01 November 2006

In Search of Disasterpieces: Gwen Stefani

Would you consider it hyperbole if I said that Gwen Stefani's solo career is a plot to destroy us all?

How else to explain the existence of "Wind It Up," the first single from her forthcoming album "The Sweet Escape?"

Way back in July, I was wondering whether Rihanna or Janet Jackson had released this year's biggest disasterpiece, but now I realize their crappy songs are just servants to the dread lord emperor of crappy songs.

I know how old-fashioned it makes me sound, but I hesitate to call "Wind It Up" a song at all. It's even less a song than "Hollaback Girl," and that was just a mixture of random talking, occasional instrument sounds, and a spelling lesson.

With her new concotion, Stefani aims for a similar improvisational sound, as though she wandered drunk into the studio, half-rapped a few phrases, happily declared herself a party girl, and passed out. But just as Fergie's "London Bridge" was a step down from "Hollaback Girl," "Wind It Up" is a step down from "London Bridge."

Because now Gwen Stefani is just copying the people who copied her. Want a minimal beat? Of course! Want a nonsense cheerleader chant? Got it! Ooh, how about we rip-off another show tune, like we did with "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Rich Girl?" Okay! But now we'll use the goatherd song from "Sound of Music!"

The goatherd song? Sigh. It's just so self-consciously hip to yodel.

I'm all for stupidity in dance-pop. Sometimes you need it. There's this song called "Here (In Your Arms)" by Hellogoodbye that's about nothing in particular but whose light, happy spirit makes me want to boogie all the same.

But "Wind It Up," because it repeats the current female pop formula verbatim, sounds hollow. Flippancy doesn't count if you feel you must be flippant.

This utter repetitiveness also suggests that Gwen Stefani is not so much an artist as a marketing ploy. Her first solo album was hugely successful, which means she had the power to make her next record sound like anything she wanted. That she wanted to sound exactly the same discredits her.

And I don't say that lightly. No Doubt made some great records, and "Hella Good" doesn't sound like "Hey Baby" at all.

Hell, I'd even take "Don't Speak" over "Wind It Up," and that song has the worst lyrics of all time.

Disasterpieces will send you running to the strangest arms for comfort.



At 1:22 PM, Blogger Ryan Dubbs said...

Yes yes yes! I hate it when an artist refuses to expand their boundaries. That's the exact reason I like David Bowie so much. He tries new sounds and is always exploring. And for me, more times than not, he is successful in his ventures. Which is not to say that I don't like artists who don't challenge themselves, but that I respect those artists that do all the more.


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