Yesterday, No Doubt announced the title of their hotly anticipated sixth album: Push and Shove. Hitting stores on September 25th, the album will be the legendary rock band’s first in over 11 years.
The announcement of the new record’s title came shortly following the news that No Doubt will perform at this year’s Teen Choice Awards (airing July 22 at 8 PM EST on Fox). And this week, they’re filming a video for their new single, Settle Down.
“We are incredibly excited to share the new music with you. Ear candy coming your way!” stated the band about Push and Shove. “Thank you all so much for your support over the last 25 years. We’re really proud of our new album and we hope you love it as much as we do.”
To celebrate No Doubt’s comeback, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the ten essential tracks from their discography thus far. Check it out and share your favorite No Doubt songs in the comments section below!
10. HAPPY NOW
from Tragic Kingdom
You don’t want to piss off No Doubt’s lead singer, Gwen Stefani.
Happy Now finds the singer with a vendetta against a lover who scorned her. An obvious result of betrayal, the song serves as a brutally honest reminder that there will be always be consequences if you fuck up.
“No more leaning on your shoulder. I won’t be there, no more bother. If you feel you just might want me, that’s too bad, I’m not the easy,” Stefani sings with a venomous sting. “You’re by yourself, all by yourself. You have no one else, you’re by yourself.”
Featuring a musical breakdown that should make every member of Paramore start job hunting, Happy Now is a true rock tour de force.
9. NEW FRIEND
from Everything In Time
New Friend acts as a reverse timeline of No Doubt’s musical evolution. Starting out with a dominant dancehall beat, the song opens like a quintessential track off the band’s Rock Steady era. Yet as it progresses, the track gets increasingly grungier until it reaches its bridge and turns into a full out up-tempo punk banger. It’s a song that can be enjoyed by all No Doubt fans as it appeals to both ends of the spectrum of their sound, making it a unique standout in the band’s catalog.
8. HELLA GOOD
from Rock Steady
I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t disappointed in No Doubt’s most recent studio album, 2001’s Rock Steady. I’m all about exploring new territory and being experimental, but I’m surprised this incorporation of reggae into the band’s signature sound lived past the first time Stefani and Co. heard the painfully awkward Start The Fire or horrendous chorus of Detective. Fusing that many flavors together is sort of like adding a third ingredient to peanut butter and jelly. It sounds like it could be interesting but that doesn’t mean you should keep trying to do it when what you have already works so well.
Released as the album’s second single, Hella Good was the only track from the record playing on the radio that seemed like it could be a No Doubt song instead of one by a band going through an identity crisis.
Part funk, part electronic and part rock, Hella Good was the result of a collaboration between the band and hip hop production duo The Neptunes. “A bumping contemporary beat pushes along 80′s style keyboards making it nearly impossible to keep from moving your body,” wrote About.com of the track. And while one would rarely classify No Doubt as club fodder, Hella Good is a deliciously irresistable song that’ll keep you sweating on the dancefloor until the sun comes up.
7. SIMPLE KIND OF LIFE
from Return of Saturn
Only the second song that Stefani wrote all by herself, Simple Kind of Life is a gorgeous and somber ballad that juxtaposes Stefani’s desire to settle down and have a family with her commitment to music.
“At once grand, fragile and very, very sad,” wrote Rolling Stone in their review of the song. “It’s clear this woman whom many desire but few regard as a serious artist has penned a song that can sit on the same shelf with the likes of Elliott Smith and Aimee Mann.”
Accompanied by a gorgeously shot Alice In Wonderland-esque music video, Simple Kind of Life was the most commercially successful track from Return of Saturn. A fascinating character study of one of rock’s most revered females, this autobiographical song is one whose absence would make any No Doubt collection incomplete.
from Tragic Kingdom
No Doubt’s distinguishing blend of ska and pop has always pushed the boundaries of mainstream music. And at the true forefront of this movement was Spiderwebs – the second single to be released off Tragic Kingdom.
Telling the story of a man who won’t stop calling Stefani, the song acts as somewhat of a rock prequel to Destiny’s Child’s Bug-A-Boo. An upbeat track with an orchestra of brass instruments, Spiderwebs is an impossibly fun kiss-off to people who just can’t seem to take a hint.
from Return of Saturn
Sometimes musicians use really creepy metaphors to evoke certain emotions. When Garbage, for instance, sang “I will twist the knife and bleed my aching heart and tear it apart” on their smash, #1 Crush, you can’t help but wonder if such drastic measures are really necessary.
In Bathwater, Stefani sings about literally washing in her lover’s “old bathwater.” She also outs the song’s muse as also being somewhat of a man whore – so I’d advise being a little skeptical about the secondhand filth coming off him, girl.
Literal interpretations of gross metaphors aside, Bathwater has a sweet message behind it. Infused with some borderline campy cabaret zest, the song is not only about accepting your lover’s faults, but immersing yourself in them as a symbol of loving every fiber of their character. It’s a song with real meaning and a strange format that only No Doubt could execute, proving their artistic versatility while simultaneously expanding on what’s expected from their music.
4. DON’T SPEAK
from Tragic Kingdom
Don’t Speak is to No Doubt what Catcher In The Rye is to J.D. Salinger. Sure, his other works are all literary classics within their own rights, but no outlet would identify him in a headline by saying, “Franny And Zooey Author Moves to Human-Free Location.” He’ll always be remembered first and foremost for being the guy who wrote Catcher In The Rye.
For No Doubt, that same title association and claim to fame lies in Don’t Speak. A soaring rock ballad, the track finds Stefani singing about coming to terms with the end of a relationship. Or rather, her unwillingness to accept the truth about the doomed fate of said relationship.
“Don’t tell me ‘cuz it hurts,” Stefani pleads in the song’s chorus, almost as though not uttering the words out loud will make them not true. She’d rather suffer silently than have her fears and insecurities vocalized. She knows she’s about to experience searing pain, so she begs that her lover at least the cushion the blow.
A sad and incredibly vulnerable track, Don’t Speak is a ‘90s pop culture staple. Not only was it the song that catapulted No Doubt to international fame, but it was also a raw glimpse into Stefani’s psyche that grounded her as a spokesperson for the brokenhearted – and inspiration to this day for drunk karaoke singers.
3. JUST A GIRL
from Tragic Kingdom
I’m usually the first person to get annoyed and disagree when someone makes an essentialist claim about being a homosexual man. Being gay myself, I usually find these generalizations to not only be inaccurate but also often times insulting (no bitch, I don’t want to go shopping with you).
That being said, I have yet to be introduced to a gay dude who has not at some point in his life cranked up his speakers and danced around in his bedroom to Just A Girl. Like, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to strip down to my underwear and emulate Cameron Diaz in the beginning of the first Charlie’s Angels movie and shake my booty all over my house whenever this song comes on. It’s just that feel-good of a track (and while we’re on the topic, let’s all just take a moment to be grateful that Instagram didn’t exist in 1995).
The lead single off Tragic Kingdom, Just A Girl was No Doubt’s first dip into the pool of mainstream. Although initially only peaking at #23, the song’s re-release following the massive success of Don’t Speak saw the song rise to #3, solidifying the band as more than just a one hit wonder. It also served as a middle finger from Stefani to the skeptics who doubted a female-fronted pop/punk band could achieve the same chart glory as one led by a male vocalist.
Between the biting irony of the song’s lyrics and a chorus that instantly imprinted onto your daily humming routine, Just A Girl was not only a confirmation of No Doubt’s staying power, but also of their impending status as contemporary rock legends.
2. TOTAL HATE ’95
From The Beacon Street Collection
It’s scary to think that there’s a whole generation of kids out there now who just know Justin Timberlake an actor. This same generation most likely identifies Gwen Stefani as that popstar who likes to sample showtunes and can’t accept the fact that she’s not Japanese.
But what this uneducated youth of America is missing out on is just how badass Gwen really is. She’s the type of chick who you can just tell would wipe you out with one hit but who also probably wears lipstick to bed. Come to think of it, I don’t really know why she’s not the star of her own comic book series. But I digress.
Total Hate ’95 is taken from No Doubt’s criminally underrated ska-fueled independent release, The Beacon Street Collection. Full of trumpets, driving percussion, punk flavor and a honey badger-esque attitude, the song features guest vocals by the late and great Bradley Nowell of Sublime (with whom Gwen also collaborated on the track Saw Red).
Listening to Nowell’s swagger mixed with Stefani’s fiery temperament is sort of like getting a blowjob while on E after winning the lottery and spitting in your former evil boss’ coffee. It’s a complete aural orgasm that pleasures all your stimuli and will leave your head spinning. And as you remind yourself to exhale, you’ll immediately wonder if it were too good to be true. Luckily for you, 99 cents and an iTunes account will let you have that experience over and over again.
1. TRAGIC KINGDOM
from Tragic Kingdom
By this point, you’ve probably realized that literally half of this list of ten essential tracks comes from the same album, Tragic Kingdom. And while some might argue that I’m not giving enough love to No Doubt’s other records, it’s important to note that it has actually been scientifically proven that Tragic Kingdom is one of the greatest albums of all time.
Aside from Tragic Kingdom being the album behind No Doubt’s most memorable hits, its title track is what really solidifies the record as the band’s Mona Lisa. Simply put, Tragic Kingdom is a showcase of everything great about the group. From Gwen Stefani’s sultry vocals punctuated by staccato outbursts of rocker-chick angst to the gritty Hotel California like electric guitar solo, the song also serves as a master class in ‘90s alternative rock.
Closing off the album, Tragic Kingdom is as unpredictable as it is catchy. And I’m not just talking about the multiple changes in key and tempo. I mean, if you can honestly tell me that you foresaw the song’s last few seconds to be a brass solo rendition of the Star Wars theme, then I’m going to your father’s house to ask for your hand in marriage because we are investing in some serious stocks, darling.
Nearly two decades after its release, Tragic Kingdom remains the crown jewel in No Doubt’s catalog. It’s an undeniably brilliant piece of music that shows off the individual skill sets of every member of the band. Thus, it’s no surprise that they named their strongest body of work after it.
So my dear reader, your homework assignment to complete before the next installment of this 10 Essential Tracks column is to pour yourself a glass of wine, roll a blunt, download some porn, let some aggression out at the gym or whatever it is that you do to unwind, and listen to Tragic Kingdom at full volume through your headphones. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Welcome to the tragic kingdom. Like The Wanted, you’ll be glad you came.