Album Review: Gwen Stefani – Love, Angel, Music, Baby
As of the 24th of May I’m 20. 20! My teens are officially dead and as music is a big part of my life and has been for the past decade (someone kill me). I thought I’d mourn with a review of the first album I ever bought and is still to this day one of my guilty pleasures. I will forever think of my youth when I listen to this album and it instantly conjures memories of portable CD players and summer holidays from when I was 12.
Gwen Stefani was the lead singer of the ska band No Doubt, a popular 90’s band who had hit singles like Don’t Speak and Spider’s Web. Stefani then decided to go solo for a while and release Love, Angel, Music, Baby as her first effort. The lead singles included What You Waiting For?, Rich Girl and Hollaback Girl. Right now you are doubting my sexuality. Rest assured, any guy/rock fan who listens to Gwen Stefani knows her solo career isn’t just stereotypical girl trying to be a rapper. She sings about relatable subjects, something the alternative scene thrives on. The beats and backing to her tracks have the same heavy appeal that draws metal fans to Skrillex. She’s doing hip hop whilst keeping what made No Doubt so good alive in her music.
Lead single and first track What You Waiting For? is the most infectious track on my iPod. There’s something about the guitar riff, simple drum track and Stefani’s lyrics that works so well. I remember being 12 (what is life?) and my whole family being crazy about this one track. The track is about having an opportunity to get with a guy but not having the guts. I hate that Stefani falls for a hip hop stereotype so early on (the word “hoe” makes several appearances) but it’s a solid intro. Rich Girl isn’t one of my favourite songs off the album. It’s a massive hip hop stereotype to spend a whole song singing about what you’d do if you had a lot of money and again I hate that she falls for it. The backing track is from the song “If I were a rich man” from Fiddler on the Roof. With Dr Dre producing the track you would have thought the backing would have been better, but oh well.
Hollaback Girl is the third track from the album. Again the backing track is infectious and will have you drumming along to the pounding marching drum. A marching band plays whilst Stefani chants along. I feel like I’m repeating myself but again she falls for a stereotype by writing a “You’ve been talking behind my back, lets fight!” song. It’s hard to tell whether she’s mocking teen culture or thinks this is what hip-hop is but either way the lyrical content is half misfire, half funny. Continuing the teen theme Bubble Pop Electric is a track about a girl (Stefani) who tells her boyfriend (guest vocalist Johnny Vulture) that she’s ready for their “first time”. I’m cringing whilst writing this, as I’m not used to writing reviews by artists with a girl lead singer who sings this kind of stuff. The track is extremely girly and energetic and I often find myself subconsciously skipping this track because it’s so pink. Crash is horrendous. It’s like some sort of 70s disco, 80’s Madonna, 90s Spice Girls hybrid mix. The lyrics (again about sex in a car) are just a string of metaphors which leave me, yet again, cringing.
I may have said at the beginning of this review that the album holds a lot of memories for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s a work of art. Every hip hop stereotype is here along with Stefani attempting to fit in a little No Doubt and Madonna for good measure. It’s a good album with a few hidden gems, but the cringeworthy moments come too often for this album to endure eight years later. I give this album 6 out of 10. A few tracks redeem the album enough for it not to be a complete joke but it’s not amazing. Not now my tastes have changed so much. File this under “guiltiest pleasure”.