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The Sweet Escape
Studio album by Gwen Stefani
Released December 4, 2006 (UK)
December 5, 2006 (U.S., Europe)
Recorded 2005–2006
Genre Pop, synthpop, dance-pop, electropop, pop rock
Length 47:46
Label Interscope
Producer Akon, Tim Rice-Oxley, Sean Garrett, Nellee Hooper, Tony Kanal, The Neptunes, Swizz Beatz, Giorgio Tuinfort
Gwen Stefani chronology
Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
The Sweet Escape
Alternate cover
Alternate cover in certain European countries
Singles from The Sweet Escape
  1. "Wind It Up"
    Released: October 31, 2006
  2. "Yummy"
    Released: Promotional single
  3. "The Sweet Escape"
    Released: January 1, 2007
  4. "4 in the Morning"
    Released: June 21, 2007
  5. "Now That You Got It"
    Released: September 17, 2007
  6. "Early Winter"
    Released: October 1, 2007

The Sweet Escape is the second and last solo studio album by American pop and rock singer Gwen Stefani, released on December 5, 2006 by Interscope Records. Having originally intended to return to No Doubt after her 2004 solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., Stefani decided to record a second album as a way to release some of the material left over from the L.A.M.B. writing sessions. The album musically resembles its predecessor while exploring more modern pop sounds. It was released to generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics, receiving criticism for its strong similarities to L.A.M.B.

It was preceded by the lead single "Wind It Up", which charted moderately across the world, and produced the follow-up single "The Sweet Escape", which proved more successful worldwide. The Sweet Escape reached the Canadian, U.S., and Australian top five and peaked inside the top twenty in the UK. The Sweet Escape Tour, started in April 2007, covered North America, Central America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.




Following the release of her debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., Stefani announced that she had intended to return to No Doubt and record a sixth studio album with the band.[1] After the commercial success of L.A.M.B., she decided to release several leftover tracks from the album as an EP or as extra tracks on a DVD.[2] However, Pharrell Williams, with whom she had collaborated to write "Hollaback Girl", convinced Stefani to create "a L.A.M.B. part two",[2] and the two recorded several songs during sessions in Miami, Florida in July 2005.[3]

The two produced "Wind It Up", "Orange County Girl", "U Started It", "Yummy", "Breaking Up", and "Candyland" during these sessions, and the songs were used for a fashion show premiering the 2006 collection of Stefani's fashion line L.A.M.B.[4] She included performances of "Wind It Up" and "Orange County Girl" when she embarked on the Harajuku Lovers Tour in October 2005.[5] Stefani put the project on hold in December 2005 when she discovered that she was pregnant,[6] but returned to the studio in August 2006.[7] The album's working title was Candyland, sharing its name with a never-released track that has only been looped via her fashion show soundtrack. The title was changed to The Sweet Escape, the title of the second track, to emphasize the album's themes of wanting to escape to a better life.[8]

Album cover

The album cover was taken by photographer Jill Greenberg. The image was part of a series of promotional images taken by Greenberg, inspired by her previous End Times exhibition. To create End Times, Greenberg gave lollipops to toddlers but took them back after several moments, provoking emotional outbursts. Greenberg used the images as a representation of American politics and society.[9] Greenberg was accused of child abuse for the photo shoots; Stefani, however, commented, "I didn't think 'child abuse' -- I just thought, 'That's beautiful.' Every kid cries. Other people reacted like, 'Oh my God. That's so disturbing,' or 'That's so sad.' I guess that's what art's all about. It's supposed to make you think."[10]

Gwen Stefani's appearance on the album cover is inspired by that of Elvira Hancock, a coke whore portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1983 film Scarface. Stefani first gained inspiration for the style while shooting the music video for "Cool" in Lake Como, Italy. During the shoot, Stefani saw her No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal and his girlfriend, who had on a "long, peach, polyester [late-1970s style] dress". It was this dress that got Stefani thinking "about Michelle Pfeiffer and how amazingly styled she was [in Scarface]", which in turn drew inspiration for the cover.[11] The pair of oversized sunglasses on the album cover is intended to represent her "guarded exterior", and the other images symbolize her various emotions.[12] The album features Stefani's first and only "Parental Advisory" sticker in her solo career.


Critical response

The Sweet Escape received mixed responses from critics.[13] Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote for Allmusic: "From the stilted production to the fashion fetish, all the way down to her decision to rap on far too much of the album, all the dance-pop here seems like a pose."[14] Alex Miller's review for the NME was more emphatic, dubbing it "this year's bargain-bin fodder", and stated that "the majority of this record serves only to bury what made Gwen Stefani unique in the first place."[15] For Entertainment Weekly, Sia Michel said that the album "has a surprisingly moody, lightly autobiographical feel" but that "Stefani isn't convincing as a dissatisfied diva".[16] Pitchfork Media's Mark Pytlik described the album's oddities as a career risk for Stefani, where most of the "gonzo pop songs yield some degree of payout" but that Stefani's tight scheduling during production of the album leaves the result "somewhere between the vanguard and the insipid."[17] Paul Flynn of The Observer, however, characterized the album as less interesting than Fergie's The Dutchess and Nelly Furtado's Loose.[18]

The album received criticism for its similarities to Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine noted that "history will likely view The Sweet Escape as a retread of Stefani's well-received solo debut, but it shares that album's general inconsistency and, thus, its peaks and valleys".[19] In his review for Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield agreed, viewing it as "her hasty return" to music lacking the energy of L.A.M.B. and in which "she sounds exhausted."[20] The New York Times' Jon Pareles commented that Stefani "rebooks some of the same producers and repeats some of the old tricks with less flair", adding that "superficiality is more fun when it doesn't get so whiny."[21] Caroline Sullivan disagreed in her review for The Guardian, in which she stated that although some of the songs to writing sessions for L.A.M.B., "generally The Sweet Escape feels minty-fresh."[22] PopMatters' review by Quentin Huff, however, referred to The Sweet Escape as L.A.M.B.: Reloaded and described The Sweet Escape and L.A.M.B. as "the same album, just more modern, a glossy Next-Top-Model-ish photo for the cover, and a few more recent-sounding influences."[23]

Commercial performance

The Sweet Escape was moderately successful in North America, but did not achieve the success of its predecessor. The album sold 243,000 copies in the U.S. during its first week, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200,[24] It sold another 149,000 copies during its second week, falling to number fourteen.[25] The record has since been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[26] The Canadian Recording Industry Association certified The Sweet Escape platinum before the album's release,[27] and double platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association in March 2007.[28]

In the United Kingdom, the album was certified gold within three weeks of its release,[29] and peaked at number fourteen in March 2007.[30] It was less successful throughout Europe, peaking in the top ten in Norway and Switzerland; the top twenty in Austria, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden; and the top forty in Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.[30] The Sweet Escape reached number two for two consecutive weeks on the ARIA Albums Chart,[30] and the Australian Recording Industry Association certified it double platinum.[31]

Track listing

# Title Writers Producer Time
1. "Wind It Up" Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams The Neptunes 3:09
2. "The Sweet Escape" (with Akon) Akon, Stefani, Giorgio Tuinfort Akon 4:06
3. "Orange County Girl" Stefani, Williams The Neptunes 3:23
4. "Early Winter" Tim Rice-Oxley, Stefani Nellee Hooper 4:44
5. "Now That You Got It" Sean Garrett, Stefani Swizz Beatz 2:59
6. "4 in the Morning" Tony Kanal, Stefani Kanal 4:51
7. "Yummy" (with Pharrell) Stefani, Williams The Neptunes 4:57
8. "Fluorescent" Kanal, Stefani Kanal 4:18
9. "Breakin' Up" Stefani, Williams The Neptunes 3:46
10. "Don't Get It Twisted" Kanal, Stefani Kanal 3:37
11. "U Started It" Stefani, Williams The Neptunes 3:08
12. "Wonderful Life" Linda Perry, Stefani Hooper 4:09
Bonus tracks
  • "Wind It Up" (Harajuku Lovers Live Version) - 3:26 (non-U.S. editions/iTunes bonus track)
  • "Wind It Up" (Harajuku Lovers Live Video) (iTunes bonus track/Japanese edition)
  • "Wind It Up" (Original Neptunes Mix) - 3:05 (iTunes bonus track/Japanese edition)
  • "Orange County Girl" (Harajuku Lovers Live Video) (non-U.S. editions)




  • Engineering: Andrew Alekel, Angelo Aponte, Julian Chan, Andrew Coleman, Bojan Dugich, Brian Garten, Simon Gogerly, Keith Gretlein, Neil Kanal, Jonathan Merritt, Kevin Mills, Colin Mitchell
  • Assistant engineers: Yvon Bling, Alex Dromgoole, Jason Finkel, Hart Gunther, Ryan Kennedy, Kevin Mills, Glenn Pittman, Ian Rossiter, Steve Tolle
  • Vocal engineering: Greg Collins
  • Orchestra production: Ron Fair
  • Production: Akon, Sean Garrett, Nellee Hooper, Tony Kanal, The Neptunes, Mark "Spike" Stent, Swizz Beatz, Giorgio Tuinfort
  • Vocal production: Greg Collins
  • Programming: Akon, Neil Kanal, Tony Kanal, Aidan Love, Ewan Pearson, Giorgio Tuinfort
  • Mixing: Pete Davis, Mark "Spike" Stent, Phil Tan, Richard Travali
  • Mastering: Brian Gardener
  • A&R: Trinka Baggetta, Jimmy Iovine, Mark Williams
  • Photography: Cindy Cooper, Nicole Frantz, Jill Greenberg
  • Art and layout direction: Jolie Clemens
  • Art and package coordination: Cindy Cooper, Nicole Frantz

Charts and certifications


Chart (2006) Peak
Canadian Albums Chart[32] 3
Italian Albums Chart[33] 78
Swiss Albums Chart[30] 8
U.S. Billboard 200[32] 3
Chart (2007) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[30] 2
Austrian Albums Chart[30] 18
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[30] 40
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[34] 42
Danish Albums Chart[30] 23
Dutch Albums Chart[30] 35
Finnish Albums Chart[30] 15
French Albums Chart[30] 33
German Albums Chart[35] 17
Hungarian Albums Chart[36] 20
Irish Albums Chart[30] 16
Japanese Albums Chart[37] 7
Mexican Albums Chart[30] 39
New Zealand Albums Chart[30] 4
Norwegian Albums Chart[30] 5
Polish Albums Chart[30] 29
Swedish Albums Chart[30] 19
UK Albums Chart[30] 14


Country Certifier Certification Sales
Australia ARIA 2× platinum[31] 140,000
Canada CRIA 2× platinum[28] 200,000
Denmark IFPI Gold[38] 15,000
Hungary Mahasz Gold[39] 3,000
Japan RIAJ Gold[40] 100,000
New Zealand RIANZ Platinum[41] 15,000
Poland ZPAV Gold[42] 10,000
Russia NFPP 2× platinum[43] 40,000
Switzerland IFPI Platinum[44] 30,000
United Kingdom BPI Gold[29] 100,000
United States RIAA Platinum[26] 1,700,000


  1. ^ "No Doubt 'will return'". NME. 10 November 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  2. ^ a b Vineyard, Jennifer; Pak, SuChin; and Reid, Shaheem. "Gwen Cheats On Gavin To Make Family-Affair LP With Pharrell". MTV News. 11 November 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  3. ^ "For The Record: Quick News On Gwen Stefani, Gang Of Four, Korn, Christina Aguilera, Jewel, 'Idol' & More". MTV News. 25 July 2005. Retrieve 12 May 2005.
  4. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer. "Gwen Stefani's New LP, The Sweet Escape, Set For December". MTV News. 19 September 2005. Retrieved 13 May 2007.
  5. ^ Stevenson, Jane. "Air Canada Centre, Toronto - December 9, 2005". Toronto Sun. Retrieved from Jam! 13 May 2007.
  6. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer. "Gwen Stefani Confirms Pregnancy While Onstage In Florida". MTV News. 24 December 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  7. ^ Salmon, Chris. "'I just want to make music and babies'". The Guardian. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  8. ^ Swift, Jacqui. "Has Gwen really got it all?". The Sun. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  9. ^ Glaister, Dan. "Critics call foul over LA exhibition". The Guardian. 26 July 2006. Retrieved 13 May 2007.
  10. ^ Doherty, Mike. "The thrills are alive: Gwen Stefani's new disc". National Post. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 13 May 2007.
  11. ^ Collins, Clark. "Holla Back". Entertainment Weekly. 22 November 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  12. ^ Stefani, Gwen. "FAQs". Universal Music Group. Retrieved 13 May 2007.
  13. ^ Wener, Ben. "Pop Life: A critic gets locked out". OC Weekly. 20 April 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2007.
  14. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, The Sweet Escape review,
  15. ^ Miller, Alex. "Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape". NME. 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  16. ^ Sia Michel, The Sweet Escape review,, December 1, 2006.
  17. ^ Pytlik, Mark. "Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape". Pitchfork Media. 7 December 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  18. ^ Flynn, Paul. "Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape". The Observer. 10 December 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  19. ^ Sal Cinquemani, The Sweet Escape review, Slant Magazine.
  20. ^ Sheffield, Rob. "Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. 12 December 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  21. ^ Pareles, Jon. "Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape". The New York Times. 4 December 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  22. ^ Sullivan, Caroline. "Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape". The Guardian. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  23. ^ Huff, Quentin. "Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape". PopMatters. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  24. ^ Hasty, Katie. "Ciara, Eminem, Stefani Overtake The Billboard 200". Billboard. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  25. ^ Cohen, Jonathan. "Young Jeezy, Hicks Enter Atop The Billboard 200". Billboard. 20 December 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  26. ^ a b "RIAA – Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. June 25, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Gold & Platinum - November 2006". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 14 October 2007.
  28. ^ a b "CRIA: Gold & Platinum – March 2007". Canadian Recording Industry Association. March 5, 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2007. 
  29. ^ a b "BPI Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. December 22, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Gwen Stefani – The Sweet Escape – Music Charts". α Retrieved July 13, 2007. 
  31. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2007 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  32. ^ a b "The Sweet Escape > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Artisti – Classifica settimanale dal 08-12-2006 al 14-12-2006" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  34. ^ " – Gwen Stefani – The Sweet Escape" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  35. ^ " – Gwen Stefani – The Sweet Escape" (in German). Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Top 40 album- és válogatáslemez-lista – 2007. 27. hét" (in Hungarian). Mahasz.és. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  37. ^ "The Sweet Escape – Oricon" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  38. ^ "IFPI Denmark – Guld og platin i 2007" (in Danish). International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. August 28, 2005. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  39. ^ "MAHASZ – Adatbázis – 2007" (in Hungarian). Mahasz. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  40. ^ "Recording Industry Association of Japan – List of works certified Gold in March 2007". Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  41. ^ "Latest Gold / Platinum Albums – RadioScope New Zealand". RadioScope New Zealand. June 17, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  42. ^ "ZPAV gold certification awards – 2007". Związek Producentów Audio Video. November 19, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  43. ^ "Gold and Platinum International Albums in Russia – 2006" (in Russian). 2M. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  44. ^ "Swiss Certifications – Awards 2008". Retrieved January 4, 2010. 

External links

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