March of the Dolls

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 5:47 PM

Title: Welcome To The DollHouse
Artist: Danity Kane
Release Date: 3.18.08

Diddy’s dolled-up dream team is back with their second chart topper Welcome To The Dollhouse. In the latest season of MTV’s Making The Band (which birthed Danity Kane and their male counterparts, Day 26) the ladies discussed their intentions to make this project for the international pop market. In that effort, Dollhouse is a departure from their self-titled 2006 debut, replacing most of the soul with fresher beats and improving vocals, production and lyrical content. The lack of soul however, contributes to the dollhouse concept, pointing out one simple yet potentially fatal flaw in the sound, look and feel of the album: it’s all manufactured.

This project kicks off with Diddy’s narration of the girls’ transformation, over the idyllic sounds of a child’s music box. A vixen’s anthem, Bad Girl featuring Missy Elliott leads into the first set of up-tempo dance tracks and is followed by the megapop lead single Damaged produced by Stereotypes. With a kicking bassline, strong vocals throughout, and a mastered harmonic blend, this track showcases the vocal growth, as well as the group’s growing chemistry. Damaged was chosen as the single in a fan poll, over the track that follows: Pretty Boy, produced by Danja. The remainder of this album is mostly upbeat and the other club bangers include 2 Of You(featured on the Step Up 2: The Streets soundtrack) and the spicy Lights Out, penned by group member Dawn Richard. Lights Out is a sassy, confident, seductive track that unleashes the sex kittens introduced earlier in the record, but only “when the lights go out”. For the fellas, Danity Kane takes a ride with Miami rapper Rick Ross to Ecstasy, a mid-tempo bounce track which incorporates layered vocals: a highlight of the album. Sucka For Love is also a notable track; much simpler in sound, but equally impressive.

After a fight with Diddy over an excessive number of ballads, the girls won and the album’s only ballad is Poetry, a mildly overproduced brokenhearted anthem that speaks to the ups and downs of a stormy relationship, equating the emotional changes to the temporal shifts of lyrical prose. The melancholy closer Is Anybody Listening presents expressions from a lonely heart, and could be the prelude to more introspection on the next project. Let’s hope so.

While this could be the album to establish Danity Kane more as pop stars, they’re presented less as real people. There’s not much more on this project than great vocals over tight beats. Most of the soul and emotion felt in their debut album is dwindled down to teases on interludes, while they would serve a greater purpose as full songs. Picture This, for example, is a poetic interlude that features great lyricism atop stirring vocals. During MTB4, vocal coach Ankh-Ra worked with the ladies on tapping into their emotions in their music. Dawn, arguably the group’s most talented member, could be the key to unlocking the sensitive side of Danity Kane as we’ve seen glimpses of her troubled past. Baring your soul to the world isn’t easy, but as shown in the past, it’s a critical step in the road to becoming not only stars, but legends. Musically this album is excellent, but if they plan to keep rising, Danity Kane will have to ditch Diddy’s manufacturing and become real girls.


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