Danity Kane

Welcome to the Dollhouse

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Welcome to the Dollhouse Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Danity Kane exist in a strange netherworld of pop culture, where you either know everything about the prefabricated girl group or you know nothing about them. Despite debuting at the top of the Billboard charts with their eponymous 2006 debut, on its way to eventual platinum sales, the group didn't seem to make any impact outside of MTV, the place where their construction was meticulously, endlessly documented on the third season of Making the Band. Not all made-for-TV bands are doomed to be forever defined as television bands, but Danity Kane are the kind of stiff, faceless girl group whose personality can only be discerned by a venue other than the music. Which of course is why they fall through the cracks: fans of the show find it all fascinating but those who don't watch find the music white noise for malls, designed for teens who dream of the day they can sneak into clubs. The popularity of Making the Band 3 pushed Danity Kane into the Top Ten, and the very existence of a Making the Band 5 featuring DK and subsequent MTB winners Day 26 and Donnie J, all making albums at the same time and jockeying for success, could help push the group's second album, Welcome to the Dollhouse, into the charts, with its release scheduled for March 2008 as the new season unfolds...but that would be a pretty tall order, as Welcome to the Dollhouse is a paler, plainer recycling of their debut. All five of the DK girls are blandly, conventionally pretty in their voices (not to mention their looks), and no amount of melisma can lend them personality. They were picked for the group because they're pliable, and they thoroughly disappear into these overly constructed productions, dense on rhythms but bereft of hooks, either in the instrumentals or vocals. With so few exceptions that they play like accidents -- "2 of You" has slinky rhythms that make up for the nonsensical "you've got me having breakfast in the afternoon" refrain; "Lights Out" has an appealing dose of Minneapolis funk in its keyboard, as does "Key to My Heart," which shimmers slyly, almost cloyingly -- there is no lightness to this record, and everything feels grimly labored. Maybe hearing the end results would be interesting if you've witnessed the labors on Making the Band, but anybody else will wonder why it takes so much work to sound so bland...and why we are bothering thinking about them anyway.

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