The Sweet Escape (song): Wikis

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"The Sweet Escape"
Single by Gwen Stefani featuring Akon
from the album The Sweet Escape
Released January 1, 2007 (U.S.)
Format CD (global), digital download (global), 12" vinyl (North America)
Recorded 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia
Hollywood, Los Angeles
Genre Pop, Dance-pop, Synthpop, Doo wop, New Wave, Ska
Length 4:06
Label Interscope
Writer(s) Gwen Stefani, Aliaune Thiam (Akon), Giorgio Tuinfort[1]
Producer Akon, Giorgio Tuinfort
Certification 2× Platinum (ARIA)
Platinum (RIANZ)
Gwen Stefani singles chronology
"Wind It Up"
(2006)
"The Sweet Escape"
(2007)
"4 in the Morning"
(2007)
Akon singles chronology
"I Wanna Love You"
(2006)
"The Sweet Escape"
(2007)
"Don't Matter"
(2007)

"The Sweet Escape" is a pop song written by Gwen Stefani, Akon, and Giorgio Tuinfort for Stefani's second solo album The Sweet Escape (2006). Akon developed the song's beat before collaborating with Stefani. He designed it based on her previous work with No Doubt, and Stefani later commented that it put her "on the yellow brick road to the No Doubt record I might do."[2] "The Sweet Escape", which features elements of doo-wop, Synthpop, New Wave, and ska music, is an apology for a fight between two lovers and describes a dream of a pleasant life for them. As the album's title track, its title was chosen to help market Stefani's music and fashion lines.

The song generally received positive reviews from contemporary music critics, though there was a negative response to Akon's presence as a featured artist. "The Sweet Escape" was released as the album's second single in early 2007 (see 2007 in music) and was commercially successful in mainstream and adult contemporary markets. It entered the top ten of most singles charts and topped the New Zealand Singles Chart. The song was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 50th Grammy Awards. In the song's accompanying music video, Stefani attempts to escape from a golden prison.

Contents

Background and writing

Interscope Records' CEO Jimmy Iovine, who helped with A&R for The Sweet Escape, arranged the collaboration between Stefani and Akon.[3] Interscope sent Stefani a copy of Akon's 2004 debut album Trouble and repeatedly encouraged her to work with him.[4] Akon readily accepted,[3] and Stefani accepted after several people had pushed her to work with him.[5]

When Akon was asked to work with Stefani, he reviewed her work, ranging from her music with No Doubt to her solo career. He noted that the sound Stefani had cultivated with No Doubt was missing from her solo work.[3] Stefani, preoccupied with her baby Kingston Rossdale, cancelled their session and commented that she "didn't want to go through the pain of trying to work with someone [she] didn't know."[4] Iovine called Stefani, telling her, "You can cancel everything else in your life, but don't cancel this session."[6] She decided to work with Akon and expected that they would work on writing a write a generic hip hop song,[6] one that would not fit her well.[5]

When they met, Akon played some of his tracks for her.[5] They thought about words that would suit the marketing of Stefani's music and her clothing lines L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers, settling on "Sweet Escape". Akon played her the beat he had developed, and they began working on the song.[3] They wrote it in ten minutes,[4] coming up with a doo-wop song rather than the hip hop sound Stefani had expected.[6]

Music and lyrics

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"The Sweet Escape" is a pop song composed in the key of B minor.[7] The song mixes ska, new wave, disco, and doo-wop sounds.[8] It is written in compound quadruple meter, commonly used in doo-wop, and has a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. Stefani's vocal range covers nearly two octaves, from G3 to F5.[7]

The song uses two-measure phrases that, aside from the choruses, use a i–III–IV–VI chord progression. The B minor chord is held for 1⅓ of a beat, and a relative transformation is then used to produce a second-inversion D major chord, which is held for 1⅔ of a beat. In the second measure, a first-inversion E major chord with an added ninth precedes a G major seventh chord; the chords are held for the same durations as the previous two.[7]

The song opens with an introduction which consists of eight measures of instrumentals, followed by eight measures in which Akon sings "Woohoo, yeehoo". The introduction has been claimed to be similar to the one in the song Sweet Sweet Gwendoline by the German band Die Ärzte. [9] Overdubbing is introduced in the middle of the first verse to produce a sequence of eighth note B minor chords from Stefani's vocals. Stefani's voice is overdubbed again when she sings the chorus twice. Akon performs, and Stefani then sings the second verse and the choruses again. She returns to the latter part of the first verse and repeats the choruses. The song closes as Akon repeats the lines "Woohoo, yeehoo" and "I want to get away to our sweet escape" as the song fades.[7]

The song's lyrics discuss an argument between spouses.[10] Stefani apologizes "for acting stank" to her lover. She asks her lover for forgiveness and describes wanting to be a better wife.[11] Although Stefani acknowledges her misdeeds, she nonetheless pushes off some of the blame in a manner that drew comparisons to Monica's 1995 single "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)" and TLC's 1999 single "I'm Good at Being Bad".[12] In contrast to her songwriting on No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom (1995), Stefani intimates a desire for a pleasant domestic life, most extensively during the chorus.[13]

Critical reception

"The Sweet Escape" generally received positive reviews from contemporary pop music critics. Allmusic described the song as "an irresistible … track, driven by a giddy 'wee-oh!' hook and supported by a nearly anthemic summertime chorus."[14] OMH Media referred to "The Sweet Escape" as "a lovely, summery bouncy pop song with a very infectious chorus".[15] It compared the song to Weezer's 2002 single "Keep Fishin'",[15] and Blender compared it to the work of The Beach Boys.[13] The NME compared the song to Madonna's early work but added that it sounded "cringey and saccharine".[16] LAUNCHcast commented that it sounded like music from 1970, specifically that of soul group Chairmen of the Board.[17] About.com called the song "a welcome change from the over-produced 'Wind It Up'," but noted that it "easily jets in one ear and out the other leaving little trace of its presence."[18] MuchMusic's video review program Video on Trial referred to the song as "incredibly intoxicating".[19]

Akon's presence as a featured artist on the track received negative reviews. PopMatters found that Akon contributed too few vocals to the song and that they were wasted.[12] Rolling Stone agreed, viewing the song a fumbled attempt to capitalize on the success of Akon's "Smack That" featuring Eminem.[10] The Observer was displeased with his presence in lieu of higher profile hip hop artists such as Dr. Dre and André 3000 on Stefani's previous album Love. Angel. Music. Baby (2005). It added that the song sounded like a "weirdly flat" version of Madonna's 1986 single "True Blue".[20] Stylus Magazine described his vocals as "yelping".[21]

Chart performance

Akon and Stefani perform "The Sweet Escape" in May 2007.

Although "The Sweet Escape" was released as the second single from Stefani's second solo album in 2007, it had been sent to radio as early as "Wind It Up" (2006). The song debuted on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart at number 93 in December 2006,[22] and it peaked at number two in April 2007 behind Akon's subsequent single "Don't Matter".[23] The song spent 15 consecutive weeks in the top ten and remained on the chart for over nine months,[24] listed at number three on the year-end chart.[25] The single was successful in mainstream music, topping the Pop 100 and Pop 100 Airplay and reaching number two on the Top 40 Mainstream chart. It had strong airplay on adult contemporary stations and reached the top five of the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks.[26] The song was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 2008 Grammy Awards but lost to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)".[27] At over 2.1 million downloads, it was the third best-selling digital track of 2007, and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems listed it as the fifth most played song of the year.[28] The song had equal success on Billboard's Canadian Hot 100. It reached number two on unpublished versions of the chart, and debuted at number 14 when the chart was introduced the week of June 2, 2007, the tenth week that "The Sweet Escape" had been listed.[29] The song remained on the Canadian Hot 100 for over six months after the chart was officially introduced.[24]

"The Sweet Escape" was similarly successful in Europe, topping the Billboard European Hot 100 Singles chart in March 2007.[30] The song peaked at number two for two weeks on the UK Singles Chart, behind Take That's "Shine", and then Sugababes and Girls Aloud's cover of "Walk This Way". It dropped off the chart after 23 weeks, but returned the next week for another five. The song was successful across Europe, reaching the top five in France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, and Portugal and the top ten in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland.[24]

The song debuted at number two on Australia's ARIA Singles Chart and remained there for six weeks, behind Hinder's "Lips of an Angel" and later Silverchair's "Straight Lines".[24] The Australian Recording Industry Association certified "The Sweet Escape" double platinum for shipping 140,000 copies.[31] In New Zealand, the single debuted atop the chart[24] and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand.[32] It peaked at number 20 on Top Latino's Hispanic America singles chart.[33]

Music video

The song's music video premiered on January 10, 2007 on LAUNCHcast.[34] The video opens with scenes of Stefani and the Harajuku Girls in a golden jail. After obtaining the key from a dog, they escape. Stefani is then shown in a penthouse two hours later. She lets down two long braids, allowing the Harajuku Girls to scale the building and cut off the braids. They meet Akon at a parking lot, and Stefani drives off with him. They are pursued by two of the Harajuku Girls as police officers, and the video closes with Stefani back in jail after two hours of chasing. The video is intercut with sequences of Stefani and Akon in front of a letter G in lights.

Stefani performs "The Sweet Escape" inside a gold cage.

The video was filmed in December 2006, several days before Christmas.[35] It was directed by Joseph Kahn and produced by Maryann Tenado of H.S.I. Productions.[36] The jail and penthouse scenes in the video are symbolic of "being jailed by love". Stefani being unable to escape her metaphoric prisons represents how one cannot escape from oneself. The penthouse scene is an allusion to the nineteenth century fairy tale "Rapunzel".[35] The video features product placement for two General Motors vehicles, the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and the Buick Lucerne.

"The Sweet Escape" premiered on MTV's top-ten video chart program Total Request Live at number seven January 16, 2007,[37] and it peaked at number two the next month.[38] The video was nominated for Most Earthshattering Collaboration, one of four categories created for the reinvented 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to Beyoncé Knowles and Shakira's "Beautiful Liar".[39] After its January 20 debut on MuchMusic's Countdown, it reached number one for two weeks in March 2007.[40] In December 2007, MTV International introduced a certification system to recognize music videos that were successful on stations outside the U.S. Plays were totaled from February through June 2007, and with 11,000 plays, "The Sweet Escape" was the most successful video, receiving a platinum award.[41]

Track listings

CD single
  1. "The Sweet Escape" featuring Akon (album version) – 4:06
  2. "Hollaback Girl" (Harajuku Lovers Live) – 4:49
  3. "Wind It Up" (Robots to Mars remix) – 3:34
  4. "The Sweet Escape" (music video) – 4:05
Promotional 12" vinyl single

Side A

  1. "The Sweet Escape" featuring Akon (Konvict remix) – 4:03
  2. "The Sweet Escape" featuring Akon (album version) – 4:06

Side B

  1. "The Sweet Escape" (Konvict instrumental) – 4:03
  2. "The Sweet Escape" (instrumental) – 4:06
  3. "The Sweet Escape" (a cappella) – 3:51

Personnel

  • Keyboards: Akon, Giorgio Tuinfort
  • Producers: Akon, Giorgio Tuinfort
  • Additional production: Nellee Hooper
  • Programmers: Akon, Giorgio Tuinfort
  • Recorded at Doppler Studios in Atlanta, Georgia and at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood, California, U.S.

Charts

Chart (2007)[24][26] Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 2
Austrian Singles Chart 6
Canadian Singles Chart 2
Dutch Top 40 5
Eurochart Hot 100 Singles[42] 1
French Singles Chart 4
German Singles Chart 6
Irish Singles Chart 4
Italian Singles Chart 2
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Pop 100 1
Preceded by
"Glamorous" by Fergie featuring Ludacris
U.S. Billboard Pop 100 number one single
7 April 2007 - 14 April 2007
Succeeded by
"Give It to Me" by Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake
Preceded by
"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" by Fall Out Boy
New Zealand number-one single
5 March 2007 - 12 March 2007
Succeeded by
"Crawl" by Atlas
Preceded by
"Grace Kelly" by Mika
Billboard Hot 100 European number one single
17 March 2007 - 31 March 2007 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"What Goes Around.../...Comes Around" by Justin Timberlake
Preceded by
"It's Not Over" by Daughtry
ARC Weekly Top 40 number one single
7 April 2007 - 5 May 2007 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Glamorous" by Fergie featuring Ludacris

References

  1. ^ CD liner notes: Now 25, EMI 2007
  2. ^ "For The Record: Quick News On Rihanna, Luda, Lady Sov, Kelis, Nas, Harry Potter, Angelina Jolie & More". MTV News. December 14, 2006. Retrieved December 25, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d Reid, Shaheem. "Akon Gets Sexy On The Beach For New Video, Raves About Working With Gwen". MTV News. January 30, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Swift, Jacqui. "Has Gwen really got it all?". The Sun. February 23, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape". Universal Music Canada. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c Vineyard, Jennifer. "Baby On Board! Gwen Stefani's Son Joins Her On LP, Spring Tour". MTV News. December 4, 2006. Retrieved May 13, 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d Sheet music for "The Sweet Escape". Famous Music. 2007.
  8. ^ Gottlieb, Jed. "Stefani's material leaves No Doubt she's new Madonna". Boston Herald. December 4, 2006. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  9. ^ http://www.kendallschoenrock.com/blog/2007/07/20/gwens-sweet-escape-from-jail-for-theft/
  10. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob. "Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. December 12, 2006. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  11. ^ Leong, Gabriel. "Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape". MTV Networks Asia. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
  12. ^ a b Huff, Quentin B. "Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape". PopMatters. December 14, 2006. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  13. ^ a b Sisario, Ben. "Gwen Stefani : The Sweet Escape Review". Blender. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Sweet Escape > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Murphy, "Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape (Polydor)". OMH Media. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  16. ^ Miller, Alex. "Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape". NME. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  17. ^ Britten, Anna. "Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape". LAUNCHcast. January 3, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
  18. ^ Lamb, Bill. "Gwen Stefani featuring Akon - The Sweet Escape". About.com. Retrieved January 12, 2007.
  19. ^ Video on Trial. MuchMusic. February 5, 2007.
  20. ^ Flynn, Paul "Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape". The Observer. December 10, 2006. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  21. ^ Merwin, Charles. "Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape - Review". Stylus Magazine. December 6, 2006. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
  22. ^ Cohen, Jonathan. "Beyonce Begins Third Week Atop The Hot 100". Billboard. December 21, 2006. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  23. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 - Music Charts". αCharts.us. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  24. ^ a b c d e f "Gwen Stefani and Akon - The Sweet Escape - Music Charts". αCharts. Retrieved August 15, 2007.
  25. ^ "Billboard Charts - Year-end Singles - Hot 100 Songs". Billboard. 2007. Retrieved December 14, 2007.
  26. ^ a b "The Sweet Escape > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved August 15, 2007.
  27. ^ "2008 Grammy Award Winners and Nominees". New York Times. February 9, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  28. ^ "2007 U.S. Music Purchases Exceed 1.4 Billion". Business Wire. January 3, 2008.
  29. ^ "Canadian Hot 100 - The Sweet Escape". Billboard. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  30. ^ "European Hot 100 Singles - The Sweet Escape". Billboard. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
  31. ^ "ARIA Top 40 Urban Albums Chart". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  32. ^ "Chart #1566 - Monday 28 May 2007". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  33. ^ "Ranking del 25 de Marzo de 2007 (Semana 12)". Top Latino. March 26, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  34. ^ Pastorek, Whitney. "Snap Judgment: Gwen Stefani's 'The Sweet Escape' video". Entertainment Weekly. January 10, 2007. Retrieved August 20, 2007.
  35. ^ a b "The Sweet Escape Video Shoot". Interscope Records. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  36. ^ "Beyonce and Justin Timberlake Lead the Way With Seven Nominations Each Followed by Kanye West and Rihanna With Five Nods and Amy Winehouse Vying for Three Moonmen". PR Newswire. August 7, 2007. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  37. ^ "The TRL Archive - Debuts". ATRL. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  38. ^ "The TRL Archive - Recap - February 2007". ATRL. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  39. ^ "2007 VMA | Nominees | Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration". MTV. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
  40. ^ "MuchMusic Countdown". MuchMusic. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  41. ^ Masson, Gordon. "MTV launches video awards". Variety. December 3, 2007. Retrieved December 16, 2007.
  42. ^ Sexton, Paul. Take That, Kaiser Chiefs Hold Strong On U.K. Charts Billboard magazine. March 12, 2007. Accessed on July 17, 2009.

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