ONE, TWO, ONE TWO THREE FOUR! : The Sounds of Josie & The Pussycats

As I said in my Black Canary EP review, I am an absolute sucker for fictional bands. Since hearing about CW’s Riverdale, I’ve been antsy to hear some music from the new Josie and the Pussycats. The new band will be lead by Ashleigh Murray playing Josie McCoy, the lead singer and guitarist of the Pussycats. By her side are her two best friends, Melody, the drummer, played by Ashanti Bromfield, and Valerie, the bassist, tambourine player and singer, played by Irie Hayleau.

There’s a couple of different sounds to Josie and the Pussycats: the 1970 cartoon pop band, the 2001 pop rock band and now, with Riverdale’s all new Josie and the Pussycats, a new sound for a band we know so well. The music of the band has varied over the years, but has stayed more or less similar. Today we’ll be exploring some songs that we know, from the animated television show, to the infamous theme song, to what the Pussycats can (and might) sound like now. 

Let’s start in the past. The Josie and the Pussycats comic introduced us to the first sound of Pussycats even though we couldn’t actually hear it yet. While the Pussycats were still trying to sort out the band, they needed a third person. Or at least, a better third person. Josie, on lead, and Melody, on drums, were searching for a new third member after Alexandra Cabot tried to take over the band with her own ideas. After being introduced to Valerie, the girls started their magical musical journey and have been a massive success ever since. In the comics, there were a couple of panels of lyrics that laid out the sound, but there was no music … yet. 

Aren’t those lyrics fun?

Years later we’d get their first song. The theme song. There’s nothing like the good ol’ fashioned Josie and the Pussycat’s theme song. We got the first taste of Josie and the Pussycats’ actual sound from their television debut in the 70s. Hanna Barbera’s Josie and the Pussycats was a Saturday morning cartoon series featured with other Hanna Barbera hits such as Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and more. To go along with the new cartoon, they put together a real life Josie and the Pussycats band, casting Kathleen Dougherty, Cherie Moor, and Patrice Holloway. The theme song was written by Hoyt Curtin, William Hanna, and Joseph Barbera.

Here’s a fun fact: Josie is actually not singing on the original track. Patrice Holloway, who voiced Valerie is actually singing on the track. The sound of this Josie and the Pussycats took on a 60s “groove,” but also brought a slight Motown vibe with Holloway’s performance. Let’s listen to the original sound:

Now, let’s move into everyone’s favorite movie (admit it!) Josie and the Pussycats from 2001. The Josie and the Pussycats movie was a big flop at the box office, but set fire and flame to everyone’s hearts as a cult classic. It has withstood the test of time because of it’s humor, kookiness, and utter ridiculousness. Josie and the Pussycats, in this movie, were played by Rachael Leigh Cook as Josie, Tara Reid as Melody, and Rosario Dawson as Valerie. These girls couldn’t have played their roles better in this campy update of the band.

The music for the Josie and the Pussycats movie was VERY different from from the original cartoon and sound. The pop-punk songs fit so perfectly with the aesthetic of the film. In 2001, there was a rise of female-led pop-punk bands. The soundtrack was just the thing for the time, full of girl power and overall awesomeness. Josie’s part in the songs was performed by Kay Hanley, of the wonderful band Letters to Cleo, who you may know from some awesome soundtracks like The Craft and more famously 10 Things I Hate About You with their famous cover songs, “I Want You to Want Me” and “Cruel to be Kind.”

Here are some of the songs. (Don’t be afraid to sing along if you know the words.) 

Now, here comes the tricky part. There’s no sound for the new Josie and the Pussycats of Riverdale … yet. So we can only speculate from the past on what they might sound like in the future. So, let’s discuss.

CW Riverdale - Josie and the PussycatsSince we saw the 60s groove in effect when the cartoon arrived, the new sound could be a play off of that. A sort of Motown vibe with a little bit of rock. Or it could be like the movie version of The Pussycats, a fun pop-punk version with incredibly fun lyrics and great message to boot. Or it could be something completely different than any of these styles.

I’ve been examining and dissecting some music that can reflect how they could potentially sound. If they create a whole new different style, there are three ways that they can totally up the ante and rock.

With Black artists, like Janelle Monáe and Beyoncé, doing such interesting work, wouldn’t it be fun if there was a fun and dynamic way of combining both of those two inspirations? Imagine The Pussycats being a band of Janelle and Beyoncé-inspired black women who can totally make it happen for themselves. In this version of the Pussycats, they could be completely off the wall bouncy, but also have a strong visual presence.

Or what if they used Noisette’s for inspiration? Noisette’s is almost what would happen if Janelle Monae was in a indie band. They have the swinging vibes of indie rock, combined with blues, disco, and punk influences. “Wild Young Hearts” and “Don’t Upset the Rhythm” are great examples of how the new Josie and the Pussycats could carry those influences  into a new sound.

The last possibility is by far my favorite. If there’s ever a time I could write a Josie and the Pussycat comic, I would write them as a grungy punk band with the influence of bands like Daddy Issues and Bikini Kill. I know this will never happen, but hear me out. With the progression of The Pussycats’ sound from comic to cartoon to movie, it’s almost natural for them to step into a punk rock sound. It will give them that intense freedom as a band and that “I don’t give a fuck” attitude that some people are craving. Or, less punk and more garage, what if they were inspired by the band Alabama Shakes. Think about it! That deep intense voice with the sounds of rock, rhythm, and blues attached to it? Magic.

What Riverdale‘s Josie and the Pussycats will be is very up in the air right now. But it’s fun to think about what they might sound like. Josie and the Pussycats are not only the most awesome band in Archie Comics (after The Archies, of course), but they’re very important in the history of fictional bands in comics. I’m very excited to hear what the new Josie and the Pussycats will sound like—but that also makes me wonder what The Archies will sound like!

What are your hopes and dreams for the future Pussycat sound?

Insha Fitzpatrick

Insha Fitzpatrick

Moving Image Columnist + Teacher of Cartoon Academy. Insha is a freelance + comic writer, film nerd and Crystal Gem from NJ. She enjoys cartoons, comics, b-movies and has very strong feelings about Kylo Ren. Stay Weird. ♡

One thought on “ONE, TWO, ONE TWO THREE FOUR! : The Sounds of Josie & The Pussycats

  1. This post makes me so happy. It’s funny you said that about the woman who voiced Valerie singing the TV show theme song because I always pictured Valerie singing it even though I knew it was supposed to be Josie. I’m so glad to find out there are other people who love the 2001 movie as much as I do. As for what their new musical sound should be, I’m feeling the Janelle Monae and Noisettes (esp. “Never Forget You”) vibe rather than garage punk. I see Josie and the Pussycats having an upbeat dance groove and killer melodies in their music. I actually think the punk-pop sound from the movie nailed it. Looking forward to seeing what happens in “Riverdale.”

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