Nicole Scherzinger, KILLER LOVE

Apparently, going solo ain't always easy. Nicole Scherzinger was the face (and, let's be honest, body) of the Pussycat Dolls before leaving the group to go her own way musically. Her first album, Her Name Is Nicole, never got released despite two songs off of it getting both airplay and videos. (It didn't help that her performance of "Whatever You Like" at the MTV Video Music Awards was overshadowed by the Britney Spears performance that was the stars of Spears' public breakdown.) Scherzinger's second album, Killer Love, has the song "Right There" getting lots of radio airplay -- but no U.S. release of the album (even after she won Dancing with the Stars). Thanks to eBay, I was able to get a copy of Killer Love ("Weird Al" Yankovic was right: eBay is a worldwide garage sale!) for review.

As one might expect, Killer Love is at its best when Scherzinger goes for the up-tempo songs about dancing, sex, and occasionally love. "Club Banger Nation" is a shameless attempt to get that song played in clubs, but she's at home in the the clubs with "Wet": "I feel like everybody's standing around me watching me now/ I feel like whatever I do tonight would be the talk of the town/ They wanna know how I'm gonna move my body/ When the beat goes/ 'Cause something comes over me/ When the beat goes/ Well, Imma rip my clothes off/ Take a leap and surf through the crowd/ Yeah, yeah/ Drippin' down my neck/ Soakin' wet." She's equally, er, unrestrained on songs like "Right There" ("I like the way that you talk dirty/ don't wash your mouth out, I like it dirty") and the title track ("hold me just like that/ and make them eyes roll back"). And while Scherzinger doesn't hold back with the sex appeal, she also delivers some catchy tunes and has a great voice for this up-tempo music.

Then there's the sensitive side to Nicole Scherzinger, whether heartbroken ("Desperate," "Casualty") or offering support ("Power's Out"). When Killer Love slows down, the album suffers. It's easier to forgive moments of really poor writing (not to mention violent ones at times) during a fast song, but when the music slows the words really shine through -- and that doesn't help this album. "You Will Be Loved" is meant to be hopeful but more saccharine, while "Power's Out" (with Sting, of all people) has the weird metaphor of support with a home power outage: "Don't sit there in the dark/ don't worry your heart/ everything will be fine/ If trees fall on your power line." Most singers feel the need to try a few slow songs -- to show that they're not just party/club tunes, but that they can be sensitive and deep -- but these songs occupy the bulk of the latter half of this album.

While Nicole Scherzinger departed from the Pussycat Dolls, Killer Love shows that her singing and style of music hasn't changed much from her earlier work with her group. While I could have done with a lot less of Scherzinger's slower songs, the upbeat fun stuff is solid enough to make Killer Love a decent album. When it will be released in America, however, is anyone's guess...

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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