Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Gwen Stefani – Baby Don’t Lie

The second video this year your editor owned an entire outfit from already (guess the first)…

Micha Cavaseno: While you were busy complaining about Sia, the worst voice in music has finally returned to the kingdom, bearing gifts in new hideous “exotic” accents. The return emerges with assumptions of wisdom, yodeling grotesqueness, and her usual colonialist bullshit.

Alfred Soto: On her first two records she treated genres and producers like items bought with a ten-dollar bill at a rummage sale, and good for her. Now she’s hoping for a Rihanna-Sia top five hit.

W.B. Swygart: Sassy Ellie Goulding And 27 Other Halloween Costumes That Aren’t Worth The Effort

Will Adams: Or, How Not to Do a Comeback. Reheated dancehall and Stefani singing like she’s auditioning for the role of Sia in a high school production; it’s not even worth the melodrama of a line like “if we give up, then we’re gonna die.”

Anthony Easton: This is weird. The sound is not anonymous — Rock Steady inspired, pop infused, brilliant production (see how she sings that line about getting warm) — but for someone who has one of the most distinctive voices in pop, “Baby Don’t Lie” just doesn’t sound like her. I want like a dozen other voices singing the lyrics in the midst of this updated remix of a Slim Aarons luxe-in-Mystique tropical production.

Dan MacRae: It’s a shame Gwen didn’t trot out “Wind It Up” again to see if it might fly in 2014. “Baby Don’t Lie” just strikes me as alarmingly plain. It’s the sort of song I imagine was pumped out in a cubicle to pair up with an also-ran YA film adaptation. “Check out Gwen Stefani’s new single in the trailer for Travis Crumbler: Defiler Of The Warlock’s Pastels!”

Kat Stevens: If you told me this was Serbia’s 2015 Eurovision entry I would absolutely believe you, and absolutely put money on it failing to make it out of the semi-finals.

Josh Winters: Never has Olympic ceremony-level jubilation been so misplaced, or forgettable.

Brad Shoup: She cut a big ol’ portentous blanket out of Maroon cloth, the sort of pounding, yearning New Wave track that probably should have started with that synth/human hybrid hook. The taunting bridge refers to her Neptunian pop peak, but there’ve been a lot of less interesting voices warped a whole lot weirder since then.

Katherine St Asaph: I don’t know what pop radio sounds like anymore; as someone who used to keep a notepad by her bed to record every song the DJ played and now makes non-trivial income from writing about the stuff, I probably should. But I only know what pop radio sounded like in cars in the late 2000s. It sounded like despair, a determined minor key, and it felt like drive — death drive, the kind of drive best felt while actually driving. Listening to those hits produces almost a synesthetic response; each song teleports me to specific NC interstate exits. Junior year, temping at a custom-publishing company: that lonely curve of sprawl and strip malls that leads from Wendover into Burlington on which hits like “I Gotta Feeling” and the inescapable dratted “Down” felt like zombification music for dead-end commuters. Senior year, interning at the Winston-Salem paper: “I Made It” for flying smug down the power-plant parking lot expanses past I-40’s Death Valley at commute-in-the-morning with a job ahead of me; “OMG” for slumping the hour home through dry windshield heat and traffic jams, sneaking Blackberry sudoku moves and classmates’ tweets from NYC sites and DC parties that felt so distant from the stranded car and void of a love song. In Chapel Hill it was “Take It Off” and “Rock That Body” and “LoveGame,” music for determined dancing with three drinks as sunk costs and disaster at the end. In Durham it was “Tonight,” “Blow,” and “Till the World Ends,” music for relationships and jobs already rotting on the stems. Even radio’s mainstays were bleak: “Say It Right” and “Sweet Dreams” and “Disturbia” and the pinnacle of this sound — Dave Moore calls it the “Rihanna death drive“: “Don’t Stop the Music.” Gwen Stefani predates all of this, and the pop zeitgeist is too scattered to sustain a coherent mood let alone this one, but “Baby Don’t Lie” is practically a time trip. The beginning echoes the xx sample from Rihanna’s “Drunk in Love,” the spoken-word interlude its one concession to Gwen then; the rest could have been played on the radio anytime from 2009 to 2011. It would have been bleak filler back then, but I miss back then, and I miss bleak filler.

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17 Responses to “Gwen Stefani – Baby Don’t Lie”

  1. Awesome blurbs from everyone but Kat OTM, Swygart made me laugh the hardest, and Katherine’s very powerful.

  2. It’s funny how music gets inextricable from the context in which we listen to it: I recognized almost none of the songs Katherine mentioned, except the Rihanna ones, since in 2009 I spent a lot of time on YouTube trying to dance a baby to sleep. The most effective were “Apache (Jump on It)” and “Night Fever”. Also there was a great deal of the Sesame Street version of “1,2,3,4”. (I pulled it up just now to link to it, and my now-5-year-old, home from school recovering from strep, stopped dead in her tracks to watch, despite being disenchanted with Sesame Street for a while now.)

  3. As an aside, I remember radio circa ‘Say It Right’ being full of meltdowns… especially Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Never Again’, Matchbox 20’s ‘How Far We’ve Come’ and ‘The Kill’ by 30 Seconds To Mars. Markedly bleak.

  4. I don’t like this.

  5. Serbia are back next year after a break in 2014, I’m sure Gwen could punt something their way…

  6. “Kat Stevens: If you told me this was Serbia’s 2015 Eurovision entry I would absolutely believe you, and absolutely put money on it failing to make it out of the semi-finals.”

    Serbia has only ever sung their official Eurovision songs in the Serbian language. (They did do an English language versions as promotions for a few of their songs, like Nina’s 2011 song, for example: but these weren’t what they sang at Eurovision. This is the version she sang of the retro song.)

    So no one should believe an English-language song is from Serbia. Of course Serbia could change it in 2015, but it would be a surprise and not believable until it actually happens.

  7. Damn, that just reminded me of how “Čaroban” was totally robbed that year.

  8. damn someone’s serious about their eurovision fandom

  9. “Her usual colonialist bullshit”

    Are you seriously going to accuse pop music of cultural appropriation? Is this Singles Jukebox or the local OWS chapter?

  10. pop music is like the most common thing accused of cultural appropriation

  11. damn, OWS, that takes me back

  12. “pop music is like the most common thing accused of cultural appropriation”

    Not by music reviewers. It’s completely asinine, all pop music is a fusion of different cultural influences.

    If Maxwell has nothing to say about the actual music, maybe he should fuck off back to whatever community college he got his Barista of Arts from?

  13. gwen stefani is def a racist piece of shit tho

  14. anyway, it looks like there was a music reviewer who did actually accuse pop music of cultural appropriation so sorry, pal. maybe you should go back to tweeting about gamergate or whatever

  15. “Fusion” is wild curious to use as a term to me, because where’s the meeting of everything she’s ever robbed from? Beyond one Eve single, when has she ever given it back?

  16. “Not by music reviewers.”

    you’re wrong but who even gives a fuck

  17. Your the first music blog I check almost every day. I didn’t know there was a new Acid House Kings video out till I saw the above. So I hope you magane to sort things out outside of the music and thank you again for the great blog you do. Cheers Paul