♚ No Doubt Discography Rate (#26 - FU from Gwen) ♚

What is your favourite studio album by No Doubt?

  • No Doubt (1992)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The Beacon Street Collection (1995)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Tragic Kingdom (1995)

    Votes: 16 24.6%
  • Return of Saturn (2000)

    Votes: 20 30.8%
  • Rock Steady (2001)

    Votes: 24 36.9%
  • Push and Shove (2012)

    Votes: 5 7.7%

  • Total voters
    65
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Average score: 7.374


Highest averages:
8.821 - @Music Is Life & Death
8.571 - @Sprockrooster
8.036 - @Maki
7.893 - @AshleyKerwin
7.857 - @Mistress of All Evil


Lowest averages:
6.429 - @GimmeWork
6.436 - @Untouchable Ace
6.571 - @Remorque
6.786 - @tylerc
6.800 - @saviodxl

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One of their best albums. And that for a rarities!

Also it is considered shade @Music Is Life & Death gave this an average below a 9.
 
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Thanks a lot to @swim for providing these cool Metacritic-esque graphics!
(I had to manually change the year here because it said 2012 instead of 2004, more training in GIMP dd)

Release date: November 25, 2003 / October 12, 2004
Total sales: 30,000 (est.)
Notable chart peaks: #182 U.S. Billboard 200 (2004)


Initially, "Everything in Time" wasn't even supposed to have a write-up here since it's not included as a separate album in the song list but let's do it anyway.

This compilation album, consisting from B-sides, remixes and rarities by No Doubt, had a double release, hence the two dates listed. For the first one, it was released as part of box set "Boom Box" in 2003 (which also includes The Singles 1992–2003, The Videos 1992–2003 and Live in the Tragic Kingdom), and then separately released a year later, when it charted at whooping #182 on Billboard's album chart. Though that's reasonable, since the album received little coverage and Gwen was very much doing her thing, being the main pop girl etc. Despite that, the band did gather after their official hiatus in April 2003 to arrange this compilation and aforementioned box set. This particular compilation featured six B-sides (all from "Return of Saturn" era), five unreleased/previously unheard songs, four released rarities and three new remixes (the attention to numerical sequencing!). In addition to all the material above, its booklet also had little blurbs about the song's backgrounds.
What can I say - the No Doubt fans were fed and we can only dream and hope that some of our faves end up doing similar things with their vault material (definitely looking at Gwen too).

The album itself really proves how strong No Doubt's discography is. Most of these are literal album outtakes and these jumbled together are better than a heap of 'proper' albums I've heard. Alongside the obvious quality on display, it truly showcases the band's dedication and how well they treated their fans during the hard times (i.e. the hiatus). I honestly can't think of anyone doing such extensive deep-dive into scrapped material at the time and perfectly tying it together with the greatest hits album. I mean, Sugababes are spoiling us like crazy these days and some scrapped albums are finally getting a proper release but I think we can agree that No Doubt were trendsetters with this release, especially with the addition of the entire box set of worthy audio and video material.

Everything in time will always come...
 
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Now that all data is safely transferred to my laptop, we can continue with the regular eliminations.
This next one brings an album down to 7 remaining tracks...










































































There's more then one dimension
I can fool you and attract attention
Camouflage my nature

Let me demonstrate...
















28.


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Magic's in the Makeup

Average score: 8.076

Highest score:
10 x 5 (@Music City Queen, @Mistress of All Evil, @GimmeWork, @BEST FICTION, @Babylon)
Lowest score: 5.25 x 1 (@DJHazey)
My score: 8.5
High peak: #27 (22 voters)
Low peak: #51 (5 voters)


Another "Return of Saturn" era song leaves us, this time it's a standard track "Magic's in the Makeup". At this point, the songs hold a record for the joint highest amount of perfect scores (along with "You Can Do It") Despite that, it looks like a good number of voters were indifferent to it, as I see a lot of 7 for in on the scoring sheet. Interestingly, the song was outside of the top 40 nearly during the entire first half of total voters, but luckily the income of high scores later on slowly and steadily made it reach top 30. You can almost say... magic's in the voters dd

"Magic's in the Makeup" was written by Gwen Stefani and Tom Dumont, as always produced by Glen Ballard, and released as the 5th track on "Return of Saturn". The song was one of the first to be written and demoed for this album, and it was announced as the album's working title back in May of 1998, but was actually among the final tracks to get recorded and finalized, in November 1999 (kinda like my rate/song contest ballots). Upon release, the song emerged as one of the fan favourites and as a result, got performed a whole lot of times (at least 94 based on the setlists count), regularly during the Return of Saturn tour, Rock Steady tour, and later even got a few live outings in 2009, 2012 and 2015. The often did the song in the more acoustic instrumentation. And this is a fun little excerpt from a 2000 interview, where Tony reports the band's favourite songs to play live: "Tom says his favorite song is "Magic's in the Makeup," because he has a rad solo he gets to play. Gwen? Gwen's favorite song is "Magic in the Makeup" because Tom has a rad solo he gets to play." and Gwen went on to say it's her fave song from "Return of Saturn" because she thinks it sums up the album lyrically.

Being among the mellow side of things on this album, "Magic's in the Makeup" is sure to bring the melancholy to the table. The intro alone with delicate guitars leading into the floaty synths along with Gwen's beautiful soft vocals during the verses is lovely totally sets the intricate and dreamy soundscape. I could definitely say the instrumental in general is one of the best aspects of the song, especially during that guitar solo middle-8, where all elements create such magical atmosphere. However, the chorus has always been a little bit jarring to me and felt slightly detached from the song, but it grew on me over time, even through the song still isn't among my faves from this album and I think there are stronger slowies.

Can you tell I'm faking it?
But I want to be myself


This opening couplet basically says it all about the topic of "Magic's in the Makeup". It's yet another introspective psychoanalysis of a song where Gwen is asking herself some relatable questions ("Beauty Contest" is like its superior vanity sister song). The chorus is a clear statement here and the masterful lyrics further explain something we've al been through or are going through. 'Makeup' is obviously used more as a metaphor for pretty much anything used to fabricate our appearance, both physically and mentally, and stripping all that down is much easier said than done. Given the "If you bore me then I'm comfortable / If you interest me, I'm scared" lines (the lyricism!), we can assume Gwen is mainly talking about an anxiety-driven relationship here. As such, it can be seen as a companion piece to "Simple Kind of Life" but we'll get to that one later of course.

Something that wasn't mentioned in the write-up is brought up by @AshleyKerwin (8.5): "Fun fact - this played on Dawson's Creek once. Not bad for a deep cut." I honestly had no idea about that. @bonnieetclyde (7) says: "I love the chorus but the verses aren't as strong." and seems to be in unison with @Sprockrooster (7.5), who comments: "Saved by the chorus with those angelic vocals." Well, as mentioned, I prefer the verses here. Closing off with @berserkboi (9.5) complimenting the band: "These mellow moments suit them so well!" Indeed.
No comments from any of the five high scorers, so hopefully we'll see them in the thread.


"My makeup's all off
Who am I?"













Next up: Another fan fave but from a different album. Also the song with the highest low score so far.

 
Oh wow, I can't believe Gwen posted this on her Instagram literally 12 hours ago:



Seems like magic really is in the makeup for some of the pop girls, it keeps getting their music delayed. I'm sure Rihanna would agree dd


And that entire photoshoot from 2000 is such a serve:
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Stun!
 
Something that I completely forgot to mention regarding "Magic's in the Makeup" is that there is an alternate/early version of the song that appeared on the album's sampler in early 2000:



Not any drastic changes, it just has less synths (and some alternate ones) and has the drums during the chorus. I like it just as much, the subtle differences are definitely working here too.

Currently doing the next write-up, it should be posted soon-ish.
 
Nobody is losing any type of low score with this one...




















































Time after time it’s just too much to take
I’ve waited so long just to get to this place...
















27.


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Don't Let Me Down

Average score: 8.137

Highest score:
10 x 4 (@berserkboi, @GimmeWork, @SlowGinFizzzz, @Music Is Life & Death)
Lowest score: 6.5 x 1 (@AshleyKerwin)
My score: 7.5
High peak: #24 (16, 18 voters)
Low peak: #34 (10, 11 voters)


Only three eliminations in and we're back to "Rock Steady", obviously we'll be seeing songs from this album more often now than before. This time, "Don't Let Me Down" bows out, as a song with the highest low score so far - looks like nobody let it down sorry, that was the best pun I could think of tonight. Really, this one was very consistently scored - apart from that 6.5, its next lowest score was 7 (five of them actually) and there are a lot of 8s for it. As expected, the song had little movement on the leaderboard during the voting period; it was mostly around the #30 spot, and remained inside the top 30 ever since we hit 12 voters.

"Don't Let Me Down" was written by Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal and Tom Dumont, while Ric Ocasek produced it alongside the band and additional production done by Mark "Spike" Stent. It was released as track number 7 on "Rock Steady", proving to be one of the fan favourites. There isn't much of a background behind it - the band met up with former The Cars frontman (Ric Ocasek) in late June of 2001 and worked with him on a few songs, including this one. The song was performed only during the Rock Stead tour, featuring a slightly extended intro, and got a few acoustic outings too (one of them is linked below). It has never been performed since 2002 so the fans must've felt let down by that not again with this shallow pun.

Even though it seems decently scored by me, "Don't Let Me Down" actually got my (joint) second lowest score from "Rock Steady" album. Which obviously doesn't mean that it's a weak song, but that the album is strong and very consistent. Both sonically and lyrically, this kinda sounds more like a Gwen song, right? Yes, it does have more guitars but the sugary, 80s new wave spirit is definitely there, plus the line: 'walk in the park under sapphire skies' sounds a lot like something you'd find on Gwen's first two albums. Anyway, I've always liked this one but it feels a tiny bit jarring among all the 'groovier' tracks found on his album. It's still a lot of fun, the verses are great yet the chorus, well... lets it down oops I did it again etc. It just sounds a bit monotonous/repetitive and doesn't have the 'ring' that the verses and pre-choruses have. But I see at least some of you thought otherwise so it's definitely up for a debate. The production and the instrumental are excellent, much like on the entire album - the sparkly synths and guitars perfectly round up the 80s-inspired sound. As such, its a lot more straight-forward and radio-friendly compared to most of their stuff around this time and I can actually imagine this song being used as an intro for type of teen rom com series or something. The lyrics are rather sweet too and talk about trusting someone; in this case Gwen's love interest (most likely Gavin) - she's just trying to enjoy the day but, on the inside, wonders and worries if he's being faithful to her. You can easily connect it to the previous song on the album ("Detective"), so maybe they were onto something here. Overall, "Don't Let Me Down" has never really been one of my faves by No Doubt but it grew on me and is more of an 8 now I that I'm thinking about it, but it wouldn't change its placement more than one spot.

The same two voters are agreeing on the exact same thing as in the previous elimination - @Sprockrooster (9) says: "That chorus is hella good, but those verses drag a bit too much for me." and @bonnieetclyde (8) continues: "Such a great chorus on this one. There's a slight 80's vibe and I could even see this fitting on Gwen's L.A.M.B. record." Again, I'm disagreeing with both of them but that "L.A.M.B." comparison is right. Naming it one of his fave discoveries, @berserkboi (10) shouts: "Take the 10 too! Loving these massive discoveries!" Finally, we have a revisionism moment with @Angeleyes (8), who says: "I remember skipping this a lot as a kid, but I don't know why. It's so catchy. It would've made another great single had they kept going." I can hear this as a single actually, but not exactly a hit single dd.


"So hard to let go, but I’m coming ‘round
The scars are still fragile, don’t let me down..."









Next up: Again, we visit a different album and another accolade, but this time when it comes to the high scores.

 
A few of you have been calling for this one.

































































And it's a single.


















































You broke the set
Now there's, there's only singles
There's no looking back
And this time I mean it
...




















26.


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Happy Now?

Average score: 8.150

Highest scores:
10 x 1 (@Music Is Life & Death), 9.5 x 1 (@Babylon)
Lowest score: 5 x 1 (@saviodxl)
My score: 8.25
High peak: #26 (27 voters)
Low peak: #62 (5 voters)


With this elimination, "Happy Now?" teaches us how to reach a top 30 placement with only one perfect score (for comparison, all of the remaining songs earned at least three of these). Along with those high scores, it received five 9s and its second lowest score after that 5 was one 6.3 - definitely a case where the consistency pays off. And its leaderboard trajectory was very interesting. From 62 to 26. It was never even in the top 40 during the first half of voters, but slowly managed to do better and better until it reached its high peak position at the very end. What a redemption arc. And I can easily make a pun for the lower scorers but I'll spare you from that.

"Happy Now?" was written by Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, and Tony Kanal and produced by Matthew Wilder - Gwen came up with the melody and the lyrics, while the rest of the band later built the instrumental around it (which was the opposite of their usual song creation, something No Doubt talked more about here). The song was released as the sixth overall single from "Tragic Kingdom" on September 23, 1997 - the CD singles were distributed exclusively in Australia (B-sides being "Let's Get Back" and their live cover of Sublime's "D.J.'s") and Europe (B-side here was "Oi to the World") but in the United States, the song was released only to radio stations. Despite not receiving a formal release in the United States nor having a proper music video, "Happy Now?" received heavy rotation on Californian radio stations. Commercially, "Happy Now?" debuted at #293 on Australia's ARIA Top Singles Chart and peaked there in October 1997 at astonishing #132 (something @ohnoitisnathan would know I'm sure). It has been performed by the band at a number of live appearances, including during the Tragic Kingdom World Tour, nationwide Return of Saturn Tour, Rock Steady Tour, 2009 Summer Tour, Push and Shove promo and during their 2015 festivals. Pretty much covers all of the live shows since the song's release, which adds up to about 200 performances.

It's impressive to see that "Happy Now?" got so far considering that I've never thought of it as a particular fan fave nor considered it one of their essential songs, not even among the standouts on "Tragic Kingdom". Still, it's a really good track with obvious qualities. One thing is for sure: this song owes a lot to that instrumental, in particular that fantastic guitar riff (which especially shines during the middle-8 alongside the guitar solo). The melodies, which are perfectly decent and have some nice harmonization moments, never completely grabbed me and I feel like there's a dissonance between them and the instrumental. Somehow, the melody has a much more 'musical theatre' vibe, something that would suit one of Eric's productions really well. Here, it doesn't exactly work and sonically, the song doesn't really bring anything new to the album. When you put it that way, I might start questioning that score of mine but wait - that damn outro gets me every time! Gwen snapped with the vocals and it's always an angry blast to end the song on that note.
But another strong side of this song are its lyrics - as one of the tracks inspired by the infamous break-up, the song is basically a middle finger to Tony and Gwen celebrating her liberty. Probably one of their most evil songs, all with wisely chosen words, of course. Imagine being in a band and constantly playing a song that drags you to filth, pretty iconic teebs. There's even some info that Gwen recited the lines of this song to Tony over the telephone. Petty queen.

Continuing on the lyrical topic, @bonnieetclyde (8.5) has some praise too: "I always loved the lyrics to this, especially on the verses. Gwen has great vocal control throughout. Another great middle 8 ''no more leaning on your shoulder''. Surprised this one wasn't a single." Well it was a single. Somewhere at least. I'm with @Sprockrooster (9) on this one - he says: "The guitar in the post-chorus is a genius production move and basically the reason I love this track so much." Meanwhile, @AshleyKerwin (8) has this statement: "For being considered a break up album, this is one of 5 songs on a 14 track album which is pretty run of the mill if you think about it." That's tea, actually. @berserkboi (8) is here for the rush: "This was pretty impressive, especially enjoyed how it ended!" Indeed a fabulous. And for the end, we have a special guest joining us for some commentary - @TonyND says: "Fuck, those are some seriously intense words." They sure are.


"Oh, you're by yourself
All by yourself
You got no one else
You're by yourself..."













Next up: My lowest remaining score since the top 40 leaves the rate.
 
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he/him
As it has been mentioned, that post-chorus guitar hook is a massive highlight and was reason for most of my 6.75 score. I think we are at the point now where the rest of Tragic Kingdom should be Top 15.
 
I love that we didn't let the single effect make it further.
Yeah, I felt like the possible 'single effect' of "Happy Now?" was pretty weird considering that not everyone was even aware the song was a single. Maybe being early in the tracklisting did it some justice too. Either way, some of the album tracks, namely "End It on This", "You Can Do It" and "Tragic Kingdom", should've definitely surpassed it in my opinion.


And some tidbits regarding the song that I didn't post in the write-up.

Rare soundcheck video footage (they look so bored here ff):


From their special from 1997 MuchMusic's Intimate & Interactive set:


This 2009 performance of the song:


No Doubt's last *sigh* live show from 2015:


And, finally, this amazing acapella rendition - filmed in a bathroom during their tour:

One of the tour members (Stephen Bradley) can be seen peeing in the background and then continuing to harmonise dd
 
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