When I was in middle school, I ran a Nicole Scherzinger fan page on Facebook. Now, I can’t tell you why or how that started, but I spent a lot of time scouring the internet to learn more about her and her music and had a special folder on my laptop dedicated to pictures of her. Although I don’t believe a person’s love for the former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls ever goes away completely, this particular moment of hyper-fixation lasted about a year. Since then, I’ve watched from afar as she continues through her career, and I think back lovingly to the times where I dreamed of meeting Nicole, convincing her to reunite PCD, and let me be the newest member. But something that has stuck with me over the years is how underrated Ms. Scherzinger has been for the majority of her solo career. My hot take is that she should have had a wayyyy bigger solo music career than she did/does.
I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Killer Love (2011) over the past couple of months after finding out that the album was finally on Spotify earlier in the year. I used to listen to Killer Love all the time back when I was downloading music off of the internet and having to add the cover art and tracklist myself to Google Play Music. Once I decided that I could no longer live my hacker lifestyle and switched to Spotify, I unceremoniously began deleting some songs off of my computer and GPM account. Not all of the songs got deleted, but the tracks off Killer Love were some of the ones that did, and I’ve had a great time reacquainting myself with Nicole’s first solo album.
The album is a 14-track Pop charcuterie board including some club tracks (“Club Banger Nation,” “Wet”), softer lovey-dovey tracks (“Power’s Out,” “You Will Be Loved”), and radio hits (“Right There,” “Poison”). And let me tell you!! This album has held up VERY well over the past ten years. I wouldn’t call Nicole my favorite vocalist in the world, but she is a great singer. She was the vocal beacon of the Pussycat Dolls, singing the majority of the verses on the group’s albums by herself with the backing of the other girls, and remained just as strong on her own. Nicole has one of those voices that can occupy a range of musical spaces, and Killer Love shows just that. The project starts off with the uber-catchy and electric “Poison” – the video for which did not age as well as the song lol – and ends on the opposite side of the spectrum with the reflectively somber “AmenJena,” which is the shining moment on the project. Her voice is soooo strong on this song, and you can feel every word that she says deep down in the pits of your soul. The way she sings “‘Cause we had the sweetest California / Baby we were free, we just drove / Right of the cliff and now we’re hanging / And we just can’t let go” gets me every time. It’s one of those songs where you just have to close your eyes and let the feelings wash over you.
So, with such a strong showing on PCD’s albums and her own solo work – I can’t speak for Big Fat Lie (2014); I’d worked my way out of my hyper-fixation by then – I don’t get why Nicole wasn’t able to make a bigger mark than she did. Although the career mortality rate for girl groups/boy bands is kind of high, a lot of artists have traveled through the group to solo career pipeline successfully including Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Normani, and Justin Timberlake. And though the Pussycat Dolls only release a couple of projects together, they had a hot moment, and the group is still considered one of the most successful girl groups in the U.S. musical history [edit: I have a vivid memory of listening to “Buttons” in fourth grade (I think it was the end of the year, and we were listening to the radio during our class party), and my teacher was so distraught at the chorus that we had to turn it off. But the whole class knew the song.]. And Nicole WAS PCD. Without Nicole’s vocals, those songs were nothing but adlibs, “oohs,” “ahs,” “uh-huhs,” and choruses. She also had the look (I mean…have you SEEN Nicole???) and is a great dancer. Like, what more did she need??
And Nicole has done fine for herself in this current timeline as a judge on multiple singing competition shows including her current stint on The Masked Singer (US). But, I can’t help but wonder where she’d be if she was able to shine musically as she deserved to. And it’s unfortunate that we only have Killer Love and one other project to imagine that world off of.
Despite my disappointment, I love Killer Love. And I like the way it fits into the story of my life. I think at that point, I was just starting to really get into music (I was still just a baby musichead at that point), and I’m reminded of that when I listen to “Casualty” or “You Will Be Loved.” Since I’ve listened to hundreds of albums since then, I don’t know if I’d place Killer Love in my Top 20, but it – and Nicole – lives very much rent free in my head and in my heart.
Listen to Nicole Scherzinger’s Killer Love on Spotify by clicking here.
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[Insert obligatory “oof. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these!”]. Before La Rona hit and we were all stuck indoors, I was supposed to go to a couple of concerts before the end of 2020. Orion Sun in April and Lupe Fiasco in March. Obviously, I was incredibly devastated that the panorama … Continue reading Album Look Back #13: Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Food & Liquor’