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The Singles 1992-2003

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Album Review

A band like No Doubt was made for an album like The Singles 1992-2003. While they made good albums — and each of their albums had its own character — they shined as a singles band, which is only appropriate for a band raised on new wave, the last golden era of singles. Unlike the grunge and indie bands that populated the first two waves of the alt-rock explosion of the early '90s, No Doubt wasn't directly inspired by punk, indie, or any underground rock movement; the band was fueled by new wave, in all of its trashy, poppy glory. Above all, they were inspired by ska revival groups like Madness, with their blend of skittish Jamaican-inspired beats and sense of English popcraft, but they also picked up various strands of early-MTV pop, whether it was bits of new wave Blondie, the Police, and Elvis Costello, or the metallic guitar wallop of Van Halen. It was a cheerful, giddy sound that marked a sea change from the sound of the early '90s, when even catchy melodies were cloaked in a sense of gloom. So, with the success of their second album, Tragic Kingdom, in 1996, they kicked off the second wave of the alt-rock boom of the '90s — the time when the music meant good times, not angst and alienation. While some of the bands that rode on their coattails were unabashed one-hit wonders and commercialized revamps of underground sounds, No Doubt was something rare: a hip mainstream singles band. They were an outgrowth of new wave, releasing indie albums before their big break, and they stayed true to their inspirations while cleverly adding elements of contemporary hits to their sound — and, in doing so, became a '90s version of a new wave band that placed equal emphasis on hooks, style, videos, and cool, radio-ready singles.

And while they made some strong albums — in fact, with each record they grew stronger — their medium was radio singles, as the stellar collection The Singles 1992-2003 illustrates. Spanning 15 tracks, the disc is sequenced like a concert, favoring forward momentum over chronological history, and that's a point in its favor since it shines a spotlight on individual songs, not eras. More than anything, this highlights No Doubt's consistency as a singles band, since the defining breakthrough single, "Just a Girl," is as exciting as both the band's pre-fame "Trapped in a Box" and the sexy neo-electro grind of "Hella Good." It also shows that even if lead singer Gwen Stefani grew increasingly assured and sexier over the years (compare the seductive "Underneath It All" to the breathy, naïve "Don't Speak") and even if she was always rightly the focal point, the band itself is a muscular, versatile, tuneful outfit, rooted in ska revivals like "Spiderwebs" but equally convincing when turning out spiky pop like the glorious "New," the hard-rocking "Sunday Morning" and "Ex-Girlfriend," the sighing ballad "Simple Kind of Life," or the rubbery, reggae-inflected "Hey Baby." All these hits are here on The Singles, along with expertly selected album tracks and concert favorites, plus a fine new cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life" that makes the group's new wave influences explicit. There's not one major song missing, and the whole package is solid proof that few post-alternative bands were as joyous a singles band as No Doubt. It's a great collection — the kind of compilation that satisfies fans of all stripes and converts skeptics. It's the greatest-hits package that they deserve.

Customer Reviews

Beautiful.

This album is the perfection of pop/rock. No Doubt this album is getting a lot of downloads, because Gwen Stefani, although I like her new version, shows her evolution to the girl she is today! You can see how she used to be, before the Hollaback Girl. If you want No Doubt or the perfect blend of pop/rock, you only need this album!

Gwen at her best... You know, before she went solo.

I love No Doubt, They were one of the only bands with a female singer that was actually decent & I can't wait for their new album, which they haven't even started making.. Anyways, Honestly? I don't own this album. (i'm not really an album-buyer. The only album I own is an OLP Live one.) I only own 10 songs from it, But that's close enough for me. ): Therefore, I'll only be reviewing the 10. Boooo. 1. Just a girl - I love this song. Its catchy, loud, obnoxious, & completely in-your-face. Which is awsome. 5/5 2. It's My life - Way better than the original, & yet it doesn't completely ruin it, like some remakes that I've heard. Still can get a bit old after a while. 3/5 3. Bathwater - Can you say haunted house elevator music? AWSOME. 5/5 4. Sunday Morning - Not the best, but Gwen definetly expresses her anger well in this one. Its still worth buying. 3/5 5. Hella Good - Great dance track. Ehh. It's half-decent. 2/5 7. Excuse Me Mr. - Hyper-tracks. Gotta Love em. Gwen sounds very anxious in this one, which is pretty cool. 4/5 9. Spiderwebs - This is awsome. Its freaking catchy. I love the lyrics too. Very well thought out. 4/5 11. Don't Speak - This is the best No Doubt song of all time, & the first one I've ever loved. Gwen's vocals aren't exactly the same as the other songs, but its still amazing. Gwen's a singer that can put her feelings into her voice. The rest of the band does just as well as her. BUY IT. 5/5 14. Hey Baby - Reminds me of Hella Good for some reason, probably because it sounds to me like more of a dance track, but its way better than Hella Good. Maybe the lyrics aren't the best, but the song is downright catchy. Its the better one of the two dance tracks. 5/5 15. Underneath it all - This is a very fun song. For me, It's really nothing more. 4/5

Well, Something's Missing

This album is an extraordinary combination of awesome music, but it'll be soooo cool if ''Tragic Kingdom'' Would have been on iTunes...

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Anaheim, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With the return of the punks in the mid-'90s came a resurgence of their slightly more commercial rivals, new wave bands. No Doubt found a niche as a new wave/ska band, on the strength of vocalist Gwen Stefani's persona — alternately an embrace of little-girl-lost innocence...
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