Gwen Stefani: "What You Waiting For"
"What an amazing time. What a family. How did the years go by? Now it's only me." Gwen rattles off four
trite Streisandisms over a delicate grand piano, and a theater full of fortysomethings goes hobbit-shit.
The Girl From That Song She Used To Do is an adult now, just like them-- and she's singing about being
an adult! Enthusiastic (yet tasteful) applause washes over the auditorium, and after a two-second
dramatic pause, you can practically hear her say, "Fuck this shit. Fuck all you assholes."
Cue costume change. Cue just-a-dream wakeup call. Cue explosions. Presenting Gwen Stefani's brand-new
solo single, "What You Waiting For": tick-tock-tick-tocks, la-la-la's, high-gloss Miss Kittin electro fuzz,
chick-vox deep and wide in the mix, and the best part, Gwen's new ultra-polished disco-meets-opera vitriol.
I mean listen to her: "Like an echo pedal you're repeating yourself"; "Y'know you're only known cuz of your
sex chromosome"; "Born to blossom, bloom to perish"; "Take a chance, you stupid ho." Is Gwen knocking herself,
other mega-pop divas, the industry, all three, and maybe something else too? If "What You Waiting For" is
strictly self-involved (it isn't), then please, Gwen has nothing to complain about here-- this track's fucking
great. [Nick Sylvester; November 8th, 2004]
Sage Francis [ft. Will Oldham]: "Sea Lion"
Heartbreaking, mournful rap should replace that cross-eyed, corporate-co-opted crunk. There ought to be
clubs where people just weep on each other, and if you want to freak out, you could go into a panic room.
Sage and Bonnie have concocted a hip-hop track that sounds like an outtake from a post-Kid A version
of Bob Dylan's Desire. Francis fans in need of a reference point should consult Sixtoo's epically
hesitant production on Personal Journals. Oldham fans should imagine if the two Tweaker collaborations
Prince Billy sounds so stoned that Nancy Reagan's grave must be roiling; he lilts and moans like he did on
Joya, and for once, my rockist tendencies submit to his perverse/prankish genre pluralism. Francis
intones as if his lyrics are the most profound diary entries ever composed, yet he doesn't seem overbearing,
though his panting comes off a tad "acted" by now. How is this a dance song about worrying about what (the
idea of) Mom thinks about one's adulthood? Is Oldham's chorus claiming that performance of music is inherently
psychedelic/psychological? I hereby predict that people will make sad babies to this one, as it will inspire
sad Crooked-Fingers-caliber sex. [William Bowers; November 8th, 2004]
Jimmy Eat World: "Pain"
Okay, wait. Jimmy Eat world have released a new song and called it... "Pain"? This is actually great.
I hope this monosyllabic truth-in-advertising extends to singles from other artists. Look out for the
Rolling Stones' "Old", Linkin Park's "Angst", R.E.M.'s "Dull", and "Dead" from Nirvana's upcoming box set.
Under-thought title aside, this track is at best holding status quo for the band. It's simply a minor-key
inversion of the same simple but lovable power-chord hooks and incidental electronics that made "The Middle"
an unfortunate smash, but with a less persistent chorus. I'll grant them that they've kept their sound and
their place on the radio dial intact, which is nothing to sneeze at, but on the other hand-- well, just
replace the word "pain" from the frathouse shouting that precedes each chorus with, say, "thirst," and
you've got yourself a damn fine beverage commercial. [Jason Crock; November 8th, 2004]