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Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Studio album by Gwen Stefani
Released November 22, 2004
Recorded 2003–2004
Genre Pop rock
Hip hop, Pop, electropop, Dance, R&B
Length 48:27
Label Interscope
Producer André 3000, Dallas Austin, Dr. Dre, Nellee Hooper, Tony Kanal, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, The Neptunes, Mark "Spike" Stent
Gwen Stefani chronology
Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
(2004)
The Sweet Escape
(2006)
Alternate cover
Deluxe edition cover
Singles from Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
  1. "What You Waiting For?"
    Released: September 28, 2004
  2. "Rich Girl"
    Released: December 14, 2004
  3. "Hollaback Girl"
    Released: April 5, 2005
  4. "Cool"
    Released: May 1, 2005
  5. "Luxurious"
    Released: October 1, 2005
  6. "Crash"
    Released: January 1, 2006

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. is the debut studio album of American pop and rock singer Gwen Stefani, released November 22, 2004 on Interscope Records. The album originally began 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. 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 nine million copies. It earned Stefani six Grammy Award nominations in 2005 and 2006.

Contents

Conception

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.[1] 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.[2]

In early 2003, Stefani began recording solo material.[3] 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.[3][4] Jimmy Iovine, chairman and co-founder of Interscope, convinced Stefani to produce a complete studio album.[4] 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.[1]

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.[1] Stefani announced the album's release in early 2004,[5] marketing it as a "dance record" and a "guilty pleasure".[1]

Music

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Style and lyrics

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".[6] The album is primarily pop, with the synthesizers characteristic of synthpop, most popular from the late 1970s through the mid 1980s.[7]

New Wave, present in some of No Doubt's later work, continues into Love. Angel. Music. Baby., drawing comparisons to The Go-Go's and Cyndi Lauper.[8] Stefani cited Club Nouveau, Depeche Mode, Lisa Lisa, Prince, New Order, The Cure, and early Madonna as major influences for the album.[9] To a lesser degree, the album draws from pop genres such as bubblegum pop, electropop, and dance-punk.[7][8][10]

Like pop albums of the 1980s, L.A.M.B. focuses primarily on money, with songs such as "Rich Girl" and "Luxurious" featuring descriptions of riches and wealth.[11] The album contains several references to Stefani's clothing line, L.A.M.B.,[11] and alludes to contemporary fashion designers such as John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo, and Vivienne Westwood.[12] Stefani also released a series of dolls named the "Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Fashion Dolls", designed after the costumes from her tour.[13] Although Stefani intended for the album to be a light dance record, she stated that "no matter what you do, things just come out."[14] 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.[15] The fourth track "Cool" discusses Stefani's friendship with Kanal after he ended a romantic relationship with her in 1995.[16]

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. introduced the Harajuku Girls, an entourage of four Japanese women whom Stefani referred to as a figment of her imagination.[4] 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). L.A.M.B. includes various styles of music. Songs are influenced by electro beats designed for club play.[17] 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.[18]

Songs

"What You Waiting For?", one of the first songs written for L.A.M.B., 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.[19] The song received positive reviews, noted as "one of the album's undeniable highs".[11] Its single was successful, reaching the top ten in most countries.[20] The second single, "Rich Girl" charted equally well.[21] The song, a ragga 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".

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"Hollaback Girl", the third track, became the album's best-selling and most popular single.[22] It was written as a response to a derogatory comment that grunge musician Courtney Love made, referring to Stefani as a cheerleader,[23] 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,[8] but it became the first U.S. digital download to sell one million copies.[24] The fourth track "Cool" was well-received by critics,[17][25] 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.[14] "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.[26]

Stefani performing "The Real Thing".

"Luxurious", whose single features rapper Slim Thug, compares riches to love.[27] The song received mixed reviews from critics and was less successful than the other singles. The seventh track, "Harajuku Girls", is a pop song produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The song was panned by critics who found the track "bizarrely" and "weirdly homoerotic"[8][17] and "teeth-gnashingly cutesy".[11] The sixth single "Crash" was not originally planned as a single since Stefani was preparing to release The Sweet Escape.[27] While on tour, Stefani discovered that she was pregnant, so a live video accompanied the single,[28] which sold poorly and was unable to reach the top forty in any country.[29] "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",[30] while About.com called it "the album's finest moment".[31]

"Serious", the tenth track, is another synthpop song, similar to Madonna's work during the early 1980s.[32] A music video was produced for the song,[33] but 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.[8] 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;[11] however, it had been written before the discovery.[34] The closing track, "Long Way to Go", is an outtake from André 3000's The Love Below (2003).[35] The song discusses interracial dating and was criticized for its use of a sample of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.[30]

Critical reception

L.A.M.B. received generally positive reviews from contemporary pop music critics, earning a rating of 71 out of 100 on Metacritic.[36] Allmusic called it "intermittently exciting and embarrassing",[17] and The New York Times described it as "clever and sometimes enticing" but stated that it "doesn't quite add up".[37] LAUNCHcast called the album "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".[38] Stylus Magazine said that Stefani was a contender to fill Madonna's role, "but not enough to get seriously excited about her as the next great solo female careerist."[18] The BBC was more emphatic, stating that Stefani rivaled Madonna and Kelis.[32] The NME 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."[39] OMH Media found the album "enjoyable, if patchy", but commented that it was too long.[40] Rolling Stone magazine included the album in its list of the top fifty albums of 2004, placing it at number 39.[41]

The album was generally criticised for its large number of collaborations and producers. The Guardian argued that although "others lend a hand...it's very much Stefani's show"; however, most others disagreed.[42] PopMatters compared the album to a second No Doubt greatest hits album,[8] and Pitchfork Media said that the large number of collaborators result in sacrificing Stefani's identity on the album.[30] Neumu found that the album's fragmentation kept it from being "a bright-and-shiny pop-music tour-de-force".[43] Most reviewers held that the collaborations prevented the album from having a solidified sound. Drawer B stated, "Stefani tries to be all things to all people here", but that the result "comes off as manipulative and contrived."[44] Entertainment Weekly 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."[11]

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",[11] and Pitchfork Media said 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."[30] Slant magazine stated that the album's "fashion fetish...gives the album a sense of thematic cohesiveness" but that the "obsession with Harajuku girls borders on maniacal".[7] 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."[42]

Sales and impact

Stefani on the Harajuku Lovers Tour to promote the album.

The album debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 at number seven, selling 309,000 copies.[45] Following the April 2005 release of "Hollaback Girl", Love. Angel. Music. Baby. re-entered the top fifteen for twenty-one weeks and reached a peak at number five in June 2005.[46] The Recording Industry Association of America certified the album triple platinum that December,[47] and it went on to sell four million copies.[48] 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.[49] At the 2005 Grammy Awards, Stefani received a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "What You Waiting For?"[50] and performed "Rich Girl" with Eve.[51] 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.[52]

The album had similar success in Europe. L.A.M.B. reached number four on the UK Albums Chart in May 2005, on which it remained for over a year.[46] The British Phonographic Industry certified the album triple platinum on September 16, 2005, for shipping over 900,000 copies.[53] At the end of 2005, the album charted as the twentieth highest-selling album of the year in the UK.[54] The album reached the top ten in Finland, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden and the top twenty in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.[46] The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry certified it platinum at the May 2005 Platinum Europe Awards.[55]

In Australia, the album topped the ARIA Albums Chart for two consecutive weeks in February 2005 and remained on the chart for fifty-one weeks.[46] It ended 2005 as the fourth best-selling album,[56] and was certified quadruple platinum for shipping 280,000 copies.[57] In Canada, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. peaked at number three for two weeks on the albums chart[58] and sold over half a million copies, certified quintuple platinum in April 2006.[59] L.A.M.B. sold seven million copies worldwide.[60]

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.[61] In its review of Loose, Rolling Stone stated that Timbaland aimed to "produce an omnipop multiformat blockbuster in the style of [L.A.M.B.] -- but without Gwen."[62] 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.[63] The album's lead single "London Bridge" was paralleled to "Hollaback Girl" and the third single "Glamorous" to "Luxurious".[64] 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."[63]

Track listing

Standard edition
# Title Songwriters Producer(s) Length
1 "What You Waiting For?" Stefani, Linda Perry Nellee Hooper 3:41
2 "Rich Girl"
(featuring Eve)
Stefani, Eve, Dr. Dre, Kara DioGuardi, Chantal Kreviazuk,
Mark Batson, Jerry Bock, Mike Elizondo, Sheldon Harnick
Dr. Dre 3:56
3 "Hollaback Girl" Stefani, Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams The Neptunes 3:20
4 "Cool" Stefani, Dallas Austin Austin 3:09
5 "Bubble Pop Electric"
(featuring Johnny Vulture)
Stefani, Johnny Vulture Vulture 3:42
6 "Luxurious"
Stefani, O'Kelly Isley, Rudolph Isley, Vernon Isley,
Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper, Tony Kanal,
Hooper, Kanal 4:25
7 "Harajuku Girls" Stefani, Bobby Avila, I.J. Avila, James Harris, Terry Lewis, James Wright Harris, Lewis 4:51
8 "Crash" Stefani, Kanal Kanal 4:06
9 "The Real Thing" Stefani, Perry Hooper 4:11
10 "Serious" Stefani, Kanal Kanal 4:48
11 "Danger Zone" Stefani, Austin, Perry Austin, Hooper 3:36
12 "Long Way to Go"
(featuring André 3000)
Stefani, André Benjamin Benjamin 4:34
International bonus track
  • "The Real Thing" (Wendy And Lisa Slow Jam Mix) – 3:35
UK and Japanese bonus track
  • "What You Waiting For?" (Elevator Mix) – 4:06
Limited edition CD
  1. "What You Waiting For?" (Jacques Lu Cont TWD Mix) – 8:04
  2. "What You Waiting For?" (Jacques Lu Cont 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
12" picture disc

The above track listing (twelve songs) was released on one picture. Six songs on one side and six on the other.

12" vinyl record

The above track listing (twelve songs) was released on two black vinyl records.

Personnel

  • Producers: André 3000, Dallas Austin, Dr. Dre, Nellee Hooper, Jimmy Jam, Tony Kanal, Terry Lewis, The Neptunes, Mark "Spike" Stent
  • Engineers: Andrew Coleman, Greg Collins, Ian Cross, John Frye, Simon Gogerly, Mauricio "Veto" Irragorri, Jason Lader, Matt Marrin, Colin Mitchell, Pete Novak, Ian Rossiter, Rick Sheppard
  • Assistant engineers: Warren Bletcher, Nick Ferrero, Jason Finkel, Francis Forde, Cesar Guevara, Rob Haggett, Doug Harms, Rouble Kapoor, Kevin Mills, Glenn Pittman, Ian Rossiter, Jaime Sickora, Sean Tallman, David Treahern, John Warren
  • Mixing: André 3000, Greg Collins, Dr. Dre, Lee Groves, Mark "Spike" Stent, Phil Tan
  • Mastering: Brian "Big Bass" Gardener
  • A&R: Jimmy Iovine, Mark Anthony Williams
  • Programming: Simon Gogerly, Tony Kanal, Jason Lader, Sam La More, Aidan Love, Ewan Pearson, André 3000 as "Johnny Vulture"
  • MIDI and sound design: Rick Sheppard
  • Guitar engineer: Linda Perry
  • Keyboard engineer: Linda Perry
  • Cut: Cutmaster Swift
  • Web service: Ray Ibe
  • Creative director: Gwen Stefani
  • Art direction: Jolie Clemens
  • Art coordinator: Nicole Frantz
  • Layout design: Jolie Clemens
  • Photography: Nick Knight
  • Logo and type illustration: Johnny Copeland
  • Package coordinator: Cindy Cooper

Charts, certifications, and procession

Charts

Chart (2004) Peak
position
Norwegian Albums Chart[46] 6
Chart (2005) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[46] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[46] 12
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[46] 20
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[65] 33
Canadian Albums Chart[58] 3
Czech Albums Chart[66] 15
Danish Albums Chart[46] 10
Dutch Albums Chart[46] 14
European Top 100 Albums[67] 5
Finnish Albums Chart[46] 3
French Albums Chart[46] 19
German Albums Chart[46] 11
Irish Albums Chart[46] 5
Italian Albums Chart[68] 24
Japanese Albums Chart[69] 36
New Zealand Albums Chart[46] 5
Spanish Albums Chart[46] 35
Swedish Albums Chart[46] 8
Swiss Albums Chart[46] 17
UK Albums Chart[46] 4
U.S. Billboard 200[58] 5

Certifications

Territory Certifier Certification Sales
Argentina CAPIF Gold[70] 20,000
Australia ARIA 4× platinum[57] 280,000
Austria IFPI Gold[71] 10,000
Canada CRIA 5× platinum[59] 500,000
Denmark IFPI Gold[72] 15,000
Europe Platinum[55] 1,000,000
Finland Gold[73] 21,944
France SNEP Gold[74] 192,500[75]
Ireland IRMA 3× platinum[76] 45,000
Japan RIAJ Gold[77] 100,000
Mexico AMPROFON Gold[78] 50,000
New Zealand RIANZ 2× platinum[79] 30,000
Norway IFPI Platinum[80] 30,000
Sweden Gold[81] 20,000
Switzerland Gold[82] 20,000
United Kingdom BPI 3× platinum[53] 900,000
United States RIAA 3× platinum[47] 3,000,000

Chart procession and succession

Preceded by
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2
Australian Albums Chart number-one album
February 14, 2005 – February 21, 2005
Succeeded by
Hot Fuss by The Killers

References

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