Love. Angel. Music. Baby.

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This article is about the Gwen Stefani album. For her backup dancers who use the same names, see Harajuku Girls.
Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Studio album by Gwen Stefani
Released November 12, 2004 (2004-11-12)
Recorded 2003–04
Genre
Length 48:27
Label Interscope
Producer
Gwen Stefani chronology
Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
(2004)
The Sweet Escape
(2006)
Deluxe edition
Singles from Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
  1. "What You Waiting For?"
    Released: September 28, 2004 (2004-09-28)
  2. "Rich Girl"
    Released: December 14, 2004 (2004-12-14)
  3. "Hollaback Girl"
    Released: March 15, 2005 (2005-03-15)
  4. "Cool"
    Released: August 29, 2005 (2005-08-29)
  5. "Luxurious"
    Released: October 1, 2005 (2005-10-01)
  6. "Crash"
    Released: January 6, 2006 (2006-01-06)

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. is the debut studio album by American recording artist Gwen Stefani, released on November 12, 2004 by Interscope Records. During Stefani's time with band No Doubt, she began making solo appearances on other artists' albums. The album's recording began in early 2003. Originally planned as a small side project for Stefani, eventually growing into her first solo album following her break from the band No Doubt, as well as a large production with numerous musical collaborations and producers. Stefani worked with Linda Perry, Dallas Austin, and many other artists, including André 3000, The Neptunes, and Dr. Dre.

While primarily a pop album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. has a diverse musical style that incorporates contemporary genres such as dance-rock, new wave, and soul, as well as Electropop, R&B, and New jack swing elements. Its production is characterized by synthesizer melodies and characteristics of Synthpop. Love. Angel. Music. Baby. was designed as an updated version of a 1980s music record, and was influenced by artists such as early Madonna, New Order, Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Debbie Deb, and Club Nouveau. Most of the songs on the album are thematically focused on fashion and wealth. The album introduced the Harajuku Girls, four backup dancers who dress in Stefani's interpretation of the youth fashion trends of Harajuku, a district in Tokyo, Japan.

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. debuted to generally favorable reviews from contemporary music critics. The album yielded six singles and had high sales, going multi-platinum in several countries, and selling seven million copies worldwide. It earned Stefani six Grammy Award nominations in 2005 and 2006, including Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Background[edit]

During Stefani's time with No Doubt, she began making solo appearances on albums by artists including Eve and Moby. In the production of its 2001 album Rock Steady, No Doubt collaborated with Prince, The Neptunes, and David A. Stewart on different songs and had Mark "Spike" Stent mix the album. While the band was on tour to promote the album, Stefani listened to Club Nouveau's 1987 single "Why You Treat Me So Bad" and considered recording material that modernized 1980s music.[5] She approached No Doubt bassist and former boyfriend Tony Kanal, who had introduced her to music by Prince, Lisa and Cult Jam, and Debbie Deb, and they talked about producing songs from Kanal's bedroom.[6]

Development[edit]

In early 2003, Stefani began recording solo material.[7] She stated that she was considering recording singles to be used on soundtracks, later playing Jean Harlow in The Aviator; continuing her series of collaborations; or releasing an album under the pseudonym GS.[7][8] Jimmy Iovine, chairman and co-founder of Interscope, convinced Stefani to produce a complete studio album.[8] During her first sessions with Linda Perry, Stefani's combination of self-consciousness and writer's block resulted in an unfruitful attempt. On the second day, the two wrote a song about Stefani's writer's block and fear to make her solo album, which became "What You Waiting For?", the lead single.[5]

When the two began working on a song that Stefani stated was too personal, she left to visit Kanal. He played her a track on which he had been working and which became "Crash", another single from the album. The two tried to write new material, but gave up after two weeks. They did not return to work until six months later, when Stefani began collaborating with other artists, commenting, "If I were to write the chorus of 'Yesterday' by the Beatles, and that's all I wrote, that would be good enough to be part of that history." Stefani resumed work with Linda Perry, who invited Dallas Austin, and many other artists, including Outkast's André 3000, The Neptunes, and Dr. Dre.[5] Stefani announced the album's release in early 2004,[9] marketing it as a "dance record" and a "guilty pleasure".[5]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Many of the songs are about fashion and wealth

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. takes influence from a variety of 1980s genres to the extent that one reviewer commented, "The only significant '80s radio style skipped is the ska punk revival that No Doubt rode to success".[10] The album is primarily pop, with the synthesizers characteristic of synthpop, most popular from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s.[11]

New wave, present in some of No Doubt's later work, continues to be an influence on Love. Angel. Music. Baby., drawing comparisons to The Go-Go's and Cyndi Lauper.[12] Stefani cited Club Nouveau, Depeche Mode, Lisa Lisa, Prince, New Order, The Cure, and early Madonna as major influences for the album.[3] To a lesser degree, the album draws from genres such as bubblegum pop, electropop, and dance-punk.[11][12][13]

Like pop albums of the 1980s, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. focuses primarily on money, with songs such as "Rich Girl" and "Luxurious" that feature descriptions of riches and wealth.[14] The album contains several references to Stefani's clothing line, L.A.M.B.,[14] and alludes to contemporary fashion designers such as John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo, and Vivienne Westwood.[15] Stefani also released a series of dolls named the "Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Fashion Dolls", designed after the costumes from her tour.[16] Although Stefani intended for the album to be a light dance record, she stated that "no matter what you do, things just come out."[17] The album's opening track "What You Waiting For?" discusses her desire to be a mother and in 2006, she and her husband, Bush singer Gavin Rossdale, had a son named Kingston Rossdale.[18] The fourth track "Cool" discusses Stefani's friendship with Kanal after he ended a romantic relationship with her in 1995.[19]

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. introduced the Harajuku Girls, an entourage of four Japanese women whom Stefani referred to as a figment of her imagination.[8] The Harajuku Girls are discussed in several of the songs, including one named after and entirely dedicated to them. They appear in most of the music videos produced for the album and those for Stefani's second album The Sweet Escape (2006). Love. Angel. Music. Baby. includes various styles of music. Songs are influenced by electro beats designed for club play.[20] Producers Dallas Austin and Tony Kanal incorporated R&B into the song "Luxurious" which contains a sample of The Isley Brothers' 1983 slow jam single "Between the Sheets". Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis incorporate new jack swing, a fusion genre of R&B that the pair had developed and popularized during the mid-1980s.[21]

Songs[edit]

"What You Waiting For?", one of the first songs written for Love. Angel. Music. Baby., was chosen as the lead single as an "explanation for doing the record". The song discusses Stefani's fears of beginning a solo career, and an accompanying music video was made, in which Stefani regains her confidence after an experience inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.[22] The song received positive reviews, noted as "one of the album's undeniable highs".[14] Its single was successful, reaching the top ten in most countries.[23] The second single, "Rich Girl" charted equally well.[24] The song, a ragga nod to the English duo Louchie Lou & Michie One's dancehall hit "If I Was a Rich Girl", which was an adaptation of the Fiddler on the Roof song "If I Were a Rich Man", features rapper Eve, with whom Stefani had worked when featured on Eve's 2001 single "Let Me Blow Ya Mind".

The album's lead single is an electropop and rock song about Stefani's fears on a solo career.[22]

The album's best-selling single,[25] a pop song with a cheerleading motif.

The fourth single is a New Wave-produced song chronicling Stefani's previous relationship with Tony Kanal.[17]

Problems playing these files? See media help.

"Hollaback Girl", the third track, became the album's best-selling and most popular single.[25] It was written as a response to a derogatory comment that grunge musician Courtney Love made, referring to Stefani as a cheerleader,[26] and its lyrics and music video feature a cheerleading theme. It received mixed reviews from music critics, several of whom criticized its repetitive use of the word "shit",[12] but it became the first digital download to sell one million copies in the US.[27] The fourth track "Cool" was well received by critics,[20][28] but its single charted moderately compared to its predecessors. The song chronicles Stefani's previous relationship with Tony Kanal, and in its music video, the relationship between Stefani and Kanal, played by Daniel González, is illustrated through a series of flashbacks.[17] "Bubble Pop Electric", the fifth track, is an electro song featuring André 3000's alias Johnny Vulture. It tells of the two having sex at a drive-in movie, and it was generally well received by critics, who drew comparisons to Grease and Grease 2.[29][30]

Stefani performing "The Real Thing"

"Luxurious", whose single features rapper Slim Thug, compares riches to love.[31] The song received mixed reviews from critics and was less successful than the other singles. The seventh track, "Harajuku Girls", is a synthpop tribute to Tokyo's street culture,[32] produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.[12] The song was panned by critics who found the track "bizarrely" and "weirdly homoerotic"[12][20] and "teeth-gnashingly cutesy".[14] The sixth single "Crash" was not originally planned as a single since Stefani was preparing to release The Sweet Escape.[31] While on tour, Stefani discovered that she was pregnant, so a live video accompanied the single,[33] which sold poorly and was unable to reach the top forty in any country.[25] "The Real Thing", the ninth track, is a synthpop collaboration between Stefani, Perry, Wendy and Lisa, and members of New Order. It received mixed reviews: Pitchfork disapproved of it, commenting, "anyone remotely involved [...] should find a stray dog and let it bite him",[34] while About.com called it "the album's finest moment".[35]

"Serious", the tenth track, is another synthpop song, similar to Madonna's work during the early 1980s.[36] A music video was produced for the song,[37] although no single or video were officially released. "Danger Zone", an electro-rock song, was well-received as one of the more well-crafted tracks similar to her work with No Doubt.[12] In 2004, Stefani found out that her husband Gavin Rossdale had an illegitimate daughter, and the song was widely interpreted to be about the incident;[14] however, it had been written before the discovery.[38] The closing track, "Long Way to Go", is an outtake from André 3000's The Love Below (2003).[39] The song discusses interracial dating and was criticized for its use of a sample of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.[34]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 71/100[40]
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 5/5 stars[35]
AllMusic 4/5 stars[20]
Entertainment Weekly C+[14]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[41]
NME 8/10[42]
Pitchfork Media 5.1/10[34]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[13]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[11]
Stylus Magazine C[21]
USA Today 3/4 stars[43]

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. received generally positive reviews from contemporary pop music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 71, based on 22 reviews.[40] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called the album "intermittently exciting and embarrassing",[20] and Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times described it as "clever and sometimes enticing" but stated that it "doesn't quite add up".[44] Jennifer Nine of Yahoo! Music praised the album as "the hottest, coolest, best-dressed pop album of the year" and found it to be "sleek, shimmery, and dripping with all-killer-no-filler musical bling".[45] In a review for About.com, Jason Shawhan noted that the album "manages a near-impossible feat—it spans almost every genre of fun party and dance music you can name, yet remains a cohesive whole."[35] Stylus Magazine's Charles Merwin opined that Stefani was a contender to fill Madonna's role, "[b]ut not enough to get seriously excited about her as the next great solo female careerist."[21] Lisa Haines of BBC Music was more emphatic, stating that Stefani rivaled Madonna and Kelis.[36] NME critic Krissi Murison stated that Stefani "shamelessly plunders" 1980s music but that the album was "one of the most frivolously brilliant slabs of shiny retro-pop anyone's had the chuzpah to release all year."[42] John Murphy of musicOMH found the album "enjoyable, if patchy", but commented that it was too long.[46] Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield viewed it as "an irresistible party: trashy, hedonistic and deeply weird."[13] The magazine later placed the album at number thirty-nine on its list of the top fifty albums of 2004.[47] Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention ((3-star Honorable Mention)) and wrote, "Turns out the problem wasn't ska per se—it was No Doubt."[48] At USA Today, Edna Gunderson stated that the album was "Fun, fizzy, frivolous" because "caffeinated electro-pop amounts to little more than sly channeling of Lisa Lisa at a disco revival."[43]

The album was generally criticized for its large number of collaborations and producers. The Guardian's Caroline Sullivan argued that although "others lend a hand [...] it's very much Stefani's show"; however, most others disagreed.[41] Jason Damas of PopMatters compared the album to a second No Doubt greatest hits album,[12] and Pitchfork Media's Nick Sylvester felt that the large number of collaborators result in sacrificing Stefani's identity on the album.[34] Anthony Carew of Neumu expressed that the album's fragmentation kept it from being "a bright-and-shiny pop-music tour-de-force".[49] Most reviewers held that the collaborations prevented the album from having a solidified sound. Eric Greenwood wrote for Drawer B that "Stefani tries to be all things to all people here", but that the result "comes off as manipulative and contrived."[50] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne shared this opinion, stating that the album "is like one of those au courant retail magazines that resembles a catalog more than an old-fashioned collection of, say, articles."[14]

Many reviewers focused on the album's light lyrical themes. Entertainment Weekly called the references to Stefani's clothing line "shameless" and stated that "each song becomes akin to a pricey retro fashion blurb",[14] and Pitchfork Media quipped that "the Joker's free-money parade through Gotham City was a much more entertaining display of wealth, and he had Prince, not just Wendy & Lisa."[34] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine commented that the album's "fashion fetish [...] gives the album a sense of thematic cohesiveness" but that the "obsession with Harajuku girls borders on maniacal".[11] The Guardian disagreed with this perspective, arguing that "her affinity with Japanese pop culture [...] yields a synthetic sheen [...] that works well with the other point of reference, hip-hop."[41]

Chart performance[edit]

Stefani on the Harajuku Lovers Tour to promote the album

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. debuted on the Billboard 200 at number seven, selling 309,000 copies in its first week.[51] On the issue dated June 18, 2005, the album climbed to a new peak position of number five with 83,000 copies sold.[52] The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album triple platinum that December,[53] and had sold four million copies by May 2009.[54] At the Billboard Music Awards, Stefani won the Digital Song of the Year award for "Hollaback Girl" and the New Artist of the Year Award, and she performed "Luxurious" with Slim Thug at the event.[55] At the 2005 Grammy Awards, Stefani received a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "What You Waiting For?"[56] and performed "Rich Girl" with Eve.[57] At the next year's awards, Stefani received five nominations for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.[58]

The album had similar success in Europe. After entering the UK Albums Chart at number fourteen with sales of 45,484 copies,[59] Love. Angel. Music. Baby. peaked at number four in its twenty-fifth on the chart, on May 15, 2005, selling 21,271 copies.[60] The album was certified triple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on September 16, 2005,[61] and had sold 1,013,000 copies in the United Kingdom as of February 2007.[62] In late 2005, the album was listed as the twentieth-second best-selling album of the year in the UK.[63] It also reached the top ten in Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden, and the top twenty in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland.[64][65] The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) certified the album platinum in May 2005, denoting sales in excess of one million copies across Europe.[66]

In Australia, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. topped the ARIA Albums Chart for two consecutive weeks in February 2005 and spent fifty-six weeks on the chart.[67] It ended 2005 as the fourth best-selling album,[68] and was certified quadruple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 280,000 copies.[69] The album peaked at number three for two non-consecutive weeks on the Canadian Albums Chart,[70] and was certified five-times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) in April 2006 for sales of over half a million copies.[71] Love. Angel. Music. Baby. had sold seven million copies worldwide as of August 2009,[72] and became the twelfth best-selling album globally for 2005.[73]

Impact[edit]

The success of the album's urban contemporary-oriented songs in the adult contemporary market allowed for the success of other artists while Stefani was pregnant and later recording The Sweet Escape. Nelly Furtado's third album Loose was released in June 2006 and was primarily produced by and written with hip hop producers Timbaland and Danja. Furtado's reinvention from a worldbeat singer-songwriter was to Stefani's previous forays into urban contemporary music.[74] In his review of Loose, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone stated that Timbaland aimed to "produce an omnipop multiformat blockbuster in the style of [Love. Angel. Music. Baby.]—but without Gwen."[75] The Black Eyed Peas member Fergie released her solo debut album The Dutchess in September 2006. The cholas that accompanied Fergie in some of her music videos were viewed as derivatives of the Harajuku Girls and Stefani's "Luxurious" music video.[76] The album's lead single "London Bridge" was paralleled to "Hollaback Girl" and the third single "Glamorous" to "Luxurious".[77] Fergie refuted accusations of piggybacking on Stefani's music, stating that "this is all so ridiculous [...] The Peas and I make music we love, and for others to speculate is their problem."[76]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "What You Waiting For?"   Nellee Hooper 3:41
2. "Rich Girl" (featuring Eve) Dr. Dre 3:56
3. "Hollaback Girl"   The Neptunes 3:19
4. "Cool"  
  • Austin
  • Hooper[a]
3:09
5. "Bubble Pop Electric" (featuring Johnny Vulture)
Vulture 3:42
6. "Luxurious"  
  • Hooper
  • Kanal
4:24
7. "Harajuku Girls"   4:51
8. "Crash"  
  • Stefani
  • Kanal
Kanal 4:06
9. "The Real Thing"  
  • Stefani
  • Perry
  • GMR
  • Hooper
  • Stent[a]
4:12
10. "Serious"  
  • Stefani
  • Kanal
  • Kanal
  • Stent[a]
4:48
11. "Danger Zone"  
  • Stefani
  • Austin
  • Perry
  • Hooper
  • Austin
3:37
12. "Long Way to Go" (performed by Gwen Stefani and André 3000)
  • Benjamin
  • Stefani
André 3000 4:34
International bonus tracks[78][79][80]
No. Title Length
13. "The Real Thing" (Wendy and Lisa Slow Jam Mix) 3:35
14. "What You Waiting For?" (Elevator Mix) (UK and Japan only) 4:06
15. "What You Waiting For?" (Video – Director's Cut) (Japan only)  
Deluxe edition bonus disc[81]
No. Title Length
1. "What You Waiting For?" (Jacques Lu Cont's TWD Mix) 8:04
2. "What You Waiting For?" (Jacques Lu Cont's TWD Dub) 8:21
3. "What You Waiting For?" (Live) 3:43
4. "Harajuku Girls" (Live) 4:37
5. "Hollaback Girl" (Hollatronix Remix by Diplo) 2:45
6. "Cool" (Photek Remix) 5:49
7. "Hollaback Girl" (Dance Hollaback Remix by Tony Kanal) 6:52
Notes

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Love. Angel. Music. Baby.[82]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[121] Gold 20,000x
Australia (ARIA)[69] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[122] Gold 15,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[71] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[123] Gold 20,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[124] Gold 21,944[124]
France (SNEP)[125] Gold 179,200[126]
Germany (BVMI)[127] Gold 100,000^
Hungary (Mahasz)[128] Gold 10,000x
Ireland (IRMA)[129] 3× Platinum 45,000x
Italy (FIMI)[130] Platinum 100,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[131] Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[96] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[132] 2× Platinum 30,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[133] Platinum 40,000*
Russia (NFPF)[134] Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[135] Gold 30,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[136] Gold 20,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[61] 3× Platinum 1,013,000[62]
United States (RIAA)[53] 3× Platinum 4,000,000[54]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[66] 3× Platinum 3,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Edition Label
Italy[137] November 12, 2004 Standard Universal Music
Netherlands[138] November 19, 2004
Japan[80] November 21, 2004
Australia[139] November 22, 2004
France[140]
Germany[78]
United Kingdom[79] Polydor Records
Canada[141] November 23, 2004 Universal Music
United States[142] Interscope Records
Sweden[143] November 24, 2004 Universal Music
Germany[81] October 14, 2005 Deluxe
Netherlands[144] October 21, 2005
France[145] December 12, 2005
Japan[146] January 18, 2006

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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