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I'm Alamazed

While driving from my parents' house to the mall last December, I heard a song on the radio that almost caused me to drive their car right off the road. It was R&B, but it sounded unlike any other R&B in the pop radio spectrum — spookier, synthier, not unlike the warbly German techno I tend to favor, really. Organs hovered in the middle distance of the FM waves like echoes of Lawrence or Superpitcher — others have even compared them to This Heat — and the molten ride cymbals sounded as sour as Closer Musik's. The drums boomed deep enough to make "The Whipser Song" sound wispy. And despite saucy lyrics ("Doncha wish your girlfriend was hot like me/ Doncha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me") — and the fact that the whole song was adapted from Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Swass" — the singer's alternatingly hectoring and defeated tone dragged the song to abject depths rarely heard in pop. What the fuck was this doing on a station that announced itself, in a subwoofer-assisted voice, as "Portland's party station!"?

When I got home, a few minutes of research on the web revealed that it was a Cee-Lo production, sung by a mostly unknown vocalist (and former aesthetician) named Tori Alamaze. The track was already on the P2Ps, so I downloaded it, wrote about it, and waited for a buzz to build.

It never did, aside from a few bloggers and the ILM board (predictably). The single was released on vinyl in March, but with no attendant press push — aside from what I'm told was a brief puff piece in Vibe. You could buy a ringtone, but there was no video. (Though judging from the P2Ps, the tune made it onto at least a couple of mixtapes.)

Now, suddenly, the song is back, but with a twist. Tori Alamaze is no longer the singer — she's been replaced by a Vegas burlesque group called the Pussycat Dolls, and the ubiquitous Busta Rhymes drops in for a tacked-on rap. (Does he even record his own songs any more? His cameo-to-original-productions ratio must be going on vertical.) Cee-lo's production is almost identical to his original, but he tacks on guitars, percussive fills, and obtrusive horns that mar the crystalline glint of the original. The whole thing, in fact, feels tacky; Busta's superfluous rap bores a hole in the hermetically-sealed vibe of the Alamaze version, letting all the pathos leak right out. (Here's a hint, hit-men: some songs don't need a rap. Sounds crazy, but it's true.) And the Pussycat Dolls don't bring anything new to the song, despite their obviously distinguished lineage. They sound, in fact, almost exactly like Tori Alamaze, down to every last inflection — every sigh, accent, and elongated syllable. They couldn't sound more like Alamaze if they were samplers. (Why, in any case, do they need six women — that's how many are pictured in the promo photo — to sing a solo tune? Are five of them even audible?)

So what's the story? My suspicion is that Alamaze's version wasn't selling or charting fast enough, so the label decided to re-release the song with hotter vocalists — the multiracial, miniskirted, mirror-shaded Dolls look a bit like a hybrid of Kylie, the Spice Girls, and M.I.A. — and Busta,who seems to be the hip-hop/R&B equivalent of the Hollywood screenwriters hired to spice up six lines of dialogue in over-budget blockbusters. And of course, the "Doncha wish your girlfriend was hot like me" sentiment is pretty much tailor-made for a crew of fishnet-clad Caesar's teases. What gets lost is the sadness of the original; in Alamaze's version, you don't know what she looks like; her voice has to do all the cajoling. She's a seductress, yeah, but there's something else behind it that resists naming — some emotion that's one part envy, one part resentment, three parts reverse-Schadenfreude, with a secret ingredient for good measure. That's all gone now, in favor of steam-tray immediacy.

The moral? There may not be one, except that the fickle majors don't seem to care much about throwing away one of the year's perfect songs. Look for the pictorial in a Maxim near you.


The only thing worse than the Pussycat Dolls version is the uncredited reggaeton remix that's floating around on the P2Ps; the dancehall rhythm is totally out of key with the vocal, and you find yourself wishing you could just teach the remixer about Ableton Live's pitch adjustment feature. Still, as cringeworthy as it is, there's at least a vitality there — a sense that the remixer heard something special in the song and made it his own. (Full disclosure: I did my own mashup of it too.) It doesn't matter that the rhythm's breakdowns aren't synched with the verse and chorus, and it doesn't matter that the vocal and instrumental seem to have been recorded not just in two different keys, but two totally separate universes. After all, Tori's vocals wouldn't know perfect pitch if it smacked'em on the head with a tuning fork. The whole song is about a disconnect, and in Tori and Cee-Lo's original, they bring the rift to life. In the Pussycat Dolls' current remake, it's the song's handlers that draw a line: taste, talent, and mystery on one side; fourth-quarter projections (or perhaps just sheer bone-headedness) on the other. Log the loss in red ink, and fade to black.


Two years ago: www.bmi.com/showcases/200304/at_photos.asp

Heh. I think there's already been a pictorial. The Pussycat Dolls are somehow connected to Carmen Electra.

that fade into black needs to be louder, like in all caps - i still haven't found a nice mix on tori alamaze track (it's always too compressed), but i'm still intruiged. cee-lo's background vocals are sick Sick SICK - they fit perfectly and i think that deserve as much attention as tori. it's the perfect mix between "DJ CLUE!!!!!"/jd/puffy and timbaland.

i know wtf? and i found a stack of the alamaze cd singles in goodwill the other day

Can I have one?

tori just commented on my blog - probably finding me through your entry - labeling me her biggest fan. *sigh* if only there were fans. i really rate her up there with res - golden boys was just out of this world.

i mean *more* fans of course.

Dude, I had the EXACT same experience, also listening to Jammin' in Portland. I was meaning to blog it but didn't, so glad to see you got the word out or at least tried. I had no idea there was a remake... what a strange addendum for a strange song.

Funny you mention the "hotness" of the new version. When I heard it on the radio the male DJ was joking how "she ain't even hot!" which is totally lame. I'm sure he's happy now.

Ugh, the industry is such an unstoppable behemoth nowadays...

well i felt the exact same way the re-recorded vocals "try" to match Alamaze's vocals and don't do a damn thing. it's unfortunate that obviously the label wanted a younger vocalist to market to a younger crowd, which young america knows nothing these days about real music and vocalists...anyways i still support Tori's song!!! the remake is cute but WTF?!?!?

I think i Like Alamazes version better just cause it still has that line..." i know im on ur mind i know we'd have a good time im ur friend...."

I look forward to hearing more from Tori and hopefully with a label and marketing power that will not screw her!

I saw the Pussycat Dolls video this morning, and after listening to "their" song, I found myself singing "Don't you wish your boyfriend was swass like me?" all morning. Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baaaby...

Those girls just get on my nerves. Hot is one thing. Obnoxious about it is a totally different thing.

I totally agree with U 100%. The Tori Alamaze version was available on iTunes. Now it is like it never existed. The Pussycat Dolls version sucks, it sucks more than a whore on one knee. They just did not give the original enough time. Don't Cha was going to be the big summer hit of 2005 and a soon to be classic. Now it is just a cliched jack off of a tune. Sad though, it seems that the music industry have lost complete touch of music and fans.

I could'nt have said it better myself, the whole situation is sad, I really hope we have the chance to hear more from tori in the future.. I was shocked when I saw the Pussycat dolls on tv! And Cee lo is in the background! I'm disapointed in him.. I bought the original on 12" like a half year ago, maybe its gonna be a collectors item haha.

hi--i am a journalist who interviewed alamaze months ago for a national magazine since deceased. this song first charted in LA around august of last year, and she was prepared to get a record deal and all that... i don't know what happened. my suspicions are with you, though--she was older and not as conventionally hot, so they axed her.

I with everyone. The Pussycat Doll SUCK!!! I first heared the Tori Alamaze version on an Orlando radio station. And it was in the top Ten for a couple of weeks. It was also hot in the alternative clubs here in FL and still is. Then a couple months later I was in Tampa and the DJ announced that the new version was featuring the Pussy Cat Dolls featuring Busta. IT SUCKS!!! By the way I even remember seeing Universal records setting up a website for her saying, "Coming Soon" and then all of sudden it vanished. Tori we are with you girl!!! Come back to FL. Email me we will get you some bookings at clubs here and ATL.

in philly they play Alamaze's version.. its the first one i heard.. then i heard one on a more pop station Q102 where they play techno and stuff with Busta and it sounded different.. more clubby and not as powerful.. I saw Alamaze in the XXL.. and shes not bad looking tho she is 30.. but her version definently blows those PussyCat whores out the water.. shes still in the business.. i hope she gets her just desserts

tori has a song on one of those hidden beach compilation cd's called "gon fishin"

...it's really about money, as it always is in the music bizz.. her record label, universal, put her version out without much fanfare and expected it to catch on , when it didnt do what they thought it would they sold the rights to the song to the PCD's. since tori didnt actually write the song(cee-lo from the goodie mob did) she didnt really have any say so in the matter. talk about not having faith in your artists !

THAT VIDEO WAS SO HOT. ME and my FRIENDS loved it sooo much.

Been looking for the original Tori single all over San Diego.... Tower doesn't even have (tho they did advertised in their sunday ad the PCD on sale - didn't even have that one at Tower). I wouldn't have bought it anyway... Love Tori's raw, real voice....

I feel the same way about this song. I first heard it over six months ago, late night on jammin 95.5 I LOVED it. They didn't announce the artist's name so I wrote down some of the lyrics from memory and then googled them to find out who she was. Well, I went to a few stores after that and no one had the single. And now there's that crappy other version of the song. It's a bummer. Tori has soul, and that song was great. I hope she keeps singing and making good music. Hey, if anyone has a copy of the single lying around I'd like to buy it. My email is pharoahsanders@hotmail.com

I think I heard that Tori was still unsigned when the song first came out. I am absolutely disgusted at how painstakingly they tried to create the same voice. I bet they hired a new pussycat that would just sound more like Tori. So sad.... I hope that Tori makes a better video and comes back so we can have a "don't cha" showdown. I hate when good music is sacrificed in the name of the almightly dollar. I am actually mad for Tori and everytime I hear the PCD version I want to scream "IT'S NOT THEIR SONG!"

yeah, i agree the tori alamaze version is a hell of alot better than the new one with the pussy cat dolls and busta. i tell all my friends that and they are like but it still sounds the same and i'm thinking they must be crazy. alamaze's version seemed to just sink into you when you hear it. i'm so glad i jumped on the ball after i heard it on the radio a few times. i downloaded it from napster..

I heard Tori Alamaze's version of "Dont Cha" last August on Sirius radio on a road trip from Las Vegas. It instantly caught my attention. I waited for it to be played main stream and I never heard it. Luckily I downloaded from Limewire when I did, because it's like the song never existed... What's crazy to me is, does the label really think they've dupped us? Like we wouldn't notice or something!

hey i just found ur blog while looking up tori alamaze and i have to say that i totally agree with you. All my slutty friends like the pussycat doll version and have never even heard the tori alamaze one. I think she sounds way better than the dolls and the dolls sound crappy singing the song. They can't even sing that well, they sound like any other person singing the song. Theres just something about the original version that i fell in love with and hearing the pussycat dolls do a remake just killed it for me. It's like how hollywood is remaking all these old shows into movies, very unecessary!! And even though not a lot of people heard tori's version thats what made it a lot cooler. And another thing that frustrates me about the dolls version of the song is that they cut out my favorite part (i know im on your mind/i know we'd have a good time/ im your friend im fun and im fine/ i aint lyin/ look at me bitch/ you aint blind) which Busta raps over. So yeah i feel the exact way you do they totally mar the crystalline glint of the original. ha ha i couldn't have said it better myself. Oh and i also like how the tori fans can easily distinguish between the original and the PCD version, it frustrates me when my friends say "whats the difference?? it's all the same song" well, not to me. lol.

i like both versions. hah. i'll probably get shot for this, but i think the pussycat dolls were better suited for the song.

tori alamaze wasn't markable, and if you can't make a profit off of someone, then the only choice you have is to boot her. she didn't write the song, and she GAVE it back to them to get out of a 3 year contract. it was HER choice.so then what... you want them to just waste a perfectly good track on someone who A. isn't markable, and B. doesnt wanna sing it anymore?

secondly, a lot of you are making really arrogant assumptions.

no they did not cast another pussycat doll just to sing the song. the lead singer is Nicole Kea. She's been there ever since she left Eden's Crush, as far as I know. She also sang lead in their rendition of "Sway With Me" for the movie "Shall We Dance?"

also... for those of you saying the pussycat dolls cant sing... you really need to get your heads out of your asses, because i know it might be hard to hear anything from down there. don't say they can't sing just because of you're little grudge on them. they obviously can. or they wouldnt have been so famous for the past 10+ years.

actresses want to be them. that pretty much mean's theyre hot. and not just hot in a physical sense. just because you see them scantily clad and shaking their asses all the time, doesnt say ANYTHING about theyre actual talent. a lot of them graduated with masters in dancing and performance arts. every single one of them is a triple threat.

oh and i forgot this:

"Why, in any case, do they need six women — that's how many are pictured in the promo photo — to sing a solo tune? Are five of them even audible?) "


i mean what.the.fuck. kind of question is that?

if you take any group, there will always be one person that stands out more than the rest. they sing most of the song, while the rest of them sing backup and the hooks and bridges. does that mean you market them as only one singer? no. theyre a group. look at destiny's child, b2k, etc.


I hunted every single store for the Tori Alamaze version of Don't CHa. I bothered every music store in a 5 state range for the single. I was lucky enough to have found someone that burned a copy of it for me. Since then I have made 5 copies and added it to my 2 computers scared that something might happen where I wouldn't have it. The PCD's don't do the song with the same haunting that you can just see yourself singing this song to an ex or a future love. Her voice makes you know he will never forget you....Don't he just wish....If anyone has any contact for Tori Alamaze please blog it here.

"tori alamaze wasn't markable, and if you can't make a profit off of someone, then the only choice you have is to boot her. she didn't write the song, and she GAVE it back to them to get out of a 3 year contract. it was HER choice.so then what... you want them to just waste a perfectly good track on someone who A. isn't markable, and B. doesnt wanna sing it anymore?"

Great points. This will more than likely prove to be a good move (and learning lesson) for Tori. Only living from the outside of the music industry, it seems as if she saved herself a lot of issues by getting out of the contract.

Not that the subject content of the song does much for relationships in the world, lol, part of the music followers know of another good vocalist and fans/critics like yourselves help to increase the awareness. So for whatever reasons things are the way they are concerning this song, we can truly say (unless Cee-lo sang it for her and made Tori sing it his way) that Tori Alamaze breathed life into the song.

["also... for those of you saying the pussycat dolls cant sing... you really need to get your heads out of your asses, because i know it might be hard to hear anything from down there. don't say they can't sing just because of you're little grudge on them. they obviously can. or they wouldnt have been so famous for the past 10+ years."]

First, saying whether someone can or cannot sing is subjective and moot; so you bringing that "point" up is invalid. If you believe they sing well, it's your opinion as is everyone else's.

["secondly, a lot of you are making really arrogant assumptions."]

So did you. As quoted in the segment prior to this, you made an assumption (typo and all) by saying, "don't say they can't sing just because of you're little grudge on them."

["actresses want to be them. that pretty much mean's theyre hot."]

Ok..ignoring the fact that that comment was blatantly inane, I wonder, would the same principle be applied to a statement like...oh, I don't..."People dislike the PussyCat Dolls; that 'pretty much' means they suck"?

[""Why, in any case, do they need six women — that's how many are pictured in the promo photo — to sing a solo tune? Are five of them even audible?) "


i mean what.the.fuck. kind of question is that?"]

I believe he was questioning (in comparison) the fact that the song was released as being "tailored to" a solo artist but yet was sung by a group afterwards/now.

Oh and I forgot this:

If you're going to try and argue a point, it helps when you could actually spell and put a sentence together correctly.


(^ Last post for "trish" - the one making the gormless points)

Here's an INTERVIEW with TORI ALAMAZE explaining the details between her and the PussyCat Dolls:


(Replace "@" with "t")

i think the pussycat dolls are the bigest fucking posers and they ned to get a fucking life, the original was so much fuckin better, they piss me off so bad, they stole so many peoples songs, like just coz they have no talent and cant write their own songs doesnt mean they have to fucking steal everyone elses songs! *whew!* glad i got that off my chest..

i like 'm both... but the 'original' is friggin' raw and extremely hot, it makes me sweat my mind...

obviously, Tori is a little too black, her hair is too short, and she's just a little too mature for "the man" to promote. It's always safer for "the man" to believe in, to find beauty in what's young, what is light, and/or damn near white....God bless f@*&ing america!!!!

let me get this str8 they got rid of Tori Alamaze because she didn't look young enough for the fans? and gave it to them otha broadz that was on stage last night singin that song? damn i thought that was their song.... The main girl singin was fine as hell but if thats what they did then thats hella f'd up

that song is so friggen annoying god damnit they play it on the radio to fucking much!!! and its a retarded song anyways so w.e

I like both versions. I love when people show their loyalty toward something they believe in. Very inspiring. But think about it, the new version on video, will appeal to most men (Lead singer is HOT. Keep it Real!!!) because you all know that sex sells. I'm listening to the original version while I'm typing this response to your blog and I must say that the bassline is a lot deeper, which makes you feel it more internally. Watch out for the sharks out there in your personal life, because it's a "take no prisoner" world we live in. LOVE IS THE ANSWER.

Yes Toris version was great, i'll admit that. But you have to remember . . . . pussycat dolls are a burlesque group!!! I mean come on! They are talented too, each of them have their own backgrounds like everyone else. They dance and sing . . . at the same time, and i have seen their performance, and they are incredible to watch. You have to be fit to carry a tune while dancing. I admire and respect both Tori and Pussycat dolls. THEY ARE BOTH PERFORMERS. So what if one gets more attention than the other? There are a lot more pressing matter that deserve our time and efforts.

Just setting the record str8, first Tori Alamaze version came out over 6 months earlier than the PCD version. Cities like ATL & Miami (where i reside) had Tori’s record on major rotation on black radio stations, and eventually crossed over. U could even check the record stores at the orginal release time and see tori’s cd single rated #2 on the cd singles chart (This is an artist that made that high on the charts without a video, just on people liking her voice & music). Tori Alamaze still tours to clubs and events performing the song. So what I believe the issue was only a simple case of what has been happening to black artist since the 60’s, (elvis ect …) who have black singers, groups who made a hit, but record companies want a broader eppeal to white audiences and feel they can better do that by having a white artist (or closer to looking white) sing over the same song even if the same soul isnt present in the song any longer.

Also far as the pussy cat dolls is concern. There is no major source of talent in that group, i mean really does it 6 females to sing "dont cha"?? Not at all. And adding wack ass sell out busta ryhmes to try to give them "street credit" doesnt work ethier. I glad to see stations like BET, and a few other major hip-hop& R&B stations not supporting the PCD version.

And yes sex sells for a minute but after these teeny boppers fans get over the initial aspect of PCD's mediocure looks, sleezy clothing - your gonna need actual talent, singing ablility, song writing, career direction to make it, All the best females groups had more goin on for them then just looks (Destiny child, En vouge, TLC)

So i predict PCD will dissappear back into there Vegas hotel acts after there second single drops and BOMBS!!!!

hey tori i love your soung called don't ya i think it is alsome and my sis loves it to and also the pussy cat dollz are good to my sis wanted to bye there c.d because it had don't ya on it will peace out

hey tori this is sarah i loveeeeee "don't cha"i think it is the best also my sis thinks so to.she wanted to bye the pussy cat dollz because it had don't cha on it well have a nice day


I am SO happy to find a post about this! Everytime I ask someone about the Tori Alamaze version I get looked at with a blank stare as if they've had one of the MIB memory erasers waved in front of their face. I hate how she isn't even being acknowledged anymore. At first I thought maybe she was a PCD now, but sadly that isn't the case... I at least hope she was properly compensated. Ugh, the music industry sucks!


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