit and contains no other people than Robin, Mark McGrath, Jazz Hands, Jeff the PCD manager, and Lil’ Kim. The girls get to schmooze, and Jaime is not terribly comfortable with being outgoing. Sisely just wants to go home and practice then get some sleep. Melissa S., however, really takes to the scene, and is brave enough to make friends with Lil’ Kim.
After the party, Sisely gets her wish, and tries to help hopeless Chelsea get her dance moves down. The instruction method is odd, at best. Sisely demonstrates by running around the dance area, thrashing her arms about, and shaking her butt. Chelsea can’t seem to master the thrashing around part, and can only shake her backside while standing still. They argue about it, and Sisely finally leaves Chelsea to her own devices.
Don’t cha wish you could sing like Ron Fair?
The next morning, the girls get some studio time with Ron Fair of Geffen Records. He’s the producer behind the PCD sound, so you know he’s got one sweet mixing board that could make me sound like freakin’ Aretha Franklin. The contestants all will get to do the chorus of “Don’t Cha” which will be inserted in the real song. Whomever does the best overall—persona and performance—will win immunity from elimination in this round.
Sisely volunteers to go first, and she does alright, as does Jaime. Melissa S. really sells the sexy, and Melissa R. barely gets any screen time. Asia is instructed to bring more attitude and Anastacia is asked to use her voice more. I guess she was signing out of her ear. Chelsea was apparently doing something “weird” and “not cool” with her voice. All this time Ron Fair is giving these handy critiques, he’s trying to demonstrate how to sing the song like he wants it in this insane falsetto. Ron creeps me out: he looks like the guy who invented the casting couch, and cannot sing to save his life. I guess that old saying about “those who can, do” is true in the record biz too.
Last up is Mariela, who is convinced she can’t sing. She goes into the booth and really tries. Ron does his thing with the mixing board, and she sounds pretty good—certainly no worse than any of the others. She begins to weep when she hears it, because she was always told she couldn’t sing. Ron comforts her, saying, “See what happens when you take a risk?” I’m wondering what kind of “risk” he may have asked her to take were there no cameras there.
After conferring with Ron, Robin announces the winner of the challenge: Melissa S. Mariela was a “close second” but is clearly disappointed. Sisely is also disappointed, and back at the house she goes on and on about having to step up the performance because she doesn’t want to get sent home.
First free your mind, then your pants will follow.
It is time for the performance showdown. The girls get ready, and Sisely is nervous because the other group looks good in rehearsal, really singing it into those half-empty water bottles. Most of the girls have abandoned their “new” looks; Anastacia’s hair is as stupidly big as ever, so much so, someone may lose an eye. Sisely constantly pulls at her weave or whatever it is, and Mariela’s curl is trying harder and harder to come out. The outfits tonight are extremely short, and, in a couple of cases, the bottoms are just those super short bottoms girls wear under cheerleading outfits-shorter and tighter than hot pants. I’m amazed no one has caught a cold with just those bottoms on.
When the show starts, Mark McGrath comes out to introduce the judges: Robin, Ron, and Lil’Kim. The “Free Your Mind” group is up first. The performance is pretty good; the original is a group performance, and it’s not hard to translate into a four performer group. These girls dance really well, and their singing came out decently. Robin thought the performance was incredible, Ron had issues with the vocal performance, especially the chorus. Lil’Kim says she liked the performance, but thinks the girls can show more. On a personal level, Anastacia is said to have a shaky vocal performance, but Lil’ Kim really liked her stripper pole moves at the end. Ron told Asia her vocal performance had too much growling in it. Robin and Ron both liked Mariela’s performance all around. Melissa S. had immunity, so she couldn’t be eliminated even if she sucked, but they liked her well enough too.
The “Heartbreaker” group goes next. Sisely starts out the vocal part, but she’s singing too fast for the beat. Chelsea’s singing is fine, but she’s still awkward dancing on her little box. Jaime and Melissa R. are not that great. Robin looks around during the act like she’s smelled something foul. Once the massacre is over, Robin says they clearly had a lot of struggles both with the vocals and with the choreography. The choreography was notably stupid, so she should probably have a chat with Mikey. Ron thought the group didn’t click, and Kim was disappointed. Individually, Robin wants to see more from Jaime, Chelsea’s vocal performance stood out positively with Kim, Melissa R. did worse than expected, and they thought something was clearly off with Sisely, whom they expected to nail the song. Sisely tries to argue the point, saying that the rehearsal guys lead her astray, but Lil’ Kim slaps that down, saying that she’s had to put up with much more to get her music right, like going to jail. I suppose lying to federal investigators has a lot to do with crafting tunes.
Pack your boa and go-a.
The girls are sent away while the judges discuss who is going to get the boot. It is abundantly clear that the “Free Your Mind” group was the best. Curiously, they attempt to throw a bone to the “Heartbreaker” group by saying that it is written as a song for one person, while “Free Your Mind” was written for a group performance. This begs the question why “Heartbreaker” was chosen in the first place.
Discussing the losing group, Ron says he likes Chelsea, and Robin wants to see more of her. They love Melissa R.’s voice and dance skills, though she wasn’t spot-on in this challenge. They though Jaime just phoned in her performance and concluded something was off and had snapped with Sisely.
The girls come back in, all wearing their gigantic boas. Well, seven of them are wearing them as boas; Chelsea has fashioned tail plumage out of hers. Robin tells the first group they are all going to the next round. Of the four remaining, Melissa R. and Chelsea are sent to join the four winners. It comes down to a choice between Jaime and Sisely. Robin says Jaime has a soulful, lovely voice but she did not stand out and she didn’t show her persona. Robin believes Sisely has a lot to say and is frustrated, but they were frustrated with her. Robin adds that they think Sisely wants to be unique and stand out.
Robin then says that Sisely makes it to the next round, and Jaime is out. She has to hang up her boa and turn out the makeup mirror light. Jaime says a tearful goodbye to all the other girls. She’s sad to go, but says that she has really learned a lot and has become a different person. Hey, at least she got a free haircut and dye job for her trouble.
Yoffy lifts a finger...
Great recap, phonegrrrl.
Originally Posted by PhoneGrrrl;2289684;
I particularly like the trademark names for the instructors
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