Cool (Gwen Stefani song)
|Single by Gwen Stefani|
|from the album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.|
|Released||August 29, 2005|
|Format||CD single, digital download|
O'Henry Sound Studios
|Genre||New Wave, synthpop|
|Writer(s)||Gwen Stefani, Dallas Austin|
|Gwen Stefani singles chronology|
"Cool" is a song by American recording artist Gwen Stefani, from her debut solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004). Written by Dallas Austin and Stefani, the song was released to mainstream radio in the United States in July 2005 as the album's fourth single. It was written by Austin basing the song on No Doubt's "Simple Kind of Life", but he did not finish it. He then asked for help from Stefani, and they finished the song in fifteen minutes. The single's musical style and production were inspired by pop and New Wave arrangements from the 1980s, and its lyrics chronicle a relationship in which two lovers have separated, but remain "cool" with each other as good friends.
The single received generally positive reviews from music critics, being compared to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna from the 1980s. The media have drawn parallels between the song's lyrical content and the romantic relationship that Stefani had with Tony Kanal, a fellow group member of No Doubt. The song was moderately well-received on world charts, reaching the top ten in Australia, the Czech Republic, and New Zealand, as well as the top twenty in Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The accompanying music video was filmed by British director Sophie Muller in Lake Como, Italy. It features many flashbacks to when Stefani and her former boyfriend were dating, and currently, both are fine with their friendship. The song was included on the setlist for Stefani's debut tour Harajuku Lovers Tour 2005, the tour's video album and the New Zealand compilation album Now That's What I Call Music 20, as well as in the 2006 comedy Click and the 2010 drama Somewhere.
Writing and composition
"Cool" was originally written by Dallas Austin after listening to Gwen Stefani's group No Doubt's song "Underneath It All" (2002). Austin commented that he was trying to write his version of No Doubt's "Simple Kind of Life", but he was unable to finish the song. He later asked Stefani if she wanted to co-write lyrics. During a studio session together, they finished "Cool" in fifteen minutes. Stefani commented, "When he told me about the track and where it came from for him, it just triggered something in me". The lyrics of "Cool" reflect Stefani's former relationship with No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal. Although their romantic relationship ended, the lyrics portray Stefani's attitude that it is "cool" that they still remain very good friends. Stefani and Kanal's relationship had provided the inspiration for No Doubt's "Don't Speak" (1996), and while "Cool" presents an amicable friendship between former lovers, "Don't Speak" is about a failing relationship and never arrives at a solution for the couple. Stefani said that she had never intended to include "personal" material on Love. Angel. Music. Baby., and commented, "but no matter what you do, things just come out. It just ended this whole thing for me in my head, and it puts an end to a chapter in a really nice way". The lyrics of "Cool" sum up the evolution of their relationship with the line "After all that we've been through, I know we're cool".
A 19 seconds sample from "Cool" which plays the bridge, where Stefani sings about how her relationship with her ex-boyfriend finished well.
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"Cool" is a mid-tempo love song featuring a New Wave production. The single is composed in D major. It is written in common time, it moves at a moderate tempo of 112 beats per minute, and it has a vocal range from the tone of F♯3 to the note of C♯5. The song is written in the common verse-chorus form, featuring five instruments: bass guitar, drums, guitar, keyboards, and synthesizer. "Cool" opens with all five instruments, and as Stefani begins singing, the synthesizer is lowered, and the hard-hitting drum beat steadily increases in volume. She performs her highest pitch (C♯5) during the chorus, after which she sings in a softer, almost sotto voce, and her lowest pitch (E3) at the beginning of the verses. The synthesizer emulates brass and woodwind instruments, while the bass and guitar retain a prominent and regular eighth note pulse, using a I–IV–V chord progression for the verses. In the percussion section a drum kit is used, and the snare is introduced at the beginning of the first chorus, which maintains its beat. During the song's fade-out, Stefani repeats "I know we're cool" and "yeah", and she occasionally emphasizes "cool". Her vocal range covers close to two octaves.
"Cool" received generally positive reviews by music critics. Yahoo! Music's Jennifer Nine referred to the song as "a liltingly sweet paean to post-break-up friendships", while Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic called it a "high school anthem-in-waiting" theme; it also was selected as one of the album's highlights. Richard Smirke of Playlouder commented that the song successfully used the same production formula as fellow album tracks "Serious" and "What You Waiting For?", and described it as a "crisp blend of edgy 21C production and early 80s Madonna-esque pop". Jason Damas, in a review for PopMatters, characterized it as "a slippery slice of keyboard" New Wave song referring to it as a "pitched halfway between The Go-Go's and Cyndi Lauper". Bill Lamb of About.com gave the song four out of five stars, stating that it "sounds like the lost Cyndi Lauper tune. That's a good thing, reminding listeners of the mid-tempo reflective classics 'Time After Time' and 'All Through the Night'", but he added that the song does not draw attention like her previous singles.
Eric Greenwood for Drawer B wrote it is "a retrofitted [song] with stale synths and chugging guitars" with "dorkier lyrics than even Cyndi Lauper would dare", Sandy Cohen from Toronto Star called it "the year's love anthem". Entertainment Weekly reviewer David Browne described Stefani, in "Cool" and in another song ("The Real Thing"), as "a glacial '80s synthpop zombie". Krissi Murison from the NME viewed the track as a "Madonna's breathless purr". John Murphy wrote for musicOMH that "Cool" would remind No Doubt fans of "Don't Speak". Blender magazine editors ranked "Cool" at number forty-five on its list of "The 100 Greatest Songs of 2005".
In the United States, the song debuted at number eighty-six on the Billboard Hot 100 on the issue dated July 16, 2005. Next week it rose to number sixty-four, and it reached its peak position of number thirteen on September 3, 2005. It stayed on the chart for eighteen weeks. On other Billboard charts, the single topped the Hot Dance Club Play, reached number four on the Adult Top 40 and number nine on the Pop 100. In Australia it debuted and peaked at number ten on September 11, 2005, dropping off the chart on November 13, 2005 at number forty-nine. In New Zealand "Cool" became the second highest debut of the week ending September 5, 2005, at number eleven. It rose to its peak position of number nine the following week, becoming her fifth consecutive top ten in the country.
In European countries the song performed moderately, reaching the top forty in most of them. It debuted at number twenty-six on the European Hot 100 Singles on October 8, 2005, staying there for one week. On the Czech Airplay Chart, "Cool" inaugurated the chart entering it at number twelve, achieving its peak position of number ten in its tenth week. In Italy, it debuted at number sixteen on September 22, 2005, peaking at number fifteen the week after. On the Norwegian chart, the single debuted at number eighteen, climbing to number sixteen the following week. "Cool" debuted and peaked at number twelve on the Irish Singles Chart during the week ending September 1, 2005. In the United Kingdom the single debuted and peaked at number eleven on the UK Singles Chart for the week of September 4, 2005, spending ten weeks on the chart. In Austria "Cool" debuted at number thirty-one on September 11, 2005. Four weeks later, the song reached its peak position of number fifteen, and was last seen on December 16, 2005, after fifteen weeks.
Music video and promotion
The song's music video was directed by Sophie Muller and filmed in Lake Como, Italy. "It was obvious I was gonna ask her to do it", Stefani stated in an interview with VH1's Box Set. The video follows the song's theme and depicts the relationship that Stefani has with a former boyfriend, who is played by Spanish actor Daniel González. González and his new girlfriend—played by Tony Kanal's girlfriend, Erin Lokitz—are shown walking up to a villa where Stefani answers the door. The villa featured in the video is the Villa Erba, in the town of Cernobbio, which Stefani said was "so beautiful". The three of them are seen in each other's company, with intercut scenes of Stefani singing on a bed. There are flashbacks to the time when Stefani and her former boyfriend were dating, where she has brunette hair. Flashbacks and present day images are linked with match cut cinematography. The lyrical theme of "Cool" is maintained in the video, frames are incorporated to portray Stefani feeling "cool". She is depicted as cool with her former boyfriend and his girlfriend throughout most of the video, although there are certain times that, when looking at her eyes during the video, one can see that she still has feelings for her ex.
The music video for "Cool" premiered on MTV's top ten chart program Total Request Live on June 30, 2005, where it reached number three. After its July 8, 2005 debut on MuchMusic's Countdown, it reached number one for the week of October 7, 2005. In mid-October 2005, the single was included in the setlist for Stefani's first concert tour, Harajuku Lovers Tour 2005, performed as the eleventh song of the show. The song was added to the tour's video album Harajuku Lovers Live, released on December 5, 2005, and was featured on the 2006 New Zealand compilation album Now That's What I Call Music 20. It was also used in the trailer to Click and in the Sofia Coppola's 2010 film Somewhere where Elle Fanning's character Cleo is ice-skating.
|United States||July 5, 2005||Interscope Records||Airplay|
|United Kingdom||August 29, 2005||Polydor Records||CD single, CD maxi single|
|United States||September 5, 2005||Interscope Records||CD maxi single, 12" single|
|Germany||September 19, 2005||Universal Music||CD single, CD maxi single|
|France||February 13, 2006||CD single|
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