One of my theories has always been that to make great pop music you have to give yourself over to the bottle.
The peroxide bottle.
Because in my opinion, you could run a scientific analysis on great pop from the late 1970s onward, and find that when it comes to the ladies (and even some of the boys), a lot of the best Western pop seemed to come out of a bottle. Or at least the momentary high created by smelling those fumes.
Peroxide is like peyote for pop stars.
I have always loved Ms. Gwen Stefani. ALWAYS.
There is something about Gwen's gig that manages to bring all of the decades together, regardless of what it is that she's working on. Okay, okay, she's responsible for some clangers - Harajuku Girls was a shocker, and some of The Sweet Escape made me want to run, as have a few of her recent solo songs, but by and large her solo work and her work with No Doubt has been stellar.
Recent news that she's been, well, fired from No Doubt seems like the first step in putting the boys out of their misery. Maybe it's a good thing even if it makes me a bit sad face emoji. (I think she had a recent video about that).
Perhaps No Doubt needs a new front person and a new take on things to move forward. And perhaps Gwen's undying romantic meets ex SKA girl thing will just keep working on a solo level. Because that is a wide berth she's given herself. As a creative area to prowl, her sounds and tastes give her a lot of room as an artist to pursue different themes and styles in a way that not many other solo acts can.
There was a time when Gwen just broke through the barriers and was the one peroxide blonde you had to pay attention to in pop. Do you remember when she just bolted out with her debut solo album and all the L*A*M*B stuff? Too fricking cool. LoveAngelMusicBaby was amazing, like one of those brilliant pop albums that just had hit after hit and enough depth to make you want to listen to it repeatedly.
Much has been said of Gwen's recent renewed profile - thanks to the Voice - and all that high profile country star boyfriend pap, but whatever. Not of interest to me. What is, is the new single, Make Me Like You. The song hit the web earlier this week and it's great: a real return to form. There's a crispness to the song. For me it's a little reminiscent of sixties pop with a bit of a harder edge and some surfy, California elements thrown in.
What I'm not digging though, is the music video that's just been unleashed. Okay, new frontiers being created with a "live action" music video. But we're not talking G.I Joe here. There's a couple of nods to Gwen's aesthetic through it, but for the most part it's just distracting and detracting from the song itself which is on a class level that is far superior to the video.
Listen to the song and if you dig it, then watch the video below and tell me if you agree. Or just watch the video directly. Do what you want!
In the meantime. Yay, welcome back Ms Stefani.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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