Without a ‘Doubt’

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By Griffith Fuller

By Griffith Fuller

Front-woman of No Doubt, Gwen Stefani, released her debut solo album November 23, 2004. It certainly is different from No Doubt’s work, seeming to focus on and manipulate the pop aspects more. The album alludes Harajuku girls, while offering sass and funk.

The first released single, “What You Waiting For?” starts off the album. The catchy song urges an alter-ego diva to take her chance at fame while she has the chance. “Look at your watch now; you’re a super hot female. You got your million dollar contract, and they’re all waiting for your hot track,” Gwen Stefani sings. The most provocative line in the song is “Take a chance you stupid ho,” which Gwen repeats several times as the song reach its end.

“Rich Girl”, produced by Dr. Dre, features rapper Eve who is returning a favor to Gwen on part of the 2002 hit “Let Me Blow Your Mind.” The song is much different from No Doubts material and leans more towards the pop side. It could be interpreted as superficial and ostentatious because of lyrics that brag about materialism. Despite the in-your-face approach, it seems to be some form of satire or criticism.

Gwen once again differentiates herself from No Doubt by pushing the envelope using profanity in “Hollaback Girl”, produced by the Neptunes. “Oooh, this my s**t, this my s**t,” Gwen sings in the cheer type song geared towards a pop audience.

The only track on the album that resembles a No Doubt song is “Cool”, which has the potential to be a hit single.

“Luxurious” have a slowed sample of the Isley Brothers sexy classic groove “Between the Sheets”. The song, which is most likely about her rock star husband Gavin Rossdale of the band Bush, is about the luxury enjoyed after working so hard.

Tracks like “Crash” and “Serious” are throwbacks to 80’s pop music. “Harajuku Girls”, which Gwen introduces in “What You Waiting For?” is the anthem of the album. The song explores the fascination and admiration for the style and fashion of Harajuku girls. The break of the song gets beautiful for a moment before diving back into its funk. Gwen croons “You bring style and color all around the world.” She couldn’t be clearer during the chorus when she sings “Harajuku girls, you got the wicked style… I am your biggest fan.”

Gwen collaborates with Outkast’s Andre 3000 on “Bubble Pop Electric” and closing song “Long Way to Go”. “Bubble Pop Electric” is sassy and groovy in its own way. It flirts with teen sexuality, while presenting the classic image of an American teenage couple going to the drive-in movie and making out. The song is co-written by Andre 3000, who also play the song’s character Johnny Vulture.

“Long Way to Go”, also co-written by Andre 3000, is about the taboo subject of interracial dating. The song is funky in Andre 3000’s psychedelic way. It includes audio from Dr. Martin Luther King’s historical “I Have A Dream” speech. It’s probably the best track on the album. “We’ve got a long way to go. When snow hits the asphalt, cold looks and bad talk come; we’ve got a long way to go. It’s beyond Martin Luther, upgrade computer,” Gwen and Andre sing.

“Love.Angel.Music.Baby” has the potential to be a good album, but focus too much on empty pop concepts. Certain tracks prevail and show originality, but others can be easily forgotten and may sound repetitive. Gwen obviously leaned more towards a pop audience with this album, but her best work resides with No Doubt. There is nothing groundbreaking with her solo debut album, but there is certainly something different from what dominate the pop charts today.

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