Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Songs that Changed the Landscape of Human Thought and Understanding: The Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha"

According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the concept of "the wish" dates all the way back to the 1992 Disney film Aladdin. Wishes can manifest themselves in many ways. In some religious cultures, they are very similar to prayers. For politicians, they are very similar to hopes and aspirations. If you happen to be goth-rock icons The Cure, Wish is damn-near your "jumping the shark" moment. The point I'm trying to make is that wishes, over most of these last twenty years, have been characterized as coming from a place of universal goodness. Look at these sample wishes that my fictional daughter wrote down six years ago: "I wish there was no more cancer." "I wish there were no more wars." "I wish my head was a big round orange ball." Precious! All of these are a testament to the courage of the human spirit, as well as a not-so-subtle piece of advertising for makers of big round orange balls. However, with The Pussycat Dolls' transcendent 2005 hit, "Don't Cha," the concept of the wish comes from an unwholesome place of jealousy and amorous competition. Wishes would never be the same again. Ever.

The lyrical premise of the song seems relatively simple on the surface: anywhere between one and all six of The Pussycat Dolls desire a male subject ("you") that now has a girlfriend. Apparently, each member of The Pussycat Dolls thinks pretty highly of themselves, as they boast of being "hot," "a freak," "raw," and, last but not least, "fun." What's interesting is that the desired male object in the lyric appears quite happy with his present girlfriend, leaving The Pussycat Dolls to wish he felt otherwise. The lines also imply that the desired male object also prefers women who are cold, cooked, dull, and vanilla -- like a refrigerated wafer. The dynamic present in the lyric recalls René Girard's concept of "the triangulation of desire" as first posited in his 1966 study Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. However, this simple geometry transforms into aeronautical calculus if we consider all six of The Pussycat Dolls, which would make this more akin to something like an OCTAGON OF DESIRE, the ultimate cage-match of jealous lust wherein one or multiple subjects of its powerful geometrical grip may have to tap out under a wide array of sloppy near-kisses, malicious hair-pulling, and sweaty submission holds. To top it all off, the track is magnificently produced by Cee-Lo and features a blistering, but thematically unrelated rap by Busta Rhymes. To accomplish the staggering degree of wish fulfillment in this song, anywhere between one and all six of The Pussycat Dolls would need to magically make their male object of desire actually wish his girlfriend WAS them instead of her, then ditch her for between one and all six of them. This would make him look quite base and shady, and render The Pussycat Dolls as bigamous home-wreckers. Because of "Don't Cha," peoples wishes have become increasingly vicious, bringing to the surface humanity's long-repressed darker impulses. In fact, my fictional daughter's Christmas wishlist includes "an iPad," "a 'water-shaped' water bed" (how messed up is that? especially since water can only take the shape of its container), and, most puzzlingly of all, "death to auto-tune." Where did this desire for violence and destruction come from? The Pussycat Dolls. "Don't Cha" represents our long-awaited fall from grace, from a simpler time, when all we had to do was ask a blue, Orientalized Robin Williams to grant us our benign wishes. Now my fictional daughter's big round orange ball head has turned itself upside down.


  1. Is your daughter a member of The Pussycat Dolls?

  2. Sheer brilliance. This made me LOL. Multiple times.