Nicole Scherzinger dishes on Pussycat Dolls reunion and 'React,' the group's first single in 10 years
The Pussycat Dolls
Don’t cha wish you could hear the Pussycat Dolls’ first song in over a decade? Well, you’re in luck — it’s here!
On Friday, the all-dancing, burlesque girl group returned with their sexy new single, “React.” The music video that accompanies their first track since 2009, sees the five ladies — Nicole Scherzinger, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta, Carmit Bachar, and Kimberly Wyatt (former member Melody Thornton chose to sit out on the reunion) — drenched in water, backlit by flames, and performing some truly wild choreography (that upside-down, overhead split!!!). If you can stop yourself from gaping at the impressive and racy dance moves long enough to listen to the lyrics, the song’s focus is a man who refuses to be provoked by his girlfriend’s behavior when all she wants is for him to — you guessed it — react.
The group first teased the track during a late-2019 performance on The X Factor UK and have been dropping snippets and pics all week, building up to Friday’s release. With a reunion tour, titled Unfinished Business, making stops around the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand (and potentially the U.S.!) in the coming months and an album in the works, EW caught up with Scherzinger to talk new music, teaming up with Meghan Trainor, and, of course, how one recreates the upside-down, overhead split dance move.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Talk us through how the reunion came about and why now felt like the right time to regroup?
NICOLE SCHERZINGER: Well, Robin Antin, who originally created The Pussycat Dolls, had been wanting to get all of us back together for quite some time. Then, in the past few years, all of us girls have been talking and really trying to figure out when was a good time in everyone’s lives and it just all worked out that this was the right time individually for us to come together. It’s great because it’s around our 10-year reunion.
When you all got back together for The X Factor UK performance, did it feel like no time had passed? Did you remember all the choreography?
It was crazy. We’d all gotten together in London for X Factor and several days before the performance and — it’s been over 10 years that we’ve been in a room together — it felt like no time had passed. As soon as somebody started playing “Buttons” wherever we were standing, right then, we immediately all broke out into the dance-break choreography in unison — it was kind of freakish. That’s when we realized, this is why we’re the Pussycat Dolls and there’ll never be any other group like us. We all work so well together.
So you didn’t need a refresher on any of the choreography?
We had to do some cleaning up and stuff because we wanted to make it as sharp as possible for the performance but we pretty much remembered most of it, yeah. It’s kinda something you can’t watch in the mirror; you’ve got to play the music and just let your body do what it does.
Let’s talk about the new single, “React.” What about made it stand out to you when you first heard it?
I had been working with a really great producer by the name of Will Sims and I really loved this song. I just thought it was really melodic, fresh, and current and new-sounding. I was excited to jump on it and the girls loved it as well. It’s an unexpected song. Coming back, we wanted to just do something that felt really new and fresh and something we’d never done. It’s got that electro-pop feel and a great dance beat, so it’s something we could dance hard to and do our own thing to, in regard to choreography.
Do you guys have input when it comes to choreographing the routines or do you trust a choreographer to come up with it?
Yeah, definitely. I take on a very strong part in the creative role. I’ve been extremely involved visually and creatively. The girls are all very experienced professional dancers so they always have their say on choreography as well. Everybody kinda has their own strengths and we really work well collectively as a group. But, yeah, I’m very opinionated and, as the girls know, I come with a lot of ideas and then we all work together to see what’s best for business.
I have to ask, that one dance move in the “React” video where you flip over and almost do an upside-down, overhead split…just, how?
My friend Robin Thicke calls it the “Human Teepee.” Actually, it’s great because it looks a lot harder than it is. I mean, we definitely got bruised up all on our shoulders when we were learning it. But then after we built up the muscle and built up the bruise, it became a lot easier over time.
Is there anything you can tease about the upcoming album?
Our music has always been very diverse with songs like, “Don’t Cha,” “Buttons,” to “I Hate This Part” to “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, so we’ve just been playing around with a lot of songs that we feel are very strong and anthemic and very dance-driven because we are typically known as a dance group. We’re just kind of taking one thing at a time. We knew that we were excited for the comeback and to get the single together and the video and now we’re focusing on the tour. So with the music, we’re just seeing where that takes us.
Speaking of the tour, how’s the prep for that going? Is it grueling? Is there a chance dates in the U.S. will be added?
When people came in to see us rehearse for X Factor they were like…I know my boyfriend, the ex-rugby player, he came to see us and said, “Whoa, these girls go harder than rugby.” We forget that we’re very competitive, we’re very driven, and we almost get into a warrior state of mind. So I know that our rehearsals are going to be very intense. We haven’t started; we’ll start in March rehearsing. We just want to make sure that we put on a show that doesn’t disappoint. We’re really inspired, as women, to come back after all these years and to come back even stronger, better than ever with the great growth and perspective on our side now. And, yes, we’ll be coming out with several dates here in the U.S.
Picking up on what you said there about coming back with growth and perspective, it’s really cool to see female artists who were famous in their teens and 20s — like Shakira and Jennifer Lopez and now you all — still releasing music today. Do you think that’s reflective of the music industry being a better place these days? Is there less of an expiration date for young artists?
Yeah, it’s really beautiful and invigorating and empowering to see. There is no better time in history for women to empower other women and also empower others, just in general. It’s a great time for inclusivity and acceptance and, in an industry that is ageist, we’re a part of that movement and we’re fighting back as well. This is the first time the Dolls are coming back independently. We’re doing this all on our own and on our own terms. It just feels great. Watching Jennifer and Shakira shine, it’s just showing people that their old ways of thinking don’t work. Their close-mindedness and their limited way of thinking doesn’t mean that we’re limited, and it’s a great way to show them. I’m really excited because for all the doubters and the haters out there who are ageist, we are doing it and we’re going to do it even better than we did before. These tours are our proof: We walk the walk, we dance the dance.
How’s the fan reaction been since you made the announcement that you’d be reuniting? Is it very different seeing them react (sorry, not sorry) online these days?
Just out of this world. We wouldn’t be able to do this without our fans. We’re cuckoo for our fans. They go crazy for us and we go crazy for them. Having their support just confirms to us that this is the right time. We always say everything is timing and this isn’t something that we rushed into. This was a few years in the making and our fans want and need our music and our energy and our spirit and the positive message of love. We’re inspiring our fans who have ever struggled in stepping into their own power. It’s just putting that message out there and there’s no better time for that and our fans are really hungry for it. And it’s just great dance music. It’s crazy because after our X Factor performance, I watched so many things that the fans were doing it. In fact, some of the things they were doing inspired me for the music videos. I do a Shablam Split in the music video and that was because one of our fans did it when he was copying our “React” performance. That just really energizes us and makes us want to work even harder for them and for the tour.
You also recently teamed up with Meghan Trainor to feature on her single, “Genetics.” How did that come about?
Meghan’s a really dear friend of mine. I love her and I’m a massive fan of her songwriting and music. We both had a show on Fox — I was doing Masked Singer and she was doing The Four and so we’d see each other on set. I know that she was also a Pussycat Doll fan and we were like, “We should collaborate!” Meghan was working on her album and she played me the song and I fell in love with it and we did it as soon as possible. She’s a real girl’s girl and she’s such a Pussycat Doll.
What are you most excited about with this reunion?
The tour. We’re all natural-born performers. We miss the stage and we miss our fans. This is a new digital age, right? And all this social media, but we’re still in our old-school ways. On that stage, performing live, that’s where we feel like we really shine the best and where we really love what we do the most.
“React” is available to stream and download now. Watch the video above.