By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Aubrey O'Day isn't terribly convincing when she argues that her combo, Danity Kane, "has struggled and overcome a lot to make it to the top," and not just because she makes this claim as she and cohort Dawn Richard are being chauffeured around Los Angeles in advance of the Grammy Awards. After all, mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs created the quintet of O'Day, Richard, Aundrea Fimbres, Shannon Bex and Wanita "D. Woods" Woodgette for Making the Band 3, an MTV series whose popularity has already pushed the outfit's self-titled 2006 debut to the platinum level.
But if the collective's success was never really in doubt, the same can't be said about its membership. Band's first batch of shows ended when Diddy decided that he hadn't found enough talent to guarantee the group's success. O'Day was one of just three singer/ dancers retained for the second season, and when she saw new contestants making the same mistakes that had doomed their predecessors, she initially tried to set them straight. Before long, though, "one of the directors of the show told me, 'You've got to let everybody figure it out for themselves. If you tell somebody what to do, it's not really them making the band. It's you making the band.'"
After that, O'Day admits, "I just let them self-destruct," and those who did tended to share a common characteristic: self-doubt. "When you cross over into desperation, it's a reflection of how you feel about yourself as a talent," she believes. "People who don't have high views of themselves don't usually make it very far in this industry, just because it tears you down. All the negative comments, all the horrible things people say constantly, all the nasty rumors that get put out about you: It's not an easy job. People think a lot of celebrities have an arrogance about them, but in reality, I think they're just trying to maintain their confidence in a world of madness that's trying to knock them down every minute."
These observations are more interesting than any of the lyrics on Danity Kane. But thanks to a pricey squad of super producers led by Timbaland, tunes such as "Show Stopper" were commercial enough to overcome their vapidity.
The challenge now is for these five former competitors to coalesce into a tight unit, and O'Day thinks they're well on their way. "It's like a family," she says. "There's always going to be that cousin whose outfit is too short, and you're like, 'Put on some clothes!' And there's going to be one aunt who won't shut up and gets all drunk, and everyone's whispering behind her back. But at the end of the day, you're still blood, and you have to fight to protect that."
Even from the back seat of a limousine.