Nicole Scherzinger (@NicoleScherzy) interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer

On the record with ‘Sing-Off’ judge Nicole Scherzinger

NBC’s “The Sing-Off” has become a guilty pleasure at the Daily News (the semifinals are tonight at 8). And even though judge Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men is a local guy, judge Ben Folds’ “Lonely Avenue” is one of the best albums of the year, and one of our Human Resources bosses is obsessed with host Nick Lachey, Tattle decided to get the scoop on the show from judge Nicole Scherzinger. Why? because she was a TV talent-show winner on “Popstars” as a member of Eden’s Crush, she got freaky as lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, she dated a race-car driver, she has a role in the upcoming “Men in Black 3” (with Will Smith), she was a mirror-ball winner on “Dancing with the Stars” and, well, just because (see poto).

Nicole was born in Hawaii, grew up in Kentucky, and if you wonder why she looks so exotic, it’s because she’s part Filipino, Ukrainian, Russian and Hawaiian.

She’s been performing since childhood, and even though she became famous fronting a group known more for their gyrations and g-strings than their a cappella vocal arrangements, she said by phone from New York that she enjoys judging because she really respects Folds and Stockman as artists and musicians, and “she went to school for voice and theater.”

"The Pussycat Dolls was just part of the journey for me," she said. "It doesn’t define me."

Nicole said that what she loves about “The Sing-Off” is that “it’s a show about music that isn’t processed. Thanks to ‘Glee,’ musical theater is coming back, and this show celebrates the voice as an instrument.”

As a Louisville girl, Nicole said she’s into the laid-back Southern vibe of Street Corner Symphony, but she also loves the church-flavored Committed and the soulful doo-wop sound of Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town, with whom she’s going to perform this season.

"The hardest part is when people go home," Nicole said. "We don’t want them to go home."

As for what’s next for the hottest judge Nicole said she’s concentrating on her solo album, due next year, and improving her acting. Although she’s been rumored as a possible judge on the American version of “X Factor,” she said producer Simon Cowell hasn’t asked her yet, and she would have to think very hard about it since the show is such a big time commitment.

Since we spoke with Nicole a few hours before the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, she had no comment on that, but she did have fond memories of Philadelphia from when she played clubs here as a singer in Days of the New.

"All my friends like the cheesesteaks," she said, "but I loved the great spaghetti."

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