About Gwen Stefani
Though she was a product of the ‘90s SoCal ska-punk scene, it was clear early on that Gwen Stefani—born in 1969 in the L.A. suburb of Fullerton—possessed a star power that would not be confined to the underground. Her band, No Doubt, became a multi-platinum phenomenon with their third album, 1995’s Tragic Kingdom, thanks in large part to Stefani’s engaging mix of alt-rock spunk and old-school glamour. But if feisty self-empowerment anthems like “Just a Girl” presented young women with a bubblier, cheekier alternative to Courtney Love’s raw feminist rage, the aching ballad “Don’t Speak” revealed a singer more beholden to Madonna’s blonde ambition. After gradually drifting from the mosh pit to the dance floor with each subsequent record, No Doubt went on hiatus in 2004, freeing up Stefani to pursue her own maximalist vision of pop music as a solo artist/fashion mogul/one-woman multimedia enterprise. Whether giving traditional cheerleader chants a steroid boost on “Hollaback Girl,” putting a 21st-century spin on streetwise soul with “The Sweet Escape,” or slinking into the after-hours club on “Make Me Like You,” Stefani’s songs go off like confetti cannons—colorful explosions of discotheque euphoria and irreverent theatricality that have encouraged next-gen entertainers like Miley Cyrus and Charli XCX to be as brash as they wanna be.
BORNOctober 3, 1969