Underneath It All

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"Underneath It All"
Single by No Doubt featuring Lady Saw
from the album Rock Steady
Released August 15, 2002
Format CD
Recorded 2001
Genre Reggae fusion
Length 5:02
Label Interscope
Writer(s) Gwen Stefani, Dave Stewart
Producer(s) No Doubt, Sly & Robbie
No Doubt singles chronology
"Hella Good"
(2002)
"Underneath It All"
(2002)
"Running"
(2003)

"Underneath It All" is a song written by Gwen Stefani and Dave Stewart for No Doubt's fourth album Rock Steady (2001). The song features reggae production and guest vocals from deejay Lady Saw. It received mixed reviews from pop music critics.

"Underneath It All" was released as the album's third single in mid-2002. It became No Doubt's highest-charting American single but was less successful elsewhere. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 46th Grammy Awards. The song was featured in the film 50 First Dates (2004).

Background and writing[edit]

The song was originally written by Stefani and Stewart during Stefani's visit to boyfriend Gavin Rossdale in London. The two used backward string samples to write the song in only ten minutes.[1] The song describes Stefani's relationship with Rossdale, and the line "You're really lovely underneath it all" comes from a journal entry that Stefani made after spending a day in the park with Rossdale.[2] Guitarist Tom Dumont commented that Stewart's experience helped them keep the song simple because he "would have way overthought those chord changes."[3] When the band was working on the album in Jamaica, producers Sly & Robbie called dancehall artist Lady Saw to have her contribute a guest toast.[4] After listening to the track, Lady Saw wrote and recorded her part on the spot.[5]

Music and structure[edit]

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"Underneath It All" features a section from dancehall artist Lady Saw that is stylistically separated from the rest of the song.

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The song is a love song composed in the key of E major. It is written in common time and moves slowly at 69 beats per minute. Stefani avoids the heavy vocal vibrato that she often uses.[6] Her vocal range spans under an octave and a half during the song, from F#3 to B4.[7]

The song opens with a line spoken by Bob Clarke as if it were heard on a radio.[8] The verses use a simple I-vi chord progression, alternating between a first inversion E major chord and a second inversion C# minor chord, played on the off-beats and switch to a IV-iii progression. Each verse is followed by the chorus, which uses a I-IV-V-IV progression. After the bridge, Lady Saw performs her toast.[7] Stefani then sings the chorus twice, and Clarke closes the song after Stefani repeats the line "Mm mm mm underneath it all" four times.[7][8]

Critical reception[edit]

"Underneath It All" received mixed reviews from music critics. Rolling Stone found its ska sound and Stefani's questioning whether or not Rossdale is her soulmate tired.[9] LAUNCHcast agreed the beat was one "that Sly & Robbie can do in their sleep" but added that the song "keeps its modern edge thanks to Lady Saw's cooling rap."[10] Kitty Empire writing in NME also gave Lady Saw's toast a positive review, stating that it "does an excellent job of sexing up all the sugar."[11] Stylus Magazine was pleased with Stefani's performance on the song, stating that "she lets her voice ride gently on top of the melody, pushed along by the gentle steel drums in the background."[12] PopMatters commented that "No Doubt isn't afraid of working with new ideas" but that the dancehall of "Underneath It All" was unsuccessful and sloppy.[13] In its review of The Singles 1992-2003, OMH Media described the song as "an embarrassingly self-conscious reggae pastiche, unimproved by a guest rap from Jamaican dancehall queen Lady Saw."[14]

Chart performance[edit]

"Underneath It All" peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks,[15] becoming No Doubt's highest charting American single, since "Don't Speak" was not allowed onto the Hot 100 because of a technicality.[16] It was successful in mainstream music, topping the Top 40 Mainstream and reaching number two on the Top 40 Tracks. The song was also successful in the adult contemporary market, reaching number two on the Adult Top 40 chart with a 2004 re-appearance atop the Top 40 Adult Recurrents and peaking at number twenty-seven on the Adult Contemporary chart. It had some crossover success on urban contemporary and Hispanic rhythmic stations, reaching the top forty on the Latin Pop Airplay and Rhythmic Top 40 charts and number twenty-three on the Latin Tropical/Salsa Airplay.[17] At the 2004 Grammy Awards, "Underneath It All" won for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.[18] The song fared poorer on the Canadian Singles Chart, where it peaked at number thirty-five.[15]

"Underneath It All" debuted at number eighteen on the UK Singles Chart but was unable to reach a higher position. It was unsuccessful across Europe, only reaching the top forty in Austria and Sweden.[15] On the ARIA Singles Chart, the song peaked at number twenty-eight and remained on the chart for seven weeks.[19] In New Zealand it peaked at number eight for two consecutive weeks and stayed on the chart for over four months.[20]

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Sophie Muller and directing collaborative Logan.[21] It opens with a sequence of Stefani, as shown on the cover of the CD single, removing several pieces of clothing and later lying on a bed. After a scene with her in front of a white heart with roses, bassist Tony Kanal and drummer Adrian Young play basketball while Stefani stands against the wall. Stefani is then shown against a sparkling sky, followed by a scene of the whole band bicycling during Lady Saw's toast. The video closes with a scene of Stefani jumping on a bed in white undergarments and without makeup.

Muller wanted to add more sexual themes to the look of the video to contrast with the innocence of the song's lyrics. The original idea for the video was to show Stefani with heavy makeup "really over done like a stripper" and have her remove her clothing throughout the video. Muller found that this complicated the video too much, so each sequence shows Stefani with progressively less makeup instead. Muller decided to use a color scheme with bright colors such as orange, lime green, and pink, and the contrast was increased using Symphony in post-production. The bicycling scene was to originally show footage that the band shot while recording in Jamaica since Stefani wanted to include a Jamaican theme. Instead, the scene was created by filming the individual band members on a twelve-foot turntable in front of a bluescreen. Tracks were used to shoot two members riding next to each other, and Logan used computer-generated imagery to show the entire band bicycling in Jamaica.[21]

The music video was successful on video channels. It debuted on MTV's Total Request Live 7 October 2002 at number seven.[22] It reached number five on the countdown[23] and was on the program for twenty-four days.[22] "Underneath It All" peaked at number two on MuchMusic's Countdown in September 2002.[15] The video received nominations for Best Pop Video and Best Cinematography at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" and Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" respectively.[24]

Track listing[edit]

Maxi single[edit]

  1. "Underneath It All" featuring Lady Saw (Album Version) - 5:03
  2. "Underneath It All" (Radio 1Live Acoustic Version) - 3:44
  3. "Just a Girl" (Radio 1Live Acoustic Version) - 3:30
  4. "Underneath It All" Video - 5:03

2-track single[edit]

  1. "Underneath It All" featuring Lady Saw (Album Version) - 5:03
  2. "Underneath It All" (Radio 1Live Acoustic Version) - 3:44

Cover versions[edit]

Release history[edit]

Country Date
United States August 15, 2002
Worldwide September 10, 2002

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2002-2003) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[26] 28
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[27] 34
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[28] 13
Canada (Nielsen SoundScan) 35
France (SNEP)[29] 71
Germany (Media Control Charts)[30] 42
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[31] 49
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[32] 8
Romania (Romanian Top 100) 27
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[33] 39
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[34] 54
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 18
US Billboard Hot 100 3
US Billboard Pop Songs 1
US Billboard Adult Pop Songs 2
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 27

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2002) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[35] 71
Chart (2003) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[36] 59

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Underneath It All". Montoya, Paris and Lanham, Tom. The Singles 1992-2003. Interscope Records. 25 November 2003.
  2. ^ Strauss, Neil. "No Doubt's Anniversary Party". Rolling Stone. 31 January 2002. Retrieved 14 July 2007.[dead link]
  3. ^ Edwards, Gavin. "No Doubt Make Party Music". Rolling Stone. 16 October 2001. Retrieved 22 October 2007.[dead link]
  4. ^ Butler, Adika. "Lady Saw". Where Itz At. 2004. Retrieved 10 August 2007.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Deeper with No Doubt". VH1. 24 January 2002.
  6. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa. "'Just a Girl,' Or Wishing To Be More?". The New York Times. 26 October 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  7. ^ a b c Sheet music for "Underneath It All". Hal Leonard Corporation. 2001.
  8. ^ a b Rock Steady (liner notes). Interscope Records. 11 December 2001.
  9. ^ Scheffield, Rob. "Rock Steady : No Doubt : Review". Rolling Stone, issue 887. 2 January 2002. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  10. ^ Oliver, Lisa. "No Doubt - 'Rock Steady'". LAUNCHcast. 14 February 2002. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  11. ^ Empire, Kitty. "No Doubt : Underneath It All". NME. 19 September 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  12. ^ Delaney, Colleen. "No Doubt - Rock Steady - Review". Stylus Magazine. 1 September 2003. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  13. ^ Miller, Eden. "No Doubt: Rock Steady". PopMatters. 10 December 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  14. ^ McDonnell, Sara. "No Doubt - The Singles 1992-2003". OMH Media. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  15. ^ a b c d "No Doubt Underneath It All". Top40-Charts.com. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  16. ^ "No Doubt > Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  17. ^ "Rock Steady > Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  18. ^ "List of Grammy winners". CNN. 8 February 2004. Retrieved 22 January 2007.[dead link]
  19. ^ "No Doubt feat. Lady Saw - Underneath It All". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  20. ^ "No Doubt feat. Lady Saw - Underneath It All". Charts.org.nz. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  21. ^ a b "Interview with Music Video Directors Sophie Muller & Logan". MVWire. Retrieved 22 August 2007.[dead link]
  22. ^ a b "The TRL Archive - Debuts". ATRL. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  23. ^ "The TRL Archive - Recap - October 2002". ATRL. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  24. ^ "2003 MTV Video Music Awards". Rock on the Net. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  25. ^ Tessanne Chin turns in another impressive performance, singing No Doubt's "Underneath It All."
  26. ^ "Australian-charts.com – No Doubt – Underneath It All". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  27. ^ "No Doubt – Underneath It All – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  28. ^ "Ultratop.be – No Doubt – Underneath It All" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  29. ^ "Lescharts.com – No Doubt – Underneath It All" (in French). Les classement single.
  30. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  31. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – No Doubt – Underneath It All" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  32. ^ "Charts.org.nz – No Doubt – Underneath It All". Top 40 Singles.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – No Doubt – Underneath It All". Singles Top 60.
  34. ^ "No Doubt – Underneath It All – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  35. ^ http://longboredsurfer.com/charts/2002
  36. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 2003". Retrieved 2010-08-28. 

External links[edit]