Girlicious

Girlicious, CP Images

In a world where American Idol dictates the taste of pop music and culture itself, the stigma of being a reality show winner is surely a thing of the past. With the advent of the internet and shows like Making the Band, we, the viewing audience, were treated to a peak behind the curtain of the pop machine. What we found was, to muted surprise, that there is no difference between the mechanics of a pop juggernaut like Justin Bieber and the fan-voted wholesomeness of a Kelly Clarkson. In fact, public opinion usually dictates that fan-voted pop stars often seem more justified in their chart success; exploiting the vested interest the voting public has in their champion's continued prosperity.

In Canada, crossover success has proved harder for some of our own Canadian Idol talents. While past winners like Kalan Porter have faded into the pop abyss, we have, rather tellingly, chosen to embrace a group of American chart cast-offs as our own pop princess.

Formed in 2008 by Pussycat Dolls svengali Robin Antin on the second season of reality TV series Pussycat Dolls Present, Girlicious emerged as a prefab foursome of R&B influenced, scantily clad women that were the natural heirs to the Pussycat Dolls American pop chart dominance.

Originally conceived a trio -- the decision to add a fourth member was revelled by Antin on the program's series finale-- Nichole Cordova, Natalie Mejia, Tiffanie Anderson and Chrystina Sayers seemed destined for stardom. Pop tides, however, change and, despite plum opening slots for tours with Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, Girlicious' debut album failed to make an impact on a scale similar to their forbearers.

But just as one door shut, a window from up north opened. The group's eponymous debut album caught on with Canadian audiences. Reaching No. 2 on the Canadian Album Chart and eventually reaching platinum certification.
"Canadians are so ahead in music trends," Cordova says two years on. "Everytime we're in Canada, I hear something that hasn't broke here yet. People there are just a head of the curve."

Speaking over the phone from her adopted home state of California, Cordova marvels at her band's unorthodox origins.

"Sometimes I forget I was even on a reality TV show," she exclaims. "Not that there's anything wrong with it. I would enjoy doing another reality TV show, just because it's such an important part of our generation. I watch all of them."

Despite the group's surprise success north of the border, as 2008 turned into 2009 there was much unrest in the Girlicious camp. They parted ways with their label, Geffen Records, and signed with Universal Music Canada. Then, with the backing of Antin, the girls decided to alter their R&B influenced sound in favour of a pop based club style that was more reflective of the girls' personal musical tastes.

"We go out and we really like dance music and that's what we wanted to go for going forward," Cordova explains. "The next album will definitely be more us. We got a bigger hand in the creative aspect of this album than the first one."

With the change in direction, the R&B stylings of Anderson became redundant and, though an emotional Youtube video, Anderson announced her split with the group, stating that Robin Antin and the new label were looking for a less urban direction for the group and that she "didn't fit into the new puzzle they're going to create."

"Tiffanie's departure was a sad time, you kind of feel like you're losing a sister," Cordova recalls. "But we're strong girls and we just have to keep it going."

Seeing this new direction as a change to reinvent and assert themselves, the remaining members took a heightened role in both the commercial and artistic direction of their own careers.

"The creative process was definitely different because we got to write so much on this album," Cordova says. "There wasn't a person in the room saying, 'this is what we need it to be.' We got to pick the parts we want to sing.

"It was definitely a liberating experience. I definitely enjoyed this round better than the first time."

Though the album doesn't have a release date nor title just yet, Cordova reveals that "there's definitely a lot of dance music, 'cause we like to dance." But insists that "our fans won't be disappointed, there's still an R&B flavour."
Indeed, both elements are present on the two singles that group has released, the driving 'Over You' and the infectious 'Manic.' And, though the future is still a bit uncertain for the group -- especially in their native United States -- Cordova isn't worried.

"It's all about timing," she states. "We're waiting for the right time. I'm not in a rush.

"We're from a reality TV show and it's definitely interesting that we've been going for so long, I couldn't be more proud of us."