What You Waiting For?: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"What You Waiting For?"
Single by Gwen Stefani
from the album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Released September 28, 2004
Format CD single, digital download,
12" single
Recorded Home Recordings
(London, England)
Henson Recording Studios
(Hollywood, Los Angeles, California)
Genre Pop rock, electropop
Length 3:41
Label Interscope
Writer(s) Gwen Stefani, Linda Perry
Producer Nellee Hooper
Gwen Stefani singles chronology
"Let Me Blow Ya Mind"
"What You Waiting For?"
"Rich Girl"

"What You Waiting For?" is a song written by Gwen Stefani and Linda Perry for Stefani's debut solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004). The song is the album's opening track, and was released as its lead single. "What You Waiting For?" details Stefani's lack of inspiration, fear of producing the album, as well as her reaction to pressures exerted by her record label. The song is primarily a New Wave song but also has influences from electropop, and introduces Stefani's four back-up dancers, the Harajuku Girls, who had a major input into the album's production.

"What You Waiting For?" was released as the album's lead single; according to Stefani, as an "explanation for doing the record".[1] The single sold well, reached the top twenty in many countries, and topped the charts in both Argentina and Australia. It was certified gold in the United States, and was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 47th Grammy Awards. It was well received by critics, and was frequently cited as a highlight of the album. The song has been remixed a number of times, and was covered by the indie rock band Franz Ferdinand.


Background and writing

During the night of the 2003 Grammy Awards, Perry forced Stefani into a chokehold, and demanded that they were "gonna write songs together!". Stefani reluctantly agreed.[2] Soon after, Stefani finished the Rock Steady Tour with her band No Doubt, and took a call from her label, who informed her that Perry was in a studio ready to collaborate, and that she [Perry] "only [had] five days out of the whole year to work with [her]."[3][4] Stefani has since admitted that she was frustrated by not being able to see her husband Gavin Rossdale, and was intimidated at the thought of collaboration, in particular with Perry, who she did not feel was qualified to write dance music. Stefani was exhausted by the recently completed tour,[3][4] and shortly afterwards suffered an emotional breakdown, which she spent in bed crying.[3]

During their first day of work, the two wrote a song entitled "Fine by You", which Stefani later described as "a stupid love song, but really good".[5] Perry remarked that the song "wasn't right," and the track was excluded from the album.[6] The session was unproductive, due in part to Stefani's self-consciousness and writer's block, and she at one stage broke down in tears in the studio.[7][8] Stefani has since admitted that writing songs without her band members felt "humiliating and intimidating even if they're sweet and excited, because you're drowning in their creativity".[7]

That night, Perry began work on another track, which she played for Stefani the next day to motivate her.[5] Stefani was impressed with the track, and Perry asked her "What are you waiting for?"[3] According to Perry, Stefani took the question as a dare, replying, "You're totally challenging me, right?"[6] The two began writing lyrics for the New Wave-styled song based on Stefani's writer's block and fears about making a solo record, and it grew into "What You Waiting For?"[1]

Stefani came up with the idea of the Harajuku Girls while writing the song. Stefani first saw the women of Harajuku, known for their unique style drawing from Gothic Lolita and cyberpunk fashion, in 1996 and had admired them since.[5][9] She decided to mention them in the line "Harajuku girls, damn you got some wicked style," and the concept grew into a running theme on Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which went as far as to feature one song named after and dedicated to them.[5]

Music and lyrics

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

"What You Waiting For?" is an electropop/New Wave song composed in common time and in the key of G minor.[10] It is written in verse-chorus form,[10] and its instrumentation comes from the guitar and electronic keyboard.[11] The song opens with an emotional piano solo as a tribute to Stefani's time with No Doubt.[10][12] The verse begins at only 60 beats per minute and gradually slows,[10] mixed with sounds of applause from the audience.[13] A beat set at 138 BPM begins, and Stefani repeats the phrase "tick-tock", commonly interpreted as a reference to her maternal clock and the pressures she felt about producing the album.[10][14]

Stefani performing the introduction with low lighting and minimal dancing.

Stefani creates an argument between lyrical personas by alternating her vocal range and point of view. Stefani's vocal range spans nearly two octaves in the song, from G3 to F5.[10] In a melody similar to that of Weezer's "Hash Pipe",[15] one side of Stefani's personality sings in a higher range in the first person, and the other, more confident personality sings lower in the second-person.[12] During the verses, the more nervous personality discusses her concerns about leaving No Doubt for a solo career as well as the ephemeral success of female singers in the music industry.[16] The chorus is a boost of confidence for her[12] and continues the song's time motif with the lines "Look at your watch now/You're still a super hot female". Backed by perfect octave dyads,[10] Stefani sings a verse about her excitement for her future, and the two personalities merge into one during the coda.[12]

Critical reception

"What You Waiting For?" received very positive reviews from critics. Pitchfork Media gave the song a strong review, rating it four and a half stars, and labeled it "fucking great".[13] It went on to rank the song sixteenth on its list of the top 50 singles of 2004.[17] Blender noted the song's New Wave influence by stating that it could start a revival of Missing Persons,[18] and The Village Voice compared the "giddy, yodeling vocals" to those of Lene Lovich's 1981 song "New Toy".[19] PopMatters was mixed on the song, calling the opening "awkward" and the refrain "ridiculously dumb", but arguing that the song "is so frivolous and stupid that it winds up being brilliant; it pretends to be nothing more than party bubblegum and achieves its artistic criteria beautifully."[20] Slant Magazine agreed, stating that "it's this impishness that helps make 'What You Waiting For' one of the hottest 'arrival' songs of all time".[21] PlayLouder found the track's production "crisp" and "edgy",[22] and LAUNCHcast called the song "itchily irresistible".[23] Contactmusic.com gave the song a nine out of ten rating, commenting that it has "irresistible commercial pull and a melody to die for" and that the track "makes the most of her unmistakable vocal and reflects that off-the-wall Stefani personality perfectly."[24] OMH Media gave the song a negative review, stating that "it'll become one of those tracks that's irritatingly catchy - but on this initial listening, Ms Stefani's debut solo effort is just plain irritating."[25]

Many reviewers considered the track one of the album's highlights. Entertainment Weekly gave Love. Angel. Music. Baby. a C+ rating but called the track "one of the album's undeniable highs".[26] In its review of the album, Pitchfork Media said that "we can't expect 12 more cuts as personal or urgent as debut single 'What You Waiting For'...one of the best electro songs this year."[27] The BBC stated that it "stands out as the best track on the album for the way it pits storming beats against enthusiastic lyrics" and compared the song to Goldfrapp's 2003 single "Strict Machine".[28] Eric Greenwood of Drawer B Media, who said that the album "fails on every level", also commented that "if this album had even two more songs this immediate and catchy, then I'd stick my neck out for it, but, sadly, it's the only song worth listening to."[15].It was also performed in the Latest Buzz pilot episode dubbed as Glimmer.

Chart performance

Stefani performing "What You Waiting For?" on the Harajuku Lovers Tour.

In the United States, "What You Waiting For?" debuted on October 23, 2004 at number ninety-three on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached a peak of number forty-seven on December 4, 2004 and remained on the chart for a total of twenty weeks.[29] The song topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart, but only had moderate success on the pop charts, reaching number seventeen on the Top 40 Mainstream and number twenty-four on the Adult Top 40.[30] The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on February 25, 2005.[31] Additionally, the song was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2005 Grammy Awards, but lost out to Norah Jones' "Sunrise".[32]

Stefani closed performances on the 2007 Sweet Escape Tour by performing "What You Waiting For?" during an encore.

Elsewhere, the song's reception was stronger. In Canada, it debuted in the top forty on the singles chart before reaching number twenty-four in late January 2005.[33] It debuted at number four in the United Kingdom and remained on the chart for fifteen weeks, unable to reach a higher position.[29] The single performed well across most of Europe, reaching the top ten in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.[29]

In Australia, the single debuted atop the ARIA Singles Chart on November 14, 2004 and stayed there for two weeks. It stayed within the top three through January 17, 2005 and dropped off the chart after fifteen weeks.[29] The single was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association.[34] On the 2004 end-of-year chart, the song charted at number twenty-six[35] and topped the dance chart.[36] The next year, it was listed at number forty on the singles chart[37] and number four on the dance chart.[38] The single reached number three on New Zealand's RIANZ Singles Chart and remained four months on the chart.[39]

Music video

The song's music video was directed by Francis Lawrence and produced by Caleb Dewart of DNA Inc.[40] The video deals directly with the lyrics' theme of Stefani's search for inspiration in songwriting. It opens with a lengthy non-musical section in which Stefani arrives in Los Angeles off of No Doubt's Rock Steady tour. She receives several calls from manager Jimmy Iovine, who attempts to push her forward with her solo debut project, but she replies that she is tired and uninspired. After a failed studio attempt, Stefani sees a flyer advertising help for writer's block. Upon arrival she fills out an unusual questionnaire and is then told that she'll be billed when she is finished. She asks for clarification only to discover that she is already back in the studio by herself. When Stefani picks up an oversized pocket watch from the piano, a rabbit knick-knack jumps across the room. She throws the watch at the knick-knack, causing her to fall back on her chair and find herself transported to a fantasy world based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Stefani in the music video for "What You Waiting For?"

Stefani portrays several characters from the books, including Alice, the White Queen and the Red Queen, in dresses by British-Gibraltarian fashion designer John Galliano.[41] The video frequently cuts to Stefani back in the studio to show her singing and performing in semi-synchronization with her actions within her fantasy-world. As this transpires the song is recording itself. Stefani ultimately rediscovers her confidence, and her full awareness is transported back to the ordinary reality of the studio just as she dances in front of her four giggling Harajuku Girls. She then is presented with her bill by the consultant as a wooden chair topples to the floor.

There are four versions of the video. The full long version is one minute longer than the "Making the Video" version, while the cut version omits the scenes in which she leaves the airport and is sleepy and in which she fills out the questionnaire. The short version begins with Gwen practicing on the piano and her finding the watch just seconds after that. Her being billed is not shown in this version, so the video ends with the Japanese girls laughing at her performance.

The music video was well-received by many reviewers. Stylus Magazine referred to it as a short film, comparing it to Michael Jackson's "Thriller", and commented "I sigh with admiration and wish every video was this alive."[42] The video debuted on MTV's Total Request Live on October 18, 2004 at number eleven.[43] It reached the top of the chart and was there for three non-consecutive days,[44] remaining over five weeks on the program.[43] At the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, the video was nominated for Best Editing and won the award for Best Art Direction.[45] In Canada, it only reached number eleven on the MuchMusic's Countdown, though it remained on the chart for eight weeks.[33] At the 2005 MuchMusic Video Awards, the video was nominated for Best International Video but lost to Usher's "Caught Up".[46] It won the award for Best Dressed Video at the first MTV Australia Video Music Awards.[47]

Alternate versions

Problems listening to these files? See media help.

Stuart Price (a.k.a Jacques Lu Cont) made the most well-known remix of the song, titled the "Thin White Duke Mix", which was included on the CD single. The track, over eight minutes long, is carried by a guitar riff and occasional chimes.[48] The remix received positive reviews from music critics. Pitchfork Media labeled it "outstanding",[49] and Stylus Magazine stated that it "endowed [the song] with a sense of grandeur".[50] About.com found the remix "moody and a bit hypnotic", commenting that it is "best suited for early-evening sets." Armand Van Helden created two remixes, the Armand Van Helden Remix and the Armand Van Helden Dub, which use only some of the original vocals and a new bassline constructed with synthesizers and some electric guitar. Felix da Housecat created the Rude Ho Mix, which uses more bass guitar and leaves out the original background vocals by Mimi Parker until the final verse.[48]

Alex Kapranos, guitarist and lead singer of Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand, has worn a Gwen Stefani pin on a Members Only Jacket as a tribute to "What You Waiting For?".[51] In December 2005, the band performed a cover version of the song on Live Lounge, a segment of The Jo Whiley Show on BBC Radio 1. The cover includes the chorus from Billy Idol's 1983 song "White Wedding". In October 2006, the song was released as a part of the Radio 1's Live Lounge compilation, and the cover received mixed reviews. IndieLondon called the track "completely insane", stating that it "really has to be heard to be believed."[52] The Guardian found the cover smug, commenting that "one of Alex Kapranos's eyebrows [is] raised so high that it practically vacates his head."[53]

Track listings

German CD single
  1. "What You Waiting For?" (Album Version) – 3:43
  2. "What You Waiting For?" (Jacques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Mix) – 8:02
German CD maxi single and Australian CD single
  1. "What You Waiting For?" (Album Version) – 3:43
  2. "What You Waiting For?" (Jacques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Mix) – 8:02
  3. "What You Waiting For?" (Jacques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Dub) – 8:22
  4. "What You Waiting For?" Video (Director's Cut) – 9:00
U.S. and UK promo CD single
  1. "What You Waiting For?" – 3:45

Credits and personnel

Charts, certifications, and procession



Chart (2004) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[29] 1
Austrian Singles Chart[29] 7
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[29] 8
Dutch Top 40[29] 7
Finnish Singles Chart[29] 4
German Singles Chart[29] 22
Norwegian Singles Chart[29] 3
Swiss Singles Chart[29] 17
UK Singles Chart[29] 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[30] 47
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[30] 1
Chart (2005) Peak
Belgian Singles Chart (Wallonia)[54] 4
Canadian Singles Chart[33] 24
Danish Singles Chart[29] 2
European Hot 100 Singles[55] 9
French Singles Chart[29] 5
Hungarian Singles Chart[56] 8
Irish Singles Chart[29] 2
Italian Singles Chart[54] 2
New Zealand Singles Chart[29] 3
Russian Airplay Chart[57] 4
Swedish Singles Chart[29] 6
U.S. Billboard Pop 100[30] 14


Country Certifier Certification Sales
Australia ARIA Platinum[34] 70,000
Norway IFPI Gold[58] 5,000
United States RIAA Gold[31] 500,000

Chart procession and succession

Preceded by
"Just Lose It" by Eminem
Australian Singles Chart number-one single
November 14, 2004 – November 21, 2004
Succeeded by
"These Kids" by Joel Turner and the Modern Day Poets
Preceded by
"Walk into the Sun" by Dirty Vegas
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
December 25, 2004 – January 1, 2005
Succeeded by
"Lose My Breath" by Destiny's Child


  1. ^ a b Vineyard, Jennifer. "Gwen Stefani's Debut Solo LP Inspired By Insecurity And Japan". MTV News. November 10, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  2. ^ Ives, Brian and Bottomley, C. "Gwen Stefani: The Solo Express". VH1. January 5, 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d Morrisson, John. No Doubt's Gwen Stefani Rocks Steady on Her Solo Debut, Love Angel Music Baby". Access. March 2005. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Levy, Ariel. "The Coronation of Gwen Stefani". Blender. December 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d Eliscu, Jenny. "'I'll cry just talking about it'". The Guardian. January 30, 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  6. ^ a b Anderman, Joan. "Not just a girl". The Boston Globe. November 21, 2004. Retrieved April 15, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Vineyard, Jennifer. "Gwen Stefani: Scared Solo". MTV News. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  8. ^ Soghomonian, Talia. "Gwen Stefani : interview". OMH. January 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  9. ^ Ahn, MiHi. "Gwenihana". Salon. April 9, 2005. Retrieved March 20, 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Sheet music for "What You Waiting For?". Famous Music. 2004.
  11. ^ Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (CD liner notes). Interscope Records. November 2004.
  12. ^ a b c d Vineyard, Jennifer. "Gwen Stefani Battles With Herself On First Single From Solo LP". MTV News. September 28, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Gwen Stefani: 'What You Waiting For' [Track Review]". November 8, 2004. Retrieved March 3, 2004.
  14. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer. "Gwen Stefani Confirms Pregnancy While Onstage In Florida". MTV News. December 24, 2005. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Greenwood, Eric. "Gwen Stefani - Love Angel Music Baby (Interscope)". Drawer B Media. January 19, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  16. ^ Rosen, Jody. "Gwen Stefani, diva clown." Slate. December 14, 2004. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  17. ^ Raposa, David. "Top 50 Singles of 2004". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
  18. ^ Smith, RJ. "Gwen Stefani : Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Review". Blender. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  19. ^ Linden, Amy. "The '80s Girl Inside Reveals More Doubts Than Boundaries". The Village Voice. December 13, 2004. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
  20. ^ Damas, Jason. "Gwen Stefani: Love.Angel.Music.Baby. - PopMatters Music Review". PopMatters. November 29, 2007. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  21. ^ Cinquemani, Sal. "Music Review: Gwen Stefani: Love. Angel. Music. Baby." Slant Magazine. 2004. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  22. ^ Smirke, Richard. "Gwen Stefani: Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004) review". PlayLouder. November 23, 2004. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  23. ^ Nine, Jennifer. "Gwen Stefani - 'Love, Angel, Music, Baby'". LAUNCHcast. November 25, 2004. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  24. ^ Volp-Fletcher, Jemma. "Gwen Stefani - What you waiting for? - Single Review". Contactmusic. Retrieved March 20, 2007.
  25. ^ Tripney, Natasha. "Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For? (Interscope)". OMH Media. Retrieved March 20, 2007.
  26. ^ Browne, David. "Love. Angel. Music. Baby. | Music Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 23, 2004. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  27. ^ Sylvester, Nick. "Gwen Stefani: Love Angel Music Baby: Pitchfork Record Review". Pitchfork Media. November 24, 2004. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  28. ^ Haines, Lisa. "Rock/Indie Review - Gwen Stefani, Love Angel Music Baby". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For? – Music Charts". αCharts.us. http://acharts.us/song/603. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  30. ^ a b c d "Love.Angel.Music.Baby. > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:g9fuxqrsldhe~T31. Retrieved March 3, 2007. 
  31. ^ a b "RIAA – Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. February 25, 2005. http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?table=SEARCH_RESULTS&title=What%20You%20Waiting%20For&artist=Gwen%20Stefani&perPage=25. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  32. ^ "Grammy Awards 2005: Key winners". BBC News. February 14, 2005. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  33. ^ a b c "Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For – Top40-Charts.com". Top40-Charts.com. http://top40-charts.com/songs/full.php?sid=11779&sort=chartid. Retrieved March 2, 2007. 
  34. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2004 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-accreditations-singles-2004.htm. Retrieved March 3, 2007. 
  35. ^ "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2004". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Dance Singles 2004". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2005". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  38. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Dance Singles 2005". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
  39. ^ "Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For?". Charts.org.nz. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
  40. ^ "MMVA 05". MuchMusic. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  41. ^ "The Must List | Must List | News + Notes". Entertainment Weekly. October 29, 2004. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  42. ^ Bloch, Sam. "Stylus Videodrome, Volume III". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 4, 2007.
  43. ^ a b "The TRL Archive - Debuts". Popfusion. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  44. ^ "The TRL Archive - Recap - November 2004". Popfusion. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  45. ^ "Past Winners Database". Los Angeles Times. 2005. Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  46. ^ "MMVA 05". MuchMusic. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  47. ^ Alexander, Harriet. "Pop goes MTV as the Idol generation votes". The Sydney Morning Herald. March 4, 2005. Retrieved April 16, 2007.
  48. ^ a b "Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For (The Remixes)". About.com. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  49. ^ Mandel, Aaron. "Fischerspooner's New Album Set for April Release". Pitchfork Media. January 24, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  50. ^ Cunningham, John M. "Top 10 Remixes of 2005". Stylus Magazine. December 30, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  51. ^ Hiatt, Brian. "Hot Scots". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  52. ^ "Live Lounge (Radio 1) - Review". IndieLondon. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  53. ^ Lynskey, Dorian. "If hit ain't broke". The Guardian. October 13, 2006. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
  54. ^ a b "ultratop.be – Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?". Ultratop. http://www.ultratop.be/en/showitem.asp?interpret=Gwen+Stefani&titel=What+You+Waiting+For%3F&cat=s. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  55. ^ "Gwen Stefani Album & Song Chart History – European Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.. http://www.billboard.com/#/artist/gwen-stefani/chart-history/239085?f=349&g=Singles. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  56. ^ "Single (track) Top 10 lista – 2005. 30. hét" (in Hungarian). Mahasz. http://www.mahasz.hu/m/?menu=slagerlistak&menu2=archivum&lista=kislemez&ev=2005&het=30&submit_=Keresés. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  57. ^ "Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For – TopHit.ru". TopHit.ru. http://www.tophitru.com/cgi-bin/trackinfo.cgi?id=1551. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  58. ^ "IFPI Norway – Salgstrofeer" (in Norwegian). International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. http://www.ifpi.no/sok/index_trofe.htm. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address