Well, folks, we’ve finally made it to the last installment of the Search for the Next Pussycat Doll. We are down to the final three contestants, and only one of them will get to join the PCDs for realsies, or maybe go in the second string Vegas act. Who knows what lurks behind the botox and under the weave on the head of the PCD puppet master, Robin Antin.
Tales of woe.
In case you were sleeping for the last two months, and in case you have the intellect of a box of hair, Mark McGrath thoughtfully introduces our three finalists in terms of their alleged hardships. He tells us about Asia’s struggle as a super-confident single mother who has had to overcome the difficulty of being a teen mom, dancing like a drag queen, and having horrible Bugs Bunny teeth. He reminds us that Chelsea had years of social isolation because she was overweight and picked on and she dances like she’s been fitted for shoes by the Mafia. And then, in the biggest stretch, he paints Melissa R. as a naïve teen who has disappointed her parents by pursuing the dream of dance instead of medical school. Someone break out the violins and get me a hanky already.
Of course, the girls are very excited that they are in the final three. They lurk about the kitchen on one of their final days in the house, mulling over the boa repo on Melissa S. Asia struggles with the dishwasher, still clueless after weeks of living in the house on how to work it. Melissa R. meanwhile says that she is kind of glad that Melissa S. is gone, as she was getting on her nerves. (Along with anyone else who was tired of that helium voice and the stupid bangs.) Asia can’t take this comment, arguing that Melissa R. acted like she was Melissa S.’s BFF, ergo Melissa R. must be a two-faced phony.
Luckily this first go at the tired, reality tv cliché, “phony” argument is interrupted by some clever editing, and the girls are soon in the living area watching the final—thank the gods—“Play Me” video. This one was even shorter than the last few; Nicole simply says that this is where they will separate the girls from the dolls, and one of the remaining girls will join the PCDs. Clearly, Nicole is a member of the Captain Obvious brigade.
Robin meets the girls to give them their final challenge, and it’s a two parter. First, they will perform the Moulin Rouge version of “Lady Marmalade,” which Robin claims Ron Fair produced. I always thought it was produced by Missy Elliott; turns out Missy did produce the song but Ron does have a “vocals produced by” credit. After the undoubted butchering of a relatively fun song, the girls will each perform a PCD song alone. Asia will do “I Don’t Need a Man”, Melissa will sing something called “Stickwitu” which makes me cringe just typing out what appears to be ban-worthy lingo, and Chelsea will sing some other PCD song called “Feelin’ Good”.
After the song assignments, the girls meet with the maestros to practice singing. Chelsea, the queen of Schadenfreude, notices that Asia is struggling and is giddy at the prospect of Asia’s failure. Asia knows she’s struggling but proclaims her awful caterwauling is done all for her daughter. Melissa R. confesses that she wants to outshine Asia so bad that she even forgot that Chelsea was there. After practicing, Melissa and Chelsea make fun of Asia’s meager hold on proper English pronunciations, as she can’t grasp that the word “ask” does, in fact, include an “sk” not an “x” in the spelling, and that “very” is not pronounced “revy”. Of course, this sets Asia off about the two faced phonies making fun of her, which will eventually spill over into the evening as a recurring theme.
Paging Dr. Phil.
It’s the last night in the house for the girls, so Robin and Mikey decide to have an elegant dinner for the contestants. They sit down to eat in the loft, and Robin stupidly says something about this being their last chance to say what’s on their minds. Instead of asking questions about the PCDs, or perhaps for the name of Robin’s plastic surgery team, Asia takes it upon herself to call out Melissa for being a big fake phony. Melissa isn’t going to let that slide, and they argue for a while. The argument is really boring and Mikey suggests that they just enjoy their last night. After dinner, Robin advises the girls to get a good night’s sleep.
A good night’s sleep would be a lovely thing, but Asia and Melissa are still going at the phony/not a phony argument at 3:45 in the morning. The barbs are embarrassingly bad: Melissa suggests that Asia go to anger management, and Asia retorts that Melissa should go to psychology. Melissa then urges Asia to go be with her daughter if she loves her so much, and Asia gets even more angry. This all wakes Chelsea up, and the argument devolves into a bunch of bleeps about shutting the &%$# up. In the confessional video, Asia says Melissa R. was fake the whole time and Melissa says Asia is stupid. Get these girls prizes; they’re both right. Of course Chelsea, the opportunist that she is, says that both of the girls went too far in their fight, but they were screaming so much they could have blown their voices and that could make the win easier for her.
I don’t do catfights, I do choreography.
In the morning, the girls go to the Marmalade rehearsal with Mikey. They are all dragging due to the Melissa/Asia prizefight, so Mikey asks why everyone looks so damn tired. Asia and Melissa go at it again, same argument, different day. Mikey tries to stop them on several occasions, rolling his eyes, trying to “anyway” it away, but nothing happens. Finally he halts them and says that he stopped listening a while ago, so he’s got no clue what they are saying. He admonishes them to stay focused and drop the drama.
Later on, Robin comes in and observes the solo rehearsals. Chelsea is still singing her song from the lyric sheet, and Robin tells her she ought to know the words by now. Hell, the girl should have known them coming into the competition. Robin says Melissa sounds flat, and Melissa looks perplexed as to what “flat” is. Robin also says Asia sounds off and the whole lot of them are bad. In the ultimate motivational threat, she says that if she had to make the choice right now, it’d be easy—no one would get picked.
There’s some more practicing, Chelsea in serious focus working with John Beasley, Melissa proclaiming that God put her on earth to be a PCD, and Asia saying she’s giving her all more than ever. You all know the drill—the usual competition clichés. Finally, it is time to give hugs all around, say goodbye to the house, and sign the wall.
Last dance, last chance.
Finally it is time to get to the PCD lounge where Mark McGrath introduces Robin, Ron, and Kim and points out that the audience and stage is bigger than their usual venue. Before their performance, the judges encourage the girls to do their best, pull out all the stops, let the world really see them, yadda yadda yadda. They need to just shut up and dance.
The group performance of the Moulin Rouge version of “Lady Marmalade” is first. Asia is pitchy and does that damn tapping thing with her fingers. Melissa sounds marginally better than Asia, and Chelsea, of course, does a good job at singing Christina Aguilera’s part not quite exactly like Christina did, but still pretty close. Their dancing is meh and they wear pink Mickey Mouse gloves with bedazzled cuffs. Robin proclaims that their performance went from zero to ten and she could put them all in a group right now. Ron says they all did very well, and Kim says it was like having Pink, Mya, and Christina right there again. It’s like suddenly all three of them have turned into Paula Abdul.
Next we’re treated to the three solo performances. Chelsea wears a pretty white flapper-esque dress but her moves are still awkward. She sings decently, and actually shows some emotion in her voice rather than mimicry, and manages to avoid cheesiness in the emoting. Robin is amazed at the transformation Chelsea can make on stage. Ron says her performance was interesting but he was hoping for better vocals. Kim liked the performance too, but reservedly so.
Asia comes out next and attacks “I Don’t Need a Man”. And by attacks, I mean, she sings it like the song itself did her physical harm and stole the last cookie. Asia also has benefit of a backing vocal track, which could serve as something of a guide track, which Chelsea did not have. After Asia’s typical angry performance, Robin announced it was incredible, Ron thought the tone and dance was good but had other reservations, and Kim said Asia demonstrated star qualities.
Last up is Melissa singing the “Stickwitu” ballad. She too had a background vocal track that could have helped her out. She does a pretty decent job with the singing, but once she actually enunciates and says “stick with you”, I figure she’s going to be out. Robin says that Melissa made their job harder because she did an incredible job and she really projected honest emotion. Ron thought her performance was a great, relaxed performance but she copied Nicole’s vocal stylings exactly. Lil’ Kim says she loved the performance for the most part, but didn’t find the whole emotional aspect of it believable.
The next Pussycat Doll is…
In making their decision, the judges go over each girl’s performance record. Chelsea, Robin says, has made the most incredible transformation and has a special voice that the group could use. Ron agrees that she has done really well, but Lil’ Kim points out that she is still growing as a performer. On the other hand, Kim finds Melissa to be a natural performer, and Robin agrees, saying that she’s special. Ron thinks Melissa has the best skill set of the three. As for Asia, Kim is clearly smitten, saying that she has star quality and potential. As Lil’ Kim is known as “Queen Bee” for a good reason, one could conclude that Kim sees a bit of herself in Asia’s attitude. Ron is concerned that her dancing and her singing are at two vastly different levels. Robin sees Asia as a great performer.
At long last, the girls are called back in. Robin announces that one girl will have her dream come true tonight but it was no easy task for the judges. She is proud of all of them for finding their inner dolls, but there can be only one. Like the Highlander.
Tearfully, Robin tells Chelsea that she is not going to be the next PCD. Chelsea walks off to the side, dejectedly but not entirely surprised. After more platitudes to the remaining two girls, Robin says that the performer who has the most star-like qualities was picked, and congratulates Asia. Of course there are hugs and tears and excitement, then Mark McGrath takes Asia’s boa away. Before she could beat him for stealing the precious feathers, he hands her a microphone and the real PCDs come out. Asia gets to perform “Don’t Cha” with the PCDs as Nicole’s sixth backup dancer. Asia is thrilled she won and can’t wait to see her mom and her daughter, for whom she does it all. Awwww….now where is that puke bucket when I need it?