03 Oct My Top 10 Favorite Gwen Stefani Songs in Honor of Her 10/3 Birthday
Ska-punk-pop rock n’ roll mom Gwen Stefani is one of my favorite artists of all time. She’s a powerhouse vocalist with the energy of a boot camp instructor — and a go-getter attitude. Making a top-ten favorites list is close to impossible, since she has so many great tunes under her belt.
But in honor of her October 3rd birthday, I made one! Here are my favorite ten Gwen Stefani songs, including solo hits and No Doubt singles.
#10: “EX GIRLFRIEND” (RETURN TO SATURN)
A song that opens with a pretty, nylon-string melody turns lethal in the hook, “I kind of always knew I’d end up your ex girlfriend,” ultimately piquing our interest in the backstory. Also, the unexpected instrumental turns — from pop to surf-rock and back — make this one of the most fun No Doubt breakup songs ever recorded.
#9: “BATHWATER” (RETURN TO SATURN)
“Why do we choose the boys that are naughty?” I still don’t know the answer to that question, but I do love to metaphorically wash in old bathwater, as this No Doubt song, which mixes ska-punk riffs with a touch of brass and cabaret vibes, suggests.
#8: ‘UNDERNEATH IT ALL’ (ROCK STEADY)
This song is beachy, romantic, and brings the fire with a guest vocal appearance by Jamaican artist Lady Saw.
#7: “WHAT U WAITING FOR?” (LOVE ANGEL MUSIC BABY)
Tik tok, tik tok! Stefani’s first post-No Doubt solo single is all about busting writer’s block with a catchy electropop beat. I love it when she flat out tells me — and herself — “Take a chance, you stupid ho!” I can’t help but wonder what producer Linda Perry said to her when they wrote this.
#6: “SWEET ESCAPE” (THE SWEET ESCAPE)
This fun, flirty tune off Stefani’s second solo album is all about getting out of a rut — and it’s perfect for a road trip!
#5: “USED TO LOVE YOU” (THIS IS WHAT THE TRUTH FEELS LIKE)
Stefani’s first post-divorce single, off her 2016 record This is What The Truth Feels Like is raw and the video — which is just three and a half minutes of Stefani looking strained while the camera stays on her face — is one of my favorite all-time breakup songs. The simplicity of the imagery speaks volumes.
#4: “HELLA GOOD” (ROCK STEADY)
Fresh off No Doubt’s 2001 album, ‘Rock Steady,’ this dance-pop-punk-funk joyride feels fresh and fun even as it ages. I love the breakdowns and the “ooh yeah yeahs!” I also love the weirdly cool synth sounds.
#3: “DON’T SPEAK” (TRAGIC KINGDOM)
No Doubt’s stunning song about the breakdown of relationships, and the bittersweetness of moving on, gets me every time.
#2: “SAW RED” (SUBLIME FT. GWEN STEFANI, OFF ‘ROBIN THE HOOD’)
This two-minute ska-punk sugar rush pairs two of the greatest So-Cal vocalists of all time — the late Bradley Nowell of Sublime and Stefani. Though it’s technically not a Gwen Stefani song, her vocals make it sparkle. I sing along every time I hear it, and it’s one of my life goals to cover it!
#1: “JUST A GIRL’ (TRAGIC KINGDOM)
No Doubt’s big, bouncy breakout hit is still my favorite, and it’s eternally relatable! Stefani told American Songwriter she wrote the song to vent after her father lectured her for driving home late one night from her bandmate (and ex-boyfriend) Tony Kanal’s place. “The guys don’t understand what a burden it can be,” she said. Girl, we hear you!
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.