SAY Pussycat Dolls and the risque image of a pop girl act clad in scanty outfits and prancing around with temperature-raising dance moves comes to mind. And who more salacious than head kitty Nicole Scherzinger, frontwoman for the quintet?
But the singer-songwriter insists that despite her sensual image, she is a 'pretty normal girl' and a homebody.
'I'm a very private person. I live up in the hills tucked away in the canyon and I don't go out too much,' she reveals to Life!. 'I like to work and I'm usually in the studio.'
Indeed, she is quite soft-spoken and is exceedingly polite during the phone conversation from her kitchen in her Los Angeles home. But give her a stage and audience, and all the coyness goes out the window.
'I'm a different person when I'm on stage. When the music and lights come on, I turn into a whole other animal or beast,' she admits. 'I feel so much energy, so much love, like a beam of light is shooting out of me, like I can reach and touch everyone. Anybody who has ever experienced that will never try drugs, it's a natural high.'
Audiences here will get a chance to see her strut her stuff when the group come to town on Aug 2 to headline Singfest, the outdoor music festival at Fort Canning.
If there is one impression that Scherzinger would like to change of her burlesque pop group, it is that they are just girls who 'loosen up my buttons'.
She was quoting the chorus to Buttons, one of the hit singles from their eight-million-selling debut album PCD (2005), which is typical of their innuendo-laden songs.
But their upcoming album Doll Domination, due for release in September, is set to change all that, she tells Life!. 'I think the misconception will change in our next album,' she says. 'We put together an album that people won't expect from the Pussycat Dolls - they'll be more vulnerable, there'll be more personable music and I think people will be able to relate to that.'
The group, also made up of Melody Thornton, Jessica Sutta, Ashley Roberts and Kimberly Wyatt, became a five-piece when long-time doll Carmit Bachar left to concentrate on her solo career early this year.
When they were last in Singapore in 2004 for the MTV Asia Awards, the girls were just making a name for themselves on the international scene, and Scherzinger, who recently turned 30, had just joined.
She promises that for their upcoming performance, there will be 'high intensity dancing and singing, songs that make you dance and songs that make you cry. Hopefully, we'll blow people's minds'.
The day before their Singfest date, the quintet will make an appearance at the MTV Asia Awards in Malaysia.
The last time they performed there in 2006, a minister described their act as 'gross indecency'. The promoters of the show were charged with flouting decency laws and fined.
Scherzinger is not worried that history might repeat itself though: 'We'll definitely abide by their guidelines and there'll just be a really great show that everybody will enjoy all the way around.'
Born in Hawaii to a Filipino father and a Hawaiian/Russian mother, the comely star picked up stage skills from her grandmother, a church singer, and her mother, a hula dancer.
She has a high-profile squeeze too - superstar Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. Asked if she will be returning to Singapore for the first F1 night race here, she said Hamilton did ask her to not miss the race so she is trying to fit the dates in her busy schedule.
So has she been in any of his race cars before? 'Nah, he's too afraid I might beat him,' she says with a laugh.
To win tickets to Singfest and a meet-and-greet session with the Pussycat Dolls, upload a video of you and your friends doing your best impersonation of them on YouTube and name it 'When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be A Pussycat Doll'. Send contact details and link of your YouTube video to email@example.com by July 30. The winning video will be announced on July 31 and posted on www.singfest.sg and Stomp (www.stomp.com.sg). Winners will also be notified by e-mail.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on July 23, 2008.