Saturday, August 20, 2005


I knew things had been taken to the next level for Gwen Stefani’s solo career when a fifty-something co-worker exclaimed she loved that song when “Hollaback Girl” came on the radio a few days ago. Having just announced a second Bay Area arena show and a fourth single that is all over the airwaves could there be any doubt that Gwen Stefani posses a killer pop instincts? She was on to something when she began positioning herself as hip hop savvy new waver a couple of No Doubt albums ago when they hired Hype “Directed Every Hit Hip Hop Video For Five Years’ Williams to create the clip for “Ex-Girlfriend” and then she began moonlighting from the band to work on Eve’s big hit “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.” Now she’s cashing in with her genre-hopping album, and it’s not like she didn’t have a plan when her record company funded her working with top producers:

"I knew it was an easy, upbeat album, that even if you hated me you couldn't help but like some of the songs, because they were meant to be these addictive songs.
That was the goal, to make a record where picking the singles would be a big issue because every song could be a single."
The fourth single, Cool, has been chosen by Stefani to show the more laidback aspects of the record. She also wants her New Order pastiche, The Real Thing, to be a single.

: Of course the problem here is that releasing “The Real Thing” would end Stefani’s string of hit singles, so I don’t see it happening. Besides, both Andre 3000 tracks are better tracks with more radio potential. Stefani also spoke a bit about her follow up album that is expected before the years end:

She's compiling the best of the unreleased songs and has plans to release them as a companion album at Christmas. One song, Wonderful Life for Him, features Depeche Mode's Martin Gore on guitar. It's especially poignant, as the song was written about the first boy Stefani ever kissed, who has since died.
"He was a huge Depeche Mode fan," she says. "He actually turned me onto them. I was really into Madness. I was, like, 'Depeche Mode? That's electronic weirdo music'. My friend would not believe Martin Gore is playing on this song I wrote him."

: She’s been talking about that Gore song for over a year now (when she originally began promoting the album months before it was finished), and her story has tweaked a little bit. I recall her first talking about being into dance pop music, not Madness, before this old boyfriend. I’m sure she just got confused about her past after the hundreds on interviews she’s done. Something about the subject matter and how it didn’t make the first album’s cut tell me that it’s probably not the most upbeat and radio-friendly song.
What really impresses me is the order that Stefani has released the album’s single so far. I can’t think of another example of an album that released tracks #1-#4 as singles in the order they appear on the cd. The closest I can think of is New Order’s “Republic” did use the first four tracks, but changed the order up.
And it’s also worth mentioning that Stefani, while sticking with arena support standby’s Black Eye Peas for the first local arena show, is still taking chances. Somewhat controversial electro-dancehall-something star M.I.A. will be opening for Stefani later on her tour. Maybe she’s the person who decided to take The Faint to open large venues with No Doubt before most hipsters knew who The Faint was? That would be bananas.

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