Should Have Been Bigger: The Pussycat Dolls’ “Hush Hush; Hush Hush”
In this franchise, we look back on songs that deserved a little more love and attention.
Girl groups tend to be built for a quick flash of excellence instead of for longevity. They make waves with massive singles and candy-coated visuals but rarely last for more than a handful of releases. With this in mind, it was hardly surprising that The Pussycat Dolls seemed to be saying farewell on their 2008 sophomore LP, Doll Domination.
Although they had become one of the best-selling groups of the new millennium, the burlesque troupe turned pop divas were already plagued by rumors of fighting within their ranks. They dropped the album amidst claims that frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger was the group’s sole vocalist and would be abandoning the project to pursue a solo career. However, PCD kept moving forward with a collection of tightly-produced tracks. The message seemed clear: If they did go their separate ways, they hoped to get a few more hits first.
After opening the album campaign with a strong showing on lead single “When I Grow Up,” the following releases were a mixed bag. The followup tracks “Whatcha Think About That” and “Out of This Club” tanked on the charts. Even reuniting with Snoop Dogg on “Bottle Pop” failed to recreate the magic of their 2006 romp on “Buttons.” As the era came to a close, the group turned to “Hush Hush” for a hit.
The empowering ballad featured songwriting from Nicole and offered the Dolls a chance to rebrand themselves. She lamented the end of a relationship over sparse production, before boldly moving on from her flame. “I don’t want to stay another minute. I don’t want you to say a single word. Hush hush, hush hush. There is no other way, I get the final say,” she confidently declared on the chorus. The track moved away from the sexy bops the group excelled at and had the potential to usher in a new era for the troupe.
The Dolls had found overwhelming success with ballads in the past. Their tender “Stickwitu” went top 5 in 2005, and they just missed the top 10 with Doll Domination’s striding fourth single “I Hate This Part.” However, they were hungry for another dance-floor anthem so they teamed up with Ron Fair and Dave Aude to craft a frantic remix of the cut. The resulting confection transformed the power ballad into a disco-tinged bop complete with a sample of Gloria Gaynor’s ultimate hit, “I Will Survive.”
They rebranded the track “Hush Hush; Hush Hush” and serviced it to radio under a new moniker: The Pussycat Dolls featuring Nicole Scherzinger. The move appeared to confirm rumors that Nicole would be leaving the group to pursue solo success in the near future. Unsurprisingly, it was not well received by the other Dolls who alluded to drama within the group during live performances around the release.
If tensions were high due to the decision to feature Nicole as a separate entity in promotional materials, the music video was unlikely to reassure the Dolls that they were all created equal. The Rich Lee-directed visual opens with an extended focus on the budding solo star reclining in a bathtub. She forlornly sings the ballad for a full minute before exiting the bathroom and joining the rest of the group for some tight choreography as the remix kicked in. Even once the group was all together, the other members never took the lead. Instead, they acted as sidekicks or props in the cleverly shot video.
Unfortunately, the track did not become the overwhelming success PCD needed. Despite topping Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart, it floundered on the Hot 100 and peaked on the lower rungs of the chart. Internationally, the track found more success. It went top 20 in the UK and top 10 in Australia and became a respectable hit across most of Europe. As the track fizzled in their main market, the group slowly disintegrated as the individual girls announced their departures. Nicole’s cries of “I will survive” on the anthem became almost cryptic, as the track would become their final single together.
“Hush Hush; Hush Hush” seemed to signal the end of The Pussycat Dolls; however, that may no longer be the case. Yesterday (October 9), the troupe appeared to confirm rumors of a highly anticipated reunion tour and alluded to promises of recording new material. Perhaps they did survive their apparent breakup. If they did, hopefully they return to the scene with hits as massive as their previous material. Revisit their underrated final single below.