danity kane's 'dollhouse' turns 10: now this is how you make a pop album
I may not have known the Tyra Banks' iconic phrase “I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you! How dare you!” at the time, but I sure thought like it when I tuned into the live season finale of Making the Band 4 where Sean “Diddy’ Combs kicked Aubrey O’Day — the sexually vivacious and most outspoken member — and D. Woods out of the MTV-crafted pop group Danity Kane. Just a few months, Dawn Richard confirmed that the group had officially broken up.
Danity Kane could’ve had it all, and they did for the very short time-period they were together. Visually stunning looks, perfectly synchronized choreography. (special thanks to Laurieann Gibson), sex appeal, distinct vocal talents, and diversity. Danity Kane was probably the first primary girl group I knew of that had members of different races. Two white girls (Shannon & Aubrey), black girls (D. Woods & Dawn Richard) and a Latina (Aundrea).
Many successfully (and modest successful) girl group of the 1990s and early 2000s, became non-existent in pop/R&B music with Destiny’s Child being the one to last until their eventual split in 2005. After that, it was DK and the Pussycat Dolls who filled the void, keeping girl groups from becoming extinct in the latter half of the 2000s with a string of hit albums, singles, and tours. However, Danity Kane had a one up on PCD. Audiences got to know the individual members of Danity Kane thanks their lives profiled in MTB4 and the five-piece group also made history. Their second album Welcome to the Dollhouse was released 10 years ago Mar 18. 2008 and hit No 1., making them the first and only female-group to have their first two albums debut at No. 1.
Welcome to the Dollhouse came about a year and a half after their eponymous debut and was significantly better than the latter. The incredible thing about WTTDH was how the majority of the songs truly stood up.
20-year-old Charmayne Smith, a native of Queens, a borough of New York City, agrees with the better contrast of WTTDH from Danity Kane. “Welcome to the Dollhouse is better because it showed how much they were growing as a group and their creativity with the music along with the videos.,” she said.
There was no air of desperation of trying to be sultry, sensual, sexy and vocally appealing, it’s enthusiasm was already there. The melodies were solid, the beats were hard and syncopated, and the hook was playful. Danity Kane worked with heavy hitters such as Jim Beanz, Danja, and The Clutch to follow the same musical agenda that made Britney Spears’ 2007 album Blackout a staple with critics and audiences — urban pop with a dark-themed sound.
The album starts off with a corny-but-low-key enjoyable intro where Diddy introduced the five girls whose dream “was to make music and entertain” with the ballerina-in-a-music-box instrumental. It then leads the way to the chirpy-record scratching back melodies of “Bad Girl” that sounds like it can be in any Marvel superhero movie of the 2000s with Missy Elliott’s sassy and silly guest verse. The club-ready anthem “Damaged” follows after for the ladies who are entering a new relationship with much trepidation. From there we have the mechanical-techno urban pop number “Pretty Boy,” the high school princess-realness of Danja-produced “Strip Tease,” and the slinky-styled “Sucka for Love,” that make WTTDH a flawless piece of work. The pregnant pauses, seductive moods, heavy breathing and harmonies of “Ecstasy,” “2 of You,” “Lights Out” add-on to the album’s greatness. The icing on the cake was the chance for each member to shine rather than one person dominating the whole song.
The album does have some weak spots. Songs like “Ain’t Going” and “Key to your Heart” fall flat and could’ve easily been cut from the LP. “Poetry” and “Is Anybody Listening” seems to be made with the feeling that many pop starts (or producers) have to throw in one or two ballads to even out the album and show the artists’ vocal ability and versatility. Out of the five members, three of the girl unique vocal talents. Aundrea is No. 1 with her powerhouse vocals. Dawn comes second with her husky soprano and incredible runs. And Aubrey is third as she pushers her vocal with a sexual mood attached to it.
Fans and critics do not see their legacy and stardom at the same level of a Destiny’s Child, TLC or Spice Girls which is fair. Their commercial success wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t through the roof. Their music as one writer puts it was to be “accept[ed]..for what it was.”
Albeit let’s not forget Danity Kane did the damn thing in the 2000s for the young pre-teens and teens like me who loved everything BET and MTV.
25-year old Vincent of New Jersey was in middle school when Making the Band 3 (where Diddy was searching for a girl group) first came on the air. He believes the group is slept on saying “I think that Danity Kane is very underrated because they make great music, perform all together, all on key when it comes to singing & all move at the same time when it comes to dancing, I’ve never seen them off key or miss a beat.”
Danity Kane’s run could’ve lasted a little longer, but like many female groups, ego, cultural differences, jealousy, solo star desires and
Diddy label conflicts got in the way in 2009 and 2014. Too bad because their last single “Lemonade” was a club-banger bop just waiting to the light of day on pop’s Top 40 charts.
However, it's never too late for the chance of Aubrey, D. Woods, Dawn, Aundrea, and Shannon to give Danity Kane one more shot. (Third times the charm, right?). Their reunion will be a second blessing for the gays that already excited the new Spice Girls project.
An anonymous source told the media outlet exclusively that the two met last month in Los Angeles and had a six-hour conversation while Aubrey O’Day posted to her Instagram story a picture of Dawn in the “Damaged” video with caption: “ok @dawnrichard adlibs.”
For now, we’ll reminisce about the days we were blasting “Damaged” and “Showstopper” on our iPod.