NEVER has the reunion of a girl group been more unlikely.
When the Pussycat Dolls bitterly split a decade ago, after record sales of more than 54million, their members could no longer bear to be in the same room as superstar lead singer Nicole Scherzinger.
The Pussycat Dolls are back for a reunion that has been four years in the making
One rival Doll claimed they were forced to look like anorexic aliens. Another said they were reduced to being glorified backing dancers and forbidden from talking in interviews.
But today, as they announce a reunion that has been four years in the making, the group Nicole, 41, Ashley Roberts, 38, Kimberly Wyatt, 37, Carmit Bachar, 45, and Jessica Sutta, 37 unveil a new brand of Doll Domination with full equality.
They also reveal for the first time how secret battles with bulimia, alcoholism and low self-confidence tore the group apart the first time around.
The girlbands undoubted leader remains X Factor judge Nicole, who makes it clear from the start the days when she travelled separately from the rest of the band and sung 95 per cent of the vocals are over.
The girlband in 2007, with Melody Thornton (far left) who has not returned for the reunion
Sitting next to the other members and Dolls founder Robin Antin for their first interview together in more than a decade, Nicole tells me: First of all, I hope its different because WE are different. It is ten years on now. We all bring our own unique gifts to the group. I am so excited and we have grown so much.
We are here to see each other shine. I think we are going to push each other.
Nicole believes many of their previous tensions were caused by her serious battle with the eating disorder bulimia, which she felt unable to tell them about.
In the new episode of my podcast The Dan Wootton Interview, she admits: I hid it from the world. I was extremely ashamed. When youre battling your own demons and insecurities, its not something you want to share with other people.
Some members of the group felt they were previously reduced to being Nicole Scherzinger’s ‘glorified backing dancers’
I am just so grateful I could come out of that. Its our flaws that connect us.
The reunion talks started following Nicoles decision to issue a public apology to her bandmates.
Reflecting on that decision, Nicole says: I think whats so beautiful about us as a unit is that we really are like sisters.
Its called life. We have all gone through life and weve evolved and grown as women, which is why its great we have this platform and we can empower other females.
Nicole has made it clear that the band will have full equality this time around
It would seem like they have put past rivalries and resentments to bed. But the absence from the reunion of one key member Melody Thornton, 35 does beg the question of whether those Pussycat claws are still out.
Robin says, at this time, it wasnt right, for Melody but all five members insist in unison the door, was and is always open, for her.
Nicole adds: Like any family, its a relationship and you work it out.
Its natural people are going to disagree and argue. But we always had so much respect for each other. We never had any knockdown, drag-out, crazy fights.
The group revealed their secret battles with bulimia, alcoholism and self-confidence for the first time on Dan Wootton’s podcast
Much has changed since PCD launched as a sexy and sassy burlesque-style troupe.
Their record company at the time wanted them to be so skinny they looked like anorexic aliens, says Kimberly, who now wants to be a body-image role model for her daughters Willow, four, and Maple, two.
She is part of the reunion having given birth to son Ford just six weeks ago. (You cant always choose the timing of things.) She adds: Now I have two little girls looking up to me as we go through this process.
My message is, You have to find a way to feel good about yourself.
Nicole opened up to Dan about how ‘ashamed’ she felt while battling bulimia
Nicole nods vigorously and adds: I wanted to say this is a completely different time. One of the pop stars I look up to is Lizzo.
We are about equality, inclusivity, most importantly which you tapped in with my issues acceptance.
She thinks the #MeToo movement provides the opportunity to be a beacon of light for women empowerment, adding: Now is a great time for us to come together. Women are on top right now.
Revealing a new gender-neutral outlook, Robin explains: We used to say inside every woman is a Pussycat Doll. Now we say inside every gender is a Pussycat Doll.
Much has changed since the Dolls launched as a sexy and sassy burlesque-style troupe
As is all too familiar in pop groups, addiction issues played a part in the downfall first time round especially for Jessica, who became gripped by alcoholism. She says: The lifestyle is not normal. Youre drinking champagne in the morning on these private jets.
You get really unhealthy habits which, for an alcoholic, is the worst thing that could ever happen to you.
Jessica recently married former American footballer Mikey Marquart, whom she met in recovery.
Now she feels ready to be back in the Dolls.
The Pussycat Dolls seem to have put past rivalries and resentments to bed
She explains: Im here to heal. Im here to help. Its been quite a journey and Im not ashamed of anything. Im actually really proud of myself. Im in a really good place now and Im with my girls.
For Carmit, who was first to leave the band, the reunion is a chance to prove to eight-year-old daughter Keala Rose she was once a pop superstar.
Carmit says: Shes beautiful and so excited. And Im so excited for her to see what we do on stage.
The reunion plans include a greatest hits performance during Saturdays final of The X Factor: Celebrity, followed by a blockbuster tour next year. That begs the question of whether they will release another album?
The group want to be a ‘beacon of light for women empowerment’
Well, weve been working on some new music but right now were just focusing on brushing off the old limbs, Nicole discloses.
Perhaps the most impressive feat is that all five members can still do the splits.
Robin says: The girls are crushing it right now in rehearsal. Its incredible.
I was so emotional watching them dance. Its so hard and they are making it look so easy.
Jessica adds: There were nerves and excitement but getting in a room together for the first time, and in the studio specifically, the synergy was incredible. It was immediate.
We havent missed a beat. We havent missed a moment. Were back, bitches.
Nicole adds: It was like unfinished business. It was meant to be.
- Tickets for the Pussycat Dolls 2020 tour go on sale from 10am on Sunday at livenation.co.uk