Tori Alamaze — “Don’t Cha”

Released: 3.1.05

Peak: #53 [R&B Singles]

Great pop music is often made with the worst intentions, so a troupe of back-up dancers that hires its own singer isn’t de facto undeserving of success. Nicole Scherzinger certainly made more wholesome use of the Pussycat Dolls than did the many starlets who, hoping to neutralize their own objectification with a campy, retro wink, established the Dolls as Young Hollywood’s favorite burlesque act. And that the PCD version of “Don’t Cha” leapfrogged past its superior Tori Alamaze predecessor to megahit status was hardly some great miscarriage of pop justice. No one believes Tori could’ve been a superstar, after all. (Well, maybe one person.)

But make no mistake–the Dolls’ version was worse. Alamaze’s “Don’t Cha” is better, dirtier, rhythmically as well as lyrically. If a click-track could sing, it would sound something like the Pussycat Dolls, although with less audible effort to cling to the beat — the Spice Girls were En Vogue by comparison. Every voice on the PCD’s “Don’t Cha” may very well belong to Nicole Scherzinger for all I know; regardless, Cee-Lo’s original back-ups are sexier. And that Busta Rhymes was brought in to provide irrelevant noise just adds insult to injury. For all the time and capital invested in the Pussycat Dolls’ success, we deserved better.

Maybe some professional blanding was necessary to make “Don’t Cha” a bona fide hit. The lyric’s storyline is a bit complex, with the singer eventually resigning herself to her temptee’s fidelity. And both Sugababes and Paris Hilton rejected “Don’t Cha” before Cee-Lo brought his tune to Alamaze. But as it passes from Tori to Nicole, the song undergoes a sad transformation, replacing a possibly real woman’s filthy come-on with what some loser imagines his favorite porn star cooing as he rubs one out. No, actually I don’t. But thanks for asking.

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  • Chris Molanphy  On August 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I got beat up pretty badly in ’05 for endorsing the PCD version of this song, having only a passing familiarity with the Alamaze version. But your piece here basically backs up my core contention — it’s a clever song with an unusual viewpoint, given to an undeserving pop act/massive label priority.

    This is only maybe the second time I’ve heard the Alamaze version, and you’re right — it’s a lot better.

  • usefulnoise  On August 25, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Yeah the stiffness of “Don’t Cha” made the PCDs seem everything I was afraid they’d be, but I’ve come to enjoy some of their other songs. And I’d be curious to read the inside scoop of how this song was shopped around at the time.

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